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.
Lyco 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.
The 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.
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.
If 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.
A 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.
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
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.