Installing a 220VAC Circuit For Air Conditioning Condenser Unit

When it comes to air conditioning installations, there is usually very little that the homeowner can do. However if you are relatively handy you can install the electrical service to the outdoor condenser unit and then leave the refrigeration work to the professionals. Remember that you should always check with your local building department to determine what type of permit is required for the total installation of an air conditioning system. Homeowners are usually allowed to perform electrical and plumbing work without a license. By having the work permitted and inspected you will not only increase the chances for a successful installation, you will not void your homeowner’s insurance policy and you will not have any issues when you go to sell your home in the future. The Electrical Circuit The electrical circuit needed to power your outdoor air conditioner condenser is typically a double pole circuit breaker in your home load center (panelboard) that goes to an air condition...

How to Size a Circuit Breaker and Wire Sizes

Circuit breakers are over current protection devices (OCPD) that are designed to break the circuit and prevent equipment damage or fire. When too much current runs through a circuit the heat in the circuit exceeds the breaker's load rating and it trips, shutting off the electrical power. Proper sizing eliminates overloads and insures safe electrical operation. Circuit breakers are designed to carry 100% of their rated current while the NEC dictates an 80% application. A commonly misunderstood fact about circuit breakers (CBs) is related to the percentage of loading permitted by the NEC and the CB design, and why the two may be different. Let's investigate both aspects. Circuit Breaker Design A circuit breaker (CB) is designed and evaluated to carry 100% of its rated current for an indefinite period of time under standard test conditions. These conditions, per UL 489, Underwriters Laboratories Standard for Safety for Molded-Case Circuit Breakers and Circuit Breaker Enclosures, i...

Troubleshooting a Low Voltage Lighting Transformer

Low voltage lighting transformers have become commonplace in many of today’s homes with the increase awareness in energy efficient lighting systems and decorative accent lighting. A low voltage lighting transformer is a device that converts the standard 110V or 120V household voltage to a lower voltage such as 24V or 12V. Low voltage transformers can be installed outside in a weatherproof enclosure, or in a basement or garage to power low voltage landscape or deck around the home. The transformer can be hard-wired to the home’s electrical system or plugged in to a receptacle to power the transformer and then a smaller gauge cable distributes 12V to various lighting devices. The purpose of a low voltage lighting system is to reduce the size of the wiring, increase the number of lights on a circuit, and make installing light fixtures quick and easy for the do it yourselfer and professional alike. Lowering the voltage supplied to the fixtures reduces the chance of injury in t...

How To Wire A Fan/Light Switch

Installing a ceiling fan/light combination is a common home improvement project. The part of these projects that confuse many new do-it-yourself persons is how to wire the electrical wiring, so the fan and the light can be controlled by separate, wall-mounted switches. Many handy persons who are ready to tackle any carpentry, painting or plumbing project without any hesitation shy away from tackling electrical projects. There is no reason to pay a professional electrician $50 to $100 an hour when you can do it yourself. After reading this how-to guide, you will know how the fan/light circuit works and will be able to wire your fan/light switches with confidence. How is the home Cable Run? In the electrical trades, “home-run” refers to the cable bringing the power from the service panel. Depending on whether the service panel is closer to the ceiling outlet box or the device box that will house the switches, the home-run cable will either enter the ceiling outlet box or th...

How to Replace Low Voltage Lighting Transformer

Sometimes when a light is not working it isn’t always the bulb. Some recessed lights use a transformer that is mounted to the light above the ceiling. Low-voltage recessed lights use transformers to convert high-voltage electricity to a low-voltage power supply, usually 120V down to 24V or 12V. Replacement transformers must match the recessed light's old transformer's input and output voltage ratings. Placing standard voltage on a low-voltage light bulb causes its filament to burn up almost instantly. If you have a remote transformer for low-voltage track lighting or low-voltage halogen lights you need to locate the enclosure where the transformer is installed and replace it with a matching one. These transformers can be susceptible to voltage spikes and surges caused by lightning strikes and power outages. Instructions Always use caution when working with electricity. 1. Turn off the electricity to the recessed light at electrical panel by shutting off the circuit...

How to Hard Wire a Dishwasher

One of the few appliances in the kitchen that is wired directly to a dedicated circuit is the dishwasher. Aside from the heating element which draws a considerable amount of amperage, the dishwasher is connected to a water source which can pose an elevated risk to shock and circuit overload.  Having other items connected to the same circuit can cause the breaker to trip. As long as the circuit breaker is turned off the connection can be made fairly easily. If you are not comfortable with making the electrical connections for the dishwasher, you should hire a licensed electrician to install the appliance on the dedicated circuit. Tools and Materials Voltage tester Screwdrivers Needle-nose pliers Wire strippers Utility knife Wire nuts Electrical tape Cable connector 2-foot level Adjustable Wrench Instructions This article goes over the electrical connections for the dishwasher and does not focus on the plumbing connections such as the water supply hook-up and drain hos...

How to Wire a Switched Outlet - Half Hot Outlet

Many times people would like to have an outlet controlled by a switch to be able to turn on a lamp or some other device. Sometimes they have a switched outlet, but it is in the wrong location, or they would like to plug in another device that they would like to remain on all the time. A situation like this calls for a half hot outlet where a switch controls the top half of the outlet and the bottom remains hot all of the time. Instructions As always when working on electrical systems turn off the power to the circuit at the breaker panel or remove the fuse for older electrical systems. If you have an outlet that is switched, you will still need to run a new wire with two hot conductors and one neutral and one ground, 12-3 or 14-3 wire. The “3” stands for 3 conductors, black, red, and white. The red wire is required to keep one half of the outlet hot at all times. Traditionally the black wire is used for the hot portion of the outlet and the red wire for the switched por...

What to Do when a Circuit Breaker Trips Intermittently

A circuit breaker that trips open intermittently may be indicative of a circuit overload or an intermittent short circuits. Two reasons a circuit breaker trips open are circuit overloads and short circuits. Circuit breakers, like the older, Edison-based fuses, are designed to protect electrical writing against circuit overloads and short circuits. Short circuits occur when a hot wire comes into contact with the circuit's neutral conductors or when it comes into contact with some grounded surface. Short circuits are relatively easy to diagnose because the circuit breaker will not hold after resetting until the short circuit is located and repaired. Circuit overloads, on the other hand, are not so easy to diagnose because, depending on the amount of the overload current, the circuit may hold after being reset until the heat building up from the overload current causes the thermally operated circuit breaker to trip open once again. A third possible cause for a circuit breaker to trip op...

Tricks of the Trade: How to Run Cable Behind Baseboards and Casings

One of the most frustrating things about fishing wire through the walls of older homes is encountering unexpected obstructions. Older homes often have one or more 2 X 4's running horizontally between studs as fire stops. Running wire through such a wall space is very time consuming and labor intensive. First, you have to locate each of those horizontal blocks. Next you have to remove a section of the wall finish in front of each of those blocks, large enough to allow you to drill through the block or to notch the block for the cable to pass through it. Then, after getting the cable where you need it, you have to go back and patch all the holes you made in the wall. Having to patch a hole/cutout in a modern wall with a wallboard finish may not be all that bad, but you have quite a job on your hands if you are working on an older home that has plaster wall laid over wooden lath. Running the wire behind baseboards and around door casing takes a fraction of the time while causing little d...

How to Run Electrical Wiring Underground

At some point you may want to have power in a garden shed or detached patio or some other area in your yard. Instead of running an extension cord to that particular location you may want to install an underground conduit or direct burial electrical cable to provide a more permanent solution. Consult your local building department concerning electrical regulations before attempting any underground installation. Some local agencies may require a permit to be issued before any trench is dug and you may want to have a survey done of your property to locate any exiting underground electrical, water, and gas lines. Most states have a Call Before You Dig hotline or you can contact the service department for your local utility company for assistance. Direct Burial Cable Installation This is a more simple approach as special electrical cable can be placed directly in the ground. Consult your local building inspections department to determine if this type of installation is allowed and acquire...

How to Install or Replace a Doorbell Transformer

Standard doorbells are not powered by 120 volt electric typically used in the home. Most doorbell chimes use a transformer to step down the voltage from 110/120 VAC (volts alternating current) to 10 to 24 VAC. A small transformer is installed in the basement near the door or on the side of the panelboard to power the device. Older 10 volt transformers are used for buzzers and 16 volt and higher are used for doorbell chimes. If the distance from the transformer to the button and chime is long, the transformer is usually increased to 24 volts. If you are installing a new doorbell, the transformer typically comes with the doorbell chime. If you are replacing the transformer, you need to locate the transformer and check the voltage marked on the side of the frame. If you have a hot water heating system you may have a transformer to power zone valves, or the transformer may supply power to the heating system and doorbell, so make sure that you have located the correct transformer. Before ...

Problems with Your Home's Neutral Wiring

Most homeowners know that their electrical wiring g carries 120 volts of AC (Alternating Current) electricity to outlets, appliances, and switches. They may also know that the black, and sometimes red, wire is the hot wire and the white wire is the neutral. In almost every case the black wire carries the voltage to the load and the neutral completes the circuit and is connected to the grounding bus bar on the panelboard. One of the most serious problems your can have is a situation where you are carrying voltage on the neutral. Causes voltage on a Neutral wire There are several ways to get AC voltage on neutral wiring a here are a few of the more common causes. On an incandescent lighting fixture the light bulb has a small wire which glows when current flows through it. One side of this coil of wire connects to a hot wire; the other side connects to the neutral wire. When power is applied it runs through the coil, lights it up, and the power flows to the neutral and back to th...

How to Wire a Lamp

One of the most basic electrical fixtures in your home is a floor or table lamp. If you ever have to rewire a broken lamp or socket, there are some important lamp socket wiring basics you need to understand to correctly connect hot and neutral wires when you replace a lamp switch and socket to keep your lamp safe. Most lamp cords and plugs have marking to identify the neutral wire. Lamps and Electricity With incandescent light bulbs, the lamp will work with the hot and neutral wires reversed, but safety is compromised. CFL and LED light bulbs may not work with reversed wiring. If you switched out your traditional light bulbs with new CFL or LED style bulbs and they will not work you may have to check the wiring of the lamp. Under normal conditions the electricity flows into the tab on the socket base (brass) and into the base of the light bulb. The electricity then goes through the filament of the bulb and then exits through the threaded side of the bulb and into the threaded socket...

