Adding lighting to ceiling. No attic. Best wiring approach?


  #1  
Old 12-26-21, 09:38 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
Adding lighting to ceiling. No attic. Best wiring approach?

Starting some renovations to my TV/living room which includes adding recessed lighting. Unfortunately this is the only ceiling in my house that sits below another room, so I have to wire from below. I wanted to check my plan before getting started.

Lower level of tri-level house. 8 ft ceilings, 265 sq ft. Currently only 1 fixture in the center of the room with a can light above the steps, and 3-way switches. Ceiling joists run north-south.

Not shown in the diagram is my hvac. I have a duct running the full north-south length of the room (down the center). I've seen the flex drill bits for getting across joists, but I don't see that being an option with the hvac in the way.

My plan is to just cut a strip of drywall out where the center fixture currently is since I am removing it anyway. Long enough to get my wiring across the joists. Shouldn't be a lot of drywall work to patch it up. Sound good?

Also, if anyone has suggestions on my lighting layout I would appreciate it! I plan to remove the existing center fixture and can light at the stairs. Currently baselining 6 lights distributed evenly as shown in green, on a dimmer. 6" LED at 800-900 lumens max will get me 18-20 ft-candles (195-220 lux) which is in line what I've seen recommended. 8 lights would get me 24-27 ft-candles (260-290 lux) on max, which may be a bit much.

I plan to mock up some lighting before I start cutting holes.

Any input is appreciated!
 
  #2  
Old 12-26-21, 10:06 AM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 2,335
Received 397 Upvotes on 346 Posts
If you are using the existing fixture box as the power source, you should be able to run cables to the new locations without removing drywall except for the new boxes.

If the ceiling is mounted on furring strips below the joists, you can fish wire through that space to cross the joists. You do not show the HVAC duct. Is it above the existing fixture? If so then you should have plenty of room to run cable(s) below the duct.

Unless you move the existing fixture box to one of the other locations you will just have to put a blank plate on it. The wiring there must remain accessible even if the fixture is removed.

Another option for access into the ceiling for new wiring if necessary might be through the garage wall.
 
  #3  
Old 12-26-21, 10:41 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
Thanks for the reply. I don't believe the ceiling is on furring strips, but I'll have to check. I added lights to my garage a while back and cut a strip of drywall out to do the wiring (see pic below). No furring strips there so I suspect the same for all the ceilings. There was an HVAC duct in the garage as well.

The HVAC ducts run just to the right of the center fixture, as far as I can tell based on vent locations. If it's anything like the duct in the garage then there is no space between it and the ceiling, unfortunately.

Good point about the blank plate. I'm hoping the existing wiring is near where I want to put one of the new lights, so I can create a new junction there and eliminate the center fixture altogether. Hopefully I'll get a better idea of the existing layout once I get holes made for the new lighting.



 
  #4  
Old 12-26-21, 11:42 AM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,149
Received 427 Upvotes on 380 Posts
I think your plan is solid. I agree with 6 lights vs 8.
You should consider 4" wafer lights instead of 6". They seem to be more of a modern approach - but of course it's totally your personal opinion.

Lastly, cutting a swath across the joists will certainly work. You'll probably also run into the cable from the switch and be able to relocate it to the new light location so you can abandon the old box in the center of the room.
Alternatively, there are flexible long drill bits which allow drilling through a few joists without so much drywall work. Just a possible alternative.
 
  #5  
Old 12-26-21, 12:18 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
I was actually thinking about mocking up some of the 4" lights to see how they look. 8 of the 4" lights (540 lumens/ea) would me get me 16 ft-candles (175 lux) max. So less than 6x6" but probably plenty. Anything is better than the single fixture and a couple floor lamps I have!

I plan to put recessed lighting throughout the rest of the house after this room. None of the rooms are huge, so the 4" lights might looks better overall.

Yeah I saw the flexible long drill bits. I could minimize drywall work by using one of those and only cutting a swath where I need it to get past the HVAC. I think I'll make that call once I get light holes made and what I can find out about the existing wiring.

Thanks!
 
  #6  
Old 12-26-21, 02:23 PM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 2,335
Received 397 Upvotes on 346 Posts
Cutting a swath of DW like you did in the garage certainly works to give you access to the joists if you want to drill. I think though that a small opening in the DW at each joist, just enough to notch the bottom of the joist the thickness of the cable and then a nailing plate to protect it is acceptable and might be easier to patch.
 
  #7  
Old 12-26-21, 02:57 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 8,060
Received 521 Upvotes on 426 Posts
I would not be notching joists. It weakens them.
Also If use the existing light as starting point, the box needs to remain accessible. I would pull the cable back to one of the new pots.
 
  #8  
Old 12-26-21, 03:13 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,740
Received 4,115 Upvotes on 3,695 Posts
A 1/2" notch would not be an issue.

I'm a seasoned electrician and I cringe every time I use flexbits.
You never know what's in the way.... or a cable stapled to a joist.

If you go with the 4" lights.... use 8 of them. Put them on an LED dimmer.
 
