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Common Household Remedies Request

I need to light a stairwell better, but I want to avoid rewiring it if I can -- expensive!

So my thought was, buy some kind of lamp, and then attempt to duplicate the switches top and bottom of the stairs externally (somehow). It's a kludge, but it will do the job for now.

Any thoughts?

NOTE Adding, the stairwell has fine natural light during the day; it's more night time that I'm worried about. I suppose another alternative would be to put a lamp on a timer so it was always on in the evening.

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editor_u's picture
Submitted by editor_u on

Not sure what you mean by "duplicate the switches top and bottom of the stairs externally." What do those switches currently control (no pun intended, though I'm not immune to that kind of thing)? Is there already a light, just an inadequate one?

Submitted by Dromaius on

I suppose another alternative would be to put a lamp on a timer so it was always on in the evening.

Or a motion sensor....Plug in versions are available. Plug the sensor into the wall and the lamp into the sensor.

Submitted by Dromaius on

If you do run a lamp, get an LED bulb for it. You can get them extremely reasonably at some hardware stores with utility-sponsored rebates.

Submitted by Dromaius on

One issue, sometimes the motion sensors are more expensive than LED lighting (with rebate) plus energy use. So consider the payback when considering what to do.

editor_u's picture
Submitted by editor_u on

OK. I just had my first clarifying coffee (I know; it's late, but I'm on the West Coast for a few weeks) and re-read what you wrote. I get it now. There are no switches at the moment, and your addendum clarifies that there is no lamp.

Can you run cable on the surface of the wall (in a raceway)? It's what I would do in a location where I did not want to dig into the plaster/sheetrock. Alternately, and avoiding the wires almost altogether (except for supplying power to the lamp), I might install a lighting fixture and use wireless remote controls (I have done this for a few hard-to-get-at lamps in one house, and am about to do it in another). The controls (they are battery operated devices) could be surface mounted, or not mounted at all (though that would leave them prone to running away from home along with the TV remote and the wireless telephone). I have the names of some wireless control suppliers, if you want them.

Submitted by Dromaius on

Yep, sorry, yes it is. I work in energy. At least I didn't call it an OS, which is how it is described in jargonese....

editor_u's picture
Submitted by editor_u on

Raceway is a low profile, surface mounted, conduit. It exists in metal and plastic (PVC) versions and can be painted. There are various connectors and surface mounted boxes for it. A search for

surface wiring raceway

or some such thing will yield many useful links, including commercial ones – with illustrations, videos and the hardware itself, in the case of stores like Home Depot).

I'd include much more detail now, but have only a few minutes before I have to run out for some shopping before meeting friends for dinner.

Splashoil's picture
Submitted by Splashoil on

14-2 with ground nm-b from power source to location of light (surface mount box?), then same wire to location of switch either top or bottom of stairs. If you want add switch at opposite location with 14-3 wire from first switch to the second. Code requires some conductor protection such as wire mold raceway or conduit. Then you need individual wires to run inside that. Mucho trabajo y dinero!
I would first rough it in as best as possible with nm wire and staples. Then plan a reroute inside the walls when resources permit. Here in ecotopia we have a Re-store which recycles used building materials. The raceway often shows up for pennies compared to the original cost. But it is a lot of work to make a decent looking job. Sometimes you can hide the nm wire behind a crown molding. I would prefer you keep writing but don't want anyone falling down stairs in the dark!

blues's picture
Submitted by blues on

RadioShack Universal 1000 mA AC Adapter (273-1681)

"Your RadioShack Universal 1000mA AC Adapter can be used to
power electrical devices which require DC output of 3V, 4.5V, 6V,
7.5V, 9V, or 12V, with AC power input ranging from 105V to 135V.
The adapter features overload and short circuit protection to protect
it from damage."
(Note: 12VAC×1000mA = 12 Watts.)
Low voltage is very safe and relatively legal.

9MR16/27GFL-UP Toshiba 218-50586 Lamp
LED, 12VAC, 9.1Amps, 35 deg. wide (good).

Call about a lamp base.

Watch out for halogen lamps since they get very hot and cause a lot of fires.

For upstairs /downstairs one could use regular 120VAC, 2- way switches (with even third "intermediate switches," if desired)

Good luck.