basement electrical questions

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  #1  
Old 03-07-13, 10:20 AM
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basement electrical questions

I have a bunch of questions, but I will start with the main one and go from there.

Here goes, my basement is unfinished, but framed. There is lighting ran in the living area,storage room, bathroom, and bedrooms. They are all on one circuit in the panel. I did take the bathroom off of the circuit as I am finishing it and will be adding fan, gfci, and other outlets. So here is the question, I am running receptacles in the rooms, is it ok if the lights for both rooms are on a separate circuit from the bedroom receptacles? The total outlets on the lighting circuit would be 3 lights in the storage room and 4 lights in the bedroom for a total of 7 lights.

I currently have both bedrooms receptacles on one circuit, should I branch off the lighting and put the rooms on separate circuits?

I am branching off the living area lights for two separate recessed circuits.

Thank you in advance
 
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Old 03-07-13, 10:27 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

Yes, this is fine. In fact, I prefer to wire this way as it allows you to plug a light into a receptacle in the room when you have cut the power to the overhead light in order to work on it.
 
  #3  
Old 03-07-13, 11:30 AM
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Separate lighting circuits?

You may already be saying this, but just in case, I like to see overhead lighting separated into at least two circuits, especially in a basement, so a blown breaker doesn't leave the the whole basement in the dark
 
  #4  
Old 03-07-13, 11:40 AM
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yes, there is one large open main room, but I have divided it into "areas." The "tv area" will have 9 cans on one circuit, and the "game area" will have 6 cans and one hanging light on another circuit. I also have outlets for those two areas split off too, in anticipation that a tv, dvd, surround sound system, or gaming systems will have a high draw. 5 recept in "tv area", and 7 recept in "game area"
 
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Old 03-07-13, 12:55 PM
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my basement is unfinished, but framed. There is lighting ran in the living area,storage room, bathroom, and bedrooms. They are all on one circuit in the panel.
Two lighting circuits are preferable to one to reduce the chance of being in the dark, as Hurtubise suggested.

I did take the bathroom off of the circuit as I am finishing it and will be adding fan, gfci, and other outlets.
If you're saying that you will have a dedicated 20A circuit for everything in the bathroom, that is fine. What are the "other outlets"?

is it ok if the lights for both rooms are on a separate circuit from the bedroom receptacles?
It is not only OK, it is preferable for two reasons. One is to avoid being in the dark when doing some work, or if a breaker trips. The other is so you can run 20A circuits for receptacvles and 20A circuits for receptacles.

The total outlets on the lighting circuit would be 3 lights in the storage room and 4 lights in the bedroom for a total of 7 lights.
What is the maximum rated load of those 7 fixtures and what size circuit are you using for them?

I currently have both bedrooms receptacles on one circuit, should I branch off the lighting and put the rooms on separate circuits?
How many receptacles do you need to install to meet the spacing requirements and what size circuit are you using to feed them. I prefer to have more than one receptacle in each room to provide backup in case one goes out or I need to work on it. If you need two circuits, running them so that they both serve some receptacles in rach room is preferable.

I am branching off the living area lights for two separate recessed circuits.
A circuit is fed from a breaker. Do you mean two breaker-fed circuits or two sets of lights on a single circuit but with separate switches?

General questions:
  • How are you providing AFCI protection for the circuits feeding these rooms?
  • Which of these circuits powers the smoke and other detectors?
  • Are there other uses in the basement that you're also wiring for, such as a furnace, water heater or laundry area?
  • How are you running the vent for the bathroom exhaust fan?
  • Does each bedroom have a second means of emergency egress?
 
  #6  
Old 03-08-13, 10:20 AM
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I will attempt to answer all the questions the best I can:

There will actually be a total of 4 lighting circuits in the basement; one DEDICATED 20A for the bath, one 15A for both bedrooms(also includes a switched light in each closet, and 3 fixtures in the unfinished storage) and TWO separated 15A circuits in the large living area(one circuit will have 6-6" 60w cans & 3-4" 40w cans, the other will have 6-6" 60w cans & 1 hanging fixture over a game table)


The dedicated 20A bath room has an exhaust fan, vanity wall light, gfci, and then I also connected a small(6ft x 5ft) "hall" type area (that leads to the bath or bedroom) that has a single receptacle and a switched flush mount fixture.

