Finishing basement - Electrical Code?

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Old 05-29-05, 04:31 AM
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Finishing basement - Electrical Code?

I am in the process of finishing up framing on my basement and moving on to planning the electrical. Is there an online site that can tell me how many outlets, lights, etc. I can put on a circuit and other things such as does the powder room needs it own circuit?
 
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Old 05-29-05, 05:03 AM
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This would be the NEC. Unless you're in Canada.

The fact that it's a basement makes no difference. A finished room is a finished room. A bathroom is a bathroom.

This is not something we can just tell you all the codes you need to know. The NEC is huge and much of it pertains.
If you really don't know anything about residential codes I suggest you read several good books on the subject. A few folks on here have names for you as to which ones are good.
 
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Old 05-29-05, 08:56 AM
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hifidigital,

Speedy is 100% right that you really need to do a little education sit down with the NEC. Now, this book is costly for someone who is only doing a basement and will have no future need for it ..but as a NEC instructor I would say it is great reading...( my students sometimes disagree )

The NEC is a great book but can be hard to explain to a layman who might not understand some of the terms in it......and as Speedy said to give you all the possible aspects of it here would take way more space than this forum would allow.

I will however give you a few pointers to think about....as you go out looking for that NEC book......I could refer you to a good place but again it would be a form of advertising and I don't want to venture down that path but it's were we get all our book for the students.

Anyway...... I will assume you have Some...experience in knowing what electricity is and how dangerous it can be in the wrong hands....we electrical crime fighters take great pride in making things safe for the public.....

If you are going to tackle this...atleast get the book at your local mega hardware store called Wiring Simplified to assist you in understanding basic circuitry and how it works.

Code issues up front ( and certainly not all of them )

1.) We do not suggest more than 12-14 items on a single circuit and this is determined by what is exactly on the circuit. If you are talking about general use recepts and a few lights they can add up fast and 12-14 items would not be a problem..... However, if you are erring on the side of lots of recess lights and any computer's and or " electrical hogging " devices in the layout then you may need to understand what you are really doing before you just start adding up the outlets .

2.) So....now if you are saying it is just a normal basement...general use outlets and a few lights....then you need to determine the circuit by adding up the general outlets ( lights are outlets also ) and getting a count.

3.) So how many do you need...start their first....OK....so the code says you need at least (1) switched outlet ( lights are outlets also ) in the room so lets figure you are going to want a ceiling fan in the center of the room....thats (2) outlet....also don't forget if you are thinking ceiling fan you will need a box made JUST for that so it can support the weight..we like to use the boxes that slip over a 2 X 4 and screw in the center...saves us time and money but do not try to use a standard box or light box for this... ( we just say two because they have a light kit most of the time ) and now....on to recepts....

4.) You need to have a recept 6' from every door opening and then a recept every 12 ' along the wall. Keep in mind the 6' rule applies to BOTH directions or either side of the doorway.

5.) Nail on boxes....we happen to like the 18" to the top of the box but you have to make that choice...16" to 18" is the normal standard I would say. Now the switches for the ceiling fan and other lights in the room....we like the boxes at 48" to the top...but again you can have 46" or 50" if you wish since you have no back splash issues to deal with...we use 48" to top as it always seems to keep it safe in the entire house and kitchen as well. ONe final note on the nail-ups...lol.....most single nail ups come with guides on the side so that you make sure the box is sticking past the outter edge of the stud percisly 1/2"....but the double gang nail ups you may use for your lights and so on will not have them...it will have a 1/2" line guide on the side..just make sure your boxes are nailed up with a 1/2" of the nail up out past the stud...assuming you are using 1/2" sheetrock later....just a note is all.

6.) Now....I am being VERY Brief but figured you needed somewhere to start so I am not about to cover it all.....just some guidelines...

7.) Drilling holes.....get yourself a 3/4" Auger Bit from an Electrical Supply House...and you will need a drill with atleast a 1/2" bit and chuck to have enough BUTT to get anything done.....

8.) Make sure..and I mean it...Make sure you keep the holes in the EXACT center of the studs...otherwise you are going to need to nailplate the sides of the stud..so a little patience on the novices end will save you the nailplate issue later......so I wont go into the figures from the edge and nailplate size and so on....be patient and be in the center and you wont need to worry about it.

