Need recommendations for unfinished basement lighting

Ever since I have moved in the basement lights have annoyed me. They are all the ceiling sockets with manual pull cords, there are 5 like this. Only the main light on the stairs is on a 3-way switch. The kids will go down there and turn on every light and then leave them on. I also added one shop light to a dark corner which I have plugged into one of the socket bases that I switched out to one with an outlet on it.

Originally I was thinking about putting in a second switch at the bottom of the stairs to control them all through hard wiring. Whatever genius wired the basement though has all the lights and the two outlets down there all wired together in series a parallel circuit loop so I would have to run all new wires to the outlets from the breaker panel to get those isolated such that adding a switch would not turn them off as well.

Now with my hub and the cost of smart devices coming down I am considering doing something else. Possibly smart bulbs but they need to be pretty bright, I think I have 100w equiv 3500k bulbs down there now. I really hate 2700k and the 5000k was a little too much. I could do a smart plug for the added on shop light. Then add a smart switch to the stair light and then have the whole basement go on/off with that switch. Or I could add a second smart switch just for the full basement lights to be controlled through the hub.

Other thought could be to swap some of the sockets for outlets and then just add some more LED shop lights that plug in and use smart plugs.

I currently have a Hue bridge with only two bulbs on it. That is all I have for Zigbee, the rest of my light switches are all Z Wave.

Thoughts? Any certain bulb people recommend?

In my unfinished basement I mostly have outlets and cheap track lighting mounted on the exposed beams. I use smart plugs for most of the lighting. Also mounted caseta picos in the switch boxes and just connected the load/line directly.

Going the smart bulb route in your case might be a good idea too - less wiring and you can group the bulbs however you want. Just recommend you also either add a smart switch that can disable physical toggles or just bypass the switching entirely.

The only bulb on a physical switch is one at the bottom of the stairs which I would probably just keep using a regular bulb in. All the others are on those pull chain sockets with no switch so I would just tack the pull cord up in the rafters so no one can pull on it.

Will have to see what I can find for bulbs if anything looks like it will do what I want.

Not afraid to do some basic wiring swapping sockets to outlets so that's definitely an option. Just dont want to have to run all new wires across the whole basement.

Need to add a light to the top of the stairs also. With the door closed it is pretty dark up there.

To add to the fun I need to get some water sensors for the sump (to detect if water is higher than it should be in the pit) and water heater (in case of leaks) and also want a monitoring plug for my sump so I can track how often it runs.

Slowly upping my automation game.

You might consider additional shop lights. I bought 5 from Costco when they were $20. Then operate them all with a zigbee or Zwave switch module.

To control them (on / off only) I see this switch is on sale now. Or maybe a single hardwired switch, can't say.

The Costco LED shoplights are very bright and each has a short pull chain so if you want to turn one or two off it is easy.

Just a thought.

Do z-wave light bulb sockets have any advantage?

In my own basement, which is wired better, I have all the lights come on when the top door is opened. I use association, so it's quick and reliable. Of course, you have to keep the top door cracked open, though there are switches down there and at the top of the stairs, so you could light your way to the downstairs exit door and turn it off behind you. I wound up setting up a couple of virtual 3-way switches, because of lack of neutral.

I have two of those shop lights already. One is in the basement now and the other I was planning on using in the garage where there is a lack of light.

I would need smart plugs to control them all though, the wiring in the basement is not conducive to adding a switch for the entire circuit.

Yeah I have looked at those before as well which would be nice because I can use my own bulbs whatever I pick but they seemed to be one of the most expensive options.

They might act as repeaters and could, I don't know, be more reliably controlled than the zigbee light approach. Plus you likely could do the association thing if you wanted.

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Not sure if I have the same. Mine have an input cord on one end and a female AC receptacle on the other end. Turning off an upstream light by the pull chain does not effect the downstream lights.

Mine does not either but there are two outlets, one of which is for the sump, that are in the same wiring loop. So if I switched the hot on the entire loop for the lights the outlets would also turn off. I guess I misspoke earlier and they are wired in parallel but the outlets are within the same loop so they cannot easily be isolated.

I was looking for a solution to my basement lights and stumbled upon this post. My situation is exactly the same as @jtp10181 . In my case, I have attached shop lights to all the pull chain sockets - using a socket adapter ( see picture - the 2 wires from the adapter go to the shop lights ). Maybe, one day I will wire the whole thing but for now, wondering if there is a zwave version of the adapter - allows for 2 shop lights to plug in.

