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Old 02-28-2011, 10:21 AM   #1
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


I am in the process of finishing my basement and am beginning the electrical portion of the project. Given what I want to accomplish I've checked around different sites and reviewed my wiring book and seem to find several different answers so I thought I would post my specific situation and maybe with your help get some clarity on how to move forward.

Current configuration - Power enters a double switch box, wire is 14/3. One switch is 3 way that handles the stairway light. The other switch controls 4 light fixtures in the basement. I pulled down the first light of the run to see how it was wired in. I found two sets of 14/3 wires entering the light box. One went directly into the smoke detector about a foot away from the light fixture. The second 14/3 -The doorbell transformer is also attached to the first light fixture and tied into the second 14/3 cable. That first light fixture has the red wire and neutral attached to it. The second light is branched and has a black hot and neutral (no ground) traveling to it through conduit. The third and fourth light are on a second branch and wired in the same manner.

What I want to do - Have the first and existing switch manage 5 primary light fixtures in the room, add second switch to control a hallway light, add a third switch to control a florescent light in a walk in closet, and finally adding a fourth switch to control a storage room light.

What would be the best way to wire this configuration on the current circuit the lighting is on (removing the original 4 fixtures of course). I'm essentially starting from the beginning aside from the 14/3 that lands at the first light which is the same location I want the first new fixture to go.

I appreciate your help and input.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:26 PM   #2
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


Sound a little confusung but here are some thoughts. First, the 14/3 can have two hots ... but is not meant to. The smoke (carbon monoxide) detector should be on it's own circut. This may be what is happening here ... with the red wire. The other lights, I think, are all on the black wire, correct? Treat this as a 14/2. Personally, I would re-run the wires, assuming you have access, and start fresh. Run the 14/2 from the breaker box to the light switch box and from that point you could run your individual circuits. THe 14/3 is primarily used for 3-way switches.
Keep it simple ... and if you needto run another line from the breaker box, so be it. It's better to do that than to have a busy circut with all sorts of varying connections.
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:30 PM   #3
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


I'd share CO/Smokes with at least one commonly used light so you know if the breaker has tripped.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:46 PM   #4
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


I was surprised to see two 14/3's come into the first light fixture, I thought maybe the smoke detector is coming from another circuit since no part of it is connected to the wiring for the lights.

So if I am starting from scratch, what is the proper way to wire multiple lights with multiple switches?

Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:46 PM   #5
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


Check with your local codes to make sure whatever you do is legal. If not done correctly, insurance doesn't cover ... if ever something happens.
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Old 02-28-2011, 01:46 PM   #6
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


JD, First I'd get a book on wiring ... Home Depot or other stores have "Basic wiring" type books. You can run a wire from the breaker box to the receptacle that will house your switches. all the switches can be linked together (hot to hot) and same with the neutral (white wire). The book can (usually) show diagrams on how to do this. The main idea is to think of each light or lights on the same wire ... as one circuit. If you work it that way, work back from the lights to the switch ... remember that all the switches will be connected to the same hot wire ... from the breaker box. Make sense so far?
Also, if your are not sure of things, check the book for maximum number of outlets you can have (usually 12), especially if you are considering additional plugs.
Again, I emphasize a book because it will give you the do's and don'ts plus make your life a lot easier.
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Old 03-01-2011, 08:53 AM   #7
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Help With Basement Lighting Circuit


Thank you for the input. After taking another look I noticed two outlets, one used for the sump pump, wired into this circuit. So I am going to add another circuit for the additional lighting I want to add. Thanks again.
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