How Do You Light an Unfinished Basement?

How Do You Light an Unfinished Basement?

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Unfinished basements can be scary places to be, especially if you don’t have a lot (or any) lighting down there. One of the biggest issues with unfinished basements is that there may not be a lot of electrical outlets or even any electrical wiring installed, meaning that your options may be limited as to what you can do. The good news is that you do have some options.

To light an unfinished basement, you can:

  • Use an LED lighting system that can screw into light sockets already existing in the basement.
  • Use string lights, if you have an electrical outlet.
  • Use LED light strips
  • Use adhesive LED lighting options
  • Hire an electrician to wire your basement for lighting

By reading on, you can learn all about your different options for lighting an unfinished basement. Learning about your lighting options can make your basement a little less intimidating. 

What Are Good Basement Lights?

You have to put a lot of thought into deciding which basement lights are going to be the best option for your needs. Every basement will have its own unique challenges and needs, so it’s first important to consider some things when you are deciding on what basement lights are good for your basement. Here are some things to look at when choosing basement lights:

  • How much natural light do you have in the basement? You may have a lot of natural light so that you can be in your basement without any lights during the day. However, you will still need lights if you ever need to go downstairs while it’s dark out. This means that you should plan your basement lighting for the right places in your basement.
  • How are you going to use the space? The type and the brightness of the lighting that you need for the basement will depend on how you want to use it. Are you going to create a little workshop down there? Are you turning it into a studio or workspace? Do you just use it to do laundry? The way that you intend to use the basement will help you decide on the best lighting solutions for you.
  • Your budget is important to consider. It can be very expensive to get an electrician to come out and run wiring through the space. If you don’t have a massive budget to handle the costs of hiring a professional, there are LED lighting options that don’t require you to run new electrical in the space, such as the STKR MPI or Trilight. These options both can be screwed into a regular lightbulb socket, but are 5 to 9 times brighter than a standard bulb.
  • You should also consider the style of the space, especially if you intend to regularly use the space. You want something that is functional without looking out of place.

Every basement and homeowner’s needs are different, which is why there are different options that can be considered good basement lighting. You just need to carefully think about what your specific needs are for the space to help you find the right solution for your basement. 

What is the Best Lighting for an Unfinished Basement?

Once you have gone through the different considerations, you develop a good idea of what you need in basement lighting. There are different lighting options that you will be looking at, though not every option is going to work for your needs. For instance, if you don’t already have the wiring in place, you will have to pay a professional to install your basement lighting. 

Flush Mount Lighting

This suggestion is more for a finished ceiling basement like a drop-ceiling where function and style can be achieved with flush-mounted lighting. If you have the wiring already in place, this may even be lighting that you can install all by yourself as long as you have the DIY skills to do so. You will need a few of these lights if you have a larger basement, as they don’t offer a lot of brightness in a wide area. Another downside of this option is that you need to have a type of flat ceiling where these can get flush mounted against in order to properly fit in the space. If you don’t have a ceiling or wiring, this can be a very expensive option.

Track Lighting

If you have an unfinished ceiling, one option to look at is track lighting. This is a popular choice because they can just get installed against the rafters and joists if there is no ceiling. They are fairly easy to install if you have some power tools and offer multiple lights on one track. This means that if you don’t need to light a big basement, you may get away with only needing one or two of these to offer sufficient light in the space. However, you will need to have electrical wiring in place to attach this lighting to. You may also want to consider getting a professional’s help to make sure that these are installed properly as they will require some mounting and cable management.

Stick On LED Lights

Stick On LED lights can be a good option for a variety of reasons. For one thing, there are options that are battery-powered, meaning that you don’t have to worry about electrical wiring or having the electrical outlets that you need for the lights. It’s important to know that these battery-powered lights may not have as much brightness as the ones that you need to plugin. They may be inexpensive at first, but you may need to get a lot of them in order to get the brightness that you need in the space.

String Lights

Another option to consider is string lights. This is a seemingly simple yet unexpected option to consider. They can run along your basement without the requirement of multiple outlets since they can be strung together. The problem with this option is that the lights may be stylish, but they may not offer as much light as you need. They also may not be as permanent of an option as most are held in place with what amounts to double-sided tape.

Twist-in LED Super-Bulbs/Lighting Systems

A final option (and in our opinion, the BEST option) is LED lights that can screw into existing light sockets. These can utilize the electricity that you have in the house to create more powerful lighting in your basement. This can be a great option if you have a larger space or a dark space that requires bright lights. You can even get fewer of these, depending on the size of the space, and still get a sufficient amount of lighting.

The best way to light a basement with Trilight by STKR Concepts

We briefly mentioned earlier the two perfect twist-in lighting solutions, the MPI and the Trilight. The Trilight is a one-piece super bulb that lets you unscrew that dim old standard bulb and screw this 4000-lumen beast right back in within just a few minutes. It has 3 adjustable light ‘blades’ that even give you some adjustability of the direction of your light.

The MPI (or Multi-Point Illumination) is a full room lighting system with five different points of light that are all powered off of just one standard overhead bulb fixture. The MPI has a round main light that screws into a standard fixture found on most unfinished basement ceilings and then comes with 4 satellite light fixtures that can be attached to bare joists wherever you need them (within 9.5’ of the base). This five-point lighting array gives your room a whopping 7500 lumens of amazing brightness.

The best basement LED light system MPI Basement light

How Many Lumens Do I Need for Basement Lighting?

There are not any specific calculations that you can do to get a true working lumens-per-square-foot model. The idea falls apart after you figure in things like the shape of your basement, how much stuff you have down there (yikes!), and if you’ve painted the walls and floor. That’s right, just having bright white walls, ceiling, and floor can intensely multiply the amount of light you have. But, to give you an idea of the lumen number you may want, it will help to know that a standard light bulb is usually in the 800 lumens range. For a much more detailed explanation of lumens, check out our lumen article here.


Your unfinished basement doesn’t have to be that place you avoid anymore. Even if you don’t have the electrical situation that you want in your basement, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options for stellar lighting solutions. STKR Concepts has a wide variety of lighting solutions that can provide an easy-to-use and install option and are even motion operated. These simple solutions are perfect to help you transform an unfinished basement into a functional and not scary part of the home. Try these lighting solutions in your unfinished basement to see how it significantly improves the space in your home.

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