I have the same basement light setup. Used these sockets switched by the three way switch. They are old but work. You could also use a mini z wave switch inside the box. You’d probably have to add an extension to the box if it’s pretty full.

[Intermatic HA05C]

I also have a 9:30 light shutdown so I don’t find the lights on in the morning.

Similar basement ceilings. I put Sonoff ZBMINI switches in the box behind the light socket. Used a socket / plug adapter to connect some inexpensive led strip lights in a few basement locations triggered by motion sensors. I'd have to say I'm very happy with the result.

These inexpensive shop lights can be daisy chained together. Either chain or surface mount. They don't have anything on the sides so illuminate outward as well as down.

Nice to see my thread revived. I still have not done anything down there with the lights.
@bbrannon This might be a good solution for me. That zigbee switch is a pretty good price, might have to see if there is an even cheaper model without the 2/3 way options. I think I can even get multiple sockets with one as long as they are isolated from, and downstream, from the two outlets.

Could also daisy chain some shop lights off a single spot as you suggested and then abandon some of the sockets to reduce cost the number of smart devices. A few are not that far apart so two shop lights together could light the same area and only plug into one place.

@bbrannon can you explain a bit more? I don't quite get your setup. How did you connect the sonoff mini to the pull chain socket? Got pictures or some illustrations?

All of my basement lights were installed on a single circuit with no wall switch, all pull chains. The former owner had installed a few motion sensing sockets which I have kept in out of the way areas. The primary use areas are controlled by the Sonoff switches and two Hue motion sensors. The Sonoff mini goes in the backbox. It is quite small. I wired it so it controls the pull chain socket. Leave the socket on. I installed two different kinds of socket adapters, one with two AC outlets and one with two outlets and a pull chain as well. Connected led shop lights to both those. Nothing in the one socket and bright incandescent in the one with the pull chain. Turns out I've never turned that on.

I have 8 overhead can lights and I installed 6 Zwave innovelli RGB bulbs and an Innovelli bypass switch plus a ZooZ RGB strip controller and a couple of Zwave wall warts.
I can control each bulb individually for bright, color and white temps. This can be controlled by Alexa, Hubitat, or my Custom The Home Remote custom tablet.
If I go to the Innovelli Switch I can single tap the upper paddle and get regular lights, double tap on gives me all the bulbs in front of the Couch dim to 40% and turn red, all the bulbs behind the couch go warm white and dim to 30%.
If I tap the off paddle once it shuts all lights off, tapping twice turns all the lights on and sets them to daylight for work lights.
There are a number of other "scenes" you can control from different taps on the innovelli switch combined with Hubitat rules engine.

So if I understand what you are saying the lights and outlets are all wired together and switched at the light socket by the chain. So you need to put a control at the socket.

I have this situation in my kitchen and used some Aeotec microswitch G2's for this. I have outlets in the top cabinet that lights plug into but then you would switch the lights on manually.

These things are old but I am sure there are newer ones out there now...

Basically you wire it in with or without a real switch and then you can remotely control it. Think of it like a high voltage relay, you turn it on and then the power will flow through turning on the power to the light. So I separated the tab on the socket that is up in the cabinet and then hooked the microswitch to the lamp side. Now I can turn the lights on and off remotely instead of each light by itself.

Unfortunately in your case you would need to get one of these for each of your light sockets or put one in or a zwave switch in and run new wire. Whatever is easier and cheaper I guess... LOL

I have finally done it over a year later!
Started with a Zooz ZEN51 mounted in the fixture connected to the 3-way switch. This allowed me to see when the switch was on and control the light. You could also use one of these cheap zigbee switches I think but I like having the button events from the ZEN51.

For the other fixtures I finally landed on some zigbee mini switches from AliExpress. Mainly due to the price being between only $6-8 each! Decided to try out two different ones, and they both work really well so far just have slightly different wiring. Just make sure you get Zigbee and not Wifi on accident.

Set it up so when the switch is flipped the stair light and one socket by the freezer turns on. This is all we normally need. Then if you flip the switch 2x quickly the ZEN51 counts it as a doubleTap so I have that turning on the entire basement. Setup a timer for that option so it only stays on for 1 hr.

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