Basement lighting is actually one of the trickiest areas of lighting design. Many people simply throw up a few bulbs and call it a day. However, even if you don't decide to finish your basement or to use it on a regular basis, there are still a number of things that you should consider when lighting your basement. Even if attractiveness is not a goal, proper task lighting is, and there are some standard steps to take.

Properly lighting storage areas: One thing that many people use their basements for is to store items. However, when basements are not lit properly, finding anything in the dark basement becomes nearly impossible. In order to correct for this problem, you should make sure that you have adequate lighting for your storage areas.

If the area is a shelf, place a fixture on the beams at about a thirty degree angle from the shelf itself. You might even consider using a directed beam like a halogen bulb or reflector bulb, but that isn't necessary. A simple fixture will suffice. The goal is to make sure that the beam shines into the storage area from above and to an angle. If your shelves are especially deep, you can use a tall fixture (like a floor lamp or a fluorescent bar) to light the entire shelf space from the side.

Shield your lights: One of the greatest lighting paradoxes is that bright lights are actually dimmer than dim ones. Why? If we have bright lights in our field of vision, or irises will contract and less light will actually enter our eyeballs. Any lighting should be shielded, using some sort of translucent covering.

Recreational lighting: Many people use their basements for recreational lighting. If you plan to do this, it is important to light the area properly. You don't need to have a full plan like in the living room, but you should have multiple light sources. Use lights above the field of play, so that the entire play surface is lit (whether it is for floor hockey or pool). A couple of wall lights will also make the room more pleasant to play in, even if you don't finish it. If you are performing any activities that might break light bulbs, don't use fluorescent lights in your basement. A broken fluorescent light is very toxic.

With these few tips, you should be able to install some attractive and useful lighting in your basement at little cost.

Source by Daniel Bader, Ph.D.