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Pot lights for my basement - best option

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto

Pot lights for my basement - best option

I am in the process of finishing my basement and will be soon at the pot lights stage. Never had any and don't know much about them. Ceiling will be dry wall and not insulated. Read a lot on the net but can't say I fully understand all the options available.
Hope someone can help/advice on best possible pot lights solution.
Here is what I am hoping to achieve:

I'll need total of about 40 lights...and would love to be able to have some low energy consumption bulbs...like CFL's etc.
I am also planning to have few circuits with dimmers...
I've read about the newest/greatest dimmable CFL's but have hard time finding any been sold in Local stores(GTA).
Can those type of bulbs be used in pot lights?
Any idea on cost and will it be worth it the potential savings in the long run?
Getting scared of my future electrical bills if I end up using "regular/high energy consumtion" 50W bulbs even with dimmers.
Appreciate any ideas and suggestions.
Thanks.
45 replies
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
15155 posts
1581 upvotes
How big is your basement? Potlights are meant to be accent lights, so you do not want to oversaturate rooms with potlights.

A pot light provides illumination for about ~100 square feet (5 feet of coverage each way); but realistically speaking, you can opt for less light in some areas since you'll have floor lamps etc.

Anyhow 40 pot lights seems like a lot.

I would go with GU-10 lights, they look the best. There are CFLs for GU-10s these days, but if you're going to be using CFLs, you might as well just install flourcent tubes ;)

http://www.rona.ca/shop/~lightbulb---11 ... gu-10_shop

There's LED lighting too - not as bright as traditional potlights but could be worth a look.
Sr. Member
Dec 9, 2007
537 posts
13 upvotes
I recently finished my basement which is a pretty good size (basement of a 2700 sqft home) and I used 17 PAR-20 potlights which provide enough light to make it nice and bright for the kids play area/ entertainment area. They are halogen bulbs which are installed on a dimmer to tweak the brightness as appropriate.

Stay away from CFL in the basement as it does not look right. I have used the CFL version of the PAR20 in the kitchen which is fine but I hated them in the basement even if the halogen uses 4x the power. To ensure the lighting looked ok I played with locations before I drywalled to make sure I was happy, as a result I added 3 I wasn't planning on.

For the enclosures I used the new construction style that hammer into the joists. I avoided the HD retrofit units as they seemed pretty cheap construction, I bought mine at a local electrical contractor store. A bit more money but I believe them to be better quality. Just my opinion, not fully grounded however my electrician brother in-law agreed for what it is worth.

Make sure you don't overload your electrical circuits especially with 40+ potlights as you can only have 12 devices per circuit!
[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Basement is 1000 sq. feet and the whole house (not including the basement) is 2300 sq. feet.

Maybe I am overdoing it...but after so much reading I was willing to error on the side of overdoing it and installing more lights than not to have enough lights as basements by definition is dark place to begin with. After all I figured I can always make it less light using dimmers but if I don't install enough lights had to make it brighter should I need to.

Again from reading I decided to install them about 3' apart from each other not to have shady areas...all cables are in place already....based on your suggestions should I go now and reposition everything all over again to have less lights? My thinking was even if I have more lights than I should I can always dim them down and that way decrease electricity usage.

I've decided to install even more outlets than required by code as I am tired of never having enough outlets and tripping over extension cords everywhere.
The electrician helping me said he'll be using 6 x 15 Amp breakers to evenly distribute all the load.

I am surprised no one suggests using CFL's when those seem to be the talk in town now days.

I was told to stay away from LED (not enough light) and from low voltage (problematic)....that leaves me with CFL's (still hope to find them in dimmable version) or halogen (big electricity users).

