Distribution and use of electricity throughout the home. Electrical standards vary greatly worldwide, so providing your location in your question or your profile helps ensure you get answers that are relevant to you. Posting photographs of wiring junctions or drawing a wiring diagram and posting ...

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12
votes
2answers
29k views

Should all Federal Pacific panels be replaced?

I understand that Federal Panel Stab Lok breakers have the potential for becoming stuck, overheating, and starting fires. My home has a Federal Pacific panel but no outward markings of being a Stab ...
15
votes
8answers
5k views

Is there a wall outlet power meter that I can interface with from a computer?

I'm wondering if there is a wall outlet power meter that I can somehow interface with from a computer. I'm aware of all the google power meter products, but those are for an entire house. I'm trying ...
10
votes
2answers
9k views

How should I address my bathroom's flickering lights and GFCI tripping mysteriously? (Schematic included.)

So I inherited a bit of a nightmare for wiring in my bathroom. I'll be calling in an electrician, but wanted to have an understanding of the problem first, as not to be ripped off, lead astray, etc.. ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

How do I run a wire underground to an outdoor post lamp?

I live in Geauga county Ohio. My question is three part. First what type of wire do I need to run from the house underground to a post lamp 100 feet away? Second,does it need to be in conduit and ...
7
votes
1answer
37k views

Why did my electric range wiring burn out at the terminal block?

Turned on our 2 year old stove (Whirlpool Gold) and heard fizzing noises, then smelled electrical burning. Went downstairs and shut off the breaker (40 amp). That was the only way to get it to stop "...
7
votes
1answer
7k views

What is a split bus panel, and how do I recognize it in the field?

I'm having trouble identifying a split bus panel. I design and install Solar systems, and lately (after Mr Wiley gave a few seminars to local inspectors) the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

How can I determine if my outlets can easily be grounded?

I'm not sure what to do here. I just moved into a building and my outlets are all 2 prong outlets. Here is what I know of for sure: All the outlets are 2 prong outlets The bathroom outlet has the ...
6
votes
9answers
25k views

How do I put a fluorescent light on a motion sensor?

I have a couple closets in my basement that I have outfitted with a fluorescent light attached to a motion sensor (this one). The idea was that when you open the closet door, the light comes on ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

How do I install electrical through existing stucco (e.g. “old work”)

Is there such a thing as an "old work" stucco junction box? Rather than cutting and flashing a 4" hole for a new junction box, can I cut a 1/2 hole for the non-metallic cable, and attach some sort of ...
13
votes
6answers
90k views

Can I backfeed a portable generator into my house's electrical system?

Is there a safe way to power my house using a portable generator? The power rating for the generator is 6kW, and I want to run my electric water heater (4.5kW) and my refrigerator (0.5kW) and possibly ...
11
votes
7answers
52k views

Should I put a dimmer switch on a ceiling fan?

I have a ceiling fan on our bedroom's vaulted ceiling. Since we don't want 7' pull-cords, the speed is stuck at full-tilt, which is no good. The fan has separate switches on the wall for lights and ...
10
votes
1answer
911 views

Can cable splice devices be concealed?

Devices exist that claim to be able to splice nonmetallic sheathed cables together outside of a box, and in concealed locations. Are these types of devices allowed by National Electrical Code? Here's ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

There's a difference between hot/neutral AC lines in a plug, but does it matter?

Saw the good answer to this question: Is there a difference between the two conductors in 120VAC wiring? But I'm wondering as a followup, since the two primary prongs in an AC mains plug are ...
9
votes
1answer
32k views

How can I determine circuit breaker requirements for an electric range?

I recently had a new range installed and when an electrician was visiting, he pointed out that the circuit was over capacity because the range was rated at 12.2KW at 240V. He said 12,200 W / 240 V = ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

How can I trace cable through floors and walls?

How can I work out where an electrical cable runs through walls/floors? I am building a circuit map of a 1941 house with unfinished basement. I shut off all circuits at the main service panel, switch ...
7
votes
2answers
13k views

Is it unsafe if some three prong outlets don't properly test as grounded?

It's me again -- the pest ;-) On the general inspection report for the house we're looking at buying, there's a note about the house's electrical: Some three prong outlets did not test properly ...
6
votes
1answer
900 views

What do I need to replace 4 light switches on the same circuit?

So we have a single light in our living room that can be turned on/off from four different switches at various entrances to the living room. We're currently replacing all the switches in our house as ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

How do I wire my wall-mounted HD TV?

This image wall-mount setup should give a good idea of the current TV set up on the wall. I wanted to use a SmartStrip to power my TV and all the other devices (receiver, BluRay player, Wii, cable ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

Should I use a GFCI or AFCI circuit breaker with knob and tube wiring?

My American house was built in 1942, and much of the wiring is still knob-and-tube wiring (2-wire, no ground). Over the years new modern wiring has been added to the house, but we still have some KnT ...
4
votes
5answers
14k views

Can I install a Subpanel (in a seperate building) using a 3 wire connection (2 hots and 1 grounded neutral)?

Can I use a 3 wire connection (2 hots and 1 grounded neutral) to install a subpanel in a seperate structure if I install a seperate ground rod to the grounding bus in subpanel? I have 8/3 w/o ground ...
4
votes
4answers
30k views

Can I safely ground a light fixture if the ceiling box has two hot and one neutral wire (no ground wire)

Checking for dupes, I saw this question, but the situation appears different as my box is metal, among other things. I'm fairly new to electrical projects, so bear with me. I recently installed a new ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How do I test circuit breakers?

Suppose I need new circuit breakers and buy some at a local shop. How do I test them to be sure they haven't been damaged on their way from factory and will do their job when time comes?
2
votes
2answers
34k views

Ceilling light wont switch off after a new installation

I have bought a new ceiling light to replace an old-fashioned one. I have 3 grey cables hanging from the ceiling: 3 red wires connected together and 3 green wires connected together and 3 black but ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Why isn't this 3-way wiring working?

Below is a diagram that I drew to help me rewire a couple of switches. The left switch is a standard 3-way switch. The right switch Cooper 275W-BOX combination single pole and 3-way switch. The single ...
8
votes
3answers
7k views

How do I install an electrical outlet on a live circuit?

In my dorm room closet, there is a junction box with a blank plate (no outlet). Inside there are three wirenuts (hot, neutral, ground). I know it is generally unsafe to do any work on a live circuit,...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

What does a surge protector do that a breaker doesn't?

The circuit breakers in my home are 120VAC, 15A or 20A breakers. What would a surge protector (e.g. this or a power strip with surge protection) do that a breaker wouldn't do already?
4
votes
1answer
6k views

Can I control a bathroom extractor fan independently from the light?

My bathroom extractor timer fan works fine except that I have to have the lights on when it is in use. I have 2 windows in the bathroom and feel it is a waste of energy to have the lights on in order ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Is a duplex outlet's max amperage rating for each socket or the whole unit?

If you have a duplex outlet thats rated for lets say 20 amps, is the whole unit rated for 20 amps, or is each socket rated for 20 amps? Edit: So if I had a circuit that had a 40A breaker on it, could ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

When replacing non-grounding type receptacles is a GFCI receptacle required, or can any GFCI device be used?

Under the NEC (it was 210(7)(d)(3), but appears to have moved around some), it is permissible to replace an ungrounded receptacle with a GFCI receptacle, then wire further ungrounded or non-grounded (...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Can you terminate more than one common on the furnace C terminal?

TL;DR: Can you terminate more than one common on the furnace C terminal? Background: I've linked a diagram of how my non-programmable thermostat is currently hooked up. I want to replace it with a ...
1
vote
2answers
99 views

multiple motion detectors wired together

I would like to wire multiple motion detector light kits in parallel, so when one motion detector is tripped it will turn on all three lights. Each light kit has 2 LED lights on it. Schematic and ...
0
votes
2answers
106 views

Can a single ground wire ground 2 outlets? [duplicate]

Can a single ground wire ground 2 outlets? I don't want to run another wire through the wall, if I can run a wire to that other ground wire (and have 2 outlets being grounded by one wire). In other ...
10
votes
8answers
66k views

How can I run Cat5e cable through a completely finished house?

