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Old 02-05-2010, 10:01 PM   #1
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Hey all,

Stumbled across this site. This could have the potential to be really helpful for me, so I'm going to be bold here and give a pre-emptive "thank you" to you all.

Now, onto my questions at hand. We're finishing the basement in our new (built in 2006) house and I have a few questions, which all should be really easy for the experienced sparkies here.

  1. Is there any disadvantage to having a higher number of circuits? I want one circuit breaker for the office, bathroom, and bedroom. The living space (which will ultimately be a nice home theater room) has 4 walls, and I am going to put each wall on it's own circuit. My thought behind this is not only for amperage distribution (which won't be a concern really, but I'm playing a safe) but also for future troubleshooting for the next owner. If they have some sort of electrical issue and a breaker is popping, I want them to be able to very easily define which area of the basement to focus on.
  2. I saw that my mechanical room and furnace have different breakers in the panel, per code. However, I see one wire (appears to be a 14-3) coming out of the panel directly into a light box that has a light fixture with a pull rope (no toggle switch wired in yet). However, coming out of the light box are 2 sets of 14-2 wires...one continues onto the outlets in the mechanical room but the other goes to the furnace. Did they use the red wire in the 14-3 as a hot to the furnace, and then connect that to the furnace breaker while keeping the black wire on the mechanical room breaker? Seems like it would make sense as it saves them money on material...just wanted to check before I dive in on that tomorrow.
  3. I have the bottom edge of my outlet boxes 12" off the concrete floor. I used that reference based on what the original builder did with the one outlet here by the patio door. I couldn't find anything that referenced a height off the ground (which I thought odd)...read the MN Electrical Guide provided by the state 3 times and couldn't find it.
Thanks for any help you can offer up. I appreciate it!

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Old 02-05-2010, 10:15 PM   #2
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  1. No issue, other than considerations for breaker space in the panel. In my workshop I have one circuit per outlet
  2. Sounds like maybe a MWBC (multi-wire branch circuit) - a shared nuetral. Is it a double breaker in the panel? Anyone else differing thoughts?
  3. No specification on height, just that consistancy as you did is a good thing - for typical residental I use the length of the hammer I am using to attach nail-on boxes. Outlets in my shop are waist height as there is usually stuff along the wall that would block me from getting to them.


Last edited by vsheetz; 02-06-2010 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:26 PM   #3
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I just looked at the breakers for the mechanical and furnace circuits and they are different breakers....not sure if that's what you meant (I'm thinking not). They are not physically together either (they "wiggle" independantly if that makes sense).
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:38 PM   #4
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Overkill, overkill, overkill. Just put your basement outlets on one circut, basement lights on another. Workshop has a lot of draw so your workshop might be on its own breaker. But as far as having each wall on a seperate breaker...

Your going to run out of space in your breaker panel and need a separate service panel just for your basement. As far as your basement and furnace being on separate breakers, yes they should be.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:49 AM   #5
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I agree that separate breakers on each wall is overkill. Are you going to have home theater equipement on each wall? I'm a DIY homeowner and have done wiring, (replacing aluminum is fun...briefly) and if anything you'll probably just confuse the next person that buys your house...or the inspector. Most people can read a breaker panel and decide which breaker to flip.

If you want to play it safe, run an isolated ground circuit to the outlet(s) you'll use to power the home theater equipment, maybe use a 20 amp circuit instead of 15 amp, run the rest of the outlets and lights on separate circuits, or one 3 wire circuit, and call it good. You might consider reading up on 3 wire circuits. It is a far better alternative than running a bunch of 2 wire circuits. I'm all about safety and doing things right, but most homeowners don't know their a** from their elbow when it comes to wiring problems anyway, and what you're suggesting is wasteful.

Last edited by detailedEye; 02-06-2010 at 01:09 AM.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:21 PM   #6
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Great tips fellas. I'll read up on the 3 wire. I'm admittedly no expert on high voltage, but I did wire up my garage and the inspector said he wished everyone did it like I did...which I take as both a compliment as a sign that I'm on the right track. But, I still don't profess to even begin to think that I'm "good"...but that's my goal here.