How To Test Start And Run Capacitors

Start and run capacitors are found in many single-phase motor circuits and is one of the biggest causes of motor failure. They are found in your refrigerator, deep freezer, air conditioner, furnace, and many of your motor driven power tools. A starting capacitor that has failed or a starting capacitor that is about to fail is enough to keep a capacitor start motor from starting under load. A run capacitor that has failed or a run capacitor that is about to fail will keep a motor from running at peak performance, can cause the motor to over heat, or can keep it from running at all. Capacitors are uncomplicated devices and are easy to test using an analog multimeter. This is the one time when an analog multimeter will serve you better than a digital multimeter and you need to purchase one just for testing capacitors. An inexpensive but very accurate analog multimeter can be had for under $20 from Radio Shack. Degree of difficulty: 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. Tools and test equipment that...

How to Troubleshoot a Tripped Breaker

Most of the time a, circuit breaker trips people simple go to their electrical panel find the offending breaker and reset it. But what happens when the breaker does not reset, or trips often, you can troubleshoot the problem yourself and depending on the problem, repair it or hire an electrician to do the repair for you. Circuit breakers are designed to trip, unlike older fuses in a fuse box that are designed to melt a thin metal strip, and turn off power whenever the following potentially dangerous situations occur: • Overloaded Circuit • Short Circuit • Ground Fault Types of Breakers There are three types of residential circuit breakers; magnetic circuit breaker, thermal circuit breaker, and thermal magnetic circuit breaker. Magnetic circuit breakers are equipped with an electromagnet that gets increasingly strong as the flow of electricity increases. The magnet activates a cutoff switch when too much power enters the circuit. Thermal circuit breakers employ meta...

DIY Appliance Repair: How to Test the High Voltage Components of a Microwave Oven

Once you have removed the outer shell of the microwave oven, you will find a schematic diagram similar to this one affixed either to the inside top or end pieces of the wraparound shell piece. At first glance most of the symbols used on this diagram will probably mean nothing to you, unless you have had experience reading schematics, but not to worry, you will learn what each of them mean as we proceed in this series. You will learn what the symbol means and what the actual part it represents looks like in the real world. Specialized test equipment. The professional use some very expensive, specialized test equipment when diagnosing and repairing microwave ovens, test instruments that no DIY Electrician can afford to invest in. The good news is that you really do not need this specialized testers to repair the microwave oven. I will show you how to do it with nothing more than an inexpensive Analog Multimeter (VOM) and a few testing jigs that you can make yourself from inexpensive...

Homeowner's Guide to Electrical Problems - House Meter Socket

A major component in your home’s electrical system is the main electrical feed coming into the panel board.  Between the utility wires and the panel board is the electric meter which is typically installed in a separate meter box, but sometimes they are installed in a panel board with a separate space for the meter.  Meter boxes, also known as meter sockets, are often installed outside and mounted on the side of the home. An electrical meter box is often referred to as Meter Socket, or General Duty Meter Socket. Another type is a meter socket load center where the electrical meter and panel board are combined into one unit. Meter sockets are designed for a long lifespan, over 30 years, but they can become defective if the initial installation was below standard. The safe operating life of the meter socket may be reduced by excessive moisture, environmental contaminants, frequent changing of meters, and excessive electrical loads such as overloading or short circu...

How to Replace Fluorescent Light Ballast

Fluorescent light fixtures are energy efficient over the long run, but bulbs and ballasts are expensive replacement items. Typically when the light bulb flickers continuously or the fixture begins to hum you need to replace the ballast. The repair will only take about 10 minutes. New ballast prices range from $15 to $50, which may make replacing the fixture a better choice for outdated units. This is especially true if your fluorescent light uses T12 bulbs instead of the more energy efficient T8 or T5 bulbs. Note: The number after the T stands for how many 1/8th of an inch the diameter of the bulb is. T12 = 12/8 inch which is 1 ½ inch diameter, T8 = 8/8 inch or 1 inch, and T5 = 5/8 inch. Fortunately the ballast will typically last 15 to 20 years, which in most cases means that the fixture will be replaced before it becomes necessary for the ballast to be replaced. The life expectancy will be reduced depending on the hours of usage and the power quality of the electrical service...

DIY ELECTRICAL: An Introduction to Wire and Cable

Since 1930, homes have been wired using nonmetallic sheathed cable (NMC). The original NMC contained two or more rubber insulated conductors within a rubberized fabric jacket. These early NMC wiring systems contained no system grounding conductors. Modern NMC, known as Romex Cable in the trades, has been in use since 1965. Modern Romex cable contained two or more thermoplastic insulated conductors, along with a bare copper grounding conductor, inside a vinyl plastic jacket. There is a treasure trove of information printed on the vinyl jacket, information that you need to know how to interpret. So what does all these letters and numbers mean and why is it important that you understand them? The American Wire Gauge, AWG14. The size (diameter) of electrical wire is measured and represented in many ways, the most common being AWG and MCM with 1 MCM equaling 1000 circular mills. As DIY Electricians you will be working with wire measured in the American Wire Gauge system. The AWG system co...

How to Install An Exterior Floodlight

A simple and effective way to improve the safety and security of your home is to add a motion-sensor floodlight over your garage or other area of your home. Many models are available that have a built-in motion sensor which activates the light whenever something crosses its field of vision. The installation is safe and easy by utilizing an existing receptacle circuit and running the wires through surface-mounted metal conduit. This technique speeds the installation by eliminating the need to pull wires through walls and ceilings and cutting numerous access holes. All of the supplies required for this project are sold at hardware stores and home centers, including the thin-wall metal conduit, which is referred to as EMT for electrical metallic tubing. Tools Wire Cutting pliers Wire Strippers Magnetic Torpedo level Tape Measure Standard and Phillips screwdrivers Cordless drill and wood boring bit, 7/8-inch 6-foot Step ladder Fish tape Hacksaw Round file Utility Knife Mat...

How to Install an Outdoor Receptacle

You can install an outdoor electrical receptacle safely and quickly by using a through-the-wall technique. It is important to understand wiring basics, use proper safety precautions and have your work inspected by your local building code official. This method works with homes that do not have stone or brick exteriors where the outlet is installed. Tools and Materials Hammer Stud finder 4-in-1 screwdriver Cordless Drill/driver with a ¼-inch 18-inch long drill bit (available in the electrical tool section of your local hardware store or home center) Electrical tape Wire stripper Voltage tester Electrical fish or wire coat hanger Exterior electrical box Weatherproof box cover Electrical cable GFCI outlet Cable clamps Wire connectors Silicone caulk Instructions In just a few hours you can install a new receptacle by running a new wire from an existing interior outlet and install the new exterior outlet on the opposite side of the wall.  In many cases you can...

Repair Underground Wiring with a Splice Kit

As more and more homeowners add exterior lighting, receptacles, dog fences, and irrigation systems, there is a greater chance for damaging the direct burial, also called underground feeder (UF) cable, underground electrical wires. Instead of digging up the wire and replacing it, you can easily repair the wire in place with an underground splice kit. Underground splice kits contain a brass connector with a heat-shrink sleeve that will complete the connection and keep moisture out.     Underground splice kits can come with a single conductor connector (top) to repair individual wires, or with a 4 conductor splice connector (bottom) to repair all of the wires in a cable. The 4-conductor splice has a plastic sleeve to isolate the connectors. Splice kits can be purchased at home centers, online, and at electrical distributors for between $10 and $25 dollars, depending on the size and type of cable being repaired. Tools and Materials Electrician’s Pliers Splice kit H...

How to Choose the Correct Size Electrical Box

There are many instances when you need to add or move an electrical box during a minor renovation or repair. Whether you are working in your garage, attic, or kitchen you need to know that there is a limit to how many wires you can safely place in an electrical box. Keep in mind that not all electrical boxes are the same size. The National Electric Code The National Electrical Code (NEC) restricts the number of conductors that are allowed in a single electrical box. The number of conductors allowed is determined by the size of the box and the size of the conductors. A conductor that terminates or is spliced within the box is counted once, and each conductor that passes through the box without splice or termination is counted once. The size of the box is determined by its volume which can be easily calculated by multiplying Height x Width x Length to get the total cubic inches or the volume of the box. Some boxes will have its volume listed on the box, but many will not. Most of the ...

How To Wire A Switch Leg

If you live in an older home, there is an excellent chance that ceiling mounted light fixtures are controlled by pull chain switches. The problem with fixture mounted pull chain switches is that you have to stumble through a pitch black room and fumble around the find the pull chain. It is mush easier and safer if the switch is wall mounted by the entryway. Converting from a pull chain switch to a wall mounted switch is not rocket science, but it will require running a switch leg to where the switch is to be located. Degree of difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 is a solid 3 (Almost any handy person can do this.) Tools and supplies that you will need for this project Hammer Tape measure Non-contact voltage probe 3/8 inch battery powered drill/driver Spade bit set Portable, electric jigsaw 12 inch bit extension Screwdrivers Cable cutters Wire cutters Wire stripper Needle nose pliers Lineman's pliers 12/2 w/gr Romex cable Cable connectors Romex cable staples “Old ...

DIY Electrical: An Introduction to Light Switches

Single—pole light switches are used when the lights are controlled from only one location. Three—way light switches are used when the lights are controlled from two locations. Four—way light switches are used in conjunction with two 3—way light switches when the lights are to be controlled from three or more locations. Wiring these switch circuit is pretty straight forward and will be covered in a future article. In this article I will be concentrated on all the differences between these switches and why those differences are important to know. All light switches of the same type are not created equal. The Anatomy of a Light Switch. Every light switch has a treasure trove of information written on it that the DIY Electrician must know in order to perform his work so it complies with the requirements of the National Electrical Code and so that his work is safe. Unlike most electrical project that the DIY Electrician will undertake, replacing an existing light s...

