Basement Stairs Lighting


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Old 05-08-09, 10:33 AM
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Basement Stairs Lighting

I'm thinking I may be setting my self up for a problem in my basement lighting plan.

Currently the lights are ceramic fixtures with bare bulbs controlled by a switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. One of the ceramic fixtures is right at the bottom and because of how it hangs down, it lights all the steps - barely. No light in the stairwell itself.

I'm installing a drop ceiling and installing recessed lighting downstairs and controlling them with the same switches. I also want to have a dimmer on these lights, the dimmer being at the bottom of the stairs.

Two questions:

1 - With the lower ceiling height and recessing the light, will I have an issue as I bet I won't have light on the top few stairs. I have a door that opens into the room at the bottom leading to the finished side, so installing a hanging light isn't really an option.

2 - Will there be an issue with having a dimmer on these lights? There is a possibility that the dimmer would be turned all the way down so there will be no way to light the stairs from the top.

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 10:38 AM
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I think your best option might be a separately switched fixture just for the stairway, not controlled by a dimmer.

Yes the recessed are going to cut down on the amount of available light for the stairs due to the downward distribution of light.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 11:01 AM
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Since the stair light should be controlled from top and bottom and there is already a switch set up for this why not just add a new switch for the basement lights at the bottom of the steps. It wouldn't have to be a three way so easier to wire. Since you would have stairwell lighting no need for a switch for the main lighting at the top.

How exactly the 3-way switches are wired would determine how this is done but that way you could have the stairwell light not on a dimmer.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 11:06 AM
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I understand that I need to find a way to get more light on the stairs. Assuming I can do that by repositioning a light downstairs (I'm not sure that I can, but work with me here), would the dimmer still be an issue with the inspector?
 
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Old 05-08-09, 12:10 PM
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I don't know whether or not the inspector would have an issue with the dimmer, but you should have an issue with it regardless. Switches are cheap. Use more.

As for more light on the stairs themselves, you could try a brighter bulb (but don't go above 100 watts). You could also paint the stairwell walls and ceiling the brightest color of white you can find.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 12:24 PM
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Good point.

So, I'm going to separate the downstairs room and stair lighting. For the stairs I'll add a recessed light at the top of the stairs above the door and the other recessed light where I originally planned.

So, my stair lighting has power coming into the upper 3-way switch. From there I have 2 cables - one going down to the 3-way switch at the bottom of the stairs the other going to down to the lights.

Can I split the cable to the lights into two cables from the upper switch location, one to the upper light and one to the lower? I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to get the cables to the upper light. This assumes that the box there has enough capacity for the extra cables.
 
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Old 05-08-09, 01:58 PM
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Normally you would need a new circuit for your downstairs room rather than piggybacking on an existing circuit.

But yes, you can power your new stair lights by either running a cable from the existing stair light(s) to the new stair light(s), or you can run a new cable from the upstairs switch box to the new lights (if it won't violate box fill).
 
 

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