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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9
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2answers
4k views

Is this fluorescent light fixture a major electrical problem / fire hazard?

(I am a new homeowner.) I went to replace a some fluorescent tubes that looked like they burned out, but after disassembling it a little to get the tubes out, I saw something a little alarming: ...
9
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2answers
2k views

What are the pros and cons of different types of smart switches (that are on the US market) ?

When putting in a new switch for a light it is often less work to put in a smart switch than run the mains cables. However, how do you choose the type of smart switch to use? See also "What are ...
9
votes
1answer
16k views

Can Romex (NM-B) be run through conduit?

A few days ago I asked an electrician if I could run Romex through conduit - he gave me a funny look and said "No, Romex is not allowed in conduit." When I searched online, there seems to be a wide ...
9
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2answers
3k views

Is a high electric bill for a pump house caused by a well pump running constantly?

I recently had to turn on the electric for a shared well in my name. I got a bill and it's as high as what my house bill is. The well is the only thing connected to the electric in the well house. We ...
9
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2answers
2k views

How do I tell if a light switch is live?

I have a light switch that I want to get rid of. I don't know if it is active or not. I want to wallpaper the wall. How do I tell if the circuit is "live" and if so how to turn it off so it is safe ...
9
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2answers
6k views

How can I add a circuit breaker when there are no openings available in the neutral bus bar?

I'm trying to add a 20 amp circuit breaker into my existing main panel. The main panel has one vacant slot to put the breaker, but the neutral and ground bars have no more vacant slots. My question is ...
9
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4answers
28k 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 ...
9
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8answers
6k views

Home light switch circuit with 5 switches

I am new to the amazing world of electronics and am starting out small. I think... Early 2010, the wife and I bought a house that was built in 1979. Now I started replacing light switches and ...
9
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4answers
47k views

What do I do if there are only two wires coming from my ceiling electrical box?

I'm about to install several Hunter ceiling fans. This will be the first time I've done anything electrical past changing a bulb. The instructions that came with the fan show three wires coming from ...
9
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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 ...
9
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5answers
34k views

Do the breaker amp readings sum up to dictate my current panels total / possible amperage?

So I know practically nothing about houses having rented for many years, just bought a house and was told by my inspector the panel is only a 70 amp panel and will need to be upgraded before I go to ...
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5answers
5k views

Why is there so much metal-clad wiring in my house?

My house was built in 1893. I was recently doing some electrical work in the attic, adding some light fixtures. While doing that, I noticed that several of the upstairs outlets were wired with old, ...
9
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4answers
9k views

Why does my microwave keep throwing the circuit breaker?

I have a circuit that powers several things in my house: Kitchen microwave Basement lights Basement sockets Sump pump Recently, this circuit has been thrown with alarming frequency when I use the ...
9
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3answers
5k views

Can I use a UPS as a Voltage Stabilizer?

I need a voltage stabilizer for my refrigerator. Can I use a UPS for this? I own an APC Back-UPS marked "Output: 230V~, 2.6A, 50/60Hz...". The label on the fridge says "220V/50Hz". Can I use this UPS ...
9
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5answers
8k views

Is “don't mix data and power cables” and “don't loop power cables” still valid nowadays?

There are two sayings I keep hearing when talking about wiring e.g. home cinema or computer hardware; Don't wrap data/network cables and power cables up in the same loop because the power cables ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Is an ungrounded GFCI outlet safer than a plumbing-grounded non-GFCI outlet?

I'm in the United States. I have a handful of three-prong outlets that have been grounded to the underground water main just as it enters the crawlspace. All of the ground wires are home runs to the ...
9
votes
1answer
47k 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
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2answers
3k views

Is there a minimum, NEC-compliant distance that an electrical outlet can be off the floor in my home?

If I am able to lower an electrical box by a few inches, I will have enough wire to avoid having to use a junction box to splice a nick I made in the insulation of the neutral wire. It's only a ...
9
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1answer
2k views

Is there a difference between the two conductors in 120VAC wiring?

With DC wiring, there is an obvious, positive 'hot' wire and negative/ground wire. In AC wiring is there still such a concept as a single 'hot' wire? If yes, why is this since either wire will be at ...
9
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1answer
1k views

What type of connector is this and how do I remove it?

I was trying to install a ceiling fan in my apartment and came across these connectors when removing the light. What is this and how do I take it off?
9
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1answer
790 views

How do I get to the wall cavity above a double floor joist from below?

I am running some new romex for a couple of electrical outlets. One of the outlets is on one side of a wall in one bedroom and the other outlet is on the other side of the wall in another bedroom. ...
8
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3answers
4k 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 ...
8
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5answers
14k views

What are the different gauges of electrical wire available?

What are the different gauges of electrical wire available for homes and how do you determine which gauge you should be using? If it helps, I'm wondering specifically about recommendations as I finish ...
8
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5answers
3k views

Why do electricians prefer not to use the push-in connections on receptacles?

Why do electricians prefer not to use the back-stab or quick connect holes on switches and receptacles? If these were unreliable do you think they would be allowed by the NFPA and NEC?
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4answers
914 views

How can I automatically disconnect a coffee maker and space heater without tripping the building's 20A circuit breaker?

