Before we start ripping up the floor of the basement, it made sense to put in the new electric. For one, it’s easier to put in overhead lights with the floor a little higher, but more importantly we want to cut down on work that needs to be done after the floor is done since we’ll be in a hurry to get moved back in. Plus, having good lighting down there instead of some crappy dangling fixtures will make working on the floor a little better. I debated doing the electrical myself, but in the end I just called Percy, our electrician, and he and his assistant Kevin got it done in a few days, where it probably would have taken me a month. Percy will come back after the interior walls are up to add a few more outlets and switches, but this gets us 90% of the way there.

New switches and outlets

New switches and outlets

We went the typical recessed can light route. The ceiling in the basement won’t be very high, so anything that sticks down is less than ideal. I bought a few LED light bulbs to decide what color temperature and style we like before ordering a whole set of them. We settled on the 3000K “bright white” since they’re a nice compromise between the 2700K yellowish “warm white” and the 4000K laboratory “daylight”. The bulbs came out to $12 each, cheap for LEDs, but expensive relative to CFL and incandescent until you consider the operating cost and lifetime. A regular 65W bulb costs $3 and  lasts 1,000 hours. A CFL costs $8, uses 14 watts, and lasts 8,000, while an LED uses only 8 watts and lasts 25,000 hours. Including replacement costs and electricity, every thousand hours of incandescent use costs about $13.85, compared to a CFL that costs $3.38 and an LED that costs $1.82. Since we’ve got nineteen lights just in the basement, the payback is there even vs CFLs. We spent $75 more on LEDs than CFLs up front, but even ignoring that the LEDs last three times longer, the electricity savings will pay that back before the CFLs are half used.

New can lights

New can lights

I was concerned about mounting the switch and outlet boxes on the brick, since even though the metal is galvanized, moisture can corrode it. The old finished basement had some extremely rotted boxes and conduit that we don’t want to recreate. Percy sprayed the backs of all of the boxes before putting them up with a rubberized coating to prevent water contact from the walls. Our hope is that along with improved water management, the electrical will stay dry and last a long time.

Outlet box spray coating

Outlet box spray coating

The plan is to install a foam panel system on the exterior walls that will provide a drainage plane behind the insulation. These systems have raceways for the electrical so we can just fit them over the installed conduit when we finish the basement. That will ensure any water that comes through the brick will be able to drain away and that the wall itself is impervious to water and won’t rot. It’s exciting to see more progress,and to see how much the basement has changed so quickly, especially since I didn’t have to do all the work!

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