I was adding 2 new additional basement lights today, I thought I was doing a good job of mounting everything correctly and securing the wire.

My Basement

However when I finished and got someone else to look at it they pointed out that I may have mounted the lights too close to the beam.

Light bulb mounted in corner, between beam, and post

I mounted them in that position because it would still let me crawl between the posts without hitting the lights, and It was easy to work on as I could sit on the concrete pier.

Wide angle of light mounted to beam

My question is: Is this light mounted too close the post? What electrical code dictates the minimum distance between the light and wood?

I'd like to not have to not have to take them down, but if It wouldn't pass inspection I'd definitely re-do it.

  • 2
    I highly doubt that's a problem. But in general the issue is heat. Why a CFL on a new install? Put in an equivalent LED and it will use less power == generate less heat. Jan 20, 2021 at 2:47
  • 3
    I don't think there is any such rule. And unless you spend a lot of time crawling around your crawlspace, I wouldn't worry too much about changing the light bulbs, either. The yearly on-time is miniscule, and so is the payback from any power savings. If you can see well enough to get around, great! If you need more light for some specific task, bring a work light and take it away when you are done.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 20, 2021 at 2:53
  • 2
    I think for confined spaces the code leans towards your lay-out; it's better to have the bulb up and out of the way so theres less chance of hitting it.
    – ojait
    Jan 20, 2021 at 2:55
  • 3
    Closest I find so far: 410.5 Luminaires (Fixtures) Near Combustible Material The luminaire (fixture) construction must ensure that the combustible material will not be subjected to temperatures over 194°F.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 20, 2021 at 2:58
  • 3
    @Ecnerwal -- you must have grabbed an old reference, as that section's now at 410.11 Jan 20, 2021 at 2:58

2 Answers 2


With CFL or LED, this shouldn't be an issue

The only plausible Code issue with this situation is NEC 410.11 with regards to luminaires near combustible materials. Practically speaking, though, you'll never exceed the 90°C limit the Code imposes with a normally functioning CFL or LED bulb, and even with an incandescent, the chances are rather low unless you leave the lamp burning 24/7/365.


Code Violation? No, as stated by Ecnerwal. And, I do agree with a possible shadow problem.

Normally, lights do best when centrally located within the field of joists and on either side of any beams, to eliminate shadow problems.

But, if you're happy and your needs are addressed, then it's just fine the way you have it. Any light is better than no light. So, well done!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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