Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Recessed lighting can help add decorative appeal to your basement and improve the visibility in the room. If you are embarking on this project for the first time, you may be wondering what the best method is to install the lighting. We have researched the proper way to install this type of lighting in your basement. In this post, we will go over it.
Here are the steps to install recessed lighting in your basement:
- Turn off the power
- Measure the light area
- Cut a hole in the ceiling
- Install the wiring
- Secure the light's housing
- Add the light trim
- Add light bulbs
- Turn the power on and test
Recessed lighting is becoming more popular by the day. These lines can be customized to suit your basement, and installing them can be done in one to two days, depending on the size of the room. Continue reading to learn more about the general steps for the project.
Steps To Install Recessed Lighting In The Basement
Before starting your project, it's best to list all the tools you'll need to complete the job. This will prevent you from making trips back and forth to the hardware store. It'll also give you a good idea of how to budget the project.
Things you'll need:
- Drill and drill bits
- Light bulbs
- Tape measure
- Light trim
- Stud finder
- Drywall saw
- Hole saw
- Wire strippers
1. Turn off the power
Start by turning off all of the power switches in your basement. Next, turn off the power at the breaker box by locating the main fuse for the basement. It's best to use a multimeter to test the light wires first to ensure no electricity flows. Keep in mind that if you aren't comfortable or experienced with working with electricity, it's best to contact a licensed electrician to either have them consult on the project or perform the electrical tasks for you.
2. Measure the light area
Before doing anything, you'll want to measure the area of the basement. You'll then want to determine how many lights you will need to install to get the effect you want. This number will be based on your goal for the lighting. Next, mark the intended locations on the ceiling with a pencil or marker before drilling or cutting any holes. Later in the post, we'll cover measuring the basement to determine the best way to light it according to your specifications.
3. Cut a hole in the ceiling
Once you have figured out the placement for your lighting, start by cutting a hole in the ceiling for the first light. Use a stud finder to ensure that the hole doesn't overlap any ceiling joists. Once you find an ideal area, drill a 1/4 inch hole into the ceiling. Be sure to use caution when drilling the hole to not drill through any pipes, wires, or ductwork behind the space.
You can also use a fish tape or a hanger to check for possible obstructions behind the ceiling. After drilling the hole, use a hole or drywall saw and cut out the drywall to create a hole for the light. The hole's size will vary based on the size of your lights but will usually be anywhere from 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
4. Install the wiring
The steps to this portion of the project will vary based on the current wiring setup of your basement. You'll first need to find the junction box for the ceiling. If you don't have one, you'll likely need an electrician to install one for you. Once a junction box is installed, run the electrical wires through the box and be sure to clamp them down. Next, take a wire stripper and cut off a few inches of the wire to expose the copper interior.
Then connect the wires using the color codes that came with the manufacturer's instructions on the lights. For safety reasons, always remember to match colors to their corresponding color. So, for example, white cables should be attached to white cables, black cables to black cables, etc. Wrap the wires around one another and then place wire caps on the ends.
5. Secure the light's housing
Now it's time to insert the light's housing into the hole that you've just created. Most recessed light kits come with clamps to attach the housings to the ceiling. Remove these clamps from the kit. Next, place the clips on the housing and then insert the housing into the ceiling hole.
Continue to push the housing up into the hole until it is flush with the bottom of the ceiling. Then, use your fingers to push the clamps outward and upward until they click around the ceiling. At this point, the flange should be flush and laying tightly up against the ceiling.
6. Add the light trim
You'll find it most recessed light kits come with trim that can be mounted with squeezable springs or rods. Remove these items from your kit and attach them to the trim. Next time place the trim on the ceiling and push it upward until you hear the clamps click in place around the housing flange.
If you have rods with springs, you'll need to squeeze them as you place the trim into position. You should hear the rods click in place when the trim is secure in its position.
7. Add light bulbs
After you have added the trim, grab your light bulb and screw it into place.
8. Turn the power on and test
After completing this process for all lights, you plan to install in the basement, turn the power on at the electrical box. Next, turn on the power switch for the room. If all the lights are working, you're good to go. However, if there are lights that are not turning on, you'll need to do some troubleshooting.
To do this, first, check the light bulb to make sure that it is completely screwed into place. Next, turn off the electricity to the room again and then troubleshoot the light bulb with your multimeter. You may also want to replace the bulb with another one before checking the conductivity and connections of the wires.
Where should recessed lights be placed in the basement?
The placement of recessed lights in the basement depends on your purpose for the light. If you are looking only to install accent lighting, you'll want to mark the areas you want to accent. For example, if you have a painting or a sofa that you want to bring attention to, it's best to determine how far you want lights to be away from these objects.
On the other hand, if you want to add full lighting to the entire basement, the most commonly used guidelines include adding one light to every 25 square feet of space inside the room. So, for example, if you have a basement that's 100 square feet, you need to install at least four lights for full coverage.
It helps first to measure the basement beforehand and then outline where the lights will go. It's best to install the lights at least three feet away from each wall inside a room.
What sized recessed lighting for a basement?
Typically, bulbs with a wattage of anywhere from 50 to 75 will work in a basement, depending on the basement's size. Another consideration is the type of brightness you want the basement to have and the capabilities of the circuit box in the home.
You don't want to trip the circuit box with too many high-powered lights in the basement. So it's best to know the maximum capacity for the box before deciding how many and what wattage light to use.
How much does it cost to add recessed lighting?
Though the costs will vary by locality and the size of your basement, you can expect recessed lighting installation to cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000. Some contractors may charge you a set price for the entire project, or they may charge you per each installed light, which can range from $75 to $500 per fixture.
It's best to get at least two to three quotes before deciding on the contractor for the job. It's also helpful to ask if the contractor is a licensed electrician. If not, the name and contact info for the subcontractor to whom they'll be licensing the electrical portion of the project.
Wrapping Things Up
Installing recessed lighting in the basement can be a pretty involved project. The most important thing to remember is that working with electricity can be hazardous, so it's best to ensure that you have the electrical knowledge needed to perform the work. If you don't, it's strongly recommended that you hire a licensed electrician.
Before you go, be sure to check our other posts: