How Many Lights Do I Need In My Basement? (With Examples)

When we think of the basement, the first thing striking our mind is a dark, cold, damp, and scary place. However, you can change the thought process by adding lights to the basement and recreating it as a place of relaxation. But how many lights should you add to brighten it up? Let’s find out. 

As a general rule, you should aim for 0.5 watts per square foot or 70 lumens/sq feet for ideal lighting conditions in your basement. One recessed light can lighten 70 square feet. So, 4-6 lights per area are enough. One bulb should emit 800 to 1,200 lumens for adequate brightness.

The basement size depends on the size of the house. Sometimes, the basement is smaller than the house. Several factors determine the number of lights in the basement. The rest of the article will help you know the type and number of lights to be used in the basement. 

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What is the best light for the basement?

The best type of light for the basement is the LED recessed lights. 

These lights can give enough light throughout the basement. 

Having proper lights in the basement allows you to eliminate the darkness and cold feeling and make it a welcoming and inviting space. 

It depends on how you want to use your basement, and then choose the type and number of lights for your basement. 

The recessed lights are attached to the basement ceiling to spread the light down to the room. 

These lights have various sizes, so you can use them in various ways. 

Larger sizes are good for general lighting, and smaller lights are used to focus on specific objects.

You can also add pendant lights, lamps, and others as per your choice instead of sticking to some boring light types and fixtures.

Benefits of LED lights

LED lights can brighten up the basement more than incandescent lights. 

LED lights are brighter, have longer lifespans, and also help in saving energy.

  • You can use the maximum LED lights for over 50,000 hours. But the incandescent lasts for only 1,000 hours. 
  • LED lights have temperatures around 87 degrees, but incandescent lights have 335 degrees. 
  • LED bulbs use 75% less energy. 

Plug-in lamps

Sometimes, while setting the LED lights and timers, you set the light and forget about it. 

Besides, adding the same type of light can be quite boring. 

Along with the LED lights, you can add some eye-level lamps that you can switch on and off whenever you need them. 

You can also add cool and wacky plug-in lamps that do not have to be switched. 

Light color 

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The color temperature of the light can have a great impact on your basement. 

LED lights have a huge range of color temperatures, from warm whites to cool whites. 

Depending on how you want to decorate your basement, you can select the light according to your choice. 

Warm lights can give yellow or warm colors to the basement, seen in the lamps and accent lighting. 

The cool lights give a neutral white color. 

Basements are underground areas. So, you want some cool colors with 3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin temperatures. 

Ambient lighting

Ambient lighting is considered the best type of lighting for the basement. 

Besides, it works best if you use recessed LED lights, allowing the light to spread evenly through the room. 

You can also try task lighting if you have a specific area where you have put all your essentials, which you require quite often. 

How much light do I need for my basement?

The number of lights for your basement depends on the size of the basement. 

As a rule of thumb, one recessed LED light should be able to spread light at least 70 square feet. 

So, first, know the square footage of your basement and then install lights for your basement. 

Generally, the basement is always the same as the house. 

If your house is 2,000 square feet, your basement should be the same size. 

Sometimes, the basement size differs from the house because the house owners want it that way. 

For example, if the house is 1,680 square feet, the basement may be around 850 square feet. 

This basement area is made for setting up a storage area, extra bed, TV area, or playroom.

Lumens are of great importance when setting up lights for a particular area. 

One light should have at least 800 to 1,200 lumens. 

The lumens needed also depend on the basement’s brightness and wall colors. The darker the walls, the brighter the light. 

The more lumen the light has, the more it can brighten your room. 

How to calculate the number of lights for the basement?

Understanding the number of lights and other calculations can be quite confusing. 

So, I am sharing a method to help you determine the number of lights to use in the basement.

First, find out the total square footage of your basement. 

Then calculate the lumens needed for your basement. One square foot will require at least 30 lumens. 

For example, if your basement is around 1,800 square feet, you need at least 54,000 lumens. 

If you have chosen lights rated with 2,500 lumens, divide this value by 54,000. 

That comes out as 21.6, rounding off to 22. So, you need 22 lights for your basement.

Another way is by multiplying the area foot-candles by the area square footage of your basement. 

For example, a basement room with 100 square feet needs 10 to 20-foot candles, which is 1,000 to 2,000 lumens. 

If you select a recessed LED light at 500 lumens, you need 2 to 4 lights for your basement. 

Here is a short table of the different basement rooms and foot candles:

Basement roomsFoot candles
Basement for exercise and recreation30-foot candles
Basement for laundry20 to 100-foot candles
Basement for garage or workshop2- to 75-foot candles

Table with different basement sizes and light types

Square feet of basementLumensNumber of lights
652 square feet for very small basement19,560 lumens8 to 10 lights of 15 watts
850 square feet for a small basement25,000 lumens15 to 20 lights of 15 watts
 1,000 to 1,500 square feet 15,000 to 20,000 lumens10 to 15 lights of 15 watts
 1,800 to 2,100 square feet54,000 to 63,000 lumens10 to 20 lights of 45 watts or 22 fluorescent bulbs
  2,000 square feet 60,000 lumens10 to 20 lights of 45 watts
 2,500 square feet75,000 lumens15 to 20 lights of 45 watts
3,100 square feet93,000 lumens25 to 35 lights of 45 watts
3,000 to 3,500 square feet90, 000 to 105,000 lumens32 to 35 lights of 45 watts

I have selected the light types and wattages in this table according to my need. 

