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I have a basement ceiling that's around 6'6" high and currently the lights are standard bulb outlets that are attached to the beams so they sit down at eye level in the room. This means when you're walking around you tend to accidentally back up into exposed lightbulbs often.

I'd like to put some sort of recessed lighting between the beams out of the headroom. I can't seem to find a recessed lighting can that fits within a 6inch beam depth and looks appealing (most are supposed to be burred in the ceiling with trim put on after). I'd like to avoid using long florescent bulbs and stick with standard outlets or some sort of LED bulb. I will be using CFL's or LED bulbs so heat isn't going to be an issue next to the wood. enter image description here

*Updated with a picture -As you can see the current light sockets are placed below the beams. My original thought was to just move them higher up, add more, and put in smaller CFL bulbs. I'm trying to find a more aesthetic looking idea for the basement.

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It sounds like you don't want to finish the basement ceiling; is that correct? – Niall C. Jan 25 '11 at 15:43
Correct, it would require too much work to fit it around all the low hanging pipes and ventilation. It's a 1920's home. – XOPJ Jan 25 '11 at 16:13
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would say pull the fixture off the beam itself and attach it in between the beams. Then you could get some track lighting that would hang down low enough to provide sufficient light, yet not drop below the beam line. Something like the picture here would work:

enter image description here

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Ahh funny you mention this! This is exactly what I found over at Lowes that seems to have the clearance and fits. By attaching it to the beams they sit nicely inside the head room. I haven't bought them or installed them yet, just finished the measurements. I'll be putting some photos up on here after so show what it looks like. – XOPJ Feb 17 '11 at 14:51

Does the lighting have to be on the ceiling? I'm thinking you might want to go with wall sconces.

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I'm not sure how big an area you're trying to cover, and how much light you need, but you might look into rope lights or LED ribbon lights to see if they'll do for what you need.

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This would definitely be an unusual look, but it's a clever idea! – Shimon Rura Jan 27 '11 at 19:37

I have fluorescent tube lights in my crawlspace (talk about low headroom..). There's two fixtures each with two bulbs, which adequately light an area about 20' x 10' (and 4' high). They're mounted so they are centered between joists, and the middle of the bulb is right at the bottom of the joist (so the bulb hangs down about 1/2" below).

One of these was already there when I bought the place, it is hung using chains from hooks screwed into the subfloor above. I actually just put the other one up on the weekend, and I just cut a couple pieces of 2x4 to span between the joists, mounted them at the correct height, then just screwed the fixture to them (they're placed at both ends).

enter image description here

I should also point out, I had an electrical inspection done after I moved in (for insurance because of aluminum wiring). The existing fixture had an extension cord end on it, so it plugged into a socket. The inspector told me that wasn't allowed, as a permanent fixture couldn't have a plug - so I had to hardwire it (there was another switched screw-in type bulb in another part of the crawlspace, so it just went to there). The new one I just put in is obviously also hardwired to that.

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good feedback thanks! – XOPJ Jan 25 '11 at 16:37

I don't know if this fits your exact situation.

The solutions to lighting rooms with low ceilings is often to use indirect lighting around the periphery of the room. There are many types of wall lighting available. Perhaps indirect lighting bounced off light-colored walls… or maybe lighting placed along the upper-most walls pointing upward to provide diffused, ambient lighting.

enter image description here

enter image description here

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That looks awesome and I'd love that effect in the basement but I don't think it could be obtained due to the low ceiling issue. I'll add a picture this evening to help visualize the location for further suggestions. This is a great suggestion though! – XOPJ Jan 25 '11 at 18:50
@XOPJ: Don't forget the lighting-type suggested in the smaller, upper photo, then. – Robert Cartaino Jan 25 '11 at 19:15

You could buy drop ceiling that doesn't stick out into the room. I believe it's called Ceiling Max. It nails to the inside of the ceiling rafters, so its flush and doesnt stick out at all. That's what I'm planning on installing in my basement.

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I have a similar situation in my basement, and one of the things that I thought of doing was to install track lighting on the side of the floor joists, close to the bottom so that the lights would be just out of the way, but still low enough that I wouldn't have heavy shadows cast from neighboring joists (I have some fluorescent strip lights mounted between joists; the contrast between the lighted area directly underneath and the shadowed area just a little to either side makes it difficult to see).

I've also thought about finishing the ceiling with drywall, or installing a drop ceiling; either of those two ways, I'd be using can lights recessed into the ceiling.

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Putting a drop ceiling would bring the room to less than 6' height, which isn't very acceptable for people that like to walk normally =) I'm going to do some searching for track style wall lighting to see if I can find something small enough to fit. I'm more than willing to install a light per floor joist gap to evenly light the basement. My main goal is to increase headroom and reduce the amount of things I can collide with. – XOPJ Jan 25 '11 at 16:16

I would try to find some recessed can lighting that could fit in the dept between the joices and put a trim ring on the outside. I think that would look OK.

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If you use track lighting, make sure you cross the beams of light instead of pointing the track to the nearest wall. This way you will get more even lighting across the whole area. It can make a big difference if you are trying to light a larger space.

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