A Guide to Home Wiring
We tend to take it for granted, but so much of what we do in our home throughout the day depends on having a professionally installed and maintained electrical system. From turning on the lights, cleaning our clothes, cooking our meals, and enjoying our entertainments, we rely on our home’s electrical system constantly. Having an electrical system that we can depend on starts with making sure that our home’s wiring is thoroughly planned out and installed properly from the beginning.
Home building and renovation can be costly, and it is tempting to look for ways to cut down on these costs. Many homeowners like the idea of doing the work themselves as a way of saving money. While there are many jobs that can be competently completed by a handy homeowner, home wiring is complex and should only be done by a certified electrician. Wiring can be extremely dangerous if not installed properly by an educated and experienced professional who knows what they are doing. You might save money in the beginning by taking chances and cutting corners, but if the work is not done properly from the start it will end up costing much, much more in the long run.
When it comes to home wiring, it is essential that you get a certified electrician to do the work for you. They know what the codes are and what your home requires. They can ensure that your home’s wiring is planned for and installed properly from the beginning. This is not an area to take chances on. Failure to meticulously plan for and install your home’s wiring can lead to code violations, loss of insurance, and frustrating interruptions in your service.
Read this guide when you are ready to start planning your home wiring installation. This guide will help you understand what is involved, what things to consider when planning, and what things to watch out for to avoid problems down the road. Being well prepared in advance can help you avoid making costly mistakes that can inconvenience you in the future.
Who Should Wire Your Dream Home?
Wiring a home in preparation for all our modern needs is a complicated task and there are many details and requirements to consider. Your home’s wiring needs to be done right as it is a massive inconvenience to have to go back and add or fix something after your home has been built. While a homeowner with electrical experience is allowed to install home wiring with the proper permit, most people find it intimidating and overwhelming. Most soon realise that it is too complicated for the average person. Planning, creating a wiring diagram, obtaining a permit, and arranging an inspection are all aspects of the job that have to be done properly before you can even start installing the wiring. If a homeowner does decide to go through this process on their own, there are still some aspects of home wiring, such as installation of electrical panels, that have to be done by a licensed electrician.
An error in your home wiring installation can be costly and inconvenient – and can even be dangerous. A licensed professional can help you navigate the complicated codes and requirements of your home wiring installation. They will work with you to determine how you will use your space and what your electrical needs will be. They will guide you through the complicated process and make sure that all the codes and requirements are met. They can help you obtain your permit and pass your inspections. You can save yourself a lot of time, stress, and money by working with a licensed and insured electrician from the start.
Where to Begin
There are several things you can think about to help you be better prepared to work with a professional. To start with, it is important to have a clear idea of the layout of your home. Wiring needs will differ depending on how each room is to be used. The clearer you can be about the layout of your home and how you will be using each space, the better an electrician will be able to accommodate your needs and make your home as convenient as possible.
For example, the kitchen will need specific wiring for the major appliances that will be used there. The overhead lighting needs to be planned so that countertops and workspaces are well lit. You need to think about the lighting requirements of other areas of your home as well. Will you have recessed lighting or light fixtures? Where will your TV be, and will you have a home theatre with surround sound? Perhaps you will want a hot tub, either now or at some point in the future.
These issues and many more all need to be thought through before you start to install your home’s wiring. Carefully planning the layout and electrical requirements of your home before any work has begun will save you time, trouble, and money later on.
Creating a Wiring Diagram
A wiring diagram or blue-print is a map of a home’s electrical system. It details how various components of a home’s wiring and electrical system are interconnected, and uses symbols to show where important components will be located. Everything is laid out on the diagram, from the utility company’s main power line to the home’s meter, on to the circuit breakers and surge protectors. It shows where outlets, light switches, thermostats, and smoke detectors will be located. It shows where lights will be placed and what kind of lights they will be. This diagram shows where the washer and dryer will be in the laundry room and where the fridge and stove will be in the kitchen.
