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.

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8
votes
8answers
28k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
67k 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
11k 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 ...
9
votes
12answers
31k 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
4k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
29k views

Which Kitchen outlets do NOT need GFCI?

I have the 2 circuits in the kitchen with GFCI outlets, but I'm not quite sure which other ones do NOT need GFCI. Other circuits in the kitchen include Microwave, Fridge, and Dishwasher. It makes ...
6
votes
5answers
11k views

Why would my TV image turn black when electrical appliances turn on?

I have my computer connected to my TV via HDMI. Every time something electrical happens (fridge turns on, stove sparks, etc), the image on the TV goes black for a second and then comes back on. And ...
5
votes
5answers
9k 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
7k 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
103 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
51k 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
19k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
7k 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
2answers
951 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
3answers
767 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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
6k 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
14k 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
3k 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
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
125 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
11k 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
7k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
2k 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
25k 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
3answers
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
32k 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
6k 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
1k 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
5answers
7k 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
2answers
3k 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
2answers
1k 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?
5
votes
5answers
11k 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
1answer
7k 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
8k 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
628 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
4answers
3k 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
3answers
5k views

Why does my circuit breaker trip with any small load, even after replacing the breaker?

I have a 20A 240V GFCI breaker in my main breaker box going to a conduit to another breaker box outside. All worked well last summer. Now, when I put any load (weed-eater, light, etc.) on an outlet ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

How can I wire this three-way circuit between two buildings with only 3 conductors?

I am rewiring my entire house after a major malfunction of two antique knob and tube circuits. I'm up against a challenge with some outdoor lights. Here's the situation: I have a detached garage. It ...
4
votes
1answer
9k views

How to tell if a ceiling junction box is braced to hold the weight of a ceiling fan?

My new home is almost done being built, and one of the extras I asked for was for two of the rooms to have junction boxes in the ceiling suitable for hanging a ceiling fan in the future. The light ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Do open-back low voltage boxes have advantages over standard outlet boxes?

I will be running LV wiring in new construction. I've seen the open backed Carlon boxes, but have read that they are difficult to insulate, and therefore should not be used on exterior walls. I ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Why am I measuring 16 volts on a wire that should be at 0 volts?

I am replacing a power receptacle at my apartment. It has the standard four wires, with one of the two reds going to a nearby toggle switch. I am concerned because when the toggle switch is off, I ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

How can I verify that the protective earth/ground is separate from the neutral wire in an electrical AC installation?

It's easy to verify which wire is the phase without relying on wire colors. But I'm not sure if I'm able to determine which wire is the ground and which is the neutral. I have heard that using a ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Why would two regular outlets stop working after I replaced GFCI outlets?

I replaced to gfci outlets and they are working fine, but two outlets on the same wall that are regular stopped working and are not receiving electricity. I checked and checked to see if I did the ...
2
votes
3answers
213 views

Do receptacles require a 20 ampere breaker?

I thought wall recepticles required a 20 amp breaker. Am I wrong?
2
votes
2answers
277 views

What gauge wire is needed to feed a 70 ampere panel 300 ft. away?

What gauge of wire do I need for direct burial for a 300 ft run for a 70 amp subpanel? I am going to install a 50 amp plug for a 5th wheel and eventually add some lights to a green house about 70 ...
2
votes
2answers
427 views

Adding USB Dual Port Charger Receptacle Blows Mains

I purchased a Hubbell "USB Dual Port Charger with 15A Duplex Receptacle" from Lowes to replace the duplex receptacle on my kitchen island. I first opened the circuit labelled for the island. The ...
2
votes
2answers
226 views

What's the amperage on a circuit breaker that's “linked” together?

On our circuit breaker, we have several circuits that are linked together by a metal handle. For instance, there are several cases of three 20A circuits all linked together, meaning you can only flip ...
2
votes
2answers
482 views

What type of wiring should bedroom overhead lighting have?

On the phone with a friend in Cali this morning. He said that some municipalities are requiring /4 (12-3 or 14-3 romex) wiring for all new construction or rewiring for overhead lighting components. ...