Diagramming the electrical plan for your basement
In the following video I walk you through the electrical planning for my basement. I used a program called Microsoft Visio. You don't have to use Visio, I used it because I had previous experience with it through my job. You can use just about any other software or even a piece of paper and some colored pencils. The idea isn't to get the perfect plan but rather to have a good summation for how you're going to wire your finished basement.
Plan for wiring recessed lighting
Typical recessed lights are indicated with the letter "R" with a circle around it. Connect all of the recessed lights with a line and then draw that line back to the light switch. The type of light isn't important, just indicate that you plan to have a light.
Don't skimp on lighting, lean towards having to many. This is a basement after all so it will naturally be dark and have very little natural light. I actually thought I had planned to many lights but now I wish I had added a few more.
Plan for wiring light switches
It doesn't do any good to plan out the recessed lights but not have a switch to control them. Deciding where to put the switch is tricky at first. Just walk through the rooms of your house and note where the switches are placed. Now walk through your basement and think about when someone will want to turn on a light. Even if your basement is one big open space, like mine is, you still want to think about certain areas as "rooms" and group the lighting accordingly.
Plan for wiring outlets
As you saw in the video, you should have an outlet on every wall and every 6 feet. Check your local building codes for their exact rules but that is the typical code today. So if a wall is 12 feet long you probably want 2 outlets spread evenly across.
Think ahead if you want to have a switched outlet and be sure to diagram that in your plan. In the video, I installed a "double gang" outlet (which just means 1 outlet with 2 plugs) in the ceiling of the family room. One of the plugs only gets power if the switch is "on". I intend to install some rope lighting in the ceiling and plugging it into the switched side of the outlet, this way I have an easy and seamless method for turning it on and off.
Consider a dedicated electronics circuit
I didn't touch on this in the video but I installed a single dedicated circuit for some plugs along the wall of the family room. The TV and all of my stereo and gaming electronics will plug into these dedicated electrical outlets. You don't have to do this but for 20 minutes of work I have peice of mind that no other electric devices will be on that circuit. If someday one of my kids plugs an amplifier for a guitar into an outlet and it accidentally sends a power surge through the circuit, it won't fry all of the expensive electronics.
Other Special Electrical Items
Treadmills can take up to 1500 watts of power, that's almost an entire circuit. Same thing for a sauna, washer / dryer, a dishwasher or an oven if you plan to put in a small kitchen.
You will likely need a sub-panel installed for your additional electrical circuits. I plan to write a separate post on sub-panels but email me if you have a question and I'll be happy to answer it if I can.
These are the big things. We'll need some more space and time to cover 3 way switches, GFIs for your bathroom and the bathroom fan.
Cheers - Jason
More articles on wiring your basement.
- Need wired internet but don't have a jack? Check out my article on Powerline Adapters
- Here's a checklist of 21 tools you'll need to wire your basement.
- Not sure where to start? Read more on "How" to wire your basement.