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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13
votes
3answers
59k 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
10k 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
23k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
3k 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
25k 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
9k 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
7k 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
98 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
44k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
5k 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
2answers
846 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
644 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
5k 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
12k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
105 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
9k 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
6k 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! ...
8
votes
4answers
20k 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
3k 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
28k 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
5answers
9k 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
5answers
7k 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
3k 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
3answers
2k 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
4k 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
2answers
3k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
587 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 ...
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
3k 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
3answers
199 views

Do receptacles require a 20 ampere breaker?

I thought wall recepticles required a 20 amp breaker. Am I wrong?
2
votes
2answers
169 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
247 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
160 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
407 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the codes for electrical wiring in attics?

What is the typical code for wiring in attics? I understand these vary but what's best practice? Can you just have electrical wires exposed with all the junctions, in junction boxes, provided all the ...
2
votes
1answer
744 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?
1
vote
1answer
216 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

How can I locate and repair a break in a circuit?

After some effort, I have determined that there is a discontinuity between the wire from the breaker (hot wire) and the receptacle (socket). The breaker is okay because couple of other sockets in the ...
1
vote
2answers
6k views

What is causing a replacement ceiling fan light to flicker?

I had a Hunter ceiling fan with a light kit attached. It started making a humming sound and then a loud pop. This caused the circuit breaker to trip. After resetting the circuit breaker, the fan ...
1
vote
4answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...