Is a 3 way switch required at the stairs to a basement with no other entryway? We were given a violation for not having a 3 way switch in a basement with no entryway.

  • Where, precisely, are the light fixtures controlled by the switch at the basement steps located at? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 20 at 23:52
  • you can just tack in a smart switch system without running new wires. – dandavis Aug 21 at 16:52

Stairway Lighting is Required, with light switches at top and bottom of the stairway if the stairs encompass more than three stair treads (Canada) or six stair treads (U.S.).

  • 1
    Any chance you have the applicable code sections handy? – statueuphemism Aug 21 at 23:44
  • 1
    Section 210.70(A)(2) provides additional rules on dwelling unit lighting outlets. This is the section of the NEC that requires lighting outlets in hallways, stairways, and garages with electric power. The general rule for an interior stairway is to have at least one wall switch–controlled lighting outlet serving the stairs. If the interior stairway between floor levels has six risers or more, a wall switch is required at each floor level, and landing level that includes an entryway. – JACK Aug 22 at 0:56

I do not know the codes but I would guess that if you are in the basement during the day and you stay there until night time, then they want you to be able to turn on the lights for the stairs as a safety concern.

  • 1
    Or if your in the basement and someone upstairs turns off the light. – JACK Aug 21 at 13:25
  • Or you turn on the basement lights, and then turn off the stair lights because you done in the stairwell. – Harper Aug 21 at 22:45

Nowhere is it written that the lights must be switched at all. You can have a 24x7 light or a day/night light if there is natural light.

Also, the lights can be on a motion sensor, but the sensors must be arranged competently to see approaching stair users, which is harder than you think.


Do what common sense would engage yourself to do.

Codes are written with safety in mind, but there are not capable of covering every single situation.

If it were my place, and there was the slightest chance where a extra light switch could prevent an injury, I would make certain there was another switch.

Falling down multiple stairs can be hazardous to your health. Especially in the DARK.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.