A wiring diagram is an important document and you must get it right before work begins. An accurate and detailed wiring diagram, that follows all code requirements, is necessary in order to get permit approval from the city. Your permit will be denied if any details of the wiring diagram are not correct or up to code. Also, a detailed wiring diagram will help with any repairs or changes you might want to make in the future.
Things to Plan with a Professional
It is important that you create your wiring diagram with the help of an electrical engineer or a certified electrician. They can advise you on the optimal layout for your home’s wiring to best meet your needs and provide comfort and convenience. They are familiar with all the details that must be considered, and will ask you many questions to get a clear picture of what your electrical needs will be. They are also familiar with code requirements and the process of applying for a permit and arranging inspections.
When you apply for your permit the city’s planning office will check your plan to make sure it follows all code requirements. The code lists many details that must be followed in order to receive your permit and pass inspections. Details such as how you get power form the grid, the size of the main service, the location of the electrical panel, and where surge protection is needed. It outlines the correct location of lights and switches as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It details which appliances will require their own circuit and how many breakers are required. It details the use of GFCI outlets in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, or anywhere moisture might be an issue. (GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter”; a special outlet that prevents electrocution by cutting the power when it detects a potentially dangerous interruption to the current flow)
You will also need to arrange an inspection to ensure all details have been accounted for and that work is going according to your plan. Your permit will be denied and inspection failed if there are any oversights or errors. With so much to consider, the process of planning and installing home wiring can be stressful. Enlisting the help of an electrical engineer or a certified electrician to guide you through this process is a must. They will work with you to create a wiring diagram for your home that meets all code requirements in order to get your permit and pass the inspections. Not only will this bring peace of mind, but it will also help you avoid costly setbacks and errors.
Can You Change Your Plan During Construction?
After home wiring work has begun it can be difficult to make changes. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to carefully plan your home wiring needs in advance. If you decide that you want to make a change to your home wiring diagram, you must talk to your electrical contractor as soon as possible. If it is early enough the change may be able to be accommodated without too much trouble, depending on the change you would like to make. But there are some things – like increasing power demand after the main service has been installed – that cannot be changed once work has begun. Also, any changes to the wiring diagram will require approval from the city, which can take a long time to get. This is why it is best to take the time to carefully plan your home wiring installation in advance. Work with a professional to get your wiring diagram right before work starts so that inconvenience can be avoided.
Wiring Your Garage
The wiring for your garage must also be planned ahead and included in your wiring diagram for permit approval and inspection. There are code regulations specific to garages. For example, there must be an outlet for each vehicle space, as well as an outlet for the garage door opener. There must be an overhead light as well as lights outside the garage. There are different rules for wiring depending on whether you leave the walls and ceiling unfinished, or finish them with drywall.
Aside from code requirements, additional wiring might be needed depending on how you plan to use your garage. Will your garage simply be a place to park your vehicle and store items, or will it be a workshop of some kind? Activities like welding require more power so your service needs will be higher. If it is going to be a hangout or a “man cave”, you will probably want it to be heated. Perhaps you would like to turn it into a suite at some point? If so, it will need its own meter with dedicated wiring for major appliances.
These are just some of the details that will need to be considered ahead of time and included in your wiring plan. A licensed and insured electrician can help you navigate these requirements and create a plan for your garage that will meet all your needs.
Adding Luxury Features to Your Dream Home
Today’s homeowners have many options for luxury electrical features to choose from. Options like in-floor heating, hot tubs, home theatres, solar panels, smart home features, and electric car charging ports are highly desired luxury upgrades. Even if you are not interested in adding these luxuries to your home now, it is a good idea to have the wiring roughed-in and ready in case you want to add them at a later date. Having the wiring roughed-in and ready for these items can also be a selling feature if you choose to sell your home in the future.
How Much Will It Cost?
How much it will cost to wire your house depends on the size of the house, and what types of features are required. Naturally, a larger house will cost more to wire than a smaller one. Also, luxury features such as in-floor heating will add to the overall cost as these features take more time to install. Many other options can add to the cost and choices will have to be made.
