Basement lighting explored

Rather like lofts, basements often end up as virtual no-go areas, only good for hoarding surplus belongings. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A little renovation and the right basement lighting can transform this subterranean space into a recreational area for you and family or friends.

Choice of lighting will be influenced by the physical attributes of the basement and whether or not it has any window light. If there is window light, capitalise on it by using semi-transparent materials such as net curtains for daytime privacy. You can also use strategically placed mirrors and pale-coloured furnishings to bounce as much natural light around as possible.

Wooden beams and light beams

Many basements have wooden beams running along their length. The temptation to disguise these may be great, but they can be used to your advantage. Installing lights between the beams maintains maximum headroom. A popular choice of lighting in this situation is track lighting, which is compact enough not to encroach below beam level and usable for task or display purposes. You can also reflect a spotlight beam off a nearby pale wall or surface for more widespread, diffused illumination.

Take a closer look at our range of 3 Circuit track lightsLyco offers a choice of track lighting systems, each with specific benefits. A simple single-circuit track lighting installation is possible with the Madison 3 Light and Track Kit, which is compatible with all Madison or Acorn track pieces and lights. This product allows the usual level of flexibility, whereby lights can be freely positioned along the track length and directed as required.

Another possibility is a 3 circuit track lighting scheme. A 3 circuit track piece includes three live conductors, each controllable by a separate switch or dimmer switch. When a light is added to the track, it is assigned by the user to one of the three circuits by means of an in-built dial. What this effectively allows is control over three groups of lights in one seamless installation, with the ability to alter the status of every spotlight and precisely modify light in all areas. Lyco sells the Eutrac 3 Circuit Track Lighting System for this level of versatility.

Drywall and drop ceilings

Basements with drywall or drop ceilings invite installation of recessed downlights, unless the basement is abnormally generous in height. You’ll need to check the available ceiling space before purchase.

Take a closer look at Fireguard LED6 Tilt DownlightsThe Dimmable Downlight are fire-rated LED fitting. Fire resistance is an important consideration in a recessed basement light, since it provides valuable evacuation time for upstairs occupants in the event of a fire. The fact that LEDs are an intrinsic part of the design in this case makes performance extremely reliable, as it takes into account necessary LED heat dissipation. As a result the manufacturer is happy to offer a 10 year guarantee on this product.

For a narrower ceiling recess, we also offer the LED Downlights.  This doesn’t put out as much light as the LED6 or LED7 ranges, but you can compensate for this if necessary by installing extra fittings. It offers the same superb construction quality and dependability.

A cheaper alternative to the Fireguard downlights is the fire-rated Astro Taro Single Downlight. This takes a 50W maximum halogen GU10, which is excellent for light quality but is not as efficient as an LED alternative. It is a good idea to choose a good-quality LED retrofit if you want extra energy efficiency from this fitting, as a sealed downlight like this can sometimes reduce lifespan in LED GU10s. Look for lamps with guarantees.Take a closer look at the Loft Quad Spotlights Plate

An alternative to a recessed fitting is a surface-mounting luminaire like the Loft Quad Spotlights Plate. Low in profile, this stylish fitting includes four fully adjustable spotlight heads on a neat square ceiling plate. These fittings can be installed in multiples without looking untidy, while spotlight bars such as the Loft Quad Spotlight Bar look better in isolation (unless concealed by wooden beams, as above). Both of these Loft spotlighting solutions come complete with low-energy GU10 bulbs, which consume 70-80% less energy than halogen equivalents.

Pendants

Take a closer look at the Ripasso Red PendantIf you’re going to include a dining or coffee table in the basement, a pendant becomes a possibility. Anywhere where you aren’t likely to walk provides opportunity for a lower hanging light. Something minimalistic like the bare Plumen lamp may well look superb in a basement with modern or eclectic décor. Over any elongated table, multiple pendants along the lines of the Nordlux Ripasso 15 add a dash of style. Groups of three often work well.

Take a closer look at the Fisherman PendantA more aged, traditional look is achieved with a fitting like the Searchlight Fisherman Pendant, which has considerable seafaring appeal. You might even imagine you’re on the lower decks of a ship! Alternatively, you may opt for an industrial feel, embodied in a light fitting such as the aptly named Searchlight Industrial Pendant. Lyco’s wide range of pendants accommodates all kinds of styles and themes.

Safety issues

Basement lighting can be tricky to wire and install, so engaging the services of a qualified electrician is always advisable. Any basement that is prone to flooding will need AC outlets and electrical wiring installed at a higher level.

Don’t forget to add adequate stair lights if you want to avoid bumping your way into the basement. Astro’s Leros Recessed LED Wall Lights emit a modest amount of light, which is nonetheless strong enough to help identify steps when overall light levels are low.

Function and mood

Take a closer look at Leros Recessed Wall Lights (ideal for stair lighting)This article has outlined popular basement lighting ideas, but the scope for filling in the gaps with wall, table, desk, and floor lamps is great (subject to electrical supply). A cosy ambience is created by a layered lighting scheme. For example, using spotlights to accent room features against low-level background lighting gives mood. Choose warm white lights for relaxation or cool white if you’re using the room only for work. With the right choice of basement lights, a dark dungeon becomes a cheerful living space!

Please feel free to call Lyco’s friendly sales team if you want to discuss specific ideas or particular products.

