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How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 1: Creating a Materials List, Installing the Boxes, Recessed Cans and Exhaust Fan

March 21, 2008

Congratulations to Brian Roth on winning my February contest “Complete Your Next DIY Electrical Wiring Project with Help from a Master Electrician for Free“.

Brian emailed me a pdf document of his basement and what he wants. So, today’s article will discuss a materials list and installing the boxes, recessed cans and exhaust fan phase of this project. I will write a second part to this article tomorrow covering installing all of the cables.

So, let’s start with a materials list. You need:
21 – Single gang nail on boxes
5 – Two gang nail on boxes
7 – 4 inch round nail on boxes
3 – Low voltage boxes
11 – Recessed cans
1 – Exhaust fan
1,500 feet – 12/2 with ground NM cable (romex) (approximately)
200 feet – 14 AWG speaker wire (approximately)
RG-6 quad shield coaxial cable
Category 5 (CAT5) phone and data cable
1,000 – Plastic romex staples (approximately)
Tan wirenuts
Red wirenuts
Green wirenuts or crimp connectors
2 – In ceiling speaker brackets
4 – In wall speaker brackets

I didn’t provide cable lengths for the RG-6 coaxial cable or the CAT5 phone and data cable because I don’t know where they need to end up. Each location should be an individual “home run” back to the main location. I will discuss this more in part 2 of this series.

Alright, now that we have the materials needed for the rough in phase, let’s start nailing up boxes. This first diagram shows the location of all of the single gang boxes indicated by red circles. I typically install my receptacle boxes at 18 inches above the floor to the top of the box. However, I recommend matching the height of your existing receptacles. Switches are typically installed at 48 inches above the floor to the top of the box and counter top receptacles are typically installed at 42 inches above the floor to the bottom of the box. However, I recommend matching the height of your existing receptacles and switches here as well.

Please note that I added a few boxes. There was nothing in the storage area. I recommend installing a light controlled by a switch and a receptacle in the storage area. This is not a National Electrical Code® (NEC®) requirement, but I think you will find this useful in the future. I also added a switch for your undercabinet lights. This is a much better option than just plugging in the lights.

Additionally, I added a smoke detector. You may not need this if there is an existing smoke detector in your basement. However, if there is not an existing smoke detector in your basement, then you need to add this one. You will also need to check with your local building codes department to determine if you need to connect this smoke detector to your existing smoke detector circuit. I highly recommend connecting the added smoke detector to your existing smoke detector circuit; even if your local building code does not require this. However, this could be very challenging to do.

Diagram of single gang box layout
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This next diagram shows the location of all of the 2 gang boxes indicated by red circles. Please note that I added 1 – 2 gang box in the bathroom for the switches to control the exhaust fan and lights. I also used 2 – 2 gang boxes at the bottom of the stairs for the switching instead of 1 – 4 gang box. The reason for this is I assumed that you are going to install dimmer switches to control your lighting. Dimmer switches fill the boxes more than regular switches and put off more heat. Using 2 – 2 gang boxes will create a lot less problems than using 1 – 4 gang box when installing dimmer switches.

Diagram of two gang box layout
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This diagram shows the location of all of the round boxes indicated by red circles. Please note that I added 1 round box in the storage area for the light. The wall sconces are mounted at all different heights. These really depend on personal preference. Depending upon the type of light fixture you are going to use, I recommend mounting your sconces around 5 – 6 feet above the floor.

The vanity light is typically mounted at 80 inches above the floor to the center of the box. However, this also depends upon the mirror that will be used as well as the type or style of light fixture you plan to install.

Diagram of round box layout
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With all of the round boxes installed, let’s get started installing the recessed cans and the exhaust fan in the bathroom. The recessed can locations are indicated by red circles. Please note that I recommend moving the exhaust fan in the bathroom.

Diagram of recessed cans and exhaust fan layout
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Now that all of the recessed cans and exhaust fan are installed, let’s install the low voltage boxes for the phone and TV connections. The locations are indicated on the diagram by red circles

Diagram of low voltage box layout
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The final step in this process is to install the speaker mounting brackets. The locations are indicated on the diagram with red circles. The 2 larger circles are ceiling mounted speakers and the smaller circles are in-wall speakers.

Diagram of speaker bracket locations
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Be sure to check back for part 2 of this series, where we will discuss the installation of the power, audio, phone and video cables.

 

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Comments

5 Responses to “How to Wire a Recreation Room in Your Basement – Part 1: Creating a Materials List, Installing the Boxes, Recessed Cans and Exhaust Fan”

  1. Curt on March 30th, 2008 5:41 am

    Hey, great tutorial! I’ll have to save that one. I might just need that in a couple of weeks.

  2. Brandon on December 8th, 2009 9:42 am

    I have one homerun 12-2 romex ran to a 4 gang box for 4 light switches. How do I wire up the 4 gang box?

  3. Aakash Brown on February 20th, 2011 2:30 am

    I was considering putting in recessed lights in my living room on my first floor. There is no access to the attic and the second floor is above it. The living room currently has no electrical outlets in the ceiling. It does however have outlets on the walls. Could you give me some advice as to how to remodel this area. I have sufficient knowledge of electrical wiring. (e.g. how to get the wiring into the needed area and not wrecking the entire area that the wire needs to travel. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look eagerly forward to your informative response.

  4. ben Utley on December 28th, 2011 2:58 pm

    why use seperate ckts for outlets and lightsto a different breaker?

  5. John on September 14th, 2016 5:30 pm

    If I’m adding a dedicated 20amp (for a table saw) circuit in my unfinished basement. What do I uses to run the wire and fix the receptacle to the concrete wall? Is that even allowed?
    Thx,
    John

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