Basement Wiring PLanning

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Old 03-24-09, 10:54 AM
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Basement Wiring PLanning

I'm remodeling my basement and have the walls up and been through my framing & insulation inspections (walls are manufactured panels, so framing & insulation are integral). It's time to plan the wiring & get that permit and I'm gonna have a bunch of questions. I'll try to split them into different threads. I've got Wiring Simplified as well as a Black & Decker wiring book that's been a big help.

First one is general splitting of circuits. My finished space is about 330 square feet. I'm planning on 8 can lights on 2 separate switches (4 lights each) and 9 receptacles in the finished portion. On the unfinished side, I'll have 4 bare bulb lights and 2 new receptacles (plus the 1 existing).

My challenge is the electrical items that I plan on using down there.

Freezer - 600 watts (in the unfinished space)
Treadmill - 1440 watts (it says 12A. 12*120=1440)
Home Theater - 1000 watts, depending on what is being used.
portable heater - 1500 watts (I'm guessing, we don't have one right now)

So, I'm planning on splinting the 9 receptacles onto 2 circuits, one for the back half (15A, for the treadmill) and one for the front (20A for the home Theater & heater). Does that sound reasonable? Maybe each should be 20A?

The third circuit will have the 2 receptacles (15A w/GFCI, for the freezer), the 4 bare bulb lights in the unfinished portion and 4 of the can lights in the finished portion.

The remaining 4 can lights will replace the existing 4 bare bulb lights on an existing circuit.

Additionally, there will of course be lamps and maybe a laptop computer and ?? used in that space.

Does that seem like a reasonable circuit plan? The B&D book indicates that a 15A Circuit can handle 1800 watts, but 'safe capacity' is 1440. For a 20A is lists 2400/1920. Are those 'safe' numbers industry standards/guidelines or something?

Thanks!
 
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Old 03-24-09, 12:20 PM
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If it were up to me I would install at least 4 circuits for the receptacles alone.

1 dedicated for the freezer,
1 dedicated for the treadmill,
1 for the heater, this can draw 12 1/5 amps alone on high,
1 for the home theater.

I would use 20 amp circuits. Just a little more money and more options to run additional loads over the 15 amp circuits. Easier to break it down into more than you may need instead of having to reset the breakers when they trip from trying to do too much with 1 circuit.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 12:35 PM
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The 20A service makes sense, but my challenge is that my panel has only 4 open breaker spots and my plan above has 3 additional circuits. I have 150A service for a 1750 sq. ft. home, so electrical capacity isn't a problem, just physical space.

I can divide the 9 receptacles into 3 circuits plus the one for the 2 unfinished space receptacles & lights. After that, I have to install a sub-panel, which I really don't want to do.

So, how about this, all 20A:
  1. 4 can lights, 4 bare lights, 2 GFCI receptacles in the unfinished area, incl. freezer
  2. 3 receptacles, incl. home theater
  3. 3 receptacles, incl. treadmill
  4. 3 receptacles, incl. future space heater

The 4 remaining can lights on would be on an existing circuit, not sure the amperage.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 12:49 PM
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Could you share your reason that you don't want to install a subpanel?
 
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Old 03-24-09, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by salguod View Post
my challenge is that my panel has only 4 open breaker spots and my plan above has 3 additional circuits.
Can your panel accept tandem ("skinny") breakers? If not, mounting a 12 or 16 circuit subpanel right next to the main isn't really that big of a job. All you need is a 60A breaker, a rigid conduit nipple, some lock nuts, two bushings, a ground bar kit, the panel, and about 12' of #6 wire. Should be less than $50.

So, how about this, all 20A:
  1. 4 can lights, 4 bare lights, 2 GFCI receptacles in the unfinished area, incl. freezer
  2. 3 receptacles, incl. home theater
  3. 3 receptacles, incl. treadmill
  4. 3 receptacles, incl. future space heater
That sounds reasonable, although I would consider putting the freezer on its own circuit if possible.

Additionally, I'm really not a fan of space heaters -- even the new "safe" ones are substantially less safe than a proper heating system (forced air duct, baseboard heater, etc). If you know that you'll need a space heater in a particular area you may want to consider just installing a baseboard heater now.
 

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Old 03-24-09, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Could you share your reason that you don't want to install a subpanel?
Well,it's my first wiring project so I'm not sure I want to dig in that deep. Maybe it's not a big deal, but it sounds like it.

I'd also like to keep my costs lower, so not having to buy a panel and extra wiring etc. would be nice.

Lastly, my electric box is going to be behind a 36" wide door along with the telephone box and cable wiring. There's not room there for a subpanel. I'm assuming that I could locate it in the unfinished portion, but having the breakers in two different rooms isn't ideal.

The main reason is that it sounds hard. If it's not, and consider again that I'm an electrical noobie, correct me.

Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
... I'm really not a fan of space heaters -- even the new "safe" ones are substantially less safe than a proper heating system (forced air duct, baseboard heater, etc). If you know that you'll need a space heater in a particular area you may want to consider just installing a baseboard heater now.
Well, I'm not certain that I will. I was planning on not adding any heat to the basement, but I'm thinking that it will be colder than we want it. I understand what you're saying, but the space heater is a simple solution to that problem, if we need it. I can add a baseboard heater later if needed. Of course, then I'll need a sub-panel.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by salguod View Post
my electric box is going to be behind a 36" wide door along with the telephone box and cable wiring. There's not room there for a subpanel.
Is there room under the panel?
 
