We completed a renovation of our basement, but we kept the original lighting except for new bulbs. Now it seems like a mistake. The new fluorescent lights flicker or take forever to fully come on. Is it the fluorescent starter? What would it cost to buy entire new lighting for a 9x14 space?
Barry G. ~ Chicago, Illinois
Hi Barry, a fluorescent light taking a long time to come on is usually the starter in the fixture. The starter has to heat up prior to the bulbs coming on. This is normally a quick procedure unless the starter is beginning to go bad. Flickering fluorescent lights are an indication of a bad bulb or a bad ballast. The first thing to try is changing the bulb, but if the flickering continues then it is usually a bad ballast. It sounds like all of your basement lighting is going bad at the same time.
You don't mention what you are using your finished basement for, but I am not a fan of fluorescent lighting in a basement unless you are using it for a work space such as a work shop or home office. If you are using your finished basement as a recreation room or TV room, then in my opinion fluorescent lighting is not the way to go unless you decide you just want to repair your existing lighting.
You don't mention what type of ceiling you have in your finished basement, but if you have a drywall ceiling I would recommend recessed single bulb fixtures. 126 square feet is not a very large area, and 4 recessed fixtures should be more than enough light for the room. I usually suggest putting finished basement lighting on several switches, as sometimes you just don't need a lot of light and other times you do. I also suggest using dimmers so you can further adjust the lighting to your needs. If you are watching a movie you might only need 2 lights on and dimmed partially, but if you are playing cards you might want them all on and as bright as possible.
My estimate for installing 4 single bulb recessed ceiling fixtures and placing them on 2 separate switches with dimmers is around $400-$700. The somewhat wide range is due to the different grades of ceiling fixtures available and not knowing how much of your existing wiring can be used. I am also not sure of the labor rates for electrical contractors in Chicago, Illinois, or the exact conditions of the project, so the cost could be even a little under or over what I quoted.
In case you don't have a drywall ceiling, and the fluorescent lights are drop-ins in a dropped ceiling, you can achieve close to the same end results as the recessed lights would provide with 2 pair of track lights.