If you came here looking to get some answers on how to wire a basement then you came to the right place. We have spent several years getting it right so let us show you how we do it.
Wiring a basement can be easy or hard. This depends on how fancy you want your basement to be and how much wiring you want to install. We have wired several and can offer some helpful tips for your electrician.
Top Ten Code Tips On How To Wire A Basement
- How to wire a basement with plugs?
- How to wire a basement with switches?
- What do I need for communications?
- Do I need smoke detectors?
- How to wire a basement with arc faults ?
- Do I need separate circuits for the bedrooms?
- How many lights do I need?
- Do the lights need to be on with the plugs?
- Do I need an exhaust fan in the basement bathroom?
- Am I required to have 3 ways on the stairs?
How To Wire A Basement With Plugs
As per our code we are required to install an outlet in any room which includes a basement area every 12 feet.
Most appliances come with 6 foot cords. Having 12 feet between receptacles allows you to plug a lamp in anywhere you would like.
In addition we also must have an outlet on any wall space exceeding 3 feet. The outlets must also start within 6 feet of the beginning of any wall.
This does not include non useable wall space in areas that there are heaters or doorways.
A swinging door is not considered useable wall space. If you have a window that goes to the floor that is not considered using the wall space.
Useable the wall space is exactly that where you can use it to plug in an electrical device.
How To Wire A Basement With Switches
Wiring switches is a little bit more tricky. Our new code states that any wall switch device cannot exceed 44 inches in height from the finish floor.
This is to make it handicapped accessible. These new code rules just come in to play in 2019.
This includes any wall switch, thermostat, or control device. Although it is not a code roll we generally tend to gang or switches together in one area.
This is so there are less switches around the room and easily accessible for handicap in one location.
What Do I Need For Communications
Let’s face it communications or low-voltage wiring is starting to become a thing of the past with everything being wireless.
However there may be an unreachable area in your home or you need to have it hardwired ethernet connection.
Make sure care is taken when the internet cables are run there are no kinks in the wire which will result in slowing speed.
Most phone lines are now wireless and portable. A hardwired phone line should only be required at your main panel location which your service provider can do for you.
Do I Need Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are a different story.
By code we are now required to have a hardwired smoke detectors on each level of the home.
In addition we are also required to have a smoke detector in each bedroom in a home.
This includes any basement area or any basement bedrooms included within the home. Smoke detectors also must have battery back up in the form of a 9 V battery.
They must be interconnected so if one smoke detector goes off they all go off.
For more on smoke detector and battery maintenance click here.
How To Wire A Basement With Arc Faults
Arc fault breaker‘s are required on any plug circuit as per new code.
Since arc fault breakers are so expensive we recommend that you have your electrician add as many plugs to a circuit as possible.
This will minimize the use of arc fault breakers and reduce the cost. We are permitted to install 12 outlets per circuit and we recommend that you max it out.
In most cases we will install the lights on an individual circuit all by themselves.
This will break the circuits up and reduce the amount of breakers as a regular breaker is about 8 dollars and an arc fault breaker is about 70 dollars.
Do I Need Separate Circuits For The Bedrooms ?
When wiring a basement if you do have a number of bedrooms then it is best to put all your outlets on one circuit to minimize arc faults.
As an example if you have three bedrooms with four outlets in each bedroom this will be your maximum number of 12. You can use one arc fault the power of these verses three for each bedroom.
You can then break the lights off in a separate circuit which is not required to have an arc fault on it.
Keep in mind if you have any large loads to be added to the circuit then you will have no choice but to break it into separate circuits for each bedroom.
As an example if you have a small space heater you would like to plug-in it may be better off to run an individual circuit just for the heater.
How Many Lights Do I Need?
Each contractor is a little different when it comes to wiring light fixtures in especially when it comes to pot lights.
In a well lit area with windows we tend to go 6 feet between pot lights or even a little further.
When dealing with a dark area like a basement then you may want to one of the pot lights installed every 3 to 4 feet.
This will reduce shadowing on the areas trying to be lit.
An example if you had a 10 x 10 basement bedroom with no windows then we would install four- 4 inch pot lights.
Do The Lights need To Be On With The Plugs
Traditionally we always installed the lights on with the plugs and did each individual room which is morning tidy when it comes to marking the panel legend.
However with what we mentioned above it is simply just not possible unless you want to enter the extra cost this is why we break them up.
Do I Need An Exhaust Fan For The Basement Bedroom?
Exhaust fans by code are not required in a residential basement bathroom at least an electrical one anyway.
You may want to check with your local building codes to see if you’re required to have recovery ventilation within the bathroom.
Having said that it is a very good idea to install a ventilation fan.
Moisture will get within the walls and cause mold problems especially in a basement. You can find out more more on what we recommend for bathroom fans here.
Keep in mind you want to go with a higher CFM rated bath fan to pull the moisture out quicker.
Am I Required To Have 3 Ways On The Stairs?
We are required by code to have a three-way from top to bottom of your basement stairs.
A three-way is another word for switching a set of lights from two different locations.
So one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom for the stair light as an example.
This is so you do not have to walk up or down a dark let staircase. This has been in our code for several years and is in our code for safety.