I know the "standard rules" say one light every 4 to 6 feet... But what would be the minimum I can get away with using canned lights for a room that is about 29x13. I previously went my way with recessed lights in our kitchen, installing just two lights for a 10x9 space, and after a year of using it to cook I am happy with the amount of light. So by my own rules 6 lights should be enough.

FYI, the ceiling will be a couple of inches over 8' and this is for a basement room with a 6 foot walkout door.

3 Answers 3


I have a basement room with almost the exact dimensions. You walk in the basement from stairs and basement starts in almost a corner (3/4 basement) and then you walk almost the width of the house and it is about 14 feet wide. I have 4 cans right when you get in the basement on one switch by basement door and then a square zone of 4 in the back of the room on a dual switch (dimmed and turned off and on from the first corner and then the complete other side of the room which is a small hallway) and then another zone of 4 in the front with the same dual switch set up.

Is 12 too many in the area. Considering that I am using 65W bulbs... no. With all 12 on at once the basement is well lit. If I take one bulb out from any light, there is some dead space. Also my basement has fully drywalled white ceilings and a bright light grey for the walls. If I had any sort of texture or darker colors then less light.

Would I have gone less? No way. Honestly I don't want to have to buy lamps and stuff for your basement. I also like to be able to see things. When it is lit, it doesn't feel like a basement at all. Everything has a dimmer and the 12 lights are split three ways so I don't ever feel like I have extra lights either. I could have gone 16 easy too (2 more on the back two zones). So my answer is 12-16.

Also you have to think how the room will be used. I have 4 at entrance which is on the most, then 4 by TV which is on the least (or if it is on it is really dim), and 4 by sitting area which is used when people are reading or doing homework.

If you are doing this yourself both the cost and time are minimal to add extras. An extra pot light is $20, 30 mins, plus a minor amount of time when drywalling.


That is a big room to be done in all recessed all on one switch. I'd break it up into switched groups or areas.

Use your judgement as to how many. I would probably do more than you, like 8 or even 12, but it is your room and you need to be happy with it.

  • Thanks, with my current plan for six, am going with 4 on one dimmer switch and two on another.
    – 0pt1m1z3
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 1:30

The amount of light should be determined by the use of the space. Unwelcoming (and unused) basements are usually dungeon-like (too dark). Use multiple switches or dimmers to can control how bright the room is. Another option is to use wall sconces.

Some considerations for you: The brain can easily detect small changes in pattern, so make sure that the floor joists above would allow you to have the lights evenly distributed according to your plan.

Halogen PAR 20 bulbs can be warm if you have low ceilings. Fortunately, affordable LED PAR 20 bulbs are readily available now.

It's better to put in enough lights than too few, and then regret it. Just do it right.

My basement is about 20'x24' and I have two switches controlling two banks of 12 pot lights (PAR 20 are 50 W bulbs) arranged in 3x4 grid. It took a bit of figuring to get the right spacing because of the ductwork, floor joists etc. The bank on the tv side has a dimmer. I am very happy with the level of lighting, and am gradually switching the bulbs over to LED as they need replacement. My ceiling is about 7' tall, so I don't get as much of a beam spread as you would with your 8' ceilings.

If you're concerned with heat or energy usage, use LED bulbs. If you do use LED bulbs, make sure your dimmer is compatible (not all dimmers are compatible with LED bulbs).

For your situation, I would recommend 12 pot lights in a 3 x 4 grid. If concerned about cost, an extra switch is cheaper than a dimmer, particularly if you are using LED bulbs.

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