How to Put in a Power Outlet in a Basement Closet
February 6, 2004 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I have a closet in a converted basement (drywall). In the closet there is a light bulb powered by a switch so I assume there is electricity. My burning desire in life is to get a power outlet in that closet. What steps do I need to take? Is this a crazy young-person sort of dreamer's dream?
posted by xmutex to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Not the best solution without an electrician, but if you're not going to use a great deal of power, try this.
posted by plinth at 2:12 PM on February 6, 2004

IANAE. Do you also need the light? There is hardware specifically for people like you. Assuming you can cut the power to the light bulb to work on it, wherever it is, [you didn't say how it was mounted] and install one of these, it's an easy fix. Here are a few more options. If you don't like the idea of a dangly cord hanging from the ceiling, you can usually splice the power off the switch IF you are going to be using something that doesn't require a big power draw. This how to demo explains some of the specifics. The short answer is "probably yes" but I'd do some research before diving in.
posted by jessamyn at 2:17 PM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: It's a house, so we can turn off any power needed. The lightbulb-- I'm sure there is a better way to phrase this-- is normally mounted, just a porcelain cup in the ceiling. There's a switch outside of the closet to turn it on/off.

Trying-- and maybe it's too much-- to get a nicely mounted standard sort out of outlet in the wall of the closet, maybe running off the same wiring as the light.

So that's the idea.. The outlet will be used for my UPS box which runs a router and my server.
posted by xmutex at 2:22 PM on February 6, 2004

It's fairly easy to do, really. Here's a site that will explain about the principles of basic good wiring, and do exactly what you want. Basically, you can tie into the light's box, or find a junction box close by and add into that. ( You do have access to wherever the wire is running, right?)
posted by bradth27 at 2:31 PM on February 6, 2004

also, I just noticed that you are wanting power in the closet... so, am I to assume there are outlets in the basement outside of the closet? If so, it would be amazingly easy. Turn off your electricity, find an outlet close by, and wire into the back of it, running your wire through the wall or however you want it to the closet. That site I gave you will help you understand what I am referring to. Also, check out the local library. They probably have tons of books on the subject that will help out. I suggest a quick trip there anyway so you don't screw up and blow up the house.
posted by bradth27 at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: Yeah, there are a lot of outlets in the basement. . I could look into that. Although how does one run wire behind walls?
posted by xmutex at 2:45 PM on February 6, 2004

Make sure you don't burn down the closet when you plug these in. Sorry, just kidding.
posted by mecran01 at 2:47 PM on February 6, 2004

xmutex- I've never done a job in a basement... I live in an area of Texas where basements are generally not seen, even in older homes. I would tell you to simply do it from the attic, which is what I have done before.... but....

Are you lucky enough to have an outlet on the "other side of the wall" from the closet? In other words, could you simply go through the wall with a wire? If so, all you would have to do is cut your hole where you want your outlet, and snake the wire down the wall to the outlet you are coupling with. Or simply go directly "behind" the outlet from inside the closet.... be careful cutting into the wall, if this is the case. Try not to go too deep - or else you might actually cut the wire you intend to loop into.
posted by bradth27 at 3:26 PM on February 6, 2004

One more addition I forgot - If this is your basement... where is your fuse box? In the basement? This might make the job easier....
posted by bradth27 at 3:30 PM on February 6, 2004

how does one run wire behind walls

running wire behind walls is a different subject mi 'lud
posted by Frasermoo at 4:39 PM on February 6, 2004

Although how does one run wire behind walls?

These items are needed.

If there's insulation, pushing up inside through the outlet hole to the top is easiest. If there's no insulation, go down from the top.

If you need to fish more than one level, forget about it can call an electrician.

And don't explode yourself.
posted by shepd at 4:51 PM on February 6, 2004

Be careful, your lightbulb in the closet isn't the only thing on the circuit. Make sure that if you total up all the bulbs and your server and UPS you don't exceed the current carrying capacity of your wire. If you can you're probably better off tapping a socket from the basement.
posted by substrate at 5:30 PM on February 6, 2004

think Amps not Volts. and possibly Watts? Electricity I only dip in.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:35 PM on February 6, 2004

but I am always aware of the hunger of add-ons when I use extension cords.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:36 PM on February 6, 2004

You can get a good basic, up to date book on home wiring - with copious illustrations - at Loew's or Home Depot for about $10
posted by troutfishing at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2004

Don't go inside the walls - there's this stuff that's like an exterior conduit. You can find it in home improvement stores like home depot.

There's a few solutions possible. One is to take down the light fixture and replace it with one that has an outlet for some of the conduit (like this). Then you can get some of the wire channel out along the ceiling, and down the wall (use an angled piece for the edge). You can just end in a box with an outlet in it. The disadvantage here is that you'd keep the light switch on at all times - but you could control the bulb by screwing it into one of those fixtures that has a pull chain on/off switch thing in it.

If you don't like that, you could use a similar strategy, except run the new outlet from an existing outlet elsewhere. It's easy and fun to do - just turn the power off first!
posted by jasper411 at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2004

As someone who has done a little amateur wiring (with professional supervision), I have to add to this thread: what do you want to run off your new outlet and how much power will it draw? How is the circuit you will be tapping into supplied from the fusebox/circuit breakers? These questions are crucial for safety and reliability reasons, and if you cannot understand why or supply the answers, you need to consult an electrician.
posted by TedW at 12:14 AM on February 8, 2004

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