9.) Ok.....you have layed out your room using the 6 and 12 rule, you have the boxes you need at the right heights......you have drilled your holes and they are precise.........and now you are looking at your circuit....

OK...here is where I will stop for a second and let you reply......do a rough layout using the 6 and 12 as listed above and the lights you would like in the room and then come back with a figure.......you should ALWAYS work with a layout and blueprint of what you want...sure we as Electricians dont always when we walk into a house but it may be a spec house and the only rule is the code rule.....and in other times the owners will walk us through and tell us what they want....

Give some more info and we can go on........Again I am only giving you some basics........the NEC book is the best guide for you and Art 336 is going to assist you alot in knowing the supports of the wire and so on.
 

Last edited by ElectricalMan; 05-29-05 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 05-29-05, 09:05 AM
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Yup, a how to book would be helpful, the code book isnt very good "how to" book for novices.
 
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Old 05-29-05, 09:09 AM
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sberry,

Yep, I know a few who TRIED to use the NEC as a how to guide and ended up on the 5th floor mumbling......." Carflex.....I can't flex a car...Greenfield....Where...Where......"
 
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Old 05-29-05, 10:21 AM
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There are a number of problems with a layman trying to use the NEC. The two most common are:
  • NEC words don't always mean what you think they mean. For example, "outlet" is not where you plug in a lamp. And "ground", "grounded" and "grounding" are very different things.
  • What one section gives, another section takes away. So you cannot use one section out of context.
Most home wiring books don't contain everything the NEC does, but how often does a homeowner need to know the rules for an elevator shaft anyway. On the other hand, home wiring books have pictures, examples, and tutorials, three things that the NEC has precious few of.
 
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Old 05-29-05, 12:41 PM
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John,

No doubt....can you imagine the NEC with illustrations and examples...lol....we would need a helper just to carry the book around when it is needed.

Hifi.........trust me in your basement issue you wont need 1/5th the information that is contained in the entire NEC but get all the basic wiring books you can read and you will learn enough to do your simple task.

Once you start to learn the basics of Electricity and uderstanding some AC/DC theory and what not.....the NEC will be easier to understand...
 
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Old 05-29-05, 01:29 PM
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A basement finisher's best friend is a $6 green paperback entitled Wiring Simplified, commonly available in the electrical aisle of most Home Depot stores. It contains all the codes you'll likely need, expressed in simple language.
 
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Old 05-29-05, 05:15 PM
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Thank you!

I'll tally up my needs in regards to outlets, recessed lights, etc and I will most definately pickup the laymans guide to doing this. The 6 / 12 rule is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

I have a rough layout of how the room will be finished so I'll start marking that up tomorrow to get the figures.

There already is a dedicated 20amp circuit for an existing computer rack which will be moved to another location within the basement, so I think that need is already addressed.

There will be a bar area (utilizing kitchen cabinets and countertop). Since it will be a location with water I assume GFCI will be required... Stop it.. I'm getting ahead of myself again.. I'll get back to you guys tomorrow.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 09:18 AM
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I'm back...

Here is a sketch of what I'm looking to do. How many circuits, and how should I wire them together? I believe I have five spots left in my panel now.
 

Last edited by hifidigital; 06-26-05 at 08:28 AM.
  #11  
Old 05-30-05, 09:51 AM
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I can't tell for sure, because all the measurements aren't there, but it looks like you don't have enough receptacles to fulfil the 6/12 rule. For example, you probably need another receptacle in the wall underneath where you show the ceiling receptacle, because the one you have in the wall looks to be more than 6 feet from the doorway, and the ceiling receptacle doesn't count towards the 6/12 rule. There appear to be other places where the receptacle is more than 6 feet from a door edge, and where receptacles may be more than 12 feet apart. Furthermore, I have found that the room will be more usable if you exceed the code 6/12 requirements, and do your design as if the code really had a 5/10 rule.

I have also found it helpful to plan furniture layout at this stage too. I really like a couple of wall sconces above the future location of a couch.

The building department is also going to want your drawing to show the location of the smoke detectors. You'll need at least two.

