Wiring lights in unfinished basement, need guidance.


Old 10-29-18, 03:26 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 106
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Wiring lights in unfinished basement, need guidance.

I have an old house from the early 1900's. The basement is currently lit off of a single duplex outlet that is controlled by a toggle switch. From there 6 different shop light fixtures are connected to the outlet via extension cords and a 6 outlet tap.

I would like to redo the lights in the basement, modernizing it as well as getting rid of the janky power tap and extension cords.

My basement is unfinished and the joists are about 7-8" tall and 20" or so apart. Can someone please steer me in a good direction for lighting guidance such as ideal fixtures, spacing and lumen output?

I have a few other questions.
How many lights can be daisy chained together on a single branch?
When is MC cable needed over romex?
What is a good place to lookup local code reqs (So I can verify 14/2 @ 15A is ok).
Old 10-29-18, 04:28 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,581
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Use hardwired LED shop lights. Run power to the switch then switched power the first light then from there to the second light run 14-2 to the second, then 14-2 to the third, etc. .Above 7'4" most inspectors will usually allow NM-b but it is the inspector's call. You could also use conduit to sleeve the cable where exposed to damage.
Old 10-29-18, 04:55 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 106
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks! Is there a limit to how many lights you can have in series? I'm trying to determine which sets I should run in series. I'm likely going to have measure, create a model and plan out how I want to run the wiring and place the lamps.

Additionally, Is it acceptable to have a secondary set of switched lights behind the first set, or would it need to have it's own branch? I'd have the main floor lights controlled by a switch at the top of the stairs and then a secondary switch for a workbench lamp.

Also, Can you recommend a set of side mountable LED shop lights?
Old 10-29-18, 05:06 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 24,759
Received 792 Votes on 729 Posts
I have seen some lights (NOT hard wired) that list a maximum number that can be daisy chained (series) together though. Those lights come with cords to plug one fixture into the next. I have not seen a hard wired shop light with a limit.

I would not have a second switch on a switched circuit. The secondary switch/light would require the main set of lights be "on" to operate. Too often I've been in my shop with the main lights off and I just want to quickly turn on the lights over the bench. But, It might be convenient that you could kill all the lights from the top of the stairs without having to go back down and turn off the bench.
Old 11-01-18, 10:51 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,680
Received 181 Votes on 162 Posts
Depends on what you're using the basement for. If it's just storage where you want to be able to see, you need significantly less light than if it's an actual shop where you'll be working.

I just purchased a handful of these LED lights, they are cheap and work well for utility-type lighting.

If you're doing work down there, I would probably upgrade to LED shop lights (florescent tube style ones) over your workbench.

As for switching, you certainly can switch it however you want, though I hate going up the stairs, turning off the lights, to realize I left the lights on downstairs... then have to go back down. I'd rather switch them all together - but it's up to you.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: