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Howdy 03-11-2008 04:33 PM

Basement Renovation Project
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Hi Everybody.

I was researching my newest project when I found this forum – and figured that it never hurts to ask for a second opinion to ensure what I am doing is correct, and most important safe.

Project – finished basement, consisting of open area with kids playroom, games room, exercide room. Closed areas for storage room, medium storage closet, small storage closet, workshop.

Progress – Just finished framing out the basement, about to begin the electrical work.

Experience – I will absolutely admit that I am an amateur, albeit with some background and experience. I just don’t do this often enough to call myself an expert of any kind. I did computer science in Uni, and as part of that, we had to do several courses on basic household electrical. My father in law is also a handy man, and I have watched him the in past. In addition, this is now my third basement that I have finished. The previous two, once I finished the electrical, I had them inspected by a qualified electricion (which I will do again this time). Ps – for the record – the person inspecting was not thrilled about one fact the first time – apparently I left too much wire outside some of the boxes – I was thinking in case I moved something later – but apparently this is a no no – but was fixed easy enough.

PS – I should add – last 2 times I did this – I was living in Canada, now I live in the south New Jersey area. Thus - I am definately qualified as an amateur - lol.

The plan

In as few words as possible, but hopefully enough detail so that everybody can see what I am up to.


Lead 1 from box – 14/2 wire (14/3 for 3 way switches) on a 15 Amp breaker. 6 pot lights in playroom, 6 pot lights in the games room, 4 pot lights in the exercise room, and 1 potlight at the base of the stairs. 12 in games room and playroom, controlled on one 3 way switch, 4 in exercise room on a second 3 way switch, 1 at bottom of the stairs on a 3rd 3 way switch. First set of 3-3 way switches at the top of the stairs, the 2 of the second set of 3 way switches (for playroom and games room, as well bottom of stairs) at the right side of the steps in the basement, the last, for the weight room on the left side. Pot lights are rated as 75 W each. Taking into account that some fool in the future could drop a 100W bulb into a couple, I rated the entire circuit at about 1700 watts (I know that this is slightly above the 1650 max – hoping that they don’t do all 100W bulbs – as the pots are only rated for 75W)

Lead 2 – from box 14/2 wire on a 15 amp breaker. 1 light in electrical utility closet, one in small storage, 2 in workshop, 2 in large storage, 2 in medium storage.

Diagram 1

Electrical outlets

Not sure of building code here in NJ pertaining to # of outlets per lead, but I know that in Canada it was 10 or 12. Either way my policy in the past has been 8 or less, anybody that can advise if that is within limits – much appreciate it. Second issue, in the past I have always run outlets with 20 Amp 12/2 wire. This seemed to be pretty much standard in the houses I was living in Canada. I noticed interestingly enough that here in South Jersey, almost all the lighting and electrical outlets are on 15 Amp. My question – is there anything against code in using 12/2 – 20 Amp down here? Just seems logical to allow for that extra load just in case.

Lead 1 – circle the basement through the exercise room, playroom and games room at just above floor level (using the same height as on the main floor of the house) (I have the advantage of a floating concrete floor – so we built all the framing to be 2-3 inches off the back wall. This leaves lots of room to run the wiring back there and run the staples in the back of the studs (ie no drilling).

Lead 2 – (only 4 outlets) – I have separated the heavier use here – 2 outlets in my workshop for the my tools, one in the weight room for any heavy exercise eq, and one in the storage room (just in case – lol).

For the main electrical panel – I have 3 open slots, plus I figure one that there is a dedicated basement outlet coming from now, and one that the basement lights are currently running on (though – interesting it is labeled as basement and bathroom). The intention is to use the 3 open slots – 2 for outlets, one for the potlights. Use the one that is currently in use for the basement lights for the smaller series in the workshop and storage areas. That leaves one – which has the dedicated outlet on it for future expansion, or in case I need a dedicated outlet for heavy exercise equipment or other in the future.

Diagram 2

Also, I intend to put in a drop ceiling – and not sure how to adjust or set up the pot lights with a drop ceiling. I have installed pots before, I have never done a drop ceiling – ROFL. This could be fun. I guess that my question here is – since the ceiling drops down by a thin aluminum frame, I would assume that I will have to frame out where I am going to install these pots and drop the framing low enough to go level with the drop ceiling. This I am not certain of – as the ceiling will go in much later. Do I just install the lights up high for now, leaving enough extra wire to drop them lower (hence how I got in trouble the first time I did this type of project), do I just install separate junction boxes up in the joists to connect the pots to at a later date when we install the ceiling? Any advice on this would be appreciated.

I guess that is about it – sorry for so many words, figured that more detail would be better.
Many thanks in advance.

goose134 03-11-2008 09:18 PM


My question – is there anything against code in using 12/2 – 20 Amp down here? Just seems logical to allow for that extra load just in case.
No, 12/2 is fine. More expensive but fine.

