What Lighting Should You Use For The Drop Ceiling In Your Basement?

Homeowners have a surprising amount of options when it comes to basement lighting for drop ceiling. Ceilings are not limited to the panel lighting normally available to drop or suspended ceilings. A little creativity opens up a variety of lighting types, including ordinary room fixtures and floor or table lamps. The type of ceiling material also limits the type of lighting available.

Fabric ceilings do not accommodate lighting fixtures. Wall sconces and floor lamps provide soft lighting to billows of fabric and increases depth and interest in the ceiling texture. Wall sconces and floor lamps can be an option for any suspended ceiling. These lamps can range in styles from ultra-modern to ornate and historic. No special supports are needed because wall sconces and floor lamps will not place stress on the suspended ceiling. Floor lamps are moveable, so no planning is required. Place wall sconces at intervals or according to need. Wire them yourself, hire a professional to help with installation or plug them into an available outlet.

Lighting panels for drop or suspended ceilings have fixed sizes. The typical grid size for most ceilings comes in either 2′x2′ or 2′x4′. Off-size grids will not accommodate drop-in panel lights. Lighting panels for suspended ceilings have also recently gotten an upgrade. Cost conscious consumers can choose LED panel lights instead of fluorescent. LED lighting panels are light weight and come in a number of white and off-white neutral home lighting colors. They last at least 10 years with 12 hours of use per day and up to 20 years if use is decreased to eight hours per day. Fluorescent and LED drop ceiling lights are extremely efficient for producing a large amount of area light.

The drawback is that most panel lights are large and somewhat institutional in feel, but lighting panels are one of the easiest solutions to install. Some light panels come with an attached plug. These require an outlet placed under the suspended ceiling or they may be wired directly. After the light is plugged in or wired, simply tilt the panel to one side to insert it into the proper grid hole, and then lower it onto the grid brackets.

If the light is on the heavy side, it is a good idea to add additional suspension wire to support the brackets. Measure from the tee bracket to the floor joists and multiply by four for the length needed to wire four support points to the tee bracket. Mount four suspension wire clips to the floor joists. These should be about 7″ off the center of the tile. Wire length should equal the distance between the suspension clips and the tee brackets plus about two feet. This allows for a top wrap of 6″ and a bottom wrap of about 18″. To attach, bend the wire at right angles, feed through the clips and twist three or four times to hold. Feed the wires through the main tee bracket and pull taut. Bend them back on themselves to hold. All of the wires should be tight.

Recessed Lighting Is A Great Option

Recessed lighting can be the perfect solution for a modern home theatre room. Recessed lighting installs easily into ceiling tiles and is light weight, so the fixture is easily supported by existing brackets and suspension wire. As with all drop or suspended ceiling projects, measure the room and plot the grid out on graph paper. Use this grid to help determine the placement of the lights in the room.

Add additional suspension wire to help hold the brackets, using the previous instructions. Use a keyhole saw to cut a circular hole in the center of the ceiling tiles that will accommodate lights. This is where the light will be mounted. Add a C channel to both sides of the light can. Clip the channel to the main tee bracket. Wire the light or hire a qualified electrician to do the work. Replace the tile and clip the trim bracket to the front of the light.

Normal, everyday light fixtures are still useful for lighting. This is especially useful for decorators who want to maintain a historic or period accurate feel to the ceiling. Traditional fixtures come in a wide range of styles that can help avoid the inevitable clash between an antique-look ceiling and ultra-modern lighting.

Round or octagonal mountings will both work to attach the fixture to the tee bracket. Octagonal fixture mountings require a special set of clips to attach, while the round mounting has spreader bars which can screw directly to the tee bracket. These can be wired in a normal fashion. Make sure to add suspension wires for support as above. Use a keyhole saw to cut a circular hole for the fixture in the center of the tile. Replace the tile and install the fixture so it is flush against the ceiling. Heavier fixtures may require additional mounting brackets that can be secured to the floor joists above the drop ceiling.

Track lighting can be adapted for drop ceilings as well. Support clips attach to the tee brackets using existing suspension wires and the track can be mounted to the clips using bolts. From there it is a matter of wiring the lighting and adapting ceiling tiles to accommodate the track.

There are a number of lighting solutions made specifically for a suspended ceiling including LED or fluorescent lighting panels, but the choices do not end there. Canned or recessed lights are a popular choice for suspended ceilings and they accent modern decor very well. Track lighting creates a directional interest and flow for a room. More traditional light fixtures can also be easily adapted for a suspended ceiling. Floor lamps and wall sconces work well, especially when the ceiling materials do not permit installation of ceiling hung light fixtures. Explore other lighting options as well.

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