Jul 05,2014

Electric Wire You Will Need to Finish your basement electric project:

There are really only three types of wire that you will need purchase to finish your entire basement wiring project. These are in no particular order and they are: 12/2, 14/2 and 14/3 wire. I have wired 95% of all of my basements since 1992 using just these 3 types of wire…and that’s it!

They have distinctly different uses in the basement. Some are used mainly for just 20 amp outlet circuits and some for just 15 amp lighting circuits.

Wiring your basement might seem a little confusing right, but I promise you wiring your basement yourself is simple, it’s fun and it’s HUGE money saving adventure that I encourage you to try doing yourself!

12-2 Wire

The 12-2 wire is used for all of the outlet circuits for you basement project.

Residential wire

Electric wire to purchase for basement projectsis color coded and the 12-2 wire plastic protective casing is “white”. 12-2 means…the number “12″ is the gauge(or thickness) of the wires inside the casing and the “2″ means there are two wires, a white and a black wire,  present inside the casing(white plastic cover) of the wire. There is a third copper ground wire present as well, but that is not included in the wire count.

14/2 Wire

Electric wire to purchase for basement projectsThe 14/2 wire is used only for the lighting circuits in your basement. The 14/2 wire outer plastic casing is yellow color coded. This is the wire that is going between all of your light fixtures and light switches and then back to your panel box throughout your basement project. 14-2 means…the number “14″ is the gauge(or thickness) of the wires inside the casing and the “2″ means there are two wires, a white and a black wire,  present inside the casing(yellow plastic cover) of the wire. There is also a third copper ground wire present as well, but that is not included in the wire count.

14/3 Wire

Electric wire to purchase for basement projectsThe 14/3 wire is also used for the lighting circuits in your basement. But the difference between 14/2 wire and 14/3 wire is the 14/ 3 wire is used to create 3-way light switch circuits. A 3-way switch circuit is used when you want to turn the same light or group of lights on and off from TWO SEPARATE LOCATIONS. You will certainly have at least one if not more situations in your basement where you want to wire with 14/3 wire. 14-3 means…the number “14″ is the gauge(or thickness) of the wire inside the casing and the “3″ means there are three wires, a white and a black wire and a third red wire present inside the casing(white plastic cover) of the wire. There is a 4th copper ground wire present as well, but that is not included in the wire count.

That’s pretty much it for wire 12/2, 14/2 and 14/3 wire, and they take care of 95% of all basement wiring projects. There are a few exceptions, but not enough to discuss here.

So let’s boil this down into the simplest terms for a ll 3 types of wire you will need:

Wire for outlets (regular 110 volt outlets and GFI outlets)

img class=”size-full wp-image-324 alignleft” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/12_2_equation1-300×132.png” alt=”Electric wire to purchase for basement projects” width=”300″ height=”132″ />Buy one 250′ roll of 12/2 wire and this should do all of your outlet wiring. If you basement is over 500 sq.ft. just buy two rolls instead…you’ll use it up.


Wire for Lighting (switches and light fixtures)

Electric wire to purchase for basement projectsBuy two 250′ rolls of 14/2 wire and you will have enough to wire all of you basement lighting circuits. This wire get’s used up fast when you are wiring your recessed lighting fixtures!


Electric wire to purchase for basement projectsBuy one small 50′ to 100′ roll of 14/3 wire depending on how many  3-way circuits that you have on the project. I normally have between 2 to 3 3-way light circuits per job. Usual places for 3-way circuits would be at each end of a hallway if you have one, at the top and bottom of the stairs you always have one, if you have two ways in and out of any room you’ll usually have one, etc.

If you have done an electrical diagram for your project before you started the basement(and should!) you will know exactly how many 3-way circuits you’ll need to wire during your basement electric project.

That pretty much wraps up the different types electric wire needed to finish the electric for your basement project. Now there are other “wires” that you can purchase such as:

  • Speaker wire
  • Low voltage wire (for low voltage lights)
  • CAD 5 wire (phone and computers)
  • Door bell wire (unless you have a wireless doorbell!)
  • Thermostat wire
  • etc…

But more on those in another Post! Well…I hope I have “shed a little light” on the different types of wire you will need to purchase for your basement electric project. Doing your own electric is a rewarding, fun, and money saving project that you can do yourself. I have some very detailed step-by-step basement electric training videos over at the Basement finishing store if your interested in some advanced training. You can check them out HERE.

Good luck with your electric projects. I’m always here if you have any questions about your basement project! Just leave me a comment below and respond the same day! ~Eddie

Electric wire to purchase for basement projects

Posted in: Basement Electric, Basement Finishing Articles

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