There are a total of 12 receptacles on the bedroom circuit, but this includes a recept in both closets which will hardly ever get used, but I my code says no more than 12 ft btw recept and a recept on all walls over 2 ft. There are 6 receptacles in each room.

The two lighting circuits in the living room will be fed from separate breakers in the panel.

General Answers:

- The AFCI issue is new to me, is there anything more required other than buying an AFCI type breaker??

- The smoke detector is on a dedicated circuit, however, there is one existing but I need to add another, can I hook the new one in series off of the existing??

- The furnace, water heater are in an unfinished utility room, the laundry is on the main level, so is not an issue.

- The vent was pre-plumbed and I had to use a small piece of flex hose to make up a 2 inch elevation difference from the fan to the 4" tube.

- Both bedrooms have egress windows

I should have probably given some background on the house prior to all my questions. The house was new construction in 2008 with the basement framed and minimal electrical. No plumbing other than stub outs. The builder went bankrupt and I bought the home out of foreclosure in 2011. The home was never occupied, and the builder is nowhere to be found, so I have no reference as to what does what. I actually have a switch in the main floor living that has wires, but has no affect on any fixture/recept in the house(that I can find after an hour of investigating)
 
  #7  
Old 03-08-13, 02:00 PM
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There will actually be a total of 4 lighting circuits in the basement; one DEDICATED 20A for the bath, one 15A for both bedrooms(also includes a switched light in each closet, and 3 fixtures in the unfinished storage) and TWO separated 15A circuits in the large living area(one circuit will have 6-6" 60w cans & 3-4" 40w cans, the other will have 6-6" 60w cans & 1 hanging fixture over a game table)
Is the wattage you listed the maximum rated wattage of each fixture or what you plan to use in them? What type of fixture are you planning to install in each closet, and how far from the nearest flammable material will it be mounted? One 15A circuit can supply up to 1,440W of continuous load. You might not need more than one in the living ares, but the answer to that depends on the rating of the fixtures.

The dedicated 20A bath room has an exhaust fan, vanity wall light, gfci, and then I also connected a small(6ft x 5ft) "hall" type area (that leads to the bath or bedroom) that has a single receptacle and a switched flush mount fixture.
The 20A bathroom circuit may serve either the receptacles in two bathrooms or all the loads in one bathroom. The receptacle and light in the hall need to be moved to a different circuit or circuits.

There are a total of 12 receptacles on the bedroom circuit, but this includes a recept in both closets which will hardly ever get used, but I my code says no more than 12 ft btw recept and a recept on all walls over 2 ft. There are 6 receptacles in each room.
While there is no hard and fast rule, limiting each 20A receptacle circuit to no more than eight outlets is considered good practice. More than one receptacle circuit in each room is also good practice.

Generally speaking, there should not be a receptacle in a closet. Why do you want those there?

The code may say no more than 12' between receptacles. The real intent is no more than 6' from any cord-and-plug connected appliance to the nearest receptacle.

- The AFCI issue is new to me, is there anything more required other than buying an AFCI type breaker??
That, and installing it correctly.

- The smoke detector is on a dedicated circuit, however, there is one existing but I need to add another, can I hook the new one in series off of the existing??
Best practice is to power the smoke detectors from one of the AFCI protected lighting circuits, so that it will be obvious when they lose power and they will not be powered off to "fix" their sounding off. It may be allowable to supply them on a dedicated circuit if the breaker is locked on. Others may have more on this.

Yes, you can extend the wiring for the smoke detectors to include as many as the manufacturer allows.

- The furnace, water heater are in an unfinished utility room, the laundry is on the main level, so is not an issue.
Receptacles in unfinished basement areas must have GFCI protection.

- The vent was pre-plumbed and I had to use a small piece of flex hose to make up a 2 inch elevation difference from the fan to the 4" tube.
Metal flex hose should be OK.

- Both bedrooms have egress windows.
Good. It sounds like you're close.

How many receptacles on how many circuits in the living area?
 
  #8  
Old 03-08-13, 04:59 PM
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no, I believe the max wattage for the 6" cans is 95w, and 75w for the 4". The fixture in the closet is just a cheapo single incandescent fixture, but would be changed to a low watt fluorescent light bar. Most likely these bedrooms won't be 100% finished by me, the main reason I am even finishing the basement is to increase resell value for an effort to sell in the near future. I have a few of the cans on a dimmer that is the main reason for splitting the circuits.