How to Move an Electrical Outlet or Light Switch

Electrical outlets and light switches sometimes must be moved during a remodeling project. This often happens when a closet has been added or a door moved. Many times this will leave the light switch on the opposite wall or a large section of the room without an electrical outlet because the original one is now in the closet. In the long run conveniently placed outlets and switches are worth the effort required to move them. With care this can be safely done by homeowners. The tools you will need for this project include an electrical meter, flat and Philips screwdrivers, pliers, razor knife and clean up tools. For the electrical part of this project you will need wire, electrical box, wire nuts, and a blank outlet cover. The electrical box you want will be the one with locking tabs. It is possible that you will have drywall damage. If so then you will also need drywall repair materials and tools.  Safely should always be the main concern when ...

Pros and Cons of the Smart Grid - a National Power Grid for the U.S.

There has been much talk about the initiative to create a “Smart Grid” for the United States electrical power grid. The problems created by the Smart Grid may be equal to or greater than the problems it is meant to solve. A power network utilizing present computing technologies will eliminate blackouts and brownouts due to under-capacity, and will enable better overall reliability through advanced monitoring and management. Customers will become more knowledgeable in how they use electricity by gaining real-time insight into their energy costs. The smart grid will also help prevent terrorist attacks by building-in redundancies and self-healing capabilities. And like the Internet, it will become the platform upon which new types of products and services can be built, such as using hybrid and electric cars to store energy and then sell it back to the network. It would also be easier for home generators to plug into the grid and receive payments from utilities for their exce...

How to Fix Buzzing, Noisy, and Flickering Lights

From time to time we have all encountered flickering fluorescent lights or a humming dimmer switch that are more annoying than dangerous. There are plenty of small electrical light problems that you can fix easily without having to hire an electrician and here are a few easy repairs that you can handle yourself. We are all aware of the dangers involved when working with electricity, many small electrical problems can handled by the homeowner with a handful of specialized tools and a little know-how. If you encounter any problem that seems too complicated for you to handle, shut off the power to the fixture you are working on and call in an electrician. Shock Hazards Working with electrical problems calls for even more caution than you regularly exercise with home improvement projects. It's a wise idea to shut the power off at the breaker or remove the fuse and don't assume that the power to the circuit on which you're working is off because a wall switch is off. Invest in a small ...

How to Extend a Coaxial Cable Line

When cable was initially run to homes in the United States only one cable jack was normally installed. As time went on, people often added more televisions that required additional jacks. If you need another jack for a cable TV signal; set up a computer network in your home; or hook up an FM radio or a cable modem chances are you'll be working with coaxial cable. Coaxial cable, often referred to as "coax," is a round black cable that cable companies run from the street to your cable box. Chances are you already have coax in your house. This article will illustrate how to work with coax and describe how to make a couple of essential coax connections. About Coax Coax consists of a center wire surrounded by insulation, which is in turn surrounded by an outer conductor of braided wire that serves as a grounded shield, enclosed in an outer jacket of insulation. The shield minimizes electrical and radio frequency interference. There may also be a layer of foil between the int...

DIY Decorator Light Switch Covers with Sharpies

If you have ever seen those cute decorator light switch covers and wanted some for your home you don’t need to buy them. They are priced anywhere from $7.99 and up and are really not that hard to make yourself. The cost for a box of plain white light switch covers from Home Depot is a little over $2.00 with tax for a box of 10 single light switch covers or you can simply take down the old covers and decorate them. The only things you need for this project are the box of light switch covers, a pack of Sharpie Markers in assorted colors, and clear gloss finishing spray. This project is so easy and you can create light switch covers to fit any theme in a room from sports to kitchen to bath. You just need to have an idea of what you want the theme to reflect and soon you will have light switch covers that match your décor. In each package of light switch covers there are two screws. Be careful not to lose these as these are what go into the plate when you are ready to hang ...

How to Use a Circuit Breaker Finder

Have you ever tried to locate the circuit breaker controlling the branch circuit that you want to work on? If you have a relatively new home, the circuit directory may be correct so finding the right breaker is a snap. The circuit directory on breaker panels in older homes is illegible or missing. The easiest way was to plug a radio into the receptacle, turn the volume all the up and then turn the breakers off one at a time until the radio stops blaring. Now there is a better way, the electronic circuit breaker finder. I was introduced to this gem 10 years ago, and I am still using the same A.W. Sperry CS500A model that I bought 10 years ago. There are newer models available, but this one has proven dependable and indestructible. The A.W. Sperry CS500A Circuit Breaker Finder The A.W. Sperry CS500A Circuit Breaker Finder is a Two-piece set-a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter plugs into the energized outlet. The receiver, powered by a 9-volt battery beeps when it passes ove...

How to Install an Outdoor Lamp Post

Learn how to install an outdoor lamp post; details include digging a post hole, setting the post and wiring the lamp. Whether you want to add a lamp post alongside your front entry or you need to replace an outdated one, this article will provide the necessary steps to complete the job. Not only do lamp posts improve the “curb appeal” of your home, they also add a measure of security. Check with your local building department before starting the work to see if a permit is required. Tools and Material: Hacksaw for cutting CPVC conduit Wire cutters Wire strippers Screwdriver 4-foot level Posthole digger or auger Small shovel for the trench Tape measure CPVC cement CPVC conduit – 3/4 inch, Schedule 40 Light switch and box, if not already installed Lamp post and Fixture 1. Locating and Digging the Hole If you live in colder parts of the country you will need to dig down at least two and half feet to guard against frost heave. This is when the ground freeze...

How To Diagnose and Correct Wiring Problems in Receptacles

Improper or careless wiring of receptacles, also referred to as outlets, is the most common electrical defect found in a typical home. Improperly wired outlets are a potential shock hazard and can cause electrical equipment to use more electricity and fail prematurely. Most of the electronic devices such as televisions, stereos, VCRs, video game consoles, and computers have a 3-prong plug due to the fact that the internal wiring is looking for power from one direction of the outlet; improper wiring may cause the device to prematurely fail or can even start a fire. All receptacles should be wired such that the hot or live (black) lead is connected to a specific side of the outlet, and the neutral (white) lead to the other. A switch on an appliance that is plugged into the outlet will open and close on the hot side. This is done so when the switch is off, there will be no voltage inside the device or receptacle. On a typical receptacle, the hot side is the smaller of the two opening...

How to Install a Bathroom Fan Timer Switch

A simple electrical device can save you a lot of money in electrical, heating and cooling costs, they will also improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) or your home; an automatic timer switch. You can install these devices when upgrading your bathroom or add them to your existing exhaust fan to automatically turn off the fan after a set number of minutes. Timer switches can be electronic or mechanical style devices, the mechanical timers use a dial while the electronic typically have a push button style. Mechanical timers offer more adjustment than electronic timers which typically have preset time positions on the switch. The loads ratings vary but are typically between 400 and 800 watts. Installing a timer on an exhaust fan will save the homeowner money by not exhausting conditioned air to the outside and by not having the fan run longer than required. Exhaust fans are also required in bathrooms or powder rooms that do not have a window so if you are planning on putting your home on...

Recessed Lighting Safety

Recessed lighting has been a part of many homes since the 1970s. Currently Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has a list of approved features for lighting safety. Older recessed lights in your home may require special attention if you are installing new insulation or higher wattage bulbs than the fixture is rated for. Fire Hazard The surface temperature of an incandescent light bulb can be hundreds of degrees. Newer compact fluorescent bulbs also generate heat at the base where the sensitive electronics are contained to control the voltage to the bulb. Light fixtures must dissipate to prevent premature bulb failure or fire. Certain light fixtures are made to come in contact with insulation, but you must know for certain this is the case. Many residential fires have resulted from improperly installed or modified recessed light fixtures. On occasion, homeowners have mistakenly covered older fixtures with insulation in an effort to reduce energy costs. This insulation traps the heat crea...

How to Properly Wire a 3-Way Switch

One of the most frustrating things to do is to troubleshoot a 3-way switch that is not working properly. Sometimes the light switch is replaced and the wires were not coded properly to let subsequent people make future replacements easily. This occurred most often in the past when electricians used standard 12/2 wire for running the travelling wire between the 3-way switch and the fixture. Other times a standard switch was installed instead and the 3-way function was lost; this is the annoying problem when you lift one switch at it works fine until someone changes the position of the other switch. This article will give instructions on properly wiring a 3-way switch. 12/2 and 12/3 Cables Switch Types The most common switches are 2, 3 and 4-way; most people have at least one 3-way switch in their home, either at the top and bottom of your stairway or the light fixture in your family or dinning room. Receptacles can also be on a 3-way switch to control lamps. A 4-way switch is used ...

The DIY Electrician's Guide to Troubleshooting Dead Receptacles

Knowing how to troubleshoot, isolate and repair electrical problems is what separates the men from the boys-if you’ll excuse the non-politically correct expression-when it comes to electrical work. Almost anyone can install a new receptacle, light switch, light fixture ceiling fan, etc. but being able to determine and repair the problem when they don’t work is an entirely new ball game. In order to effectively troubleshoot you must know how a circuit works. Back in the days when I had my own radio and television repair business we always said that there were two kinds of people in the business-parts changers and technicians. Parts changers were those who changed one part after another until they fixed the problem because they didn’t know how to isolate problem to a given component-resistor, capacitor, IF Transformer, vacuum tube, etc. The technician, on the other hand knew the theory of how each circuit worked and knew how to use the appropriate test instrume...

Tracing and Repairing Speaker Wire in Your Wall

Tracing and repairing speaker wire in your wall is not difficult. You just need a few tools and some patience. If you have moved into a home with speaker wire already weaving through your drywall you may want to take advantage of that and hook up speakers in the various rooms. You will have to trace the speaker wire from room to room to determine which wires go where. The problem is how do you trace which speaker wire runs to the various rooms and which ends match up. Sometimes you will be lucky and the former owner has left a chart or list or has labeled the wires but this is not often the case. Purchase Tone and Probe Kit You will have to buy a Tone and Probe kit, sometimes called a Tone Generator and Amplifier. Don’t forget the batteries. This is a two part tool. One part attaches to the beginning of the wire and the other part picks up the signal as it goes through to the other end of the wire. Clip Tone Generator to Speaker Wire and Generate Tone Tone and Probe kits w...

