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Shop Sweet Shop #9: Stairway to Storage Heaven - Part 3 - Installing Electric for my stairs

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Blog entry by magaoitin posted 01-05-2017 11:22 PM 751 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Oliver 4010 Table Saw setup Part 9 of Shop Sweet Shop series Part 10: Equipment and Material Hoist »

Electric Stairs, heck yea, that’s what I want in my shop… an escalator!




Okay maybe that is not in my ability to scrounge up. I have not won the lottery yet, and Matthias Wandel hasn’t done a video on making an all wood escalator from scrap 1×4’s, so good ole leg power will have to do. However, I do want power installed for a couple of lights.


You wouldn’t think that installing a light under the stairs would necessitate a blog post, but as with everything I touch in this shop, it quickly escalated (not escalator’ed) into something probably stupid and at the very least a waste of money. In design-build construction this is what we call Scope Creep.


I had originally just planned on putting a receptacle in the ceiling space of the upper and lower stairs for a plug in light. I knew I was going to close in the stairs just to keep things looking clean, and would probably use the space for storage, so a light would be needed. However, in a recent stroll through my local box store to peruse their illuminatory inspirations, I passed a box marked Clearance. Never a good thing, that Clearance bin.





And what do you know a bunch of LED Stair lights, not for under the stairs, but for in them. LED Mini Step Lights that are fully recessed in a single gang box and can be mounted horizontal or vertical. These were marked down to $3.00 each from $25.00.




Well for $18.00 for (6) how could I pass that up right?!? These are (6) LED’s per light so they should be really bright.


It’s never only $18 bucks, is it Jeff?...no Jeff… it never is…


While the lights are cool and all, I don’t want a wall switch to turn them on and off, that means motion sensors. And not one switch, no we can’t do that, you need two; one for the top and one for the bottom. Sadly when I went back to the hardware store, motion sensors were NOT in the clearance bin…go figure. Well there is another $25 EACH. I am now triple the cost of what I was into this when I had the bright idea to begin with. Well $70 bucks isn’t horrible if it turns out cool.





I have wired in motion/occupancy sensors for under cabinet lights before, but I have never tried to wire 2 or more sensors in series. And it turned out to be a bit trickier than I imagined. I did some internet searches and watched a couple of videos and though I had it figured out. Wired everything up, flipped the breaker then. PZZZT.


Fine, Fine… I‘ll go back and read the instructions…Fine…


Turns out these sensors are a No Neutral wire-up, and only a single yellow wire connects them in series. I ran a 14/2 wire from my J-box to both sensors, and then ran a 12 gauge yellow up from the bottom of the stairs to the top sensor.

The lights were all wired off from the bottom sensor.

Each sensor has a Black, Red, and Yellow wire. Black to the panel Load, Yellow to the next motion sensor, and Red to the first light’s Hot (Black). Then you run a neutral form the panel to each light. Seems like a waste of a lot of Romex for a single conductor.

The Sensor at the top of the stairs is not connected to any lights, so the red is capped off.





I mounted the motion sensor straight ahead in the second riser. Unfortunately it picks up every time walk to the main door. While nice for when I enter the shop, it turns on light before I can flip the light switch, I think I need to move the sensor into the half wall, perpendicular to the stairs, so they only turn on when you are by the first step. The upper sensor will be installed in that half wall when I get around to building it. But that wall is low on the priorities right now…until I fall out of the loft that is.





Really Bright it turns out.




Turned the Flash off for this one



This is turning into more of a man-cave/custom home than a wood shop (if I ever finish the finishes).

I picked up around 120 sq ft of laminate floor at an auction for $5 and it looks good color wise for the other wood tones in the shop. Going to use this for the treads and risers. All I need to figure out how mill a cheap 1 1/8” nosing.




Now what can I add to the stairs…

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.



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