Anyhow...hope for some more comments/ideas...I'd appreciate them.
Thanks.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 9, 2003
1473 posts
11 upvotes
I don't know if you've checked home depot, but the ones here all have cfl-dimmable bulbs in a floodlight style like you'd put in a potlight.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 18, 2007
3339 posts
388 upvotes
Valleywood
whodaphucru wrote:
Apr 19th, 2009 10:53 am
... and I used 17 PAR-20 potlights which provide enough light to make it nice and bright for the kids play area/ entertainment area. They are halogen bulbs which are installed on a dimmer to tweak the brightness as appropriate.
+1 on the fixtures that accept the PAR20 bulbs.

Being a 120VAC halogen bulb there are no tricks in using any dimmer or X10/Insteon controls. Rona has a PAR20 in a 35W!

There are PAR20s that are available in LED, but I don't know about availability and price. However, my point is, plan for PAR20 halogen and then switch to LED bulbs when they are more common and cheaper. The change from halogen to LED will not affect any of your dimmers/controls.

I used the 4" Bazz potlight available from Home Depot (and others). The Bazz also comes in "eyeball" if a few locations would benefit from directional lighting. (I also used wall sconces on separate circuits for additional lighting moods. Again any 120V fixture is going to work best with standard dimmers.)

In a room that is "L" shaped and approximately 27' x 24' I used 8 fixtures in the main area and 5 (4 in a square + 1 centered) in an area above a pool table. Each area is two circuits for lighting - one for potlights and one for sconces. (Actually I split off 2 potlights and 2 sconces -with 2 more circuits - that were closest to my projection screen so that I can keep that end of the room darker.)

The Bazz fixtures are "post drywall install" type, so just pre-wire your circuits before drywall. Just daisy chain your wiring from one fixture location to the next (for lights that are on the same circuit). Use a plumb line from the desired fixture location and mark your floor with crayon (or whatnot) to identify the center of the fixture. Install the drywall and then use the plumb line again to mark the drywall to cut your 4" hole and dig for the hidden wires. Then start with the potlight installation.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
mattpiloto wrote:
Apr 19th, 2009 4:34 pm
I don't know if you've checked home depot, but the ones here all have cfl-dimmable bulbs in a floodlight style like you'd put in a potlight.
Do you have any link for those as the ones I've checked (Mississauga, ON) I couldn't find any...no much luck searching on their web site either.

Thanks.
Sr. Member
Dec 9, 2007
537 posts
13 upvotes
chocho111 wrote:
Apr 19th, 2009 8:02 pm
Do you have any link for those as the ones I've checked (Mississauga, ON) I couldn't find any...no much luck searching on their web site either.

Thanks.
Before you go crazy with CFL in the basement see what they look like, the CFL hues do not look good in the dark basement. I tried the PAR 20 CFL and they looked like craap so I went back to halogen with dimmers.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 19, 2002
11917 posts
218 upvotes
I had the same experience with CFLs as described here. Halogen GU10s on dimmers in my basement...and I used 8 of them in a 14x24 ft room. 40 seems like massive overkill, or the world's most awesome basement :)

I think the PAR20 bulbs look better in basements with lower ceilings - the GU10 can seem a little too "spotty" if they don't have some distance to spread out over.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Well Guys,
just to let you know how much I value your opinions - just finished re-aranging all my pot lights. I am down to 30 now (from 40 originally). :lol:
Any less than that and I maybe tripping in darkness :cheesygri
Re-aranging was easier than I thought...took me only 3 hours and I now have some extra 14/2 cable :idea:

Anyhow...I like the idea of PAR20 with possibility for future replacement of the halogen lights with LED should they become cheaper/brighter.
Keep your comments/ideas coming please as there very valuable for me.
This is my first basement and I am hoping to avoid any major mistakes by taking the advice of those more experienced than me.
Thanks.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
Deep,

I've posted above the basement size is 1000 sq. feet total....take out the cold room and mechanical/storage room ....remaining area is about 870sq. feet....
I have one bedroom (11'x13')that will not have pot lights (single ceiling light).