My family and I are interested in buying a house that was built in 2002. This house is two floors on a concrete slab with a finished bonus room upstairs so there is no attic other than above the ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

If DC adapters are so prevalent, why is AC used in construction by default?

I'm not sure if there's a better place to ask this or not. Why, at least here in America, is the standard electrical system set up for alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC)? I'm ...
11
votes
5answers
32k views

What types of electrical outlets are found in a typical home in the USA?

I do not live in the USA. If I were to buy a home in the USA, what are the key facts I should know about USA household electrical supply at outlets in homes? E.g. when buying a clothes dryer or other ...
16
votes
4answers
131k views

What is a GFI outlet used for, and where should I install them?

What purpose does a GFI serve? Where should they be used?
21
votes
10answers
29k views

Why are “Wire Nuts” not used in the UK?

I have never seen a wire nut used in the UK, but they seem to be very common in the USA, why?
16
votes
7answers
2k views

How do I safely replace a worn out electrical outlet?

I have a number of outlets that are old and worn out (plugs fall out of them mainly.) Obviously I need to turn off the breaker to replace them safely but any guidance on how to rewire them, how to ...
11
votes
15answers
69k views

When wiring outlets should I use pigtails or both sets of outlet screws?

I'm replacing the outlets in our house and pulled out one that had two black and two white cables. My first thought was that it was two circuits, one of them being switched, but then realized the tab ...
10
votes
1answer
86k views

Why is my air conditioner tripping the circuit breaker?

Our air conditioner recently stopped blowing out cold air. When I went to check on it, I noticed that the outside unit wasn't coming on. We had had problems with ants in the contacter in the past, ...
5
votes
4answers
11k views

How to add indicator on a light switch to indicate the outdoor 3-way light is on?

Have some carriage lights outside my garage that can be turned on from inside the house. It's common that the switch will get flipped and the lights will stay on when they're not wanted. Is there ...
4
votes
3answers
164 views

What features should I look for in a full-house surge protector?

How does one select a surge protector for a typical home? We get surges and slight drops in line voltage. We are the last pole on a small town electric provider, three miles from town. Surge ...
25
votes
7answers
47k views

Would you ever wire white and ground together?

I was replacing some outlets in my house with tamper-resistant ones, and came across one where the white and ground were wired together, as seen in this picture. Why? Is that okay or appropriate ...
14
votes
3answers
30k views

Are both legs of a home's power supply equally used?

This is basically just to satisfy my curiosity. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this: I believe power supply to a home's main panel usually consists of: A neutral wire A hot wire 120 ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I ground old 2-prong receptacles? (120V)

I have several old receptacles that are 2-prong. There is armored cable running from the breaker panel to each receptacle. What do I need to do in order to install and properly ground new 3-prong ...
7
votes
4answers
10k views

Can I replace an outlet that uses knob and tube wiring with a grounded outlet?

Can I replace an outlet that uses knob and tube wiring with a grounded outlet? Obviously the best choice would be to replace the old wiring. Is there a standard way to ground these outlets? Do I need ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it possible to convert a switched light into an unswitched outlet?

I am installing an overhead automatic garage door opener. My only power source close to where I will be hanging the motor is an overhead light socket that is operated by a switch on the wall next to ...
6
votes
6answers
22k views

Why is it safe to use 15 A receptacles on a 20 A circuit?

OK, the one answer I got was way off target, and another commenter couldn't figure out what I was asking, so I'm restating the question... Are 15A 3-prong grounded outlets actually rated to 20A, ...
6
votes
1answer
18k views

How should I wire a GFCI outlet and a switch to isolate the switch but provide GFCI protection further in the series?

I am replacing the outlets for my garbage disposal/dishwasher circuit in my kitchen. Currently on that breaker there is one non-GFCI outlet with a pigtailed switch controlling the garbage disposal and ...
5
votes
1answer
14k views

Replace two-wire thermostat

I'm replacing an old mercury thermostat with a digital one. The new unit has 7-8 connections (labeled w1,wh,r1,rh,y,c, etc.) and a bunch of instructions about how to connect similarly labeled ...