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Old 09-13-2010, 05:38 PM   #1
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Basement stair lights

Hello to the forum. need some advice.

I am finishing my basement and am now working on the electrical for the basement stairs. The stairs will be lit with three recessed cans and the landing will have one can, total of four cans controlled by two 3-way switchs. Problem I have is that I need 14-4 or 14-2-2 wire (neither of which I can get) for the connections between the cans. 14-3, between the cans, does not let me connect all the neutrals together (I am missing one conductor).


(1) If I use (2) 14-2 cables (thereby giving me the 4 conductors I need) can I re-label one black with a piece of red tape on each end to identify it as a traveller if it is used in the same circuit? (acts as the red wire in 14-3) not sure what the latest version of NEC says.

(2) Same scenario in question one, but with 12 AWG, can I use (2) 12-2 arrangement.

Thanks all...


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Old 09-13-2010, 06:22 PM   #2
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Basement stair lights

Let me guess, your circuit is arranged something like Power->Switch->Light->Light->Switch? Sure, use a pair of two-wire cables between lights. Use one for your switched hot and neutral, and the other for your travelers, with the white marked black. That's how I did my garage lights. Works fine & is perfectly legal as far as I know.

Pay attention to your box fill though, you're going to have an awful lot of wires in your light boxes.


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Old 09-13-2010, 06:43 PM   #3
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Basement stair lights

Marking a colored wire with tape of another color (not green) is for your convenience, and not required by code.

Since you are just starting, it is best to run a 3 wire cable directly between the two switches. This cable may pass by outside the light boxes if that is the best routing. Next, wire the lights together using one 2 wire cable for each link. Finally connect one light box to one switch using a 2 wire cable. If the power came into a light box, run the switch cable to that same box.

If you only have 2 wire cable and the setup above:
power - switch - light - light - switch
you can run the two cables, one as
power - switch - light - light - switch
and the other (travelers) as
--- - switch - skip - skip - switch
thus saving a lot of wire nutting.
Do you get coverage you can count on? From the bag of fertilizer? From your lawn sprinklers?

Last edited by AllanJ; 09-13-2010 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:42 PM   #4
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Basement stair lights

i muist be missing something.......... why not just run a 14/3 between the two switches and a 14/2 from one of the switches to the lights, then 14/2 between the lights??
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:43 PM   #5
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Basement stair lights

Thanks for the information guys, REALLY REALLY appreciate it.

My original thought was to configure power > switch > L1...L4 > switch. This is also the config approved by the town.

It just seemed easier until I ran into the 14-4, 12-4 issue. I was under the impression that such a config was common in residential wiring so 14-4, 12-4, 14-2-2 and 12-2-2 were available from supply houses, not HD or was I wrong - I can't find the stuff anywhere.

Even though I can use the pair of 14-2's, I think I am going to change my config to power > switch > switch > lights. After reading your posts, its a much simpler configuration, easy to wire with material I already have and there is no overcrowding in the fixture boxes. I just need to update my electrical plan to reflect the changes and resubmit to the inspector for approval.

many many Thanks
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Old 09-13-2010, 08:46 PM   #6
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Basement stair lights


you're not missing anything...I am. I never considered another configuration for the circuit. Like I said, in my mind power > switch> L1...L4 > switch, seemed the easiest way.



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