Common Mistakes Made By The DIY Electrician

There is nothing more rewarding then to be able to tell others that you did it yourself, knowing that you did it correctly. The problem is that with electrical work, just because something works does not mean that you have done it correctly. Professional electricians serve a rigorous apprenticeship under one or more maser electricians to learn how to do it right. The DIY electrician must learn to do it right by reading books and watching the DIY Network on television. Books are excellent, but there are many things that they do not explain in detail that leads to mistakes. We will look at the eight most common mistakes made by the new DIY electrician in this article. Mistake Number One: Working Without A Permit The National Electrical Code (NEC) and the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) allow the resident homeowner to do almost everything that a licensed professional electrician can do as long as the resident homeowner abides by the same rules. By resident homeowner, we mean that yo...

DIY Electrical: How to Rewire a Floor Lamp or Table Lamp

Restoring table lamps and floor lamps to like new electrical condition provides a completely safe environment for the beginner to learn essential electrical skill sets. Besides offering shockproof, hands-on learning, you can furnish your home with some really beautiful lamps found at garage sales and flea market for a fraction of what it would cost to buy lamps of equal beauty new. Restoring flea market and garage sale lamps is also a good way to start assembling your DIY Electrician's tool kit with quality tools. Tools that you will need. Continuity Tester Small, Flat-Blade Screwdriver Wire Strippers Wire Cutters Long Nose Pliers Adjustable Wrench Utility Knife Supplies that you will need Lamp rebuild kit (you could but the parts separately,but the kit is the best way to go. Kits come with a lamp cord-set that has a molded plug attached which eliminates your need to attach a plug to the Zip-Cord/Lamp-cord.) As you can see from the above pic...

How to Repair an Extension or Power Cord

There are many times when we go to reach for an extension cord and find that it is twisted, has a split jacket, or the prongs are bent or missing. The goes for appliances such as vacuum cleaners where the cord is stretched around corners, closed in doors, or pulled out of receptacles during use. Using damaged extension or power cords can lead to serious injury, fires, or damaged equipment. Follow these simple steps to replace a socket or plug on an extension cord or power cord for appliances. Your cord will be safer and you’ll save money and headaches in the long run. As the price of copper has increased, so has the cost of extension cords. You can repair a damaged cord for about $5. You can also shorten longer cords that have been twisted and crimped. Twisting the wires can lead to hot spots that can melt the cord or lead to shorts that can shock the user or trip a breaker. Tools and Materials Flat and Philips screwdriver Utility knife Wire stripper/cutter New plug or so...

Facts About Dimmers Switches

Dimmer switches are an effective means to for saving energy and extending bulb life. Along with the practical benefits of placing a light fixture on a dimmer switch, most people utilize dimmers to create visual effects and ambience in a room. Dimming Bulbs 1. Incandescent 2. Halogen The most common dimmers will control both incandescent and halogen bulbs and lamps. 3. Fluorescent - fluorescent light bulbs require a ballast to turn them "ON". Most fluorescent light fixture ballasts will not work with dimmers. However, there are ballasts that are designed specifically to be dimmed. It will state on the ballast if it is a "dimmable" ballast. If you do have a dimmable ballast in a fluorescent fixture that you wish to control with a dimmer you must purchase a dimmer that is specifically rated for dimming fluorescent fixture ballasts. 4. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) – These bulbs are basically fluorescent light bulbs made to replace standard incandesc...

New Ideal SpliceLine In-line Connector the Optimal Butt Splice

How many times have this happened to you? You have to replace a duplex receptacle because it is no longer holding a plug securely. You have a receptacle in your shop, so you figure you will be able to replace the old one in fifteen minutes. Plenty of time before you have to leave for work. Your wife reminds you of Murphy's Law: “Anything that can possibly go wrong, does.” What can go wrong, you ask. You remove the cover plate screw, cut through the paint around the plate with a razor knife and remove the cover plate. No problem there. You remove the two 6-32 screws securing the receptacle to the box and start to pull it out of the box. Now it is time for Murphy's Law, the wires are barely long enough for the terminal screws to clear the front edge of the box. You have wire nuts and wire to pigtail to the circuit wires, but Murphy's Law id running amok. Someone had installed a shallow device box and with the wire nuts in place there was not room enough to get the receptacle ...

How to Repair A Solar Walkway Light

Many homeowners have installed economical solar powered lights to illuminate their front entrance walkway. Besides the low initial costs, the lights are easily relocated or removed and stored away for the winter. This article will describe how to repair or replace the solar light fixture. LED light (on), battery, and control board Close up of the photo cell There are several solar cells on the top of the light fixture, typically 2 or 4. As light hits the solar cells, a DC electric current is produced and charges the rechargeable batteries. A photo cell senses the ambient light level and automatically switches the LED on when the light level drops below the setting. The control board regulates the direction of the current to either charge or discharge the battery. Troubleshooting Access is often obtained to the inside of the fixture by twisting the top of the lamp counterclockwise while holding the base. There maybe a few small screws to remove. The batteries are ofte...

How to Hang a Chandelier

You can easily replace outdated light fixtures to improve the look of a room. A new ceiling light or chandelier can add style, create a focal point, or improve the lighting of a room. Even though you may not be comfortable working with electricity, switching out old fixtures is safe as long as you pay attention and shut off the power at the panelboard; relying on the switch is best left to the professionals. Usually you can install the new fixture to the existing wiring. Installing a chandelier is the same as replacing other types of light fixtures, except for one: Standard electrical boxes have a maximum load rating of 50 pounds. Most full-size chandeliers are too heavy to hang from a standard box. Therefore, if your new fixture weighs more than 50 pounds, you must install an appropriate support system. Tools Adjustable wrench, for tightening the fan brace Electrician's pliers. 7/16-in. nut driver Phillips-head and slotted screwdrivers Voltage tester Wire stripper Mini hac...

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters - AFCI Reduce Fire Hazards

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter, AFCI for short, is an electrical device that shuts off power to a circuit when arcing conditions are first detected. Normal circuit breakers open in the presence of a short and may not trip before a fire has begun due to arcing. Up to 40,000 home fires can be associated with arcing and sparking. More than 350 people die and over 1,400 are injured each year in these fires. Property losses are well over $500 million dollars a year. In an effort to reduce fires and save lives, the National Electric Code, NEC, has made the requirements for AFCI use more stringent. In the 2002 NEC version, only bedrooms were required to be protected by these devices. The 2008 NEC now requires the technology in additional areas of the home such as dining rooms, living rooms, and other living areas. AFCIs are not limited to just receptacles, any branch circuit in the areas listed in the code are required to have arc fault protection, including lights, fans, and alarm and s...

How To Install Track Lighting

Track lighting installation has gained steadily since its introduction to the residential market because it track lighting combines a mix of task lighting and directional lighting. Track lighting is also relatively easy for the do it yourselfer to install, especially if you are replacing existing lighting fixtures. Track lighting is an excellent way to light areas in your home that are small or poorly lit. The heads cast light on these, otherwise shadowy areas, making the space useable. Track lighting is frequently installed above a kitchen island or bar to provide adequate light for eating, reading and socializing. The light from a track lighting system also provides highlights to granite, stone and synthetic countertops, making them sparkle as they were meant to do. Track lighting in kitchens can also be used as task lighting for work areas above cutting boards, appliances, and sinks. Kitchen Track lighting Track Lighting Types Track lighting is versatile due to the use of a tr...

How to Light Artwork

If you have seen artwork displayed in a home, gallery, office, retail or other location, you may have noticed how much lighting impacts the presentation. Lighting artwork properly is essential to experience and understand the complete work of art and all of its illustrious detail. Artwork comes in a great variety of shapes and sizes, including two-dimensional art such as paintings and photographs, and three dimensional art featuring sculptures and carvings. Proper lighting can bring out nuances and effects in your artwork that you may have not seen previously in a different light. Utilizing the correct lighting fixtures and lamps will help distinguish your artwork in a room or environment. Considerations for ambient lighting, color temperatures, color rendering and lamp positioning are a few of the techniques and styles that will be described. Background Artwork comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and types. Lighting artwork properly helps to create a dramatic or subtle effect in...

How to Install a USB Wall Receptacle

You probably haven’t realized it, but there is a product that has been on the market for a few years now which combines the convenience of a USB charger with a traditional wall receptacle.  This allows you to charge iPods, iPads, MP3 players, cameras, and smart phones without using the standard charger pack or your USB port on your computer. These USB/AC receptacles draw very little power when charging and no power when the ports are not used. Most USB chargers draw 5.2Volts DC. You can find these receptacles for between $15 and $30. The new receptacle is about the size of a standard GFCI receptacle so it can be a tight fit in outdated outlet boxes. These USB receptacles need a volume of at least 16 cubic inches or a box that is about 3" deep. There are several types on the market, so make sure that your device is UL listed.   Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet Tools and Materials 4 in 1 Screwdriver USB Receptacle Voltage Tester or Receptacle Tester Wire Nuts, if inst...

Electrical Tips and Techniques

Some homeowners may understand a few basic wiring principles for switches, outlets, and small fixture installation. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use that will make the job go smoothly and produce a better finished product. Fishing a Wire in a Wall When fishing a wire through a wall, use jack chain rather than string. It is easily pulled through insulation, block,and other materials. You can pull on it hard without breaking and the weight of the chain helps when dropping it through the wall cavity. You can either open up the last link or strip the wire and insert one of the conductors into the link and secure with a few twists and electrical tape. Jack Chain is used to hang fixtures in unfinished spaces like garages and basements. Rusted Screws For outlets and switches installed in damp locations like bathrooms and around the kitchen, replace 6-32 screws in devices with stainless steel Phillips head screws. Then they will come out easier when needed. Old Work Box Insta...