Although not electrical requirements, make sure you have provided for code-mandated combustion air requirements for your water heater and furnace (requirement that do not exist until you enclose it), and egress requirements for your bedroom (e.g., 5.7 square feet of openable window and a permanent ladder). The building department will want you to show the location and size of windows, the depth of the window well, and the height of the window sill.

The room in the upper left shows six fixtures wired between two 3-way switches. The cable routing you have shown will not work.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
I can't tell for sure, because all the measurements aren't there, but it looks like you don't have enough receptacles to fulfil the 6/12 rule. For example, you probably need another receptacle in the wall underneath where you show the ceiling receptacle, because the one you have in the wall looks to be more than 6 feet from the doorway, and the ceiling receptacle doesn't count towards the 6/12 rule. There appear to be other places where the receptacle is more than 6 feet from a door edge, and where receptacles may be more than 12 feet apart. Furthermore, I have found that the room will be more usable if you exceed the code 6/12 requirements, and do your design as if the code really had a 5/10 rule.

I have also found it helpful to plan furniture layout at this stage too. I really like a couple of wall sconces above the future location of a couch.

The building department is also going to want your drawing to show the location of the smoke detectors. You'll need at least two.

Although not electrical requirements, make sure you have provided for code-mandated combustion air requirements for your water heater and furnace (requirement that do not exist until you enclose it), and egress requirements for your bedroom (e.g., 5.7 square feet of openable window and a permanent ladder). The building department will want you to show the location and size of windows, the depth of the window well, and the height of the window sill.

The room in the upper left shows six fixtures wired between two 3-way switches. The cable routing you have shown will not work.
Thanks for the feedback. Adding more receptacles is not an issue. This was a rough estimate.

The basement currently has one smoke detector (I assume since the whole thing is open). Since the main room is only seperated by a knee wall, would I then need to add the additional smoke detector to the room next to the utilities? That makes sense to me.

The cable routing was just a point of reference to show what fixture was getting wired to which switch. I'm open to input on it.

I'm really hoping to get some addtional input on how these things should be tied together to make up a circuit. Once I have that, I can do my research (the wiring guide mentioned above...still need to purchse) on how best to hook it up.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 11:39 AM
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The room in the upper right is a bedroom (whether or not you plan to put a bed in it). As such, it needs an interconnected smoke detector. You also need a smoke detector in the area outside the bedroom. However, it should be 20 or 25 feet away from the furnace, depending on what the smoke detector manufacturer recommends. At plan review time, consult your building department about their preferred exact location.

When in doubt, more circuits is better than fewer. Proper design depends on the intended usage. You might want a separate circuit just for your home theater area, and/or your computer area. Consider also whether you might ever want supplemental electrical heat. Whenever feasible, it is better to put lights and receptacles on separate circuits.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 12:36 PM
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I suspect if you remove the closet from the room in the upper right that it may no longer be considered a bedroom. Call it an office (unless of course it really is intended to be a bedroom - then make sure you have the egress window and arc fault protection on the wiring). What is the actual intended function of this room?

The bathroom will be on its own circuit.

I believe that the furnace needs a disconnect / shut off switch that is accessible as the room is exited. I don't think I see that. Ditto what John Nelson said regarding need for ventilation and access to combustion air. Also factor in a CO detector somewhere.

Make sure you have the needed head height for the sink and counter under the stairs. Underside of stairs will need firerated (X) drywall. Receptacle will need GFCI protection. The second one being adjacent to it serving the counter may need to be on another circuit. If one is to be dedicated to a microwave then make that a dedicated circuit.

Stair lights will need controls both top and bottom (3-way switch) - I think you have this.

Non-electrical but check to see about venting for the planned plumbing. Sometimes this can be a larger hassle to run than the drains.

Another random thought - no windows are shown. Depending on their location and the home theater plans it may be worth considering whether you would like to have power actuated blinds that close when the overhead projector is turned on and if so making a power source available for them.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 05:09 PM
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That single light in the upper left room you might want to consider making a fan-rated pancake, that way you (or someone else down the line) can hang a fan there without any problems. Same with the bedroom.
 
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Old 05-30-05, 05:36 PM
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thanks!

All good stuff...

The room on the right is going to be a gym area, but might be a bedroom at some point, so I'll take the advice on the smoke detector. I'll have to check into egress from there since there is only 1 window in the basement that no one would be able to fit through easily.

