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Electrical Information Index

Electrical repairs, changes and enhancements in a home are an accepted part of home ownership.

Many items, such as repairing or adding an electrical switch or outlet (receptacle), hanging a fan with a light or wiring a basement are items which a DIY handyman should be able to complete with relative ease.

The following list will guide you to additional information on each aspect of electrical installations, repairs and improvement for your home.

Also see the electrical section of our Quick Tips.

air conditioning condenser

220VAC Circuit For An
Outdoor Air Conditioner

The basic configuration of the electrical circuit needed to power your outdoor air conditioner condenser requires that the power comes from a double pole circuit breaker in your home load center, goes to an air conditioner disconnect switch and from the disconnect switch to the condenser.

3-way switch - switch fixture switch

3-Way Switch Installation - English;

Español

A 3-way switch is used to turn a light fixture OFF and ON from two locations.

4-way switch

3-Way & 4-Way Switch-Usage

In many instances in a home, having the ability to turn lights or other electrical devices OFF and ON from more than one location is desirable and provides added safety and security.

4 way switch with power to light fixture

4-Way Switch Installation

A 4-way switch is used to turn a light fixture OFF and ON from three or more locations.

electric warning label

10 Most Common Wiring Mistakes

Most home handymen will do some of their own electrical work. This article covers 10 of the most common electrical wiring mistakes made.

block wiring diagram

Addition / Basement Wiring

If you are planning on finishing a basement or adding an addition to your home one of the requirements to consider is what items will need electrical service.

fire in electrical box with aluminum and copper wires

Aluminum Wiring

When the approval agencies in the early 60's approved the use of aluminum wiring in homes, they did it without a lot of thought or testing.

afci circuit breaker

Arc Fault (AFCI)

2 Wire AFI Circuits

A new electrical safety device for homes, called an arc fault circuit interrupter or AFCI, is expected to provide enhanced protection from fires resulting from these unsafe home wiring conditions.

armored cable

Armored Cable (AC)

Armored cable has been around for a number of years, initially it gained a bad reputation, however manufacturing improvements have made armored cable or as it is known in the trade AC cable an acceptable alternative in most jurisdictions.

led motion detector light fixture

Automatic Light Switch

Have you ever wished that a light in an attic, closet or other area would turn on automatically if a door was opened or if you entered a room?

ceiling fan with light

Ceiling Fan Wiring Diagrams - English

Español

To understand how to wire a new ceiling fan and or ceiling fan light combo unit in your home you must first understand the basics of how the fans and lights are powered.

Christmas tree with lights

Christmas Electrical Safety

Christmas Lights Indoors

Christmas Lights Outdoors

Replacing Mini Bulbs

Christmas season is upon us and as we commence to decorate our homes with lights it is important to remember that overloading electrical circuits is a common occurrence at this time of year.

circuit breaker

Circuit Breaker Tripping

A circuit breaker will trip (turn itself off) for one of two reasons: Learn the causes of a tripping breaker and how to troubleshoot and replace one if necessary.

PVC conduit accessories

Conduit

PVC electrical conduit is an easy product to work with. A hacksaw, or a conduit cutter, if you are planning on doing a lot of conduit work, and a tape measure are the only tools required.

electrical power meter

Consumption

Many homeowners have become aware that their monthly electric bill is continually increasing. At the same time, we are all aware that the cost of each kilowatt of electricity is going up. But the increase in our electrical costs is not just related to the costs of the electricity it is also driven by our consumption of electrical power.

Electrical contactor

Contactors - Using & Understanding

Electrical contactors are switches that are turned ON and OFF with electrical power rather than with the direct push of a button or flipping a toggle switch.

Four level dimmer switch

Dimmers

You have decided to replace a wall light switch with a light dimmer. Whether it is for room ambience or to save energy, replacing a switch with a dimmer is not as simple as it may sound at the outset.

octagon electrical box

Electrical Boxes - Number Of Wires

When remodeling a kitchen, attic, basement or other room in your home you may have to add electrical wires to an electrical box. There is a limit to how many wires you can safely place in a specific size of electrical box.

wiring for a 120 VAC receptacle

Electricity 101

Working with electricity, to make an electrical device such as a light go on or off is very simple if you follow some basic guidelines and absorb the basic principles.

extension cord

Extension Cords

One of the most common mistakes that is made during any home improvement or construction project is using the wrong size extension cord to supply electricity to power tools. This mistake is made be contractors and home handymen alike.

fishing electrical wires

Fishing Electrical Wires And Cables

With walls and ceilings finished getting a new electrical circuit, the continuation of an older electrical circuit, cable, satellite feeds or speaker wires from point A to point B generally requires a lot of thought and ingenuity.

Flat panel mounting bracket has TV protruding from the wall.

Flat Panel Television Wall Mount Installation

Installing your flat panel plasma or LCD television on the wall is not a difficult task and should easily be accomplished by any handyman. There are however, a number of considerations.

residential electrical service

Fuse Panel To Breaker Panel

Electrical distribution fuse panels (load centers) have become obsolete and in many jurisdictions a homeowner cannot get home insurance if they have a fuse panel installed.

