How Far Apart Should I Put Recess Lights in a Basement?


Basement lighting creates a warm, inviting lower level in your home. Installing recessed lighting allows you to create general illumination and task lighting in specific areas of the basement. The recessed nature of the lights means you don't have fixtures hanging down, a benefit if your basement ceiling is already low. Plan for the layout and spacing of recessed lights to increase their effectiveness.

Existing Light

  • The amount of existing light affects the placement of the new recessed lighting fixtures. Assess the light levels in the basement during the day and at night with the current lights on. Look for areas that seem dark or in need of additional light to help you determine where to place recessed lighting fixtures and how far apart they should be.


  • The use of the lights also helps you determine spacing. If you want to add general illumination for the basement, a rule of thumb is to place the lights 4 to 6 feet apart. If your basement ceilings are lower, closer placement is necessary for quality lighting. Because there is less space between the floor and ceiling, the recessed lights can't spread out their light as much. One way to determine the spacing for a lower ceiling is to divide the height of the ceiling by two and space the lights that distance. For example, on an 8-foot ceiling, you would place the lights 4 feet apart.

Basement Circuitry

  • The spacing and location of your recessed lights are sometimes affected by the amount of watts available on your circuitry. You first need to know how many watts are already on the circuit. You can figure this by adding up all the watts of each item connected to the circuit. You also need to know if the circuit is 15 or 20 amps.

    The Family Handyman suggests limiting the watts on a 20-amp circuit to 1,920 and a 15-amp circuit to 1,440 watts. Once you know how much is already on the circuit, subtract it from the maximum to see how much space is available. If the circuit is already near the maximum, you will only have room for a few recessed lights unless you tie into a different circuit.


  • Taking all of these factors into consideration, decide where you want to place the light fixtures. If you're only placing the lights in one area of the basement, decide on your starting and ending point in that area. Mark those spots with a small round sticker or piece of painter's tape. Measure between the spots based on the spacing you determined to find the locations of the other lights in this area. For lights around the entire basement, start in one spot and work around the room to mark the locations, making sure the spacing is equal between each fixture.

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