How Much Lighting Do You Need For A Basement?

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Adding proper lighting to your basement can make it an ideal place for recreation and living. Now you may be wondering how much lighting is enough to brighten up your entire basement. We've consulted experts, and here's what they recommend.

One recessed light can cover about 70 square feet. You can put four to six recessed lights per area in your basement, depending on its size and purpose. Lastly, the ideal level of brightness requires a lumen output of 800–1200 lumens per bulb.

The standard sufficient lighting may differ, though, upon a number of factors. The rest of this article will help you set the right amount of lighting in a way that suits your needs and preferences. Read further to learn more about the details.

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The Right Amount Of Lighting For Your Basement

LED (Light Emitting Diode) emits light up to 90 percent more efficiently than conventional light bulbs, making it more ideal for dark places like the basement. They're also durable, the most energy-efficient, and they tend not to give off any heat or UV emissions.

The number of LED lights appropriate for your basement will depend on the overall size and light layout. The general rule of one recessed LED light covering a space of 70 square feet will boil down to the room and its purpose.

The number of lights may also vary. A large basement may need four to six recessed lights per area, while a small bedroom may only need two.

Furthermore, lumens are also one of the deciding factors in achieving the right amount of lighting. Lumens are the amount of brightness emitted by a light source. The output of 800-1200 lumens may be ideal.

But the lumens will still depend on your desired basement brightness. The number of lumens may also depend on the color of your walls. Note that you will need brighter lights for darker walls.

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Computation

To be more specific in basement lighting, a simple computation will help. You'll get the approximate lumens by multiplying your area foot-candle requirement by your area square footage. For instance, a living room of 100 square feet that requires 10–20 foot candles will need 1,000–2,000 lumens.

A foot-candle pertains to a measurement of light intensity, as the illuminance is one foot at a distance from the source of light. Lighting needs will, of course, be dependent on the type of room or area in your basement. And so, a study or office area will have a higher foot-candle requirement than a basement gym.

Refer to this chart for suggested foot-candle needs per room or area:

Environment Foot-Candle
Basement- Exercise and Recreation 30
Basement- Laundry 20-100
Basement/ Garage Workshop 20-75
Living Room 10-20
Dining Room 10-20
Area/ Rooms for Reading and Writing 50-100
Bathrooms 20-50
Bedrooms 20-50
Kitchen- General 20-50
Kitchen- Preparing/Cooking 50-100
Hallways 5-10

These foot-candle calculations are based on 8-foot ceilings. Given that basements have different ceiling structures, you can use a light meter that will give more accurate foot-candle measurements.

Click here to see this Extech LT300  light meter on Amazon.

For dark colored walls and furniture, keep in mind that you'll need to add 10 lumens per square foot.  If you want a brighter room or area, you can also add an additonal 10 to 20 percent to the needed foot-candle numbers.

It's always best to aim high with most spaces and install dimmers to lower down brightness according to desired levels. 

The bottom line is that there is no universal truth when it comes to the right amount of basement lighting. The verdict should still be based on your own needs and personal references.

What Color Light Is Best For A Basement?

Cooler colors are usually better, giving your basement neutral lighting. The underground level is the place where you want a slightly cooler 3000–4000 K temperature lighting, to make your basement bright like the upper floors in order to block out that cavelike appearance.

Ultimately, though, your basement's area or purpose will determine which lighting is best. A basement workshop or office area may need a temperature lighting of 4000 K and above.

To be more specific, cool white colors may be ideal for your basement. But at the end of the day, your choice will still rest on your preferred look or desired lighting.

To make things easier, here's an illustrated guide of Kelvin ranges and their color light counterparts:

What Kind Of Lighting Do I Need For A Basement Ceiling?

LED recessed bulbs are recommended for basement ceilings. These bulbs will give a source of widespread light throughout the basement. With LED recessed lights and the proper lighting type, there will be no dark spots or areas in your basement.


The recessed lighting sets are attached above the ceiling, casting light down into the room. They look classy and elegant and can make your basement as bright as the upper levels of your home.

LED recessed lights come in a variety of sizes for specific uses. Larger sizes can serve as general lighting, while small sizes can produce more focused lighting. They also have different trims and designs that will determine their certain lighting effects and purposes.

You might as well look into updated reviews of the best brands if you want to purchase the highest quality recessed lights.

Click here to see this Amico 5CCT Ultra recessed light on Amazon.

Ambient Lighting

General lighting or ambient lighting is a common and ideal type of lighting for a basement. It works best with LED recessed lights, spreading the light throughout the entire space. It gives an overall illumination with a uniform light level throughout a certain area of your basement.

Aside from ambient lighting, you can also choose from task lighting, and indirect lighting, or even a combination of these certain types for the entire basement will do.

With your recessed lights, you can even add pendant lights, lamps, and many more. You don't have to stick to typical and boring lighting as it's also about great ideas and creativity!

How Do You Layout Basement Lights?

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There is no particular layout that will fit all basement lighting needs. Your basement's structure, its lighting type, and other factors will dictate the right layout that you'll need. Take note that in making a layout, you should check all the factors we have mentioned earlier, especially as the number of lights needed is an important consideration.

To evenly light an area, the practical step is to place the recessed light at the center of the room and evenly space the other lights from that point. In addition, it's crucial to set recessed fixtures 18 to 22 inches away from your cabinets to avoid unwanted shadows.

The Recessed Lighting Buyer’s Guide provides detailed instructions in terms of placement and the size and types of recessed light fixtures you'll need.

How Far Apart Should Basement Lights Be?

To learn how far apart your lights should be, divide the ceiling height by two. For example, if your room has an 8–foot ceiling, your recessed lights should be 4 feet apart. Lastly, keep your light fixtures 3 feet away from any walls in order to avoid harsh shadows that would make your ceiling seem lower.

This general rule may be applicable to basement lights. But depending on the number of lumens per bulb, the lighting type, and other important factors may motivate you to make some adjustments in lighting placements.

The strategy is to overlight the room with dimmers so that you can control their brightness from time to time.

In Closing

Beautiful basement entertaining room with LED lighting in tray ceiling, How Much Lighting Do You Need For A Basement?

The amount of lighting you'll need for your basement will come down to your preference. Although your basement's purpose and square footage are the main factors to consider, you can also be creative enough to design your basement with lamps and other lighting fixtures.

It is also important to layout the lighting conveniently. But if you're not confident about doing things on your own, it's better to consult an expert or let them plan and install proper lighting for you.

To discover more about basements, check these articles:

How Can I Brighten Up My Basement Family Room?

What Is The Minimum Height For A Basement Ceiling?

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