The furnace already has a shutoff switch which I would remove from its mounting on the furnace and locate on the wall.

There is plenty of headroom under the stairs for the counter since it won't be fully under the stairs. I planned on a GFCI for that area and wanted to extend the circuit to use in the bathroom.

Can anyone give me an estimate on how I should setup these circuits?
 
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Old 05-31-05, 06:49 AM
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Many foundation companies specialize in cutting larger windows for egress. It's not that bad. You'll either need to do that or eliminate the closet and/or door in the upper right room.

You cannot extend the wet-bar circuit into the bathroom. There are a lot of special rules for a bathroom. The Wiring Simplified book does a good job of covering them. Read it cover to cover (you can skip the chapter on farm wiring).
 
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Old 05-31-05, 06:12 PM
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thanks all!

I will pickup the book tomorrow and start my reading.

Have any of you licensed electricians checked out someones plans, pulled a permit and let the homeowner to do his own labor? What would a job like this (checking plans, pulling the permit, being available for the inspection) run?
 
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Old 05-31-05, 06:46 PM
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The things you want the electrician to do are the parts that you are already paying the building department to do. Or post your plans on a web site somewhere and we'll review them for free.
 
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Old 06-01-05, 02:46 PM
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If it were only so easy

Our local building code states that licensed electricians are the only ones who can pull a permit for electrical work. However, I'd like to do the labor myself. So, I'd like an electrician (side job possibly) to pull the permit and be on-site before the inspection (to check my work) and be there for the inspection.
 
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Old 06-13-05, 09:24 AM
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I'm back...

I've updated the drawing of my electrical plan and am hoping to get some input on how to group these things together for each circuit and gauge the amperage of the circuit breaker.

The room in the upper right, along with the furnace room and closet next door is going to be finished first while the rest will be done weeks later.

What is the best way to route / cable these rooms that will leave the circuit opened to being utilized for additional receptacles, lights, etc. when the rest of the basement is finished.

All receptacles are for generic applications.
 
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Old 06-13-05, 09:33 AM
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Don't know where your drawing is, so can't comment on that...

The easiest way to rout cable depends on the specific layout. To make it possible to extend a circuit means that you need to be able to get to some location on the circuit. If you can easily route a cable to an existing junction box when you are ready to add-on, then you need to do nothing except make sure that the junction box can accept another cable.

If, however, it will be difficult to access a junction box once you finish this area, then run a cable now. Run it to a junction box that will remain when you finish the next area, or make the cable long enough to reach a junction box location and temporarily put in a junction box for the end of the cable. Then all you need to do when you are ready to add-on is permanently mount the junction box and run the cable to it.
 
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Old 06-13-05, 09:50 AM
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darn... knew I forgot something.

There will be 2 additional smoke detectors (there is one at the bottom of the steps)... they aren't on the diagram.
 

Last edited by hifidigital; 06-26-05 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 06-14-05, 09:06 AM
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Only partially electrical, but the washroom needs an exhaust fan which I don't see indicated. This must exhaust outside.

The bathroom receptacle will need to be on its own circuit and this must be a 20 amp circuit with 12ga wire. This circuit cannot serve anything else. You may include the fan and light in the bathroom on this circuit.

In the workout room/bedroom you may need another receptacle in the corner near the sump pump to meet distance requirements.

Not electrical, but is there a floor drain in the furnace/water heater room or is everything directed to the sump? If the PRV on the WH trips you may minimize damage by having a drain closer to it. Also convenient for condensate drain (AC or dehumidifier) or flow through humidifier if used.

Also not electrical, but the plumbing for the bathroom seems to be on an exterior wall. Depending on your climate this may be prone to freezing. You might want to reorient the room and put the fixtures on the wall to the left or right and avoid plumbing on the exterior wall. You may want to have the bathroom door open into the bathroom also.
 
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Old 06-14-05, 09:52 AM
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Exhaust fans in a bathroom are a building code issue, and NOT an NEC requirement. They are only required if the building code says they are.
 
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Old 06-14-05, 12:26 PM
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updates

I've updated my pic to include the things as you come up with them.



I have a question about wiring of the new 'pink' circuit for the recessed lighting. Is it code to use the switch box at the bottom to feed the two other switches? If not, do you have suggestions on how to get power on that circuit to the other side of the room for the other lighting?
 