You can use lights with different wattages. 

For example, if you use a bulb higher than 45 watts, the number of lights in your basement will vary. 

Remember the number of lumens needed according to the size. 

After that, you need to decide on your basement’s light type and numbers. 

Factors affecting the number of lights in the basement

Other than the basement size, two more factors determine the number of lights in the basement:

  • Basement ceiling height
  • Ceiling type
  • Size of the light

Basement ceiling height

The basement’s ceiling height is another factor you must pay attention to. 

The higher the ceiling is, the greater the light loss. 

So, if your ceiling is very high, you will have to use high power and more lights. 

Generally, the ceiling height should remain at least 12 feet. 

But if the height is more than 12, you need more high-wattage lights. 

For example, if your basement size is around 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, and the height is 15 feet, you either need 10 to 15 lights of 50 or 60 watts, or you need 20 to 30 lights of 15 to 20 watts. 

Ceiling type

Another factor is the ceiling type. 

If the ceiling is slopes or vaulted, you need to increase the wattage on the higher side of your ceiling so that there is no light loss in that area. 

For example, if you have 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, you might need 20 to 25-watt lights on the sloped ceiling area. 

By making this simple adjustment, you can improve the look of your basement, brighten it up, and make it more comforting and welcoming.

Recessed light size

There are three common sizes of lights for the basement:

  • 4 inches
  • 5 inches
  • 6 inches

The 4 inches lights are used for small and medium-sized basements. 

If you want to add more brightness to your basement, you can use the 6-inch lights. 

6-inch lights are also preferred for bigger basements. 

Mistakes we make while deciding on lights for the basement.

While installing lights for the basement, we make some mistakes, especially if we are beginners. 

Here are some of the mistakes you may make and be cautious about while installing the lights:

Too many lights

Adding excessive lights can make your basement too bright and dazzling. 

It can damage your new basement decoration and turn your basement from a relaxing area to an interrogation room. 

The best way to add lights is to add limited lights. 

You do not have to blindly follow the table to add the number of lights for the basement. 

You can increase or decrease according to the requirements. 

Besides, if the wattage is different, the number of lights will change. 

The proper spacing between the lights is best to avoid excessive brightness. 

Few lights

Installing very few lights will not allow you to find the items you want from your basement. 

It won’t allow you to read books or magazines properly. 

Suppose you want the basement room to be a place of relaxation and a family room. 

In that case, you need to maintain proper illumination. 

Install at least 100 to 200 lux lights. 

You can download the ‘lux meter’ app on your phone, use the camera, and the lux value of your basement. 

You also need to ensure that the phone is on the level with the floor for an accurate reading. 

Space between the lights

Most owners prefer using recessed lights in the basement. 

Whatever light you use, you must consider the space to keep between the lights. 

There must be enough space between the lights to avoid excessive brightness and discomfort at some particular spots. 

It will also prevent the bulbs from heating up too much. 

You can divide the ceiling height by 2-3 and calculate the distance between the lights. 

For example, if your ceiling height is 9 feet, the distance between the lights has to be around 3 to 4 feet. 

Distance between the lights and basement wall

The distance between the lights and the basement wall has to be at least 3 feet. 

Apply this spacing to the corners and walls of the basement. 

Maintaining adequate spacing will avoid casting too many shadows. 

That looks quite creepy. 

Final thoughts

If you want to make your basement a place of relaxation, light is an important thing. 

The number of lights in a basement depends on various factors, like the basement size, the ceiling height, type, light size, wattage, etc. 

It also depends on how you want to use the basement. 

If you want to use the basement for storing extra storage goods, you may need to add 4-5 lights with low wattage. 

You can follow the table that describes the approximate number of lights required for different basement sizes. 

There are several factors to consider while deciding the light types and numbers of the basement. 

So, you must follow them without fail.

Related article: How Many Lights Do I Need In My Shop? (With Table Of Different Size Shop)


Can I add more lights to my basement?

Adding more lights to the basement depends on the construction level of your basement. 

If the drywall is still left, you can easily add lights. 

But, if the basement is finished, you can add accessory lights like a table or floor lamps. 

How do I lay out my basement?

There are no specifics about the layout of the basement. 

The basement structure, light types and fixtures, and other factors will determine the right one for your basement. 

You need to follow the factors I shared in this article to get a clear concept. 

For an evenly lit area, place the lights at the center of the room and maintain proper space between the lights. 

If you use fixtures, keep 18 to 22 inches away from the cabinets to avoid shadows and creepiness. 

Reference: Calculate Lighting Fixture’s Beam Angle and Lumen, Lumens and the Lighting.

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Arthur Smith

Howdy! I am Arthur Smith, an electrical engineer who is extremely passionate about electronics. I have lived in different parts of the US and currently reside in Wisconsin. I am one of those rare children who knew what he wanted to study and do in life right from the start. I was a curious child who wanted to know how switches work and how the AC works, and I would always observe my dad whenever he would handle the wires and fix things around the house. I currently work as an electrical engineer at a reputed company and write for this blog. And I read loads of books or play video games in my free time.

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