For more advice and guidance, take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Part L Building Regulations: LENI introduced – April 6th 2014

The building regulations that govern the introduction of lighting into new homes / premises have been updated. Back in 2013, changes to Part L Building Regulations (Conservation of Fuel and Power) were announced. Originally due to come into force in October of that year, the new measures were finally introduced on April 6th 2014, after a six-month delay.

Part L 2013 Building Regulations relate to England only and are no longer applicable to Wales. They apply to most new buildings and alterations and are a legal requirement. The new regulations affect any work started after 6th April 2014, unless an initial notice, building notice, or full plans application was made before that date. So, what’s new in terms of lighting?

Part L1 (Building regulations for domestic dwellings)

On the domestic front, Part L1 2013 Building Regulations further reduce carbon emissions over the 2010 edition, but lighting requirements are unchanged. They remain as follows:

Internal lighting

Bedroom lighting

  • At least 75% of all light fittings in main dwelling spaces should be low energy (this excludes infrequently accessed storage spaces such as cupboards and wardrobes).
  • Low energy light fittings must have a luminous efficacy greater than 45 lm/W and a total output exceeding 400 lumens.
  • Light fittings consuming less than 5 watts are excluded from the overall count of the total number of light fittings.

External lighting

  • Either of two sets of criteria is possible: a 100W maximum lamp capacity with occupancy sensor and photocell (light must stay off when daylight is sufficient) or minimum lamp efficacy of 45 lm/W with a photocell and manual on/off switching.

Part L2 (Building regulations for non-domestic / commercial premises)

This update of the Part L Building Regulations brought profound change to non-domestic lighting requirements. In complying with these regulations, specifiers are now faced with two options:

  1. The previous luminaire efficacy calculation method, which takes lighting control into account
  2. The long-awaited LENI system that performs a complex equation to calculate actual energy usage

We’ll outline the features of both systems here:

Luminaire Efficacy Calculation Method

The main advantage of this mode of calculation is that it’s relatively easy to understand. For that reason, it may be favoured for simpler projects. Its two key points are:
Office Lighting

  • For general office and industrial lighting, the basic Part L luminous efficacy requirement has been increased from 55 to 60 lumens per watt.
  • Display lighting requirements remain unchanged, with a 22 lm/W average needed for compliance.

The table below illustrates the allowances made for lighting controls, including dimmer switches and occupancy sensors. An increase in these allowances is introduced, with a new 0.7 control factor and minimum 42 lm/W luminous efficacy.

2013 Control Factors for the Luminaire Efficacy Calculation Method (non-controlled = 60 lm/W)

  Controls Control Factor Reduced lm/W efficacy requirement
A Daylit space with photo-switching with or without override 0.90 54
B Daylit space with photo-switching with or without override + dimming 0.85 51
C Unoccupied space with automatic on & off occupancy 0.90 54
D Unoccupied space with manual on & off occupancy 0.85 51
E Space not daylit, dimmed for constant illuminance 0.90 54
A + C 0.80 48
A + D 0.75 45
B + C 0.75 45
B + D 0.70 42
E + C 0.80 48
E + D 0.75 45

LENI (Light Energy Numeric Indicator): the new metric

LENI is the second approach to calculating lighting efficiency, which runs alongside the existing “efficacy method” as an alternative option. Its aim is to predict accurately the actual energy used by a lighting system, taking into account daylight hours, when and how installations are used, parasitic energy consumption, and control factors (occupancy, dimming in response to daylight, and constant illuminance – a calibrated and maintained lux level for each area of a building).

Using a complex formula, LENI measures lighting performance in terms of energy per square metre per year (kWh/m²/year). It allows for a more flexible lighting scheme, where the whole installation is evaluated rather than being anchored by the performance of individual lamps and luminaires. It places a greater emphasis on good lighting design and moves away from a pure numbers game.

Ideal for larger projects

Because of its complexity, the LENI system is likely to be used more for larger lighting projects, where specialist designers will often be employed. It’s worth considering, however, that lighting installations created by specialist designers typically consume 30% less energy than those devised by non-experts.

The LENI index is a core part of the BS EN 15193 Standard (Energy Requirements for Lighting). It is outlined in full detail on Page 70 of the HM Government Non-Domestic Building Services Compliance Guide (PDF).

Don’t worry – help is at hand

Relux Lighting ToolIf this looks a little complicated, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to get to grips with LENI. There are various free lighting design programs that incorporate a LENI calculator. Two examples are: DIALux and RELUX. Also, if you have no fear of spreadsheets, Thorn Lighting provides a LENI formulae template.

Easy Part L compliance with Lyco

Take a closer look at the LED6 Square DownlightWhether you’re a builder, specifier, or designer, Lyco stocks a wide range of products to help you meet Part L lighting requirements.

Many products deliver a performance that exceeds basic Part L efficacy requirements while also offering elements of control.

Take a closer look at the Carina Semi Flush LightA product fitted with an occupancy sensor is the Carina LED Flush. A microwave motion detector is discreetly concealed within this fitting, ensuring light is never left on in an unoccupied space.

Lyco also stocks a selection of Varilight dimmer switches, which are revered in the lighting industry for their reliable LED dimming performance.

However simple or sophisticated your needs, we’ll help you find the right product(s) for a satisfying lighting solution. Feel free to give us a call if you need any further guidance.

Why not take a look at our Lighting for New Build series of articles?

Alternatively, for more inspiration and advice try our Lighting Advice section.