How to Install Residential Electrical Wiring

Electrical Wiring
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What You'll Need
Pliers with insulated grip
Screwdriver with insulated grip
Voltage tester
Wire stripping tools
Casing stripping tools
Step ladder

Installing residential electrical wiring is a task with many inherent risks, from the potential of electric shock while you’re doing the job to the risk of fire hazards if the job is poorly completed. However, if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you can still take on residential electrical wiring yourself with a little preparation and by making sure to always adhere to all safety standards. To learn more about how to install residential electrical wiring, read the simple steps outlined below.

Step 1 – Know Your Wires

Before you get started with your residential electrical wiring project, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with. First of all, familiarize yourself with the different types of wires. The hot wires are typically the red and black wires, which conduct electricity from the circuit breaker to the electrical appliance. The white wire called Neutral returns the electricity back to the electric panel. The ground wire, which is bare, usually doesn’t conduct any electricity and is connected to the frame of the appliance and to ground. Remember that the ground wire and the white wire should never be connected together.

When choosing the type of wire for your project, go for the thicker 12-2 electrical wire where high power appliances such as a heater, blow dryer, toasters, microwave oven, etc. will be used. Around the kitchen counters or in the bathroom for instance. 14-2 wires are used for light fixtures or miscellaneous non-specific outlets.

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Step 2 – Get to Know Your Electrical Needs

Take a look at the plans for the rooms in which you need to install residential wiring. Figure out what your needs are going to be: how many and what types of appliances will you be running wires to? How many outlets will you need, and where will it be safe to place them? Where should you install your circuit breakers? The answers to these questions are specific to each house and family and also depend on local codes. However, a general rule of thumb is to keep outlets at least 16 inches above the floor. Electrical switches, on the other hand, should be a minimum of 48 inches above the floor.

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Step 3 – Plan Your Circuit Breakers Wisely

One of the most important parts of installing your own residential wiring is making sure that your electric panel is large enough to accommodate your needs. In addition to the big circuit breaker that connects your home to the electrical grid, each room will have at least one (and often more) circuit breaker as well. Although the legal standards for the number of circuit breakers and outlets you can have in a given home might vary according to city and state, it is recommended to have the main circuit panel with at least 200 amps with a capacity of at least 40 locations for various circuit breakers throughout the house. Double-check your local electricity codes to be sure.

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