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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

4
votes
1answer
5k 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
1answer
725 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
723 views

What could cause two of my receptacles to stop working?

Problem: No power in two receptacles. Note: Both receptacles on same circuit. What I have done: Checked the 15 amps circuit breakers with a volt tester. Each breaker reads 125 volts. Bought a ...
1
vote
2answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
49k views

What do I need to install LED strip lighting?

I've been looking to install LED strips, either RGB or white for lighting and ambiance. It wouldn't be the main lighting of the room, so no necessity for high power LEDs. The perimeter of the room is ...
9
votes
8answers
39k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
84k 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?
10
votes
8answers
15k views

Does a homeowner need a permit for electrical work in Massachusetts?

Does a homeowner need to obtain a permit from the town in order to do electrical work on his own house in Massachusetts? The unofficial answers I can find online (e.g., this forum and the websites of ...
15
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
62k 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, ...
9
votes
13answers
42k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
17k 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
1k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
11k 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, ...
5
votes
1answer
8k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
116 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
58k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
28k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
12k 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 = ...
7
votes
5answers
8k views

What could be causing AFCI breaker and GFCI receptacle nuisance tripping?

I have a very unusual set of electrical issues that have proven difficult to troubleshoot. I live in a newly constructed house. Each bedroom has AFCI breakers. In the past 3 years living there, the ...
6
votes
3answers
976 views

Why am I getting strange results when using a power meter to measure CFLs?

Over the years we have replaced just about every bulb in the house with a CFL. But here is the problem. Our electric bill is going up and not down. When I moved here 3 years ago we spent about ...
6
votes
5answers
17k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I extend a wall outlet?

I have a interior brick wall, with wall outlet in it, I am covering the wall with 1/2" sheet rock. But I am ancoring 1x2's on the brick so I can hang the sheetrock. How would I extend the wall outlet ...
5
votes
1answer
7k views

How do I convert a light circuit with a single pole switch to use two 3-way switches?

I have a box in the hall which includes a 3-way switch (with another switch at the other end of the hall), a single pole switch to the garage lights and a single pole switch to the exterior lights on ...
4
votes
4answers
19k 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
4k views

How can I diagnose disturbing voltage potentials?

Earlier today, I read Acceptable ground to neutral voltage?, and thought it'd be fun to stick my multimeter in the socket and have a voltage to report back. Neutral to ground read 60 volts. My head ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

When wiring a switch loop, which wire is which?

If you're wiring up a lighting circuit, where the power enters at the lighting outlet. According to the National Electrical Code, which wire should be "hot" and which should be "switched hot"? ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

Convert line voltage heating system to use low voltage thermostats

I currently have two line voltage ceiling radiant heating systems in my condo each with their own DPST thermostat. I'd like to use low voltage thermostats such as the nest. I found this ...
2
votes
4answers
158 views

Why are all of my appliances becoming energized when ground wire is excluded?

I live in Australia, with three-prong 240v power supply including ground prong. I own a simple plug adapter that does not include the ground connection. As far as I'm aware, using any appliance with ...
2
votes
2answers
16k 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
141 views

How do I determine what size Generator I need?

What are the number of factors and considerations to be taken into account before sizing a prime rated generator ??
13
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the right way to strip power wires?

I've been working with electrical circuits as a DIYer for years, including electronics and powerline work. But one thing I always feel like I do a terrible job at is stripping wires: both the outside ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Electric shock - was I stupid, unlucky, or a combination of both?

One of the double sockets in our garage needed replacing (damaged after a washing pole hit it) - a pretty trivial job that I'd done before. So I flipped the MCB for the ring main, used a non-contact ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

What is this drill guide/template used when fixing electrical sockets called and where do I buy one?

My dad used to have one, you use it as a drill guide/template when fixing electrical sockets, but I cannot find anywhere that sells them, and as I don't know the name Google is not much help! ...
9
votes
4answers
32k views

How do I troubleshoot power receptacles?

I just bought a recently renovated house and the house inspector said that all the plugs in the basement worked. Well... I plugged in several devices into the plugs and they don't power on. If I use ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do my bulbs glow brighter when the microwave is running?

When I run the microwave oven in my rented apartment, the incandescent lights nearby glow much brighter. What sort of mis-wiring could cause this? EDIT: Suspecting a bad neutral connection, I ...
7
votes
6answers
44k views

Can I connect ground to neutral in a 3 wire outlet?

I have a 3 wire outlet with the entrances for hot, neutral and ground. But I know that the ground entrance is not really grounded, so in effect useless. Now, since the neutral is grounded, could I ...
7
votes
7answers
7k views

How is it that two breaker switches control the same things?

Forewarning: I don't know that much about electrical terms, so please excuse any mistakes I've possibly made. I recently moved the TV in my living room and ran a new line for the electricity to the ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

What should I do with a double gang box if I no longer need two separate switches?

We're relocating our TV to a side of our living room that has a power outlet controlled by a wall switch. The switch is part of a double gang box (1 switch controls the porch light, the other ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does my GFCI outlet trip as soon as the breaker is turned on?

I have an outlet feeding other outlets about 50 feet away. All the outlets are outdoor enclosed in a protective weather cover. Today I wanted to replace one of the receptacles with a GFCI so all the ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Why will 26 1.2W 220V LED lights not work with an 800W inverter?

We live off the grid and have just installed 26 220V 1.2W LED lights. We are using 220V as the batteries are some way from the house and and thick copper wire is expensive. Everything works on the ...
5
votes
1answer
9k views

How do I wire a duplex outlet from a switch/outlet combo?

The power comes first through a switch/outlet combo and I need to it take further down to a duplex outlet. The switch will control half the outlet and the other half will always be hot. This is ...
5
votes
5answers
10k views

Is this an adequate junction box wire job using a standard electric box? (pic included)

I needed to splice a wire to repair nicked wire insulation, but I didn't feel like running to Lowe's just for a junction box. Instead, I used a regular electrical box. The wire comes up from the ...
5
votes
2answers
656 views

How do I troubleshoot noisy power lines for power-line networking?

I have some power-line ethernet adaptors that worked great in my previous house. At my new house, they can't get more than a few KB per second because there's too much noise in the line according to ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

How does a 2 way light switch work?

A two way light switch allows the light to be controlled from two locations, how does this work?
4
votes
2answers
2k 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
2answers
40k views

How do I extend outlets after installing a backsplash?

I have installed a back splash in my kitchen, if I use the plastic spacers how many should I use or is there a limit? I understand that this can cause to much air space around the receptacle or light ...