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So I'm finishing off my basement, getting ready for drywall. Are there any rules of thumb on spacing recessed fixtures (incandecent)? This is my opportunity to get it right - after the drywall goes up obviously I can't do much about it.

The basement receives good day light. We spend a lot of time down there in the winter because of the wood stove. If anybody has any thoughts I'd like to hear them. Thanks.

BTW I tried to post this in the non-riding forum but was blocked.
 

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I am just a bit further along than you in finishing my sister's basement. I framed it out, but I don't do electric, so we hired an electrician. He has the tophats spaced about 6-8 feet apart to give a nice even field of light. There are about 35 lights overall...but it is a rather large basement at 1800 sq ft. I think it may be a bit much, and we will be putting most on dimmers.

Doing some math that works out to one light per 51 sq ft...which like I said may be too much. I am no expert, but I think if you figure on one every 60-70 sq ft and space them out appropriately you would be fine.
 

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A given light will be rated to provide a specific number of lumens over a given area. Once you know which light you are going to use, and the square footage it will illuminate, you will need to space your lights based on that area. That is to provide even and equal lighting over the whole area/basement. That isn't always desired. I have most often seen recessed incandescents used along the walls, or where more focused lighting is desired, then flourescent lighting used through the majority of the room. The number of flourescents for a given area are computed the same way basically.

The lighting studies that I have seen done this way most often make rooms very, very, bright. This is why dimmers are almost always required. Both incandescents and flourescents can be dimmed. The number of incandescents required for what you describe will be a lot more expensive to operate than a mixed lighting matrix. You can offset that cost by using mini-spiral flourescents in the recessed cans. They don't burn out as often, and use about 25% of the power of an incandescent, for the same number of lumens. IE: 23 watt mini spiral provides the same lumens as a 100 watt incandescent. I do not know if mini-spirals can be dimmed.

If you decide to use all recessed cans, and its too bright, just switch to lower wattage bulbs. If I were going the all recessed route, I would definately use mini-spirals in all of them. I would also pick an area in the basement, and experiment with wattages until I found the level of brightness I was happy with, before buying enough to do the whole basement. I say this, because they are more expensive on the front end, but well worth the investment for thier longevity and lower power costs. You could also talk to a residential electrician and confirm whether they are dimmable or not. If they are dimmable, that would negate the need to experiment with wattages, but would increase you installation cost to add the dimmer switches.

You didn't ask for this advice, but I will include it, because its a common "uh oh" that often happens when even experienced folks lay out lighting circuits. You didn't mention whether the basement is being blocked off into a floorplan with individual rooms, or if it is basically open space. Either way, I wouldn't recommend running all of the lights off of one switch. Give some thought about which individual areas, whether rooms or areas of the open floor that you might want to have lighted or unlighted at different times. Consider where you will enter the area and want to turn which lights on, and where you will be when you want to turn them off. If you a switch near the entrance, to turn the lights on when you come in, but later want to go to bed, will you have to go all the way to the entrance to turn the lights off, and then recross the room in the dark. Or, if you get up in the middle of the night, will you have to cross the entire basement to get to a light switch to turn the lights on. Issues like this can be eliminated with 3-way and 4-way switches. And, one last thing. A lot of people don't realize that lights are supposed to be wired by running the supply wiring to the first fixture in the circuit, then to the switch/s, then back to the first fixture in the circuit. The rest of the fixtures to on that circuit, (the lights operated by that switch/s), are paralelled together.

Hope this helps, and if I put in a bunch of stuff you already knew, I apologize, but maybe it will benefit someone else.


Dan


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nothing wrong with excess lighting, put it on separate circuits to turn on different levels of lighting, that way when you need good light, you have it
 
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