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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20
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10answers
23k 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?
7
votes
4answers
3k views

How Do I Plan for an Intrusion Detection System?

I would like to plan for an intrusion detection system in a home that is currently under construction. The home has a walkout basement that is sloping, shown in the rear elevation picture shown ...
13
votes
4answers
70k views

How do I properly wire GFCI outlets in parallel?

I have two countertop outlets in my kitchen that I am in the process of replacing with new, GFCI-protected outlets. These two outlets are on a circuit together, and they are the only loads on that ...
8
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
324 views

Projects to Pursue while Studs are Bare?

I'm stripping my small 950 sq. ft. 1950's-era home to the studs -- walls and ceiling -- so that I can install a vapor barrier and insulation in the walls and ceiling. While I have the studs available ...
4
votes
1answer
937 views

Replacing Halogen with LED bulbs

I've just purchased some 12V LED MR-16 bulbs, intending to use them to replace the existing 12V Halogen MR-16 bulbs in my bathroom. I have found, much to my chagrin, that the LED bulbs seem to have ...
3
votes
3answers
921 views

What are some computer interfacing electric energy meters on the market?

Does computer interfacing electric energy meters exist? With possibilities to get/log current power usage and monthly used kilowatt hours. With ethernet/rs232 etc interface. I am looking for this for ...
20
votes
4answers
3k views

Why would two circuit breakers be connected inside the service panel?

I was trying to locate the circuit breaker for an outlet in my garage and found a truly baffling setup. Two breakers control the same outlet (both plugs). After some head scratching, I opened the ...
13
votes
3answers
7k views

Is there a device that will allow a bathroom fan to run for 5 minutes after it is switched off?

There is one switch that controls the lights and fan in the bathroom. Users turn the light/fan on when they enter, and off when they leave. I'd like for the bathroom fan to run for a time after they ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

How to replace a standard 2-gang light switch with an electric dimmer switch

I'm looking for a some assistance in fitting a new electric dimmer light switch. I'm in the UK if that makes a difference. I am trying to replace my existing two-gang light switch with a LightWaveRF ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Would running a new subpanel in parallel meet NEC requirements? If not, what should I do?

Background U.S.A. Voltages/power present. My house has a 125A Power Mains breaker at the street. A buried line runs from the street breaker to my main panel on exterior wall outside of house. The ...
10
votes
6answers
78k views

How do I add more circuit breakers once the breaker box is full?

My house was completely rewired by the previous owner. They tore out all the old knob-and-tube and replaced it with modern wiring. I definitely appreciate this, but unfortunately they left ...
8
votes
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?
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there any “easy” ways to trace a home electrical system?

We bought a home a few months ago, and the electrical panel (and subpanel) are completely unlabelled. We have no way, short of flipping breakers, to know what breaker powers which fixtures. Is there a ...
7
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What should I do about old cables that have been damaged?

I was replacing some drywall and noticed the wiring underneath has a couple of surface tears. House is from the sixties, but has been rewired with new Romex, except this circuit. Wire seems to be old ...
1
vote
4answers
11k views

How do I wire a GFCI combination light switch when power enters at the light?

I have a Leviton 7299-NW GFCI/switch combo The diagrams in a response to the question "How do I wire a GFCI/switch combo?" is helpful. But I want to see a diagram for a situation where the power ...
36
votes
10answers
14k views

Which way is up? (electric outlet)

My house has electric outlets in both orientations. Which one is correct? Should the ground hole be at the bottom or the top? OR
23
votes
4answers
2k views

How can it be dangerous to feed a water heater from two separate panels?

In a recent question, a user asked "Can a water heater be installed between two apartments and wired to both apartments' breaker boxes, effectively splitting the bill between the two?". One of the ...
18
votes
8answers
26k views

What's the best way of replacing a plug or switch in a house with aluminum wiring?

My house has aluminum wiring, which from what I understand isn't recommended any more. How do I replace a plug or switch since the new unit only takes copper wiring?
14
votes
3answers
6k views

Is there ever a reason for reversing hot and neutral on a receptacle?

I moved into a new home and several receptacles have the hot and neutral reversed. I confirmed this with a basic receptacle tester. I opened one up and found the white wire on the brass terminal, ...
14
votes
3answers
2k views

Can I safely use a switch rated for “1A at 125V” with 240V, assuming I stay below 125W?

I recently purchased a foot switch for a standing lamp. The switch is rated for 1A at 125V. I would like to use this switch with a low energy lamp (typically 10W or below) but with a 240V supply. Is ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

What's the least intrusive way to find out what's in a wall?

I'm getting ready to mount a flatscreen TV on our living room wall and would like to route various cables through it (e.g. surround sound speakers, HDMI, etc). I appreciate the AWESOME tips here, but ...
12
votes
3answers
958 views

What is “knob and tube wiring”?

I assume this is some USA wiring system, am I right?
11
votes
3answers
3k views

What size extension cord should I use for multiple computers?

