Basement lights


  #1  
Old 05-28-20, 02:19 PM
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Basement lights

My entire unfinished basement has been rewired. The electrician installed a 3 way light switch at the top and at the bottom of the interior stairs. However, there is no light switch installed at the exterior entry door. If entering the basement from outside you have to find your way in the dark to the bottom of the interior stairs to switch on lights.
I mentioned this to the GC and he said that the switches installed were code and there is no switch required for the outside entry. Is this correct? It seems that a 3 way switch at both points of entry (interior and exterior) would be the code requirement.
 
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Old 05-28-20, 03:23 PM
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Is your exterior entry door located at the base of the stairs?

An unfinished space is not a habitable room so it does not have the same light switch requirement as those in the finished space of your home like bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen...
 
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Old 05-28-20, 03:59 PM
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The house is a center stairway including the basement interior stairs. The exterior basement entry through a Bilco door is about 20 feet way from the light switch. Pre fire I had a 3 way switch at the top of the interior stair entry and another located adjacent to the exterior door.

As currently installed the switch arrangement seems to be unsafe and kind of stupid. What purpose does a switch at the bottom of the interior stairs serve?
 
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Old 05-28-20, 04:07 PM
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The switch may not be required but if you want one the contractor should install one. It may be an upcharge however.
 
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Old 05-28-20, 06:50 PM
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What purpose does a switch at the bottom of the interior stairs serve?
To illuminate your path up and down the stairs. 210.70(A)(2)(c)

I would agree. There should be a 3 way switch by the outside door. There should also be a light outside by the outside door with a switch.
 
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Old 05-28-20, 07:04 PM
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Code requires a light switch at top and bottom of stairs. Code now requires a light switch or similar at "usual point of entry" to a basement. Check with the inspector to see what code they are on and how they interpret it.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 06:27 AM
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I have to agree that a three way switch at the bottom of a basement stairway is useless. And yes I understand you make a code and it must be universal even if it may not make any sense in a particular situation. My son just removed the three way switch in his basement stairwell.

FWIW I would install an ordinary light fixture at that other entrance. And if need be put a timer switch on it.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 07:26 AM
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I would be pushing for two, three way switches. One at the bottom of the stairs and one at your basement entry with a couple cheap lamp base sockets around the basement ceiling. That way from the basement entry door you can turn on the basement lights, and when you come down the stairs you can also turn on/off the basement lights.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 09:02 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I was (and still am) having a difficult time figuring out how the switch at the bottom of the stairs would ever be used.

We are scheduled for final inspection next week. After I get the CO I will add a 3 way to the basement entrance from the outside. Who knows, the useless one at the bottom of the stairs might just morph into a junction box.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 10:12 AM
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I was (and still am) having a difficult time figuring out how the switch at the bottom of the stairs would ever be used.
Looks to me like if you went down the stairs and were planning on exiting the basement then you would want to turn off the lights over the stairs. And then, when you come back in it would be nice to turn on the stair lights from the bottom of the stairs.

However, if the entire basement's lights are on these 3-way switches, that is just dumb.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 11:13 AM
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I used the bottom stair light switch all the time; but, we had a TV in the basement.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 03:13 PM
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The entire unfinished basement lighting is on these 3 way switches. I still can't figure out when I would ever use the switch at the bottom of the stairs.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 03:18 PM
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Unless you use it for living space you never will. Oh, there is the occasion when I'm down there the wife might turn off then lights not realizing I'm there. A better choice might be a motion control light just for the stair well. And all other basement lights are just independently powered by a pull chain.
 
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Old 05-29-20, 03:40 PM
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You simply need more switched circuits. I had 5 just for lighting in the basement. About half in the unfinished space.
 
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Old 05-30-20, 08:24 AM
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Unless you use it for living space you never will.
But even as basement living space, the lights will come on when the switch at the top of the stairs is turned on. No need for using the switch at the bottom of the stairs unless the OP wants to walk down stairs in the dark.
 
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Old 05-30-20, 08:51 AM
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My daughter's house (20 y/o) has a finished basement. A 3 way switch at the top of the stairs provides partial lighting. The other part of the 3 way circuit is just inside a walk in slider. The only switch at the bottom of the stairs controls the remainder of the basement lights.
 
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Old 05-30-20, 09:01 AM
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My basement has enough windows that there is enough light during the day that I don't turn on any lights. If I am working down there and it gets dark then I need the switch at the bottom of the stairs.
 
 

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