Here is how the pot lights are distributed:

1) Bathroom 8'x10'- 4
2) Corridor/stairs landing/in between bulkheads - 10
3) Larger open concept "room" 13'x16' - 12 (4 of those are on the other side of a long (16') bulkhead that splits that room in 1:3 proportion)
3) Smaller open concept "room" 9'x13' - 4

Sizes are approximate.
Have floor plan but it got changed so many times it does not accurately represent the reality anymore and will be confusing posting it.

Main reason I see for the 30 lights is because the way the stairs/corridor are and also because of the numerous bulkheads - ended up adding lights in those areas to prevent dark spots. If the bulkheads were not there I can see eliminating 4-8 additional lights. I am afraid if I do it now some areas will end up been too dark (compared to the rest) because all those bulkheads will prevent even light distribution. One other factor that played role in my case - I was trying to line the pot lights so they are symmetrically located (right now 4' from each other, and from the walls) and matching the pattern in the neighboring open concept room and also to match the ones in the corridor leading to the larger open concept room.

Hope this gives better idea of what I am trying to achieve.
Thanks.
Sr. Member
Dec 9, 2007
537 posts
13 upvotes
chocho111 wrote:
Apr 20th, 2009 8:32 am
Deep,

I've posted above the basement size is 1000 sq. feet total....take out the cold room and mechanical/storage room ....remaining area is about 870sq. feet....
I have one bedroom (11'x13')that will not have pot lights (single ceiling light).

Here is how the pot lights are distributed:

1) Bathroom 8'x10'- 4
2) Corridor/stairs landing/in between bulkheads - 10
3) Larger open concept "room" 13'x16' - 12 (4 of those are on the other side of a long (16') bulkhead that splits that room in 1:3 proportion)
3) Smaller open concept "room" 9'x13' - 4

Sizes are approximate.
Have floor plan but it got changed so many times it does not accurately represent the reality anymore and will be confusing posting it.

Main reason I see for the 30 lights is because the way the stairs/corridor are and also because of the numerous bulkheads - ended up adding lights in those areas to prevent dark spots. If the bulkheads were not there I can see eliminating 4-8 additional lights. I am afraid if I do it now some areas will end up been too dark (compared to the rest) because all those bulkheads will prevent even light distribution. One other factor that played role in my case - I was trying to line the pot lights so they are symmetrically located (right now 4' from each other, and from the walls) and matching the pattern in the neighboring open concept room and also to match the ones in the corridor leading to the larger open concept room.

Hope this gives better idea of what I am trying to achieve.
Thanks.
We have 10 of our 17 in a space that is about double the size of your 13'x16' area (ours is about 13' x 32') using PAR 20 on dimmers. We 2 have at the bottom of the stairs 7'x7' and 5 in an area about 10' x 16'. The stoage rooms and bathroom are roughed in so there is just a typical light fix in those spaces. If they were pot lights we would be talking another 4-8 max.

It all comes down to personal preference however once the room is drywalled and painted it looks a lot brighter and with the number we have now I feel like I am getting a sun tan at times!!
[OP]
Sr. Member
Feb 15, 2007
511 posts
45 upvotes
Toronto
whodaphucru wrote:
Apr 20th, 2009 9:43 am
We have 10 of our 17 in a space that is about double the size of your 13'x16' area (ours is about 13' x 32') using PAR 20 on dimmers. We 2 have at the bottom of the stairs 7'x7' and 5 in an area about 10' x 16'. The stoage rooms and bathroom are roughed in so there is just a typical light fix in those spaces. If they were pot lights we would be talking another 4-8 max.

It all comes down to personal preference however once the room is drywalled and painted it looks a lot brighter and with the number we have now I feel like I am getting a sun tan at times!!
Whodaphucru,

Is your 13'x32 space with even/flat ceiling?
If so that makes sense as you wouldn't have dealt with bulkheads I have...
If I didn't have the bulkhead running 1/3 along the length of that room I'd probably have 8 pot lights in total in that room. The other 4 now cover the bulkhead area. That been said I may decrease the number of lights in that space possibly down to 9 (from current 12)./....just have to find the best way to do it.
Thanks.
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