How to Plan New Electrical Service
Don't break into the walls just yet. Any room renovation involving electrical work should be planned thoughtfully first.
Anytime you install new cable — whether adding one receptacle or wiring a remodeled kitchen — you add new service to your system. This may increase the demand on circuits or require new circuits, and calls for careful planning. Before you get started on your project, think about the electrical problems and solutions you may run into. The topics below explore electrical planning and should be looked at as the first step to your room makeover or renovation.
Put Your Plans on Paper
The first step is to make rough drawings that depict the lighting and electrical service you want to achieve. Find typical electrical systems for a kitchen, a bathroom, and a utility room. Installations vary; these pages serve as a guide to help calculate how many circuits of which amperages are needed. Start planning cable runs that can be routed with minimal damage to the walls.
Next determine whether your existing service can support new electrical lines. You may be able to connect to existing circuits. If not you need to add a circuit or two to your existing service panel or install a subpanel or service panel.
Why Codes Count
The importance of building safety codes can't be overemphasized. First, codes protect everyone in your home from shock and fire. Second, they provide common ground for everyone who works on electrical systems. When someone else works on your home's wiring after you, he or she can understand the system.
Check Local Codes
See requirements throughout much of the U.S. However code requirements can vary, so contact your local building department when planning a project. Have the department review your rough drawings and finished plans. Find tips on drawing plans that an inspector can read easily. Follow the department's instructions and schedule inspections if needed. Start work only after you are sure the plan is approved.
Wiring a Kitchen
The next time you're in the kitchen, pay attention to how many lights are overhead. It's probably more than you expect. Then, consider all those lights plus all the appliances used to keep your kitchen functioning. Electrical services are not lacking in the kitchen, that's for sure. If you are planning a major kitchen overhaul or just want to understand how it all work together, take a look at our advice for wiring a kitchen.
Wiring a Bathroom
There isn't much room for creativity when it comes to bathroom layouts. Because of their confined space and specific purposes, bathrooms must stick to several codes that make them liveable. These include a GFCI receptacle, a fan/light combination, a waterproof lights, and more. To learn the proper logistics of wiring a bathroom, follow our careful advice. Once you have the basics down, you can let your creative mind run wild with choosing paint color and decor.
If you're running new electrical cable for new service, whether wiring several circuits or adding just one receptacle, be sure to work with a building inspector and comply with all local codes. Codes are there to make sure you and your family is living in a safe environment. When tackling all kinds of home improvement projects, it is important to look at your local codes to make sure you're not violating any rule. We have more about code compliance here for you to peruse.
Loading Electric Circuits for Safety
Before you add just a few receptacles, lights, or a small appliance to a room, you'll need to tap into an existing circuit. To do this, you need an index telling which electrical loads are on each circuit. From there, you will total the wattage on each circuit. To safely do these tasks and more, check out our tips for loading electric circuits.
Understanding Your Home's Electrical Load
Fuse boxes and service panels can be intimidating to some homeowners, but it doesn't have to be. It's easy to understand your home's electrical load with our expert knowledge there to guide you. We can show you how to evaluate your home's power load, add capacity to your load, select the right sized service panel and more with our comprehensive guide. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to understand and will feel comfort knowing you don't need to call the electrician for every small problem.
Solar Power Electricity and Solar Panels
The future is now and so is affordable environmentally-friendly housing solutions. Photovoltaic Panels are growing in popularity due to their increasing accessability for home owners. These solar cells are mounted on your roof or in your backyard and are a clean way to get free electricity from the sun. If you're considering installing these smart features, there are a few things you should know first. Check out our insight to solar energy and get started saving the planet soon.
Drawing Electrical Plans
Major renovations are scary, but you'll feel much better after you've drawn up your electrical plan. The plan should include the locations and types of fixtures, switches, receptacles, hardwired appliances, and more. This detailed drawing will ease the building inspector and show that you put a lot of thought into spotting potential problems. To help you get started, we laid out a few of our favorite tips. Learn how to draw your layout and even see an example of a completed wiring plan.