The DIY Electrician: A Primer on Power and Energy

?A few weeks ago, a friend of my son asked me if I thought that she should invest in an emergency power generator. My answer was yes; everyone should have some sort of emergency power backup system. The only real question is whether they should invest in a stand-by generator or a whole-house generator. Being a city dweller where power outages last only a few hours to a day at a time, a stand-by generator powerful enough to supports essential loads would suit her needs. For those of you, like those of us living up here on Walch's Mountain, who are subject to power outages that may last for days at a time, a whole-house generator is the way to go. A whole house-generator has the capability of supporting all the loads that the power supplied by the utilities normally support. Selecting the right generator, stand by, or whole house, can be challenging because manufacturers like to use terminology that is confusing to anyone not trained in the electrical trades. Terminology like Watts, Kil...

A Guide To Installing Track Lighting

Track lighting is one of the most versatile lighting system upgrades that you can make. Track lighting can be installed in many different configurations. There is a configuration to meet your individual lighting needs. They can be installed to provide general illumination, task lighting or accent lighting. There are fittings, including a flexible one that allows you to form almost any shaped layout that you might want. There is also a wide variety of lamp holders to choose from in for both incandescent and halogen lamps. Track lighting is available in both line-voltage and low-voltage configurations. Track lighting is relatively easy to install, but, depending on the length of the track sections you are installing, you may need to enlist a helper to support one end of the track. You helper will need no DIY skills other than knowing how to work safely on a stepladder. For this tutorial, we will assume that you will be connecting the track lighting using an existing lighting o...

Solar Cells for Your Home That Look Good

For the past few years homeowners have been installing solar panels on their roofs in greater numbers due to lower costs and greater tax incentives and utility rebates. However one of the biggest reasons for this increase has to do with the look of the panels themselves. Thirty years ago you would have to mount panels the size of coffee tables on aluminum racks onto your roof. But recently the solar electric industry has become more attuned to the look of their products and is now offering solar-powered shingles that blend in with traditional roofing materials. These systems are known as "building-integrated photovoltaics," or BIPVs and they combine solar cells with slate, metal, fiber-cement, even ¬asphalt roofing. These cells work like the usual photovoltaic where electricity is generated when the sun strikes a semiconductor layer, typically crystalline silicon, laminated to the shingle's surface. One shingle by itself doesn't produce much power, usually between 50 a...

Light Bulb and Lighting Terms

Here is a comprehensive list of terms that you can use for lighting projects in your home and business. Accent Lighting Directional lighting to emphasize a particular object or draw attention to a display item. Ambient Lighting The general lighting present in an area --excluding task lighting and accent lighting but including general lighting and daylight streaming in. Arc Intense luminous discharge formed by the passage of electric current in a gaseous medium across a space between electrodes Ballast An auxiliary piece of equipment required to start and to properly control the flow of current to gas discharge light sources such as fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Typically, magnetic ballasts (also called electromagnetic ballasts) contain copper windings on an iron core while electronic ballasts are smaller and more efficient and contain electronic components. Ballast Efficacy Factor (BEF) Defined as ballast factor divided by input watts. The value is use...

The Dangers Of Backfeeding Through A Dryer Outlet

The days of sweeping power outages are rapidly approaching. It is not uncommon for us to live without grid power for days at a time in the Hill Towns. Last year we had one power outage that lasted for four days. Up here on Walch's Mountain, we all have auto-starting, whole house generators with properly installed automatic transfer switches. Some of my neighbors have diesel powered generators, but most of us have converted to LP power because we can store enough fuel to run the generators 24/7 for a couple of months without having to refuel. The people in the villages around me depend on portable, stand-by generators to power critical loads. The talk at the coffee counter at the convenience store has already turned to backfeeding those generators using a dryer outlet. It seems like almost everyone does it instead of installing a manual transfer switch and wiring the generator into the transfer switch. They ask my advice. I tell them not to backfeed through a dryer receptacle. I urge ...

Shopping For The Best Ceiling Light For Your Home

Lighting a room can be difficult only if you do not know how to go about it. There are a lot of different types of available lighting ideas everywhere, and yet some folks plainly go with a single light source in the center of the room's ceiling just because they prefer not to bother, or most likely, they aren’t aware of the other alternatives. Lamps can give a different appearance, but there are a lot of various types of ceiling lights that many people adore once they have them set up in their home. With good lighting choices people can do outstanding things with a previously plain room. Flickr photo by Ubi Desperare Nescio Ceiling lights are available in many diverse types. Among the top favorites are the track lights. As the name implies, these have a track which can be placed anywhere on the ceiling. The light bulbs that are set on this track may be moved and focused on various areas of the room. This kind of ceiling light permits a homeowner to focus light where it is mos...

New CFL Dimming Technology

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, but many homeowners and designers dismiss them for their inability to dim as well as incandescent light bulbs. Lower lighting levels are more pleasing to the eye and allow you to create interesting effects to accentuate your home’s artwork and design features like moldings and millwork; this along with the fact that the lower you turn down the lights, the less electricity will be used. A new technology introduced by TCP, Inc., promises smoother full range dimming for CFLs. Called TruDim Technology; it allows CFLs to be dimmed from 100 percent to 1 percent in a way that more accurately matches the human eye’s reactions. According to TCP, CFLs with TruDim will also be able to warm up quicker than other CFLs, achieving full brightness more than 75 percent faster, another annoying feature of standard CFL bulbs. The new CFLs will be able to start at a low level, which will eliminate the need ...

The DIY Electrician’s Guide to Replacing Receptacles

Faulty electrical wiring is the root cause of approximately 67,800 residential fires in the United States every year. These fires cause $868 million in property damages and claim the lives of 485 adults and children every single year. Faulty electrical wiring causes twice as many residential fires as those caused by residential electrical appliances. Over 33 percent of the fires caused by faulty wiring have been traced to faulty electrical receptacles. Receptacles simply wear out over time, especially those that receive a lot of use. With the constant insertion and extraction of plugs the receptacles internal contacts lose their tension and their ability to grasp the blades of the plug. Loose contact makes for very high resistant connections, this causes arcing, and heat build up which can ignite the surrounding combustible wall materials, curtains, etc. Replacing these defective receptacles is an easy task for the average DIY electrician. With this article, we will continue to b...

An Introduction to Sub-Panels

Sub-panels differ from your main service panel in several important ways. First, a sub-panel is a “Main Lug” panel and has no main breaker or service disconnect in them. The disconnect for the sub-panel is a 2-pole breaker installed in the main circuit breaker panel. Second, and this is very important, the sub-panel's neutral bar is not “Bonded” over to the sub-panel's box. In fact, bonding the neutral bar to the box is a direct violation of the NEC. The Anatomy of a Sub-Panel As you can see from the above picture the anatomy of a sub-panel is much like that of a main-breaker panel minus the main disconnect. The two large, black wire (1 and 2) are equivalent to the phase wires on the main-breaker panes and the White wire (3) is equivalent to the service neutral. These three wire, along with the green system grounding wire, make up sub-feeder from the main-breaker panel to the sub-panel. The Green, system grounding wire connects to the top of the su...

The Different Components That Are Used in Common Household Appliances

There are different components that are used in common household appliances; these components are the Inductor, Capacitor, Resistor, Diode, Transistor, Thyristor, Speaker, Antenna, Ground, Transformer, Turning Capacitor, Oscillator, Crystal, Potentiometer, Switch, Push Button Switch, Fuse and Battery. The Inductor is a kind of electric device that is formed by an electrical insulated wire. The wire is wound in a coil around a core. It is having the capacity to store an amount of energy in its electromagnetic field. The Capacitor is a kind of electrical device that consist of two or more plates. The plates are separated by an insulator; the insulator is called as dialectic. Dialectic has the capability to charge and discharge electric voltage. The Resistor is a kind of electrical component which has the function to oppose the flow of the current. The Diode is a kind of electronic device which function is to permit the current to pass or to flow going to a single direction. The Tran...

Do-It-Yourself Electric Repair: Basic Electrical Supplies

In part one of this series, I covered the basic hand tools that every electrician needs to have in his or her tool pouch. In part two, I covered basic electric test equipment. This time up I want to talk about a few basic electrical supplies that you need to have on hand at all times. These are a few supplies that you will use on almost every electrical wiring project, and they are inexpensive enough to load up on a head of time. You will use these basic supplies for new electrical wiring projects as well as for electrical repairs. Plastic Electrical Tape Everyone is familiar with black, plastic electrical tape, but you need to stock up on "Red," "Blue," "Green," and "White" plastic electrical tape, as well. You use the black tape for wrapping electrical splices and electrical terminals. You use the colored tapes for color coding wires/conductors. For example, the National Electrical Code (NEC) allows us to use a "White" neutral wir...

Disadvantages of Nuclear Power

Nuclear power is discussed more commonly in today’s world as it seems to be on many people’s minds for many reasons. Nuclear power has its advantages for the world such as releasing less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, already available without the need to develop and the possibility to produce enough electricity from one plant. However, the disadvantages of nuclear power are mostly ignored. This article contains some good reasons why nuclear power should be not be used due to safety reasons. 1) Disadvantages of Nuclear Power: Radioactive Waste One disadvantage of nuclear power is that it can be very dangerous to look after. Maintaining the safety of radioactive waste can be a challenge. The waste from nuclear energy is very dangerous and needs to be carefully looked after for thousands of years. The nuclear waste has to be disposed off in a secure nuclear waste disposal facility. However, a location for this type of waste is hard to find and has been a problem for ...

How to Choose Light Bulbs

Although a light bulb is technically known as a lamp, the term "light bulb" is used for describing a wide variety of lighting products, including standard or regular (A-Line) incandescent bulbs, fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lamps (CFL's), bulbs, that produce heat, keep bugs away and ones that illuminate the inside of refrigerator or oven. Whether lights are dimmed to set the mood for a room, used for reading or hobbies, or to improve safety and security, knowing what type to use will help to save money and provide proper light levels. Three Important Tips 1. Never exceed the wattage specified for a light fixture, appliance, etc. For example, placing a 100-watt incandescent bulb in a light fixture designed for a 60-watt bulb is a fire hazard. However, placing a 40-watt bulb in a fixture that will accept up to 60 or 75 watts is fine as long as the light output is acceptable to you. 2. The wattage of a particular bulb is the electrical power required to make the ...

