about 45' long feet by 22' feet wide unfinished basement. stairs come down from the middle of the 45' long side into about the center of the basement. the 2x6 floor joists overhead are all exposed, along with all the electrical wiring. So adding anything and running wiring is very easy. Height above basement floor about 7'. I want to replace existing lighting but don't want to spend a lot. The LED lithonia lighting 4' led (flourescent replacement) from depot is $45 each. I figure I need at least 5 of those but I don't want to spend $250. Are there cheaper lighting options?

  • YES there are cheaper options. Have you tried shopping on the internet? I can do it for you for a fee. I have seen many led fluorescent replacement tubes for less than 45.00.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:10
  • what's best lumen per $ option for lighting? Do i get a 4' led strip light like i mentioned, or do 6" can lighting + bulb, or do cheap receptacle single A19 bulb?
    – ron
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:14
  • 2
    Off the top of my head, Costco, LED shop lights. My shopping fee will have to reflect the time involved with researching "best lumen per $ option for lighting" You did not tell us what the existing lighting is.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:22
  • 1
    $45 will buy you the entire fixture, not just a retrofit tube.
    – brhans
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:24
  • 1
    @brhans OP knows that, but is replacing three 8' fluorescents, so five 4' units is about right. Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 0:07

4 Answers 4


$250 to light a huge room is, in the grand scheme of things, not that big a deal. That's about $0.25 per square foot. If the existing lighting is 4' fluorescent tubes (as basements have typically had for a very long time) and your issue is simply quality of the light, then you can do quite well with any of:

  • Replace the fluorescent tubes with LED tubes. But remember some tubes are better than others - compare CRI, lumens and power usage.
  • Replace the fluorescent tubes with better fluorescent tubes - particularly CRI can vary quite a bit.
  • Replace the fluorescent tubes and the ballasts - as Harper noted, newer ballasts can improve things in a number of ways.

With LED tubes and ballasts, or with a full LED fixture replacement, some manufacturers are much better than others. I have my own experiences with going cheap on LED fixtures - they tend to fail early - not all but a significant enough percentage. So if you go on the cheap side to save money (which is not necessarily a bad thing to do), make sure to buy from a store that will stand behind the products. If you order online then stick with well-known manufacturers as the "unknowns" are far more likely to give you trouble and returns are crazy on this type of product (easy to ship back small, high value, stuff; not so easy to ship back 4' light fixtures).

Personally, I have replaced my fluorescent & incandescent bulbs and/or fixtures one at a time with LEDs. Still have a bunch of fluorescents in place and will switch to LEDs as they need replacement so that the $ impact isn't so high.

On the other hand, if your existing lighting is a "mixed up mess" - 4' fluorescents in one part, hanging incandescent bulbs in another, etc. - then I would spend the $250 to get everything all new, up-to-date, bright and energy saving.


I notice you are not rejecting LEDs for being blue, harsh, shimmery and poor color rendition. Of course you aren't, because you don't pre-judge, and you know they've come a long way.

Well, don't reject fluorescent for being flickery, green, poor color rendition and not working in the cold. The fluorescent people have also been busy! Modern fluorescents with electronic ballasts (magnetic ballasts are no longer legal) coldstart, never flicker, and have 90+ CRI in any color temperature you want, from 2700K to 5500K. That's better than LEDs, unless you're super picky. (The old tubes were 4000K with a CRI of about 3.) I am doubling down on fluorescent because it's such a great value proposition.

New fluorescent fixtures are plentiful in the $20 range. Be a bit of a snob, though, about ballasts; rapid-start is better than instant-start (programmed-start is top-shelf, especially in the cold). And brands like GE, Advance, Sylvania or Universal are better than some of the no-name brands they unearth from Chinese exporters.

One way to be a ballast snob is buy old fluorescent fixtures in the $10-ish range off Craigslist, then fit your own electronic ballast. EBay has bargains there.

  • thanks. there's currently three 8' old style in the basement (possibly magnetic ballast) which i hate there's always one bulb out or flickering. I have some 4' fluorescent shop lights in another basement, they have been problematic over the years in my experience
    – ron
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:50
  • i'm leaning towards one or two 6-packs of 6" recessed can lights using BR40 75w LED bulbs
    – ron
    Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:51
  • 1
    @Ron well there's a huuuuuge difference in the amount of light you'll get from those choices. The five LEDs you started with will give 17,500 lumens. A 6-pack of "75W" bulbs will give 6000 lumens. Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 20:58
  • 1
    If you already have the old fluorescent fixtures, that saves you the trouble of Craigslist! (And please, sell them on Craigslist to someone like me). I would not hesitate to swap those ballasts with a quality electronic ballast designed for T8 tubes (not T12), and immediately recycle the T12s and fit T8 tubes of 90CRI or 98CRI. You will not believe they are the same fixtures. You could do the whole kaboodle for under $100! Commented Sep 3, 2019 at 21:00

If you want to go cheap, you could install nail up round plastic boxes, put 4-6 of them evenly spaced, wire them. Then install keyless fixtures, and buy a bulk pack of 4-6 led bulbs and screw them in.

The above of course is, if "cheap" is the priority.


I used these LED panels. They are amazing and provide superior lighting. I would estimate you would be happy with 4-6 of them for your area. I used 6 in my 30x40ft basement. I liked them so much, I went bought 4 more for my 24x24 garage. However, I had no luck with the 'dimmable' feature. I never did figure out why, but it kept frying the dimmable switches. However, for a garage/workshop you probably don't want/need dimmable. They aren't exactly cheap, but you will be thrilled with the amount of light.


These replaced fluorescent fixtures and halogen fixtures. I hated the noise of the florescents and the halogens were hot.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.