GFCI circuit breaker and receptacle

Ground Fault (GFCI)

2 Wire GFCI Circuits

The GFCI is designed to protect people from severe or fatal electric shocks Because a GFCI detects ground faults, it can also prevent some electrical fires and reduce the severity of others by interrupting the flow of electric current.

lighting information

IP Ratings

IP ratings are used where water is present near the light source. IP ratings (Ingress Protection) are also used in conjunction with zones

utility electric meter

Kilowatt Hours (kWh)

Most electrical appliances are rated in kilowatts and there should be a label on the back or side of the appliance stating how many kilowatts the appliance consumes when operating. But, what are kilowatt hours?

kitchen remodel

Kitchen Remodel Wiring

Electrical Outlets (Receptacles) Relative To Countertops

The kitchen area requires more power than any other area in a home. If you have an older home, you may face the problem of not having enough additional or spare circuits available to properly supply power to your new and updated kitchen.

electrical fire from knob and tube wiring

Knob & Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring has not been used in homes since the 1950's and the question that must be asked, is how has it been maintained and upgraded.

outdoor wiring

Landscape - Install An Outlet

Landscape Wiring

If you have a need to provide power in your landscaping project for lighting and motors such as pond pumps, there are some things that you should consider.

automatic sensor switch

Motion Sensor - Indoor

With the latest technology you can easily install a sensor that will turn lights on when someone enters a room and turn the lights off when the room is unoccupied.

motion detector

Motion Detector Installation

Multiple Motion Detector Installation

Motion Detector Adjustment - Outdoor

A motion detector is an automatic switch. Many outdoor light fixtures have built in or integral motion detectors. However in many cases it is desirable to have the motion detector separate from the light fixture.

remodel / old work electrical box mounted in drywall

Old Work (Remodel) Electrical Box Installation

Generally the most convenient method of adding the electrical box that will house the new receptacle is to use what is known as a remodel electrical box or an old work electrical box.

outbuilding electrical power

Outbuilding Power

Most individuals require power in all buildings on their property, and if that building is not physically connected to the house, you will need to run the power from the home to the outbuilding.

receptacle

Outlet (Receptacle) - Replacing

Installing New Outlet (Receptacle) On An Existing Circuit

Installing An Outdoor Outlet (Receptacle)

7 Step Procedure To Replace An Electrical Outlet (Receptacle)

The vast majority of home electrical outlets (receptacles) fall into 5 categories (the style of the outlet (receptacle), standard or decorator, does not change how it is installed.

receptacle positioning in a room

Outlet (Receptacle) - Positions In Living Areas

The National Electrical Code (NEC) provides maximum distances from walls and other obstructions and between individual electrical outlets (receptacles). This is called the 6 / 12 rule.

home electrical service

Panels

Your home’s electricity is delivered to your home through overhead wires or an underground feed. This feed is connected to your electrical meter socket.

pendant light fixture

Pendant Light Fixtures - Height

You have purchased a new set of pendant light fixtures that you are going to place over a bar or counter and now you face the age old question; what is the optimum height of a pendant light fixture?

solar panels

Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels?

The purpose of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel is to generate electricity. These solar panels are made up of a number of photovoltaic cells wired together to obtain a usable amount of current and voltage to provide power for your home.

plastic electrical box showing knockouts

Plastic Electrical Boxes - Cable Anchoring

Working with plastic electrical boxes is somewhat different than using metal boxes.

male and female electrical plug

Plugs & Sockets

There is a big difference between electrical plugs and sockets. Each plug and socket is designed to meet a specific electrical requirement and the number and configuration of the prongs on the end of a plug or the number of slots and their configuration on the end of a socket is only a small part of the overall specifications of the plug or socket.

position of receptacle and switch boxes on wall studs

Positioning Electrical Outlets (Receptacles) & Switches

If you are adding an addition, finishing a basement or performing any major home improvement that involves the addition of electrical outlets (receptacles) and / or switches you should consider their height and location.

heating mat for electric radiant heat for bathroom remodel

Radiant Electric Heat

There are so many beautiful flooring materials for bathrooms, kitchens, and family rooms, yet many of them have a major drawback. They are cool and sometimes very cold to the touch.