Boo to you, I don't want to move the hallway outlet and receptacle!! I think I can change it fairly easy though. The problem is soon going to be the fact that I am running out of open spots on my neutral bus bar!!! How can I fix this?

I was under the impression that a receptacle had to be placed in the closet, I could be wrong.

AFCI looks easy enough!!

Pretty sure the dedicated smoke detector circuit is an AFCI upon further investigation.

Prior to my finishing, the LONE receptacle in the basement is a GFCI, which will remain in the unfinished storage area.


There are 6 receptacle on each circuit in the living areas.
 
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Old 03-08-13, 05:41 PM
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The problem is soon going to be the fact that I am running out of open spots on my neutral bus bar!!! How can I fix this?
Assuming shared neutral/ground best way add a ground bar and move some grounds to it. You can also double the grounds per hole to free up some space. This does not apply to a subpanel.
 
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Old 03-08-13, 05:46 PM
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maybe I used the wrong term, or don't fully understand. I have plenty of room on the ground "bare wires" bar. But the bar that the white wires are connecting too only has 5 or 6 spots open, yet there are more than 6 open spots for breakers. Is there an extension for the "white wire" bar?
 
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Old 03-08-13, 07:38 PM
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maybe I used the wrong term, or don't fully understand. I have plenty of room on the ground "bare wires" bar. But the bar that the white wires are connecting too only has 5 or 6 spots open, yet there are more than 6 open spots for breakers. Is there an extension for the "white wire" bar?
If the grounds and the neutrals are on separate bus bars in your panel and the neutral bus is isolated from the enclosure but the ground bus is bonded to it, then it has been wired as a subpanel.

Where is the main breaker for the feed to that panel?
 
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Old 03-09-13, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by crh1109 View Post
maybe I used the wrong term, or don't fully understand. I have plenty of room on the ground "bare wires" bar. But the bar that the white wires are connecting too only has 5 or 6 spots open, yet there are more than 6 open spots for breakers. Is there an extension for the "white wire" bar?
Are there two separate large wires connecting to the ground bar and the neutral bar? Is there a disconnect switch/breaker at the meter? Are there any ground wires going to the neutral bar?

There are no 'add-on' neutral bars. The neutral bar comes with enough screws to land one neutral for every breaker that the panel is rated for.. You may not 'double up' neutrals under one screw. If there are not enough neutral spaces, then tandem breakers may have been used (the kind that have two handles in one 1" space) where they were not allowed. If grounds are taking up space in the neutral bar, then those may be transferred over to the ground bar to free up screws in the neutral bar, but you may NOT land neutrals on the ground bar.

AFCI and GFCI breakers will have a white wire that must be connected to the neutral bar. The white wire for an AFCI or GFCI circuit DOES NOT go to the neutral bar. BOTH the black and white wires for the circuit connect to the breaker.

FYI if your locality is still on 2005 code or earlier, you are NOT required to use AFCIs on any circuit except those serving bedrooms. In the opinion of many pros, AFCIs are nothing more than hype and legislated profit steering to the companies that make them. While GFCIs have a proven track record of saving lives (and given their low price you would be a fool not to install one anywhere electricity and water coexist, even where not required), AFCIs do not even after 12 years of mandated installation. The only thing AFCIs have established a track record of is nuisance tripping. And not only that, but AFCIs were mandated as an answer to a virtually non-existent problem. Don't waste your money on them if you don't have to.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 03-09-13 at 01:49 AM.
  #13  
Old 03-09-13, 07:11 AM
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It is all one panel, and there are a BUNCH of tandem breakers. The afci breakers seem to be only for the bedroom circuits. I believe we are on the 2008 code here. There seem to be a disproportionate number of ground wires to neutral wires. There are many open spots in the ground bar, and only one or two are doubled up, but there is only 3 open spots in the neutral bar, and I have 3 more circuits planned, but if I have to move a switched light and receptacle off of my bathroom circuit, then I will have to feed it from an existing circuit. If I have to break the two bedrooms into separate circuits, I'M SCREWED.
 
  #14  
Old 03-09-13, 07:16 AM
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Thank you all

Thank you all for your input on this issue. Your advise has been invaluable and pertinent, thank God for this forum!! I know just enough about electricity to know that I probably should let someone else do it, but I'm trying to finish the basement correctly, but as low cost as possible, and that equates to me doing most the work. But the mud and taping of the drywall is definitely going to be someone else's problem!!!
 
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