2john02458 voted this post useful.
  #9  
Old 12-27-21, 10:05 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
Thanks, everyone! I had not considered notching but that certainly sounds like an option to minimize the drywall work. However, a quick look at the IRC shows notching is not permitted in the middle third of the span which is where I was planning to run the wiring. Because my joists are at least 2x10 (might be 12, can't remember from when I had the garage ceiling open) and it would only take a 1/4" notch for 14/2 romex, I wouldn't be too concerned about notching anywhere on the span.

Once I get holes cut for lighting I'll be able to assess the situation better. I'm hoping I get lucky and land close to the existing wiring. Either way, I do not want a blank plate on my center fixture so I'll have to track down the existing wiring in some way or another. Once I do that I'll have options for running the new wiring, including crossing the joists with notches near the end of the room so I'm doing things "to code".

PJmax, I have not used a flexbit but I cringe thinking about it. I want to avoid using one. No doubt they are great when things go smoothly, but like you say you're shooting in the dark so who knows what you might hit.
 
2john02458 voted this post useful.
  #10  
Old 12-30-21, 12:25 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
I mocked up 4 of the 6" lights in the 6 light pattern. Wow! What a difference. These 6" 800 lumens lights are plenty bright. Here is a before and after shot at the same camera exposure settings:



As you can see in the picture, I do have a soffit on the far wall which reduces my ceiling area. I laid out the lights evenly to the ceiling area which seemed to make the most sense (rather than to the floor/room area). Otherwise the lights wouldn't look distributed evenly on the ceiling. And I do have plans to build a built-in entertainment center under the soffit eventually which effectively will make the ceiling and floor area the same.

I was going to mock up 4" lights; however, I'm not sure I'm a fan of the 8 light layout. With the 8 lights evenly distributed, you start to get close to the end walls/soffit compared to the side walls. With the 6 lights the distance between side and end walls is nearly equal and looks better IMO.



I will see what the 540 lumen 4" lights look like in the 6-light layout. But I also see there are "high lumen" 4" lights (800 lumen), so perhaps I can have the best of both worlds: modern look of 4" with the brightness of the 6".

Any input is appreciated!
 
  #11  
Old 12-30-21, 12:34 PM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 2,335
Received 397 Upvotes on 346 Posts
Six light setup looks just fine in both brightness and pattern. Eight light will be too much. Four inch fixtures might look better but not worth a lot of effort, the 6 inches look fine. And once they are in and gotten used too no one will even notice (Unless lying on the couch looking straight up--but that is not likely on the curved section .)
 
  #12  
Old 12-30-21, 12:59 PM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,149
Received 427 Upvotes on 380 Posts
IMO, 6 is the right number. Go with 4" or 6", either way you'll have plenty of light to sit on the couch and read.

I think it all comes down to how you feel the brightness is in your test case.
 
  #13  
Old 12-30-21, 03:12 PM
J
Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 8,060
Received 521 Upvotes on 426 Posts
Try the TV with them on. Make sure it is not too bright or glaring off the screen.
 
  #14  
Old 12-30-21, 03:26 PM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
Good point about the TV, I'll be sure to take a look. I will have these all on a dimmer and I don't anticipate them being at 100% very often, especially during TV watching. Just a matter of what I want the max brightness to look like. I already picked up some of the 540 lumen 4", so I'll test them out to see what they look like and go from there. At least I've settled on the 6-light configuration. Thanks all for the input!
 
  #15  
Old 12-30-21, 05:42 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,740
Received 4,115 Upvotes on 3,695 Posts
How do your joists run.... red or blue ?
I needn't say be sure to know where the joists are before cutting the holes.
If you need to notch.... make one row at one side of the room instead of going down the middle.

 
  #16  
Old 12-31-21, 07:43 AM
2
Member
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA near Boston, MA
Posts: 2,335
Received 397 Upvotes on 346 Posts
Pete,

See Post #1. Looks like joists run the length of the room.

Happy New Year!
 
  #17  
Old 01-04-22, 11:45 AM
J
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 170
Upvotes: 0
Received 2 Upvotes on 2 Posts
I was able to get all the new lights wired and installed this weekend, and things went smoother than expected. After getting the two existing lights removed and holes bored for the new lights, I could assess the existing wiring. Luckily I had just enough length on the existing wiring to pull it to one of the new lights using one access hole, so now I can avoid any blank plates.

From there I put another access hole at the joist adjacent to the duct so I could get a good look at the duct. My joists are 12", so there was plenty of space between the duct and ceiling. Between putting the drill up through the access/light holes and making use of a couple 12" extensions I had, I managed to bore holes through all the joists (greater than 1.25" edge distance) to make my way across the room, avoiding any notching and nail plates. A long flexible bit may have made things a little easier but I would still have needed the access hole to maneuver around the duct.

In the end I just have 4 holes to patch up: 2 from the old lights and 2 from wiring access.

Thanks all for the help!. Now on to patching, painting, flooring, and trim!




 
2john02458 voted this post useful.
 

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