I work with low voltage all the time, and when it comes to troubleshooting isolating where the issue resides is the toughest part. So, taking that logic and applying it to my basement is what prompted me to go overkill on the circuits (I have plenty of room in the panel....plenty). I just wanted to make it easy should a short occur somewhere so that the next guy isn't having to really tear all sorts of things apart looking for the source of the problem, but rather can quickly identify the location of the issue. Say a breaker trips, with my setup/theory I'd know immediately that the cause of the issue is limited to the bank of outlets on that particular wall or the home run back to the panel.

As for my HT gear, that will all be on one wall along with a gas fireplace. That will all be on one circuit.

I guess my largest fear or concern is the next guy coming in when we sell the house and have them say "who the heck did this hack job??". I was "that guy" in our first house and it was frustrating as all getout, and so I want to be just the opposite and have the next guy say "Whoever did this did an awesome job".

I appreciate your inputs greatly.......greatly!
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:54 PM   #7
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I would never put an entire basement on one circuit

Bathroom requires a GFCI protected circuit
Bathroom circuit can only feed one bathroom if it includes bathroom lights
OR a bathroom circuit can feed multiple bathroom outlets ONLY
A seperate circuit for the office is an excellent idea
If anyone wants a color laser printer youhave enough power to run one

Bedroom requires an AFCI protected circuit
Also you must have a legal means of egress for it to be a bedroom
A door leading directly outside (not to a garage) OR a window big enough that meets code

Your finished basement will also require AFCI protected circuits
At a bare min I would run 2 circuit in the basement
You never want to have to rip a wall apart to run more circuits
My basement curently has (5) 20a circuits
An Inspector will NEVER be confused by more circuits
A future homeowner may Thank you since they will be able to connect anything anywhere without tripping a breaker
My wifes vaccum pulls 12a...try plugging that in when the basement is on 1 circuit
Space heaters take up to 1500w...never know when someone might want to plug one in

I do not use 12-3 wire, I use 12-2 - just my preference
That way the neutral is not shared, a problem with one circuit will not effect the other circuit
Lights I do put on a seperate circuit, not on an outlet circuit






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Old 02-06-2010, 01:23 PM   #8
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I thought the code stated that only bedrooms are required to have AFCI circuits here in MN...not all circuits in the basement?? I just want to make sure I do it right is all.

I think all in all, I was going to be adding 6 more circuits for the basement (bedroom, bathroom, office, HT right wall, HT font wall, HT left wall (which may end up having a water feature, so that will have to be GFI. The circuit isolation would also help with electric interference (running the vacuum on the same circuit the computer is on can mess with things).....right or wrong?
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:52 PM   #9
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If you have the room in your panel, i don't see a problem with running that many circuits. However make sure what needs AFCI has it, and what needs GFCI protection has it.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:03 PM   #10
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As I'm understanding it, the AFCI is done by utilizing the AFCI breaker only (no special outlets, etc...). The GFI circuits can be done with the GFI outlets. Are both these statements correct?
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:30 PM   #11
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AFCI is by breaker
GFCI can be by breaker or outlet (less expensive)
From what I can see on a State acceptance map MN has adopted NEC 2008 since at least Aug 2009
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Old 02-06-2010, 04:26 PM   #12
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Installing more than the minimum circuits is not only permitted, but may be well advised. Your answer to no. 1 is "no disadvantage if you have the budget and the room in your panel box".

The NEC defines the minimum you can do to be relatively safe. Not even a master electrician can simply say "just put in the minimum circuits allowed by they NEC". You need to add up the loads you expect on each set of outlets and design accordingly. If you think you might plug in a coffee maker even in a small TV room, you better have at least two outlet circuits. Do the math and plan accordingly.

If you want more circuits simply so that your labels are easier to follow for the next homebuyer...hmm. Well, that's up to you. I design for safely and utility. I keep a nice little drawing that shows all my outlets and lights using a seperate color for each circuit and have never been confused.

Absolutely yes to the computer isolation query. If I knew an outlet or two would be dedicated to computerized office equipment, that's all that would be on that circuit. Otherwise, a UPS is a necessity. Motorized equipment starting up can knock computers offline. A lot of other devices can cause interference on the same circuit.
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Old 02-08-2010, 05:11 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sanny651 View Post
Hey all,

Stumbled across this site. This could have the potential to be really helpful for me, so I'm going to be bold here and give a pre-emptive "thank you" to you all.

Now, onto my questions at hand. We're finishing the basement in our new (built in 2006) house and I have a few questions, which all should be really easy for the experienced sparkies here.

  1. Is there any disadvantage to having a higher number of circuits? I want one circuit breaker for the office, bathroom, and bedroom. The living space (which will ultimately be a nice home theater room) has 4 walls, and I am going to put each wall on it's own circuit. My thought behind this is not only for amperage distribution (which won't be a concern really, but I'm playing a safe) but also for future troubleshooting for the next owner. If they have some sort of electrical issue and a breaker is popping, I want them to be able to very easily define which area of the basement to focus on.
  2. I saw that my mechanical room and furnace have different breakers in the panel, per code. However, I see one wire (appears to be a 14-3) coming out of the panel directly into a light box that has a light fixture with a pull rope (no toggle switch wired in yet). However, coming out of the light box are 2 sets of 14-2 wires...one continues onto the outlets in the mechanical room but the other goes to the furnace. Did they use the red wire in the 14-3 as a hot to the furnace, and then connect that to the furnace breaker while keeping the black wire on the mechanical room breaker? Seems like it would make sense as it saves them money on material...just wanted to check before I dive in on that tomorrow.
  3. I have the bottom edge of my outlet boxes 12" off the concrete floor. I used that reference based on what the original builder did with the one outlet here by the patio door. I couldn't find anything that referenced a height off the ground (which I thought odd)...read the MN Electrical Guide provided by the state 3 times and couldn't find it.
Thanks for any help you can offer up. I appreciate it!

When it comes to electrical, and multiple rooms, I've heard horror stories. Be sure you check where all the wires run an make sure that any junction boxes are not drywalled in and in accessible. No harm having more circuits than less, however mixing outlets in various rooms might distribute the load requirement a little more evenly. Good luck, I'm opting at hiring an electrician for my work.
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Old 02-08-2010, 07:33 PM   #14
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"Wisdomless speak with heap great wisdom".

If you don't feel confident wiring your own home, don't try it...or learn what you need to until you feel confident. It's not rocket science, but it is one of those things that can change your life if you don't cross your t's.

Assuming you know how switches and outlets work, you still need to know a bunch just to run a simple circuit:

* Protecting the wire runs from physical damage that can occur after installation
* Protecting the wiring from overload
* Proper grounding techniques for equipment
* Proper grounding techniques for circuits
* Sizing junction boxes, outlet and switch boxes
* Proper techniques for wire nut joints
* Proper techniques for terminating wires under screws
* Calculating load requirements on a circuit

If you want to tackle a small wiring project:

* Design knowledge of sq ft requirements for lighting circuits
* Knowledge of spacing requirements for outlets
* Knowledge of requirements for special protection such as ARC and GFI
* Load balancing your breaker panel
* Knowledge of what equipment requires dedicated circuits

...and probably twenty more things I didn't think of.

There are some good books that summarize the important things you need to know to do your own electrical work safely. It's been a LOT of years since I learned wiring from a book, but maybe some of the guys on the board can recommend a recent one. I'm not talking about an interpretation of the NEC...just what you need to do and not do to design and wire a typical room. Just reading it will bring questions to your mind--then you can come here for answers. By then you will either have the confidence or not.

G'luck!
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Old 02-09-2010, 06:54 AM   #15
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All new wiring in MN needs to meet the NEC 200. But that is coming from a Coon Rapids home inspector.

But to comment on your number of circuit question. Run as many as you want. This is your house and as long as it is wired correctly do what you want and have fun.

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