My small office has a 20A breaker and we have to run a space heater in the winter or else we freeze to death. Whenever someone turns on the coffee maker, the office circuit breaker trips and ...
8
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2answers
3k views

How can I stop bulbs from buzzing when dimmed?

I've got some hanging lights with "Fat Albert" bulbs that are plugged into a dimmer switch. When they're dimmed to certain levels, the bulbs make a soft buzzing sound. The buzz is amplified and ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Can I replace my ungrounded / two prong outlets, or should I have a professional do this type of a thing?

They're all two prong except a select few in the kitchen. Is this a project I could take on with NO electrical experience other than minor soldering, or is this something I should not attempt? ...
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6answers
5k views

Should I switch from propane to electric heat?

After a downright frightening heating bill, I am thinking of switching to electric heat. I want this to be as little impact to the house as possible. I currently live in a 1100 sq ft manufactured home ...
8
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7answers
16k views

How can I get a shock from a circuit when the breaker is off?

While I was replacing an old outlet, I received a shock from something in the box. I think it was the metal box itself. Before I started, I performed the following to ensure the power was out: ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Is an LED light strip safe to use under a bed?

I see a lot of RGB LED light strips being sold on sites like Amazon etc. The lights appear to be of decent quality, run off of 12V but do need up to 5-6 Amps to power. This is a lot of current, so ...
8
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1answer
22k views

How can I make an outlet switched?

I thought all I had to do to make an outlet switched was to break off the tab between the hot wires. Needless to say when I did that, the fan previously controlled by the switch quit working all ...
8
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2answers
3k views

What is the best option for hiding wires to wall mounted TV?

This is similar to this question, but in my case I'm not looking for the easiest solution but the most professional solution. I am torn between modular wall plates, and the type that just have a hole ...
8
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3answers
6k views

Can I use two wire nuts instead of one to connect 6 wires inside a 3-gang box?

Is it considered acceptable practice to use two wirenuts in a situation where it is possible to use only one but may be easier to use two? I have a three-gang box with six cables coming into it. The ...
8
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2answers
3k views

What kind of electrical outlet is this, and how do I replace it?

I have an electrical outlet which hasn't been reliable (the bottom one doesn't always have power unless you jiggle the plug), so I want to change it. I've changed a few plain outlets, but I found ...
8
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3answers
3k views

Does the code inspector look at preexisting work, or only at recent work?

I would like to have my service panel upgraded from 50 to 200 amps by licensed electrician, but am worried about preexisting code violations. If I had it upgraded and a building code inspector came ...
8
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2answers
223 views

What is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter?

What is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and where should they be used?
8
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2answers
3k views

There are bare copper wires in the light box?

I opened the light switches and electrical outlets on the walls before the painting job and found in the metal casing boxes there were two bare copper wires attached on the same screw, they were laid ...
8
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1answer
2k views

How do I wire this motor with 240V?

I have 240 plug with a switch dedicated for Air compressor. I have compressor that supposedly can be wired for 240V 2 pictures show sticker and current wiring. How do I update wiring to make it 240V? ...
8
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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 ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What should I do about this fixture brace?

I'm preparing to hang a ceiling fan fixture in a bedroom. I need to remove an old ceiling light's electrical box and brace first, however I don't see how I can remove them. The brace has limbs which ...
8
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2answers
2k 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 ...
8
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1answer
9k 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
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4answers
3k views

Is this a “shared neutral” situation?

In 2001, some electricians added two circuits to my house in California. I took a close look at their wiring and had some questions. At the Service Panel, there are two 20-amp circuit breakers on the ...
8
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3answers
754 views

Are there any differences in the quality of products sold at contractor's supply store vs. big box hardware stores?

We are in the early stages of building a new house & went shopping for lighting fixtures yesterday. We get an allowance from the builder which we know will be used up very quickly after visiting ...
8
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4answers
4k views

Is it safe to touch the ground contact?

When plugging in a device in the dark, or behind furniture, it's hard to get the contacts aligned. It's tempting to put a finger on the end of a contact, use that finger to find the slot in the recep, ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Can I use Romex in an unfinished basement or attic?

I am asking in reference to articles 382.2 & 382.12 in the 2008 edition of NFPA-70. The following definition appears to me to be describing Romex (NM-type) cabling: **382.2 Definitions** ...
8
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2answers
2k views

What are my options for installing 240v receptacles in an attached garage?

My workshop (attached garage) is currently wired with 120V receptacles fed from the main panel in the house by #10/3 with ground (1 black, 1 red, 1 white, 1 ground) attached to a double-pole 30A ...
8
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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 ...
8
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3answers
20k views

Does it matter which 3-way switch I put a dimmer at on a 4-way circuit?

I was working a side job today and re-wired quite a few 3 and 4-way circuits. I have a good understanding on how each work, but when I hooked up a 3-way dimmer on a 4-way circuit, the light would ...
8
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1answer
447 views

Is it worth it to replace old style breakers with GFCI or AFCI breakers?

I have older wiring on my house (2-wire) BX. And while it's all in good condition, and I do check the outlets monthly to make certain it's still grounded, I'm wary of the BX sheathing as the ground. ...