many homes, just a small amount of ambient light enters a lower level. For that
reason, a well-designed lighting scheme is necessary. We decided to install a
programmable lighting system that controls every series of lights in the house.
We used a computerized system of lighting controls in the lower level that can
program any set of lights to turn on and off at any control pad in the house.
rough-in was the same as any other lighting rough-in. We used several groups of
recessed light fixtures to illuminate the lower level. What is different with
the programmable system is how the lights are controlled:
In regular systems, power is basically run directly to a switch, then from
the switch to the lights you want it to control.
the programmable system, power is run to a series of control modules.
Power runs from the modules to the lights with regular 14-gauge, non-metallic
sheathed cable. These runs are known as home runs. Low-voltage, control
wires are run from the control pads to the programmable central control
unit. This unit is connected to each control module to operate the lights.
To save on both cable and the number of control modules you need, it's best to
group as many lights as possible on each home run by wiring them together,
just as you would group a series of lights to a single switch in a typical system.
before starting a rough-in for a programmable system like this, you need to plan
the groupings and have the right number of control modules on hand.
programming for our system required addresses for each group of lights
-- you should designate those before you start so you can clearly label the end
of each home run back at the control modules. Otherwise, you could easily get
the cables mixed up at final hook-up.
boxes for the control pads are nailed in just like a typical system. But as detailed
above, low-voltage wires are run from those back to the central control unit (which
we put upstairs for easier access to the home computer).
Each pad can hold up to 9 separate buttons, so you can create a wide variety of
lighting combinations from any one of the switch pad locations.
And if you want to change the pad that controls a light, you don't have to rewire
it. You just reprogram it.
Level Lighting Options
lower level and basement projects, a prime concern is providing adequate lighting
and avoiding dark, cave-like effects that poor lighting create. Here are three
different lighting options we mixed together in this project.
Recessed Lights provide the main illumination in the lower level, casting
pools of light down over areas where it's needed the most but without creating
the "navigational" hazards of hanging lights which don't work well in low-headroom
Wall Sconces light up the ceiling which would otherwise be left darkened
in rooms with only recessed lights. This uplighting not only brightens
the room but makes the ceiling seem a bit higher.
Lighting eliminates the shadows falling on countertop surfaces below wall
cabinets. Our lights run off a low-voltage system with tiny 10-watt bulbs clipped
to a single cable stapled below the cabinets.