How to Use Armor Clad (AC) Cable

Armor Clad (AC) Cable was first listed in 1899 for the Sprague Electric Co. of New York. There were originally two experimental versions of this product, one called “AX” and the other “BX,” with the “X” standing for “experimental.” The “BX” type eventually won out and the name stuck. BX also became the registered trade name of armored cable for General Electric, who later acquired Sprague Electric. AC Metallic Armored Cable   The first armor clad cable was called “BX” and it first appeared in the 1903 NEC, but didn’t start becoming popular until around 1930. AC cable is described in Art. 320 of the NEC. The armor of AC cable systems is tested for grounding and can provide a suitable equipment grounding path. AC cable made after 1959 requires an aluminum bonding strip under the armor to help improve the conductivity of this path. Although originally produced with steel armor, in the late 1980’s...

An Introduction to GFCI

Fuses and standard circuit breakers are designed to protect electrical equipment and property against the dangers presented by circuit overloads and against short circuits. Circuit overloads occur when too many electrical loads are connected to the circuit. When an overload happens, the circuit breaker (CB) trips protecting the wiring from overheating and causing a fire. A short circuit occurs when a circuit hot wire comes into contact with a grounded conductor, a grounding conductor, or some other surface at ground potential. When a short circuit happens, the CB opens immediately to protect equipment and property from damage. Standard CBS and fuses do not respond to a ground fault because a ground fault does not present any danger to equipment or property. What is a Ground-Fault? A Ground-Fault occurs when the circuit hot conductor, comes into contact with some normally, non-current conducting part of an appliance i.e. the metal case of your toaster. The circuits fuse or CB does no...

How to Select and Operate a Portable Generator

When severe weather strikes power outages often follow. Depending on where you live you may have experiences prolonged power outages lasting 12 or more hours. Many homeowners opt for purchasing a small portable generator to power small appliances and lights during an outage. Proper use and care for a portable generator is important to prevent injury, fire, or even death. Connecting a portable power generator to your home's main wiring panel can be dangerous if you don't follow the manufacturer’s wiring diagrams and instructions. The safest way to connect a portable power generator to your main panel is to have a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrical contractor and have the system tested and inspected by your local building inspector and fire marshal. A transfer switch moves the power from the power lines of the utility company to the power from your portable generator. They can be automatic if you have a permanently installed stand-by generator or manual transf...

DIY Appliance Repair: Safety Precautions to Take When Working on Microwave Ovens

With the cost of microwave ovens dropping every day, it really does not pay to have a professional appliance technician repair them. Most home microwaves sell for less than $100 and the minimum labor charge that most technicians will charge is $50 to $75 and that is a lot of money when repairs are completed in 15 minutes or less by replacing a blown fuse or thermal protector. You can make those repairs yourself in safety if you follow these safety rules when working on a microwave oven. General safety rules. Besides observing the same safety rules that you would observe when working on electrical device, always discharge the high-voltage oil-filled filter capacitor as soon as you remove the ovens case. Discharge the capacitor before touching any components inside the microwave oven. Many people simply short out the terminals on the capacitor using a screwdriver—do not do that. The high current surge and rapid discharge can destroy a perfectly good capacitor. Besides the possibi...

DIY ELECTRICAL: An Introduction to Duplex Receptacles

Duplex receptacles, like light switches, are simple devices and easy to replace. The trick is to pick the right receptacle to replace the one that you are removing. Just as light switches have a wealth of information printed on them to help you select the right replacement. One of the main things that you have to remember here is that you can use a receptacle rated for 120VAC/20Amperes on either a 15 Ampere or 20 Ampere branch circuit but you cannot use a receptacle rated for 120VAC/15 Amperes on a 20 Ampere branch circuit. The voltage rating and amperage ratings are stamped on the front of the receptacle to either side of the cover plate screw hole. The Underwriters Labs stamp of approval is at the top end of the mounting strap. On the back side of the receptacle you find the type and size of wire that the receptacle may be used with. This particular receptacle may only be used with AWG 12 or AWG 14 solid copper wire. It cannot be used with AL (Aluminum) wire. If it was approved fo...

Four-Step Troubleshooting Plan to Uncover the Trouble in Appliance

The discovery of the electricity gives way to the modernization which resulted to the many inventions and innovations including the development of the electrical home appliances. Appliances in home make our task easier than the usual. Among of these appliances are the washing machine, the blender, the refrigerator, the electric fan, the coffee percolator, the iron, the bread toaster and more. These machines among others really provide benefits on our day to day activities. They make hard task easier, providing more work in a lesser time. However, time will come that some parts of these machines comes into ruin; with this there are need to repair them. Some of the troubles are difficult to handle and we need experts to assess them. However, there are some troubles in which basic repairs can manage. There are certain procedures in repairing or troubleshooting appliance in home. The first thing to do is to establish a strategy for troubleshooting. You must identify what are the sympto...

The DIY Electrician: What Are Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters and How to Install Them

Every year there are over 40,000 residential fires in the United States attributed to faulty electrical wiring. These fires take the lives of more than 350 men, women and children and injure over 1,200 others. The vast majority of these fires were caused by Arc Faults, an electrical fault that isn’t detected by or protected against by either a regular CB (Circuit Breaker) or fuse, or by a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) CB. Circuit breakers and fuses protect equipment and wiring against short circuits, a system fault where the hot conductor comes into direct contact with a grounded conductor or surface. GFCI breakers or receptacles protect human beings against potentially fatal shocks caused by a ground fault in the electrical system or utilization equipment attached to the wiring system. Ground faults occur when the neutral conductor, the grounded conductor, comes into contact with a grounding conductor or with a grounded surface. GFCI detects the unbalance in the cu...

The Different Electrical Energy Source

There are different sources of electricity; the two major classifications are the Renewable Source and the Non-Renewable Source. The Renewable source is the source of electricity that regenerates or renew naturally in a length of time that are reasonable. The renewable sources of electricity are the Biomass, the Geothermal, The Hydropower, the Oceans, the Solar, and the Wind. The Biomass is plant materials such as the woods, organic waste and others. The green plants as well as the other organic materials produce energy that can be transformed into electricity. The Geothermal is the energy coming from the natural heat inside the Earth. The Geothermal energy is generated by the way of utilizing the hot water and the steam coming from below the Earth surface and converting it into the form of electrical energy. The Hydropower is the energy that is produced from the force of moving water such as from rivers, falls, and reservoir. The energy coming from this source is also converted i...

How to Evaluate Overloaded Circuits

Most branch circuits in homes are rated at 15 or 20 Amperes and protected by a 15 or 20 Ampere circuit breaker. In older homes, these same 15 or 20 Ampere branch circuits may be protected by Edison-Base fuses. What constitutes an overload on these circuits? Is it when the current draw on these circuits exceeds 15 or 20 Amperes, respectively? Actually, the answer is that an overload conditions exists when the load on a 15-Ampere circuits exceeds 12-Amperes, and the load on a 20-Ampere circuit exceeds 16-Amperes. Why is that? Circuit Breaker Design and the NEC. Circuit breakers are designed and manufactured to carry their full-load current, the Amperes stamped into their toggles, but according to the National Electrical Code, NEC Sec. 384-16(c), they are restricted to use at 80 percent of their rated Amperage. Why is that? Circuit breakers are deigned and manufactured to meet the Underwriter's Laboratory's Standard 489, Underwriters Laboratories Standard for Safety for Molded-Case Cir...

Simple Electrical Repairs

Many homeowners are unaware of potential problems with their home’s electrical devices and wiring. With a few simple tools and a little information, you can look for locate and repair some of the more common problems in your home to make it safer and protect sensitive electronics and appliances from faulty and dangerous wiring. Note: If you do not feel comfortable with performing any electrical repairs, hire a licensed electrician to fix the problems you have uncovered. Loose Outlets Loose switches or outlets not only look bad, but they are a safety hazard. Loosely connected outlets can move around, causing the wires to loosen from the terminals. Loose wires can arc and overheat, creating a potential fire hazard. Outlet shims offer a quick and inexpensive solution. The constant movement of loose electrical outlets can loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing. Luckily, the fix is simple. If the outlet is recessed less than 1/4 in. in noncombust...

Choosing Your Kitchen Lighting Options

Each year, millions of homeowners remodel their kitchens. Perhaps you are already one of those who are in the midst of planning to improve their kitchen. Whether you’re planning to remodel the whole kitchen or just a portion of it, one fixture that you’ll have to be planning is the lighting. The way kitchen lighting is positioned gives significant impact on the overall atmosphere of the room. This is the reason why many homeowners decide to change their kitchen light fixtures when remodeling their kitchens. There is literally an unlimited number of options when it comes to choices in kitchen lighting. These lights, as well as fixtures, come in different shapes, styles, and sizes to suit your needs and artistic taste. In fact, because there are so many lighting fixtures to choose from, you may find it difficult to decide; but despite having a hard time making up your mind, it is still important that you do because, as was mention before, room lighting has a signifi...

Replacing Old Ungrounded Electrical Receptacles and Receptacle Testing

Until about 1950 most electrical receptacles were ungrounded, which means that the receptacles had only two slots; one connected to the black wire and one connected to the white? Typically the receptacles were installed in a metal box, and sometimes had the wiring run in EMT, Electrical Metallic Tubing. After 1960, grounded receptacles, those with three slots, became popular and are now required by code. This allows electrical current that would flow through a person in an ungrounded receptacle to flow through the ground wire. This is a safety path for electricity to follow in case of a malfunction in the system. Unfortunately, there are many two slotted receptacles that have been upgraded to three-slot receptacles without providing a ground wire. This has no benefit, and may be misleading when plugging a three-pronged device into an upgraded but ungrounded receptacle. To be 100% sure, that your receptacles are not grounded to the box you should take a voltage measurement from the ho...