Remote control keypad and accessories

Remote Control (Wireless) Switch

Have you ever wanted the luxury of being able to turn lamps, heaters, fans, air filters, appliances and other electrical devices On and Off by remote control, but didn't want to invest in major systems or redo your home wiring.

re-rounting electrical wire / cable 1

Rerouting Electrical Cable / Wire

Anytime one considers opening up a wall for a pass-through, doorway or as a combining of two rooms, you face the possibility of finding cables and wires running through the area that you want to remove.

sconce light fixture

Sconce Light Fixture Installation

Sconces are wall mounted light fixtures that can be added to any room in a home and are an excellent choice of lighting for hallways and stairs. Wall sconces provide a level of elegance whether they are placed in a formal dining room, a bathroom or to provide subdued lighting in a family room.

smart meter

Smart Meters / Smart Grid

Smart grid technologies or as it is sometimes termed, smart meters, are utilized by utilities to reduce the demand for electrical power, during what has become the peak demand periods of the week. Homeowners that utilize the benefits of smart meter technology can save hundreds of dollars a year on their electrical bills.

two wires on a breaker

Splitting Two Wires On A Breaker

Having two wires or circuits on a breaker generally occurs because the home has required additional electrical outlets (receptacles) or lighting.

standby generator

Stand-by Generators

Transfer Switch Wiring

Standby Generator Panel Warning Label

Fuel

Stand-by generators provide security and a level of comfort in the event of a utility power failure. They can maintain indoor climate, provide lighting, keep food from spoiling and allow a family to function.

structured wiring for a home remodel or improvement

Structured Wiring

Structured wiring is the term used to describe a relatively new method of providing service throughout your home for all of your low voltage requirements.

electrical sub-panel installation

Sub-Panel Installation

An electrical sub-panel provides you with additional electrical circuits. It does not change the amount of power available to the home.

lightning hitting home

Surge Protection - Whole House

Buying Surge Protectors or Surge Suppression

Types Of Surge Protectors or Surge Suppression

Having a surge protector or surge suppression in your home or business is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. Electronic devices such as flat screen televisions, computers, DVD players and recorders and appliances are delicate and cannot withstand electrical surges.

Lay-in fluorescent light fixture with holes for <q>S</q> hooks.

Suspended Ceilings - Mounting Lights, Fans & Ventilators

A suspended ceiling has one major drawback. It is not designed to support the weight of lights, fans and/or ventilators.

wiring a light with switch

Switch Installation

Lights with pull cords are a common occurrence in basements and closets and as most are not overly aesthetic many homeowners wish to change them to a standard light fixture with a switch.

2011 NEC code book

Switch Loops

The 2011 NEC code has made changes to the common method of wiring a switch loop. A switch loop is created when power is fed to a light fixture and the hot wire is broken and extended to a light switch.

switch and receptacle

Switches & Outlets (Receptacles)

Crooked Switch & Outlet Plates

The most common and least expensive is the toggle on/off switch. This switch controls the power running in an electrical circuit. With the switch in the off position the continuity of the circuit is broken with the switch in the on position the circuit continuity is completed.

duplex switched receptacle (outlet) electrical symbol

Symbols - Electrical Drawings

If you are building a new home, adding an addition or performing a major remodel you should understand and use the accepted electrical symbols to designate items and their locations on the plans.

telephone jack

Telephone Jack Installation

Installing a new telephone jack in your home is not a complex project. The greatest amount of difficult is to get the cable from any currently live telephone jack or open piece of wire to the location of the new telephone jack.

Wall timer

Timers - Bathroom Fan

With the cost of energy increasing monthly, a small investment in controls to automatically turn electrical devices off when no longer needed can save you really dollars.

track lighting kit

Track Lighting Installation

Track lighting is one of the most versatile lighting styles on the market today. Often a staple of many offices and art studios, track lighting combines the perfect mix of everyday task lighting and directional lighting - making it more and more popular in homes.

correct wiring of a switch or receptacle screw terminal

Troubleshooting Flickering Lights

Lights That Dim Momentarily

Nothing is more frustrating in a home than having lights that blink or work sometimes and not others. Troubleshooting a flickering light electrical circuit can take hours, but with a little patience and planning you can find the problem and correct it.

Watts To Amps Converter

Watts To Amps Converter

A common problem faced by many homeowners when doing renovations that involve the addition of electrical circuits is calculating the size of the circuit necessary to carry enough power to the electrical devices being used.

Watts Versus Lumens

Watts Versus Lumens

Most of us grew up with the concept of buying light bulbs based on their wattage. Incandescent light bulbs, florescent light bulbs and other varieties of light bulbs are still labeled and sold based on their wattage. Now we must be re-educted and buy light bulbs based on lumens.

Wind Generators

Wind Generators - Home

Many homeowners are considering the use of the energy in wind to augment the power that they currently receive from the electrical grid.

attaching 2 wires to 1 terminal on a switch

Wire Connections (Terminals & Wire Nuts)

If you are undertaking any electrical project it is important that you follow some basic rules when it comes to stripping and terminating electrical wire.

electrical wire

Wire Gauges

Residential electrical wiring can be confusing at the best of times. Learn the right size wire gauges to use from the electrical service entering your home to receptacles, lighting and appliances.

Assortment of different size wire connectors

Wire Nuts

Any DIY home handyman who as undertaken any electrical work has used wire nuts. A wire nut is a device that aids in the connection of a group of electrical wires. It not only holds the joint secure, but provides insulation for the mechanical wire joint.