We're hosting a LAN party (several computers, 50+) and I had some questions about power draw; I hope this is the right place to ask. Currently, we're assuming each PC will draw an average of 3.5 ...
10
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
921 views

Humming Ceiling Fans

I have two Harbor Breeze 52in. Builders Series Ceiling Fans. Under normal operation these fans are smooth and quiet. However, during power outages like we've had recently, I use a Devilbiss 6000 ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I use three-prong appliances when my outlets are mostly two-prong?

I am living in a house where most electrical outlets are two prong. There are a smattering of three prong, in particular where an addition was put on. Am I hosed when it comes to where I can plug in ...
9
votes
2answers
7k 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
votes
3answers
7k views

What to do with an apartment with only 2-pronged outlets

I just rented an apartment (Colorado, for what it's worth RE code) that has 2-pronged outlets throughout the place except for two GFCI's, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. I bought the ...
8
votes
3answers
11k views

Are extension cords safe for permanent use?

I recently learned (via a rant from an electrician's son and some internet research) that the standard buy-anywhere cheapo extension cords are a big cause of electrical fires and are not recommended ...
8
votes
7answers
24k views

Is there an NEC-compliant method of repairing minor damage to electrical wire insulation without a junction box?

While trying to pry loose a stubborn cable staple that fastens a 14-gauge electrical cable to a stud, I accidentally tore a very small hole through both the outer jacket and the insulation around the ...
8
votes
1answer
50k views

Is it normal to have a light switch setup using only the hot wire?

I was changing the light switches around the house when I came upon this setup. The two switches to the right are all wired using the hot wire (black) from the two electrical wires on the back panel. ...
8
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
851 views

Why were only some of my tools damaged when connected to a 240V receptacle?

I live in the US and recently bought a home. There are several electrical outlets in my garage. I have recently had two tools that have burned up and gone to an early grave. It turns out that the ...
7
votes
2answers
14k views

Why does my fluorescent light fixture take minutes to turn on in high heat and humidity?

Our kitchen fixture won't come on for 3 to 5 minutes when the temperature goes over 90°F (32.2°C) and 90% humidity. It flickers and only reaches 80% brightness after that. It will occasionally ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

How can I improve the wiring under the sink for a garbage disposal?

My vegetable sprayer line broke yesterday, which led me underneath my sink. It wasn't until I was kneeling in a large puddle of water with the line draining on me and the floor that I realized how bad ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Can I put a 75 watt equivalent led bulb in a fixture that says 60 watts max?

Can I put a 75 watt equivalent led bulb(1100 lumes). In a fixture that says 60 watts max. I know the power going to the bulb is way less and the heat is also way less so should I worry about it? I'm ...
6
votes
1answer
27k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
70k views

Which side of a two-wire cable should be used for “hot”?

I bought a custom length of a 16/2 cable (two 16-gauge stranded wires, individually insulated). The two wires have identical colors and insulation; the only thing to tell them apart is that along ...
6
votes
2answers
745 views

Does lamp maximum wattage matter for CF bulbs? [duplicate]

Say I have a table lamp that states (via a slightly scary sticker) that it takes a 60W max bulb. Of course, that was based around incandescent wattages. Is there any risk with putting in a CF bulb ...
6
votes
2answers
16k views

How to determine the correct capacity for a sub-panel for a shop?

I plan to install a sub-panel for my woodworking shop, and would like to determine the total capacity that should supply that sub-panel. These are the main items that will likely be running in the ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

In electrical terms, what is the definition of a “disconnect”?

Santa Cruz County, CA, USA I'm working on a project that requires an electrician to install a "disconnect" at a building/shed separate from my house (as per NEC 225.31). I'm unfamiliar with this ...
5
votes
3answers
24k views

How can I rewire my bathroom fan, light, and receptacle?

My bathroom has one switch that powers the fan and light. In that electrical box, there is also a hard wired electrical outlet that sits in the bathroom. Since I don't have room for a 2 gang box in ...
5
votes
6answers
54k views

How much energy will continuously running a furnace fan use?

We have a bi-level (tri-level? There's a small entry way and utility room, then an upstairs living area and master bedroom and a downstairs living area with bedrooms) in mid-Michigan. The downstairs ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Can I replace an old exhaust fan and connect it to an existing light switch?

I just purchased a new home and in one of the bathrooms there is an old exhaust fan and two light switches. There is a recessed light located in the ceiling above the shower and another light above ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Can a low voltage light switch be located in a closet as opposed to outside the closet?

Okay you guys I have next question. And like all good questions this one begins with a story. I was reading the post about a nick in a wire and read a couple of you mention that light switch in a ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How to deal with abandoned wire?

There is a 240V/30A circuit in a room of my house that used to be a patio. I think it was used for a baseboard/electric heater system. It had a surface mounted outlet that I have removed, but now I ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the best way to label a double gang box with two circuits

I'm installing some lights in my basement, and will be replacing the single gang box in the hall (currently only for hall light) with a double gang box. The idea is to accommodate the hall light ...
5
votes
7answers
5k views

How can I create circuit diagrams and what program should I use?

Circuit diagrams are very handy. On this site, they can really help illustrate the problem or solution (see here). They can help you visualize what needs to be changed when doing work on your house, ...