Working with "Old Work" Electrical Boxes

Both “New Work” and “Retrofit” electrical boxes are in either steel or ABS Plastic versions. The ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic boxes are available in either blue or Grey types. Most professional electricians prefer the ABS Plastic boxes over the steel boxes for both “New” and “Remodel” work because they are less expensive and quicker to install. For the DIY Electrician they are the greatest invention since the invention of nonmetallic sheathed cable. Tools that you will need to mount a “Retrofit” electrical box. 3/8—Inch Drill/Driver 3/8—Inch Drill Bit Portable Electric Jigsaw Screwdriver Electronic Stud Finder Tape Measure Supplies that you will need Fine point, Felt tip marker Masking tape Correct size ABS Retrofit boxes “Conventions” versus NEC Rules There are no rules in the National Electrical Code (NEC) that specifies a s...

Kinds of Electricity and Current, Ohm's Law and the Common Tools Use in Electrical Works

There are different kinds of electricity; the static electricity and the dynamic electricity. The static electricity is the electricity that is produced by friction while the dynamic electricity is the electricity that has a change in their motion; it causes a continuous movement of charges with the presence of pressure. Currents are classified into the Direct Current, the Alternating Current and the Pulsating Direct current. The direct current or DC flows in a single direction. Usually it flows from the negative to positive. An example of this is the use of the battery where the current flow because of the chemical reaction. In the Alternating Current or AC, there is an alternating flow of electricity in both positive as well as negative direction. This kind of current is generated commonly by the electrical machines such as the generators, the AC generators in particular. The Pulsating Direct Current is the current that is in one direction and varies in testing at a given regular...

DIY ELECTRICAL: What Size Box Do I Need?

The National Electrical Code (NEC), Article 314, covers the selection and installation of device boxes, J-Boxes, and outlet boxes. Article 314 also covers the sizing of pull-boxes, but you are not likely to encounter them as a DIY Electrician. Table 314.16(A) makes selecting the right boxes easy when all the conductors passing through them or terminating in them are of the same size i.e. AWG 12. However,if there are several different size conductors passing through the box or terminating in the box, you will have to calculate the box volume required. Table 314.16(B) gives the volume required for each conductor of a given size. As you can see, each AWG 12 conductor required 2.25 IN3 (Cubic Inches). So, if a box has to hold the following conductors—four No. 14, four No. 12, and two No. 10 conductors—the math is pretty simple. Four No. 14 @ 2.0 IN3 = 8.0 IN3 Four No. 12 @ 2.25 IN3 = 9.0 IN3 Two No. 10 @ 2.5 IN3 = 5.0 IN3 Total volume required = 22.0 IN3 Oh if it was ...

The DIY Electrician: How-to Install Tamper-resistant Receptacles

The DIY electrician: How-to install tamper-resistant receptacles There were many major changes in the 2008 Revision of the NEC (National Electric Code), NFPA’s (National Fire Protection Association) Publication No. 70. Beginning with the 2008 Revision the NEC’s Article 406.11 Tamper-Resistant Receptacles in Dwelling Units requires that tamper-resistant receptacles be installed during new construction and all home renovations. Regular duplex receptacles with tamper-resistant twisting receptacle cover plates will no longer cut the mustard when it comes to passing the final inspection. What precipitated this change in the Code requirements? Every year in the United States roughly 2,400 children suffer from electric shocks and burns when they insert some electrically conductive object in a receptacle. Every year in the U.S. 6 out of every 12 children that suffer fatal accidents in the home die from accidental electrocution. According to a study conducted by the CSPC (Co...

How to Install a Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet

The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlets are so easy to install that even a beginner can do it right the first time out of the starting gate. The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlets are environmentally friendly as well as stylish. When the spring loaded shutters to close off the USB ports when the plug is remove, an internal interlock switch opens to turn off the USB chargers so they only consume energy when being used to charge a mobile device. The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlets are compatible for use with iPads, iPhones, iPods, Android tablets and phones, tablet computers, MP3 players, GPS devices, digital cameras, and other USB 3.0/2.0/1.1 chargeable devices. This is also one of those rare occasions when the old saying that they are cheaper by the dozen also holds true, the more Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlets that you buy the cheaper the individual units become.   Comprehensive installation manual and installation video. The Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlets come with a comprehensive installation manual,...

The DIY Electrician’s Guide to Installing GFCI Receptacles

Every year tens of thousands of Americans are injured in electrical accidents in and around the home according to a DOE (Department of Energy) report. Every year approximately 300 Americans die from accidental electrocutions in the home with thousands more being hospitalized with serious burns and other consequences resulting from this accidental contact with electricity. Most of these electrocutions, at least 66 percent of them, could have been prevented if the home was properly equipped with GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles where required by the NEC (National Electric Code). Let’s begin by taking a look at the difference between a “Ground Fault” and a “Short Circuit.” “Short Circuit” Vs “Ground Fault” A “Short Circuit” occurs when the “Hot” conductor makes direct contact with the “Grounded” or with the “GroundingÂÂ...

Volt-Ohm Meter - Electrical Measuring Instrument

With a volt-ohm meter you can troubleshoot appliances, test fuses, measure voltages at a wall outlet, check the wires from your roof antenna, find out whether a wall switch is broken, and perform dozens of other household jobs. Almost every radio supply store, and hardware store carriers a wide selection of volt-ohm meters.  You can get one that will take care of all your household testing needs for about what an electric can opener or drill would cost. When buying a volt-ohm meter, be sure it can measure from 0 to 250 volts in both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). It should also provide accurate readings between zero and 30 ohms. Examine the ohms scale. There should be reasonable space between the 0- and 30-ohm markers, and the scale should not be marked "K ohms" (this would mean it is 1,000 times less accurate than it appears). Also, check the switch positions (or jacks if the meter does not have a switch) for both an RX1 setting and a setting for me...

What is Inside the Service Panel?

This article will center around the anatomy of a “Main Breaker” style service panel because that is the type of circuit breaker panels found in most private homes. There is another type of panel known as a “Main Lug” panel which does not contain a “Main Disconnect” because the panel disconnect is in another power distribution panel located somewhere ahead of it. Main lug panels may be found in some apartments, but, since renters cannot work on the electrical systems, we will not concern ourselves with Main Lug panels in this article. The National Electric Code only permits homeowners to do their own electrical when they not only own the home but also occupy the home as the principle resident. The Anatomy of a Main Breaker Panel. Once you have removed the panel's outer cover and its protective inner cover you will begin to see its real construction and lay out. Depending on how old the panel is and on how many “electricians” that have be...

The Home Handy Person’s Guide to Electrical Safety: Electricity Can Kill You

Electricity is the invisible force that powers our homes and drives the tools that we use to repair and upgrade it. Electricity is also one of the most misunderstood energy sources encountered by the do-it-yourselfer. Most people fear it because they can’t see it with the unaided eye and people naturally fear the unknown. It can jump out and bite you when you least expect it and the bite can be fatal but it can also be controlled. Like with most fears you can overcome them through knowledge. You can transform the fear into respect and once you do that you can work with and around electricity in a safe and secure manner. This is knowledge that every do-it-yourselfer needs to gain because electricity can hurt you even if the project that you are working on doesn’t directly involve electricity. According to the United States Consumer Safety Report published in 1995 based on statistics provided by NCHS (National Center for Health Safety) on electrocutio...

How to Upgrade a Two-Wire Branch Circuit With GFCI

The ideal solution if your home still has K & B wiring is to replace the whole system with modern nonmetallic sheathed cable (NMC) and to replace the old, Edison-Base fuse panel with a modern circuit breaker panel. Sooner or later you will have to rewire your home, or have it rewired by a professional electrician, because more insurance companies are refusing to insure homes with still active K & B wiring against fire. Such a major renovation of your homes electrical system can be very expensive, even if you almost all of the work yourself. Such a project is also very time consuming. For now, there is a perfectly acceptable stop-gap measure—replace all those two wire receptacles with GFCI receptacles and modern duplex receptacles.  Tools and Supplies Screwdriver Wire cutters Wire strippers Black, plastic electrical tape White, plastic electrical tape GFCI receptacles w/covers Standard 15-Ampere, 125-Volt duplex receptacles w/covers...

DIY: Easy to Install Stair Lighting

One of the most difficult parts of any electrical project is getting the new wiring where you need it. Fishing wire through finished ceilings, floors, and walls can be a challenging proposition even for the old pros let alone a new DIY electrician. Sure there are shortcuts for running new wire from point A to point B but even those short cuts can be labor intensive and very frustrating for the inexperienced worker. Well here is so fantastic news, with the MR. BEAMS® Intelligent Lighting System there is no hard wiring required. These motion sensor/photo eye controlled lights can be mounted anywhere, indoor or outdoor without running any wiring, using the screws or double-sided tape that comes with them. Battery powered LED lights These light glow as a night light when the photo eye detect darkness and come up to full brightness when the motion sensor detects movement. Each light is powered by 3 “C” Cells. The batteries will lasts for about one year before they will nee...

Time Saving Tips For The DIY Electrician: Part One

Many of us who write articles for the do-it-yourself electrician has spent years working in the electrical trades. We assume the person reading the articles has knowledge that he might not have in reality. Assuming anything is always hurtful. Break the word assume down (ASS/U/ME)and you will see why. To put it nicely, assuming anything can make a fool of you and me. One of the things that I often assume is that the resident homeowner knows that he must have a wiring permit to do electrical work. The one exception to that rule is when the electrical work involves nothing more than replacing a faulty device with a new one. The National Electrical Code, the NEC, permits the resident homeowner to do almost anything that a licensed, professional electrician can do. The key words here are “Resident Homeowner”. By resident homeowner, we are not simply referring to the person who owns the home, a resident homeowner not only owns the home but is the person residing in the home. A...