As for your circuit divisions, it seems like it'll work out. Something to consider is the lighting load. I didn't count how many cans you had, but figure at least 60 watts a piece (maybe more depending on the can). Add them up and make sure you'll have enough capacity for the lighting circuit.

Putting an outlet in a storage room is a good idea. You'd be surprised how many people end up putting their wireless routers in there. Run some cat 5 and coax there as well.

In addition, if you have a lot of home theater gear going in the basement, consider a dedicated outlet for said equipment. Good luck!

Howdy 03-12-2008 08:44 AM

Thanks Goose.

On the cans, I figured originally 16 cans - (rated at 75W each on the packaging) thus using 1200W of my 1650W capacity. That said, figured there is always a chance the the next home owner in the future might go and stick 100W bulbs in each socket - thus giving a maximum load of 1600W throughout the circuit. I believe that 14/2 15 Amp can carry a max load of about 1650W, thus would be ok. Now, even with all that planning, my wife then decided that she wanted an extra can at the bottom of the stairs on a separate switch. I threw that on the circuit, thinking that the overall load would be 1275W. That said, if somebody did throw 100W bulbs in every pot (which probably won't be a factor in a year anyway when the old style are no longer sold), the circuit would be at 1675W. I could change the single pot at the bottom of the stairs to the other circuit, where the load is much lighter, but the wiring there is going in a completely different direction, and that would then mean a lot of additional wiring. Still kind of undecided on this issue.

Ive already installed the wireless router in a closet on the top floor - my office is upstairs - and too far away from the basement for a good signal. Also, doubtful that any home theatre equip will go in the basement - at least while I live there. We have more than ample space on the main floor family room, and most of that sits there. The great thing about a drop ceiling though is that I can easily run a dedicated 20Amp to the family room (can even see the hole in the floor where the current cable is). Will wait on that though - given that I will only have 1 open circuit left to use.

One other question - anybody in here in the Jersey area that is a qualified electricion that can inspect my work when done? or know of anybody in the area? Also, how much should I expect to pay for somebody to inspect my work? I can imagine that prices must have changed since the last time I did a project like this.


LawnGuyLandSparky 03-12-2008 01:49 PM



Take the 4 cans in the small games room off the circuit with the large game room, make it a 9 can room (basements are dark) and swing it over to the circuit with the back workshop. Then take the 2 lights in the closet under the stair and feed them to the large game room lighting circuit.


Split the large gameroom and feed 2 the rear wall receptacles from the same receptacle circuit that appears in the workshop. If the staircase isn't open underneath and has walls on either side, then each gameroom needs a receptacle on that wall as well. Also, the wall between the doors to your electric/utility closet and the closet to it's right also requires a receptacle.

I agree with goose, since the closet under the stair will be deep. Rechargable sweepers and the like always end up in there. The good thing about DIY is an additional receptacle, even if you never use it, only costs about 3 bucks.

Howdy 03-12-2008 03:59 PM

oops - you just caught a small mistake in my design. The 4 pot games room is actually an exercise room.

So - if I read what your telling me right on the lights, 4 cans in the exercise room, 1 in electrical closet, 1 in small storage room, 1 in workshop, 2 in the large storage room = circuit #1.

6 cans in large games room, 6 in playroom, 2 in under stairs storage cabinet, one at the base of the stairs = circuit #2.

I like that design much better - and may even consider adding 2 extra cans in the exercise room given your feedback on lighting. A agree with that - and now recall regretting not adding enough lighting in the last basement I did.

On the outlets - my original design actually had those two back wall outlets on one circuit, along with 1 on the side wall in the large games room. I decided to take all three off and put them on one circuit - leaving the workshop and the exercise room (along with the storage room) on their own circuit - mainly because of anticipated heavier use in these rooms (ie power tools, exercise equipment etc). Given the anticipated use - is it still a good idea to break them up? Also, not sure what you meant by the stairs? At the moment there are no walls up at all - just framing. So easy to add outlets whereever I may need them. Under the stairs sounds like a good idea - and likely easy to reach.

goose134 03-12-2008 08:18 PM


On the cans, I figured originally 16 cans - (rated at 75W each on the packaging) thus using 1200W of my 1650W capacity. That said, figured there is always a chance the the next home owner in the future might go and stick 100W bulbs in each socket - thus giving a maximum load of 1600W throughout the circuit.
Recessed cans are equipped with a thermal cut-out switch that prevents the fixture from being "over-lamped".

I totally agree with lawn guy on the lighting layout. Corners tend to get a bit dark if your spread isn't figured correctly. Sorry I didn't spot that.
lawnguys outlet program looks a bit better as well. Got your low voltage covered? Speakers, phone, sat,data?

Howdy 03-13-2008 11:07 AM

All the low voltage is already run to the main floor where that equipment is currently located. In the unlikely event that we decide to add more in the basement later - the great thing about the open electrical room (where cable, Sat, phone etc come in, and the drop ceiling is that I can run these leads to anywhere in the house at anytime. That said - don't anticipate that need.

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