Last edited by hifidigital; 06-26-05 at 08:29 AM.
  #27  
Old 06-15-05, 11:39 AM
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hifi,

I have not been able to look at your layout but I did have a comment on the permit issue. Are you saying they will not allow the home owner to pull a permit for their own electrical work if you are intending to do it.....in most areas homeowners are allowed to do their own electrical work if they wish...you just sign a form saying you are the home owner and so on down where you pull the permit...

You might want to check on that a little more.....I could be wrong in your area but in most homeowners can do their own work.
 
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Old 06-15-05, 01:51 PM
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I've been told that a master electrician is needed to pull the permit. Some other counties in Maryland (notably Harford) will allow a homeowner to take a test and get a permit. Seems silly really.
 
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Old 06-26-05, 08:36 AM
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3/4 done...

I'm about 3/4 of the way done wiring the basement. I've got to tell you that running all of this cable is quite labor intensive, but the results are what counts.

I also really appreciate everyones time in making sure that my plan was together, and wasn't full of problems.

I do have one final query. Since I've run 2 20 amp circuits (12/2 wire) for receptacles with no plan on putting any 20 amp devices on it, can I use 15 amp receptacles instead?
 
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Old 06-26-05, 08:46 AM
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IN a short answer to your queston...Yes, if they are general purpose rececpts most 15A recepts today allow 12 AWG for 20A wire to be installed on them....just remember you have to WRAP the screws ( clockwise please ) no back stabbing is allowed in 12 AWG wire..not that you can get them in the little holes anyway..lol......

So yes you can use the 15A standard recepts if you wish.
 
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Old 06-26-05, 10:12 AM
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thanks!

Of course in my last post I said I had one more question, well, another has come to mind.

Are there any NEC limits on the use of junction boxes? I wasn't able to find that discussed in my Wiring Simplified book.

My dilema is that I've spliced into the existing 15amp basement wiring circuit to continue the circuit to the other half of the basement. At the end of that run I've put another junction box in to feel numerous lights and switches. Does that sound O.K.?
 
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Old 06-26-05, 11:03 AM
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hifi,

Well it really depends on what is already EXISTING on the circuit and if it will exceed the rating of the wire itself due to excessive items on the circuit. The NEC does not specifically say how many items has to be on a certain circuit but what it does say the amp limit rating allowed on a circuit.

Now I have not read all the posts and all the diagrams but if the wiring you are tapping into is to feed lighting in a basement room to be considered a bedroom then to be CURRENT in the code it would need to be on ARC fault and thus it would be hard to do that if the basement circuit feeds other things outside of the bedroom....if any of the things you are adding is in what would be considered a bedroom per say.

As to your question...no their is really no issue with additional junction boxes other than they need to be access worth and if metal..bonded and so on but not a issue of the number of junctions allowed.

Also if the circuit is an old basement circuit have you confirmed it is probably on GFCI as basement circuits that may have recepts on them need to be GFCI....or is this just a basement lighting circuit you are adding on to....

Just remember.....switches dont add up...but LIGHTS do....can you verify what is on the current circuit itself BEFORE you add the lighting....but again if the answer you are just looking for is on the junction boxes then...yes, your adding a junction box is totally fine......but the electrician in me wants you to look to the demand on the circuit before you just start adding to it.
 
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Old 06-26-05, 01:46 PM
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Are there any NEC limits on the use of junction boxes?
The NEC does not specifically list this limitation, but I can tell you that junction boxes do not make very good frying pans. You can use them as drinking cups, but only if you're pretty quick.
 
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Old 06-26-05, 05:25 PM
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lol.....gotta love ya John...lol.....
 
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Old 06-26-05, 06:13 PM
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its all good...

The circuit I'm using was the circuit that was in use for the existing basement lights (4 60watt bare fixtures). The total amperage for what I'm going to finally have will be well below 1440 watts. And none of the rooms will be bedrooms.

THANKS!!!!!
 
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Old 06-26-05, 06:22 PM
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Hifi,

Thats fine...just so you are aware that 1,440 Watts is about 12 amps draw....so it would be the MAX allowed at total draw on an existing 15 Amp circuit....so as I was saying they can add up fast and you simply don't want to overload an existing circuit.....
 
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