How to Make Your Incandescent Bulbs More Efficient

How Incandescent Bulbs Work The filament of an incandescent lamp is simply a resistor. If electrical power is applied, it is converted to heat in the filament. The filament's temperature rises until it gets rid of heat at the same rate that heat is being generated in the filament. Ideally, the filament gets rid of heat only by radiating it away, although a small amount of heat energy is also removed from the filament by thermal conduction. The filament's temperature is very high, generally over 2000 degrees Celsius, or generally over 3600 degrees Fahrenheit. In a "standard" 75 or 100 watt 120 volt bulb, the filament temperature is roughly 2550 degrees Celsius, or roughly 4600 degrees Fahrenheit. At high temperatures like this, the thermal radiation from the filament includes a significant amount of visible light. Luminous Efficiency In a 120 volt, 100 watt "standard" bulb with a rated light output of 1750 lumens, the efficiency is 17.5 lumens per watt. Oth...

Choosing The Best Office Desk Lamp

In any workspace, particularly desk workspace, lighting is always an issue. From the standard lamp at your home office to the fluorescent overhead lighting in your work room, having the correct light fixtures can have a huge effect in your productivity and comfort. I, myself have spent much time searching for the best desk lamp in the past. I have used a simple executive desk lamp, and the light that it provided suited my needs well, now it's a bit old and beat-up. When I chose to replace it, I needed to make a change. Realizing that it was a perfect time to redecorate my home office, it was the great opportunity to buy a new desktop eye candy -- a desk lamp that was unlike the one I had previously used. The desk lamp was pretty straightforward –One of those gizmos without the frills. The desk light was fairly classic as well. After carefully thinking about it, the Tiffany desk lamp became my choice. In a home workspace, just like in most home based workers, things are simple. ...

Electrical Terms for Lighting and Light Output

Most people are used to purchasing light bulbs based on their wattage. When incandescent light bulbs were first developed and sold, they were the only commercially available electric light bulb so wattage was used because power consumption was more important than light output. In recent times incandescent light bulbs, florescent light bulbs and other types of light bulbs were still labeled and sold based on their wattage, but with the introduction of compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED), lumen output is a better comparison for buying light bulbs. Lumens versus Wattage Standard light bulbs used in our homes are 15, 25, 40, 60, 100 and 150 watt. The amount of power, measured in watts, used by a light bulb is the energy that the light bulb consumes to give off light, but different technologies use less power to produce the same amount of light, measured in lumens, as incandescent bulbs. There is conversion factor or formula that will allow watts to be convert...

Protect Your Home from Electrical Fires: Install Arc Fault Circuit Breakers

According to a report published by FEMA there were approximately 28,300 residential electrical fires annually between 2003 and 2005. The average property loss per fire was $25,126 as opposed to an average property loss per fire of $10,635 for non-electrical fires. Personal injuries were almost the same for electrical and non-electrical fires, 28.2 and 28.5 per 1,000 fires respectively. Deaths per 1,000 fires, on the other hand, were almost double for electrical fires 6.3/1000 fires as opposed to 3.7/1000 fires. Replacing the standard circuit breakers with the new arc fault circuit breaker could have prevented many of these fires. Standard circuit breakers protect your property against short circuits and circuit overloads but they aren't designed to protect your property against fire caused by arcing faults. Arcing faults occur from improperly installed receptacles and switches. A poorly driven staple that penetrates the nonmetallic jacket on a cable, nicking the insulation on the hot ...

The Different Connections and Conditions of Circuits

Because of the modern technology, electricity becomes one of the important factors in our daily lives. We use electricity to energize machines, electronic gadgets, home appliances such as electric fans, ranges, electric irons, lighting system, air-conditioning unit, refrigerators and many more. All of these things use electricity with their circuits. There are different Circuit Connections; these are the Series Circuit connection, the Parallel Circuit connection and the Complex Circuit connection. In the Series Circuit connection, the loads are connected from one end to another end along the path of the current within a single closed loop. In the Parallel Circuit Connection the loads are connected side by side across the current’s path. In this connection, the current that is flowing in each of the branch is independent from each other. With this, in the time that one load becomes open, still the other loads remains functioning. The Complex Circuit Connection is a combination...

DIY: How to Wire a Three-way Switch

You can save yourself a ton of money and waiting around on the electrician’s schedule by wiring up your household without any help. Today we will be covering the 3-way switch. 3-ways are used any time that you want two switches to operate one light (or lights) in any given area. A common example of this would be the light at the top or bottom of a staircase, or at either end of a hallway. At a glance, 3-way switches look the same as the common single pole switch, but instead of having only two screws on which to make your connections, they have the two brass screws on the top and a black one on the bottom. One of the three terminals is “identified” (by being black). It is referred to as the “common” terminal, and the other two are known as “travellers”. How to Wire a Basic 3-Way Switch: This is the simplest way to wire a 3-way switch. Step One Bring the power supply in to one of the switch boxes (one hot (black), and one neutral (Whit...

Breaker Box Safety For The DIY Electrician: How To Connect A New Branch Circuit

Many DIY electricians shy away from working in their circuit breaker panels, and for an excellent reason. The circuit breaker panel is the only place in any electrical system where all the power cannot be removed unless the panel has a separate service disconnect switch. Turn off the main service breaker and the main lugs inside the panel still have voltage on them. That's the unwelcome news. The happy news is that the average DIY person can learn to work safely in their breaker panel. Some basic safety tips. The first rule of safety, when working on electrical wiring, is an easy one. Work on every circuit like it was hot. This rule is especially applicable when working in the panel box because parts of it will be hot even with the main breaker turned off. Whenever possible, work with your left hand in your pocket. Professional electricians work this way because it prevents electric current from traveling across their hearts if they make accidental contact with a live wire...

DIY Electrical: Two Ways to Wire a Single-Pole Light Switch

Wiring a single—pole light switch is no difficult once you are able to identify whether you are working with a “Switch Leg” or whether the power from the service panel passes through the switch/device box. If there is only cable entering the device box, as you see in this photo, you are dealing with a switch leg. If there are two cables entering the device box as seen in this photo, the power from the service panel passes through the device box on its way to the lighting outlet box. There are several different types of diagrams that you will encounter as a DIY electrician. This one is known as a pictorial diagram because it shows the various components in a circuit as they actually look. In this case, the top diagrams shows the feed from the service panel entering the device box while the bottom picture shows the feed from the panel entering the lighting outlet box and then a switch-leg running from the lighting outlet box to the device box. Residential elect...

7 Benefits To Use Outside Solar Lights

Outside solar lights and solar energy provide many benefits to the old standard of electrical lighting. This article will discuss the main reasons why homeowners should use solar powered outdoor lights. In today's world, there is a growing public awareness about the environment and a conscious effort to use products that are environmentally friendly. People are making a concerted effort to reduce the use of limited energy resources, products that contain toxic materials and waste that is overrunning landfill sites. Outside solar lights are products that are friendly to the environment. Solar powered outdoor lights do not burden the limited resources of the electrical power grid because they exclusively draw their power from the clean renewable energy of the sun. These products use LED technology as their light source and avoid the use of standard bulb filaments that contain toxic materials such as mercury. LED lights have a life span that is many times longer than standard bulbs...

Reasons Home Alarm System Monitoring Is a Must for Any Family

  Reasons Home Alarm System Monitoring Is a Must for Any Family Have you ever been caught in a dilemma of whether to have a home alarm system monitoring your house or not? There are a lot of reasons why having the home alarm system monitoring is a must for any family that wants good security. Once these reasons are explained to you, you will understand why it is important to have a good alarm system for the safety of the family. One has to understand that danger and accidents are unavoidable and can occur at anytime. It is therefore important to have a good alert system in case anything should happen. Home invasions are very common; one never knows whether his or her family is safe. With a good home alarm system monitoring the activities in and around your house, you can be assured that your family is save every single second of the day. The monitoring system protects you and your property at any time: whether you are in the house or when you’re away. In the case of inst...

The DIY Electrician’s Guide to Troubleshooting and Repairing Lamps

Table lamps and floor lamps are relatively simple devices consisting of a plug, socket w/switch (with some floor lamps the switch may be separate from the socket) and a length of two-conductor lamp-cord (wire). Reconditioning lamps is a great skill and confidence building project for the new DIY electrician because there is absolutely no chance of electrical shock. Reconditioning table lamps and floor lamps require simple hand tools and a Digital Multimeter. A good digital Multimeter is the cornerstone on which every DIY electrician’s tool kit is built. One can spend less then ten dollars to several hundred dollars on a digital Multimeter but I recommend Radio Shack’s Model: 22-813Catalog #: 22-813 23-range, auto-ranging meter which sells for $29.99 at most Radio Shack stores. If there isn’t a Radio Shack retail store in your area, you can order it from their online site. Although I will explain how to use this meter for the ...

Optical Smoke Detectors

According to FireSafety dot Gov, there were 377,000 residential fires in 2009. Residential fires injured 13,050 men, women and children in 2009, claiming the lives of 2, 565 of those injured. Property damage amounting to $7,796,000,000 resulted from those 377,000 residential fires. The vast majority of those deaths occurred in residences where smoke detectors were not installed or where they were not installed properly. Two basic types of smoke detectors Smoke detectors come in two basic type, the ionization chamber type and the optical, electronic type. Either type will provide adequate protection, but the optical, electronic smoke detector is best used in an area where smoldering fires may occur, fires that create a lot of smoke far in advance of the actual appearance of flames. The optical, electronic smoke detector is the best choice for use in the kitchen because the byproducts of cooking which tend to trip the ionization chamber type. Stand alone versus AC intercommunica...

Electricity and the Electrical Circuits

The discovery of electricity is one of the important developments in human history. Today, electricity is considered as one of the important thing in man’s daily activities. Electrical energy is used to operate numerous different home appliances and devices that are use by humans on its day to day activities. These includes the use of lights, the use of ranges, electric fans, refrigerators and freezers, washing machines, electric irons as well as other gadgets. The term “practical electricity” refers to the stream of electrons that are flowing along the conductor. This activity gives a certain effect such as light, heat, magnetism, pressure and many others. The practical electricity deals with the flow of electrons, the flow electrons works in every home appliance because they have the electrical circuit system. The electric circuit is considered as a complete path in where the electrons flow from the source, going to the load and back again. The electric circui...