Basement Electrical


The basement has a lot of useful space, however the lighting is so poor that it made the space hard to use. There are six bare-bulb lights, four of them on pull strings. A light switch at the top of the stairs controls the fifth bare-bulb and a light switch at the door to the garage controls the sixth bare-bulb. With all of them on, the lighting is poor; there is a fluorescent fixture over the workbench and another over the laundry area, but it’s still poor. On top of that, there is exactly one outlet in the whole basement, for the washing machine. To make the space usable a lot of work had to be done, and I focused on only the north side of the basement. Below are the “before” photos.

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This was my winter project — several months of evening and weekend work. I installed fluorescent lights — a total of 12 fixtures — which made the area wonderfully bright. Experience says you can never have too many outlets around so I installed 22 across two 20-amp circuits. Each circuit is color-coded, too: white for one circuit, almond for the other. (That will make it easy to avoid overloading and blowing circuits.) To avoid running conduit on the outside walls or framing walls in the middle of the basement I added most of the outlets to the ceiling. It’s a stretch to reach, but manageable. In addition to the below photos, the lead photo above is also an “after” shot.

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The photos don’t adequately explain how much better the lighting is — not because the lighting itself is bright, but because of the light switches. As I wrote, the existing light switches controlled lights independently, and pull strings worked the other lights. Now, all lights can be turned on with a 3-way switch from either entrance at the top of the steps of the exit to the garage.

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