You can, of course, install any type of ceiling lighting you want into your basement. However, the basement ceiling lighting you decide to use will be influenced by a variety of factors, of which the following three are quite important:
- Whether there is already any existing lighting in the basement
- Whether you want to simply replace an existing light
- What you use your basement for.
As each of these scenarios throw up there own challenges we’ll investigate each one separately.
The reason for asking this question is quite straightforward. If you use your basement as part of your everyday living space or an entertainment/games room you might want to install lighting that can also create an atmosphere or ambience.
Using sunken basement ceiling lights with dimmer switches would be the stylish option to go for here. Obviously you’ll need to not have a solid floor that the basement is underneath in order to fit sunken ceiling lights, unless the basement is tall enough to first install a false ceiling.
If on the other hand your basement is mainly used as a storage or utility area fitting a conventional fluorescent strip-light might be all that’s needed. Whether used as a storage area or a living space I wouldn’t advocate having ceiling lights that hang down from a ceiling rose. The possibility of ‘dangling’ lights being hit or caught by over-exuberant games playing or moving things around in a storage area is not worth the risk.
Replacing Existing Lighting
Almost certainly the easiest option is if you decide to simply change an existing light fitting in a basement ceiling. As mentioned above, if your present basement ceiling light fittings are hanging from a ceiling rose I’d at least replace them with a strip-light, on the grounds of safety when down there.
Regardless of what light fitting you’re replacing you might find you need to redecorate the basement ceiling afterwards, unless the new light fitting is big enough to cover the location of the old one.
A good reason for replacing any ceiling light fitting is to take advantage of the new compact fluorescent lamps. Using about one fifth of the energy of conventional lamps they also last up to eight times as long and are, therefore, very eco-friendly.
Installing a Basement Ceiling Light
If there has never been a light in your basement ceiling and you need to install an entirely new fitting you should check your local regulations on working with electrical lines. Providing you don’t need to be a qualified electrician to do the work; you first need to decide where the light fitting will be positioned. Use a stud detector to locate a joist to fix it to and create a hole for the cable to pass through.
You then need to extend the existing lighting circuit to this point. You can do this in several ways: connecting a loop to an existing light fitting elsewhere, connect to or create a new junction box or you could even create a fused spur from the power circuit.
Only attempt this next idea if you’re properly qualified; but being a light in the basement a new line created to run directly from the fuse board would be an ideal solution. Once the light fitting has been connected you then need to run the cable to the light switch.
Dependant on the use that the basement is to put to you might need a two-way switch, so that the light can be operated at both ends of the stairs. Alternatively you might consider fitting a switch that has a sensor in it. The number of times lights in basements, that aren’t used regularly, get left on is both a waste of energy and money, as well as increasing the fire risk in your home.
Lots of different sensor light switches are available. One of the safest to use in a basement is one that reacts according to a motion sensor. ie. If no movement is measured the light goes off after a certain period of time.
Turn the lighting circuit you’re working with off at the panel board and don’t overload an existing lighting circuit- check the current and the fuse/breaker carefully.