One of these is whether you will choose to leave the main wires from the utility company’s pole to your home overhead or bury them in a trench underground. Choosing overhead wiring is cheaper, but it is unsightly, and you can run into many problems leaving the wires exposed to the elements – tree branches, lightning, etc. Digging a trench to place the wiring underground looks nicer and provides better protection for the wires, but it will add to the overall cost.
On average, you can expect it to cost approximately $6 per square foot, but an electrician can give you a more precise quote based on your blue-print and wiring diagram.
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How Long Will It Take?
How long it will take to wire your house from start to finish depends on many factors, the main factor being the size of the house. Depending on the size of the house, main service work can take anywhere from 8 to 16 hours. To rough-in the wiring can take from 24 to 60 hours. Finishing work, such as installing light fixtures, light switches, and outlets, can take from 8 to 16 hours.
A 2,000 square foot home will take approximately 40 hours to rough-in the wiring, and another 10 hours for finishing work.
A certified and insured electrician from a licensed electrical company is the best person to wire a house. An experienced homeowner can also do the work under a “Homeowner’s Permit”. For more information, check your local authorities.
Yes, a permit is required to wire a house. A detailed wiring diagram must be submitted to the city’s planning department for approval. All work must be inspected by local authorities.
Yes, old home wiring can be upgraded. With modern technologies and devices, we require more from our home wiring and electrical systems than we did in the past. Older wiring setups are not adequate to meet these requirements. There are many factors to consider before you begin a wiring upgrade. It is a complicated job and it can mean tearing apart some of the house, such as walls and floors, but the benefits are usually worth the trouble. It is advisable to get a permit beforehand, and as with all home wiring jobs, it is a good idea to consult a certified electrician to help you.
A home run is a dedicated circuit that goes directly from the main circuit breaker to an outlet to supply power to a specific device or appliance. Some circuits will branch off to several locations, a home run does not. This wiring method is used for devices or appliances that have high power requirements. Having an individual circuit for each of these devices or appliances ensures that they will receive enough power.
Smart Homes have dramatically increased in popularity because of the conveniences they offer. Smart Home technology gives us the ability to remotely control many electrical systems and devices in our homes. Heating, lighting, security, and even our garage doors, can all be programmed, controlled, and monitored from almost anywhere.
There are different ways to turn your house into a Smart Home. In the past, the only way to have a Smart Home was for “smart” devices to be hard-wired to a main hub, or computer. The devices would be controlled remotely from that hub. But the prevalence of Wi-Fi has made having a Smart Home even easier.
There are a number of Wi-Fi devices available that simply plug into any outlet. The device you want to control is then plugged into that outlet and controlled wirelessly using your computer, smart phone, or tablet. Even though this option is cheap and easy to install, there are drawbacks to consider. These Wi-Fi devices are always “listening” and so privacy can be a concern. Also, these devices will not be the best option if your Wi-Fi is not always reliable.
How long it will take to wire a house depends on the size of the house. A 2000 square foot home will take approximately 40 hours to rough in, and another 8-10 hours to install light fixtures, switches, receptacles, etc.
Electrical wiring comes in different gauges, or sizes. To make sure the power requirements for your home are met it is important that the correct gauge of wire is used for the power that you will be running through it. Too small and not enough power will be able to freely flow through and the wire can overheat and cause a fire.
Generally, the following gauges are commonly used for wiring a house:
Wire size Use of the wire Allowable ampacity
14 gauge For general circuits – light fixtures, outlets 15A
12 gauge For kitchen counter plugs, small appliances 20A
10 gauge For large appliances – dryer, window A/C 30A
8 gauge For large appliances – range, central A/C 50A
6 gauge For hot tub, furnace 60A
* When looking at gauge numbers it is important to know that the smaller the number, the larger the gauge. Based on Canadian Electric Code