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Old 03-24-09, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Is there room under the panel?
Yeah, there is room below. Wasn't sure about regulations or code specifications on how close to the floor a panel can be.

Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
Can your panel accept tandem ("skinny") breakers?
Don't know. How can I tell? house was built in 1995, I think.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 03:42 PM
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There is no code minimum for the panel mounting height.

As far as the tandems if you post the brand and model number someone could look it up or you could check the label, sometimes inside the panel.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by salguod View Post
  • 4 can lights, 4 bare lights, 2 GFCI receptacles in the unfinished area, incl. freezer
  • 3 receptacles, incl. home theater
  • 3 receptacles, incl. treadmill
  • 3 receptacles, incl. future space heater
Another thought...

I'd keep the freezer off the lighting circuit. Every time the compressor starts, the lights will dim.

You may be able to 'steal' the lights from another lighting circuit running through the basement. You can't tap off of kitchen, laundry or bath receptacles, but other lightly used lighting circuits might work.

I'd also suggest taking the basement GFIs off of one of your new circuits. You probably won't be using a power tool in the basement and the treadmill at the same time.

Just some thoughts. As you've heard, there's no one "right" way.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 06:43 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
... if you post the brand and model number someone could look it up or you could check the label, sometimes inside the panel.
It's a Square D panel enclosure. Inside the door it says:
QU Load Center Cover
Cat. No. QOC3OU
Type 1 enclosure Series G1
Inside the cover is this:
QU Load Center
QO30M150
Series G1
And ...
Use only Square D QO, QOA, QOC, Q1, Q1C, Q1A branch Circuit Breakers
Originally Posted by Zorfdt View Post
Another thought...

I'd keep the freezer off the lighting circuit. Every time the compressor starts, the lights will dim.

You may be able to 'steal' the lights from another lighting circuit running through the basement. You can't tap off of kitchen, laundry or bath receptacles, but other lightly used lighting circuits might work.

I'd also suggest taking the basement GFIs off of one of your new circuits. You probably won't be using a power tool in the basement and the treadmill at the same time.

Just some thoughts. As you've heard, there's no one "right" way.
Good point on the compressor. Not sure about the lighting, but I can look into it. As far as taking the GFCIs off one of the other receptacle circuits, each of the 3 has a high wattage item on it, either the treadmill (1440), the heater (1500) or the home theater (1000).
 
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Old 03-24-09, 07:01 PM
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So, it looks like I can use this tandem, right?



QO 20 Amp Tandem Single Pole Circuit Breaker QO2020
Model 07196
 
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Old 03-24-09, 07:29 PM
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The panel you have allows up to thirty breakers to be installed. Two pole breakers count as 2, single poles count as 1.

Tandems are not allowed in this panel.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 08:06 PM
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Hmm, bummer. So, I'm curious, what makes you say there are no tandems in this panel? I'm certain you know more than I do, I'm just curious how you knew. I would have taken it saying to use QO breakers to mean that QO tandem was OK.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 08:25 PM
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The model number tells you whether tandems are allowed. If your panel had said QO3040 it would have allowed up to 10 tandems to be used.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 08:33 PM
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Just a sidenote:
Depending on the layout of your room, dont forget to consider 3-way switching for your pot lights. Hate to have to get up and walk all the way across the room to dim/kill the lights for a movie.
(am I displaying my laziness here ?).

If you go with dimmer, they do make 3-way dimmers (one end dimmer control only though).

Best of luck with your proj.. mind the details (stripping, stapling, etc) and you should be ok. Careful you set your box depths to match your wall finishings.

@pcboss: is that an industry standard ? if it shows 2 sets of numbers, then its displaying tandem capacity ?
 
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Old 03-24-09, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveC72 View Post
Just a sidenote:
Depending on the layout of your room, dont forget to consider 3-way switching for your pot lights. Hate to have to get up and walk all the way across the room to dim/kill the lights for a movie.
(am I displaying my laziness here ?).

If you go with dimmer, they do make 3-way dimmers (one end dimmer control only though).
I plan on each light set having 3 way switches and a dimmer, thanks.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveC72 View Post
@pcboss: is that an industry standard ? if it shows 2 sets of numbers, then its displaying tandem capacity ?
Dave,

I think this is somewhat common, but I normally install Square D so I can't say for sure for the other brands.
 
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Old 03-24-09, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveC72 View Post
is that an industry standard ? if it shows 2 sets of numbers, then its displaying tandem capacity ?
It is not a strict standard, but most of the major manufacturers do include an XXYY code in the panel model number which indicates (XX) the number of physical slots in the panel, and (YY) the number of circuits allowed in the panel. If the number of circuits is larger than the number of physical spaces, that implies that you may use YY - XX tandem breakers. Often the tandem breakers are restricted to the slots furthest from the main breaker, usually near the bottom of the panel.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 07:44 AM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Tandems are not allowed in this panel.
Though I suspected you were right, in the hopes that you were somehow mistaken I checked with Square D. They confirmed that tandems are not allowed in my panel.

So, I bite the bullet and put in a sub panel, or I figure out how to do it in 4 circuits or less.
 
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Old 03-25-09, 08:09 AM
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The installation of the subpanel can be very easy. It is certainly nothing to fret about.
 
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