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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5
votes
1answer
4k views

Is it within code to branch an exterior outlet off an interior outlet in the middle of a circuit?

My city adheres to the 2008 NEC. I've got a run of outlets around a basement room on one circuit. On an exterior wall I've got a weatherproof outlet that's on a different circuit and somewhere in ...
17
votes
5answers
26k views

Extension cord and power strip safety

I've heard that there are some safety and building code issues involved with using extension cords or power strips (surge protectors) for anything other than temporary use. What are the issues, and ...
3
votes
1answer
7k views

How should I connect electrical wires to a cooktop (platetop)?

I'm having some problems understanding how to connect some electric wires for a platetop. The wire colors normally mean, blue=N, brown=L, and yellow/green=PE. My problem is, the platetop has L1 ...
9
votes
1answer
811 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
520 views

Is there enough here to get a ceiling fan?

I want need a ceiling fan in my living room. I looked at a few wiki-how type articles on installing them, and it looks like they need more than 2 wires, but when I opened up the light fixture on my ...
5
votes
1answer
196 views

How to disconnect a weird looking wire

I'm renovating my Kitchen, and my stove is connected in such a way that I'm not sure how to unplug, I added pictures that might explain it better. I would like to either disconnect it, or make it ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

How to make lights turn on one at a time?

So we've all seen this scene dozens of times in movies: a character flips a switch and lights turn on, one at time, down a long tunnel, or throughout a giant garage, or something like that. I'd like ...
3
votes
1answer
257 views

How should I safely replace Central Vacuum faceplates?

The covers for the faceplates of my central vacuum system have started to break off from age. How do I safely replace these? These are technically wired for electricity right? Is this a job for an ...
2
votes
1answer
822 views

How can I make a fake ground output?

I'm having problems with my electrical oven: I get shocked when I touch it. I think the way to solve this is to connect the ground wire it has (the green wire) to ground? The problem with that is ...
2
votes
2answers
14k views

How do I run CAT-6 cable in existing drywall? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to run ethernet cable through wall cavity I've been interested in running a really fast hard-line network for a while, but the main deterrent has been installing 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
6k views

How to chain two recessed lights together?

Disclaimer: I am one of the most non-handy people on the planet, so forgive my total "newbie" question. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel. I need to install two housings for recessed lights ...
7
votes
2answers
515 views

What is the best short-term solution for fused neutrals?

I have inherited a house that has been in my wife's family since 1860. I do not know when it was electrified, but it seems to have skipped knob and tube. There is a lot of fabric-covered wire, and ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How can I locate the doorbell transformer?

my doorbell stopped working and I tested it with a multimeter and found no current to the box. How do I locate the transformer to replace it?
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What do I do with receptacles behind built-ins?

When installing built-in furniture, what should I do about the receptacles on the existing bare wall that will be covered up by the built-in? How would I handle a receptacle covered by a bookcase ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Can I (and should I) remove old unused electrical wiring?

I have some old electrical wiring original to my 1946 house. In some cases it goes between my button board rock lath walls and was stapled there. Are there techniques for removing disconnected, unused ...
1
vote
1answer
310 views

U-Socket USB Wallplug

I am curious to know if this new wall USB/Receptical is even legal to install? As I got talking with friends on Facebook, the question came up about low-voltage and high voltage in one box and what ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

My ceiling fan isn't getting the right voltage

My ceiling fan + light has stopped working. It turns out that the voltage reading at the ceiling is only 30V. I think that means that the motor on my fan isn't the problem, but that there's some ...
5
votes
2answers
15k views

Should water heater thermostats be set to the same temperature?

Should the top and bottom water heater thermostats be set to the same temperature? I did a quick google search and saw all kinds of differing opinions. for instance, this guy seems like he knows ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

What's wrong with my wiring?

I purchased a Hampton Bay remote for our bedroom fan this weekend. I have it installed and mostly working correctly, but there is one nuisance that still remains. We have two switches on the wall, ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Do they make a pull-chain type outlet adapter for garage door openers to plug in to?

I have constant power going to both my garage door openers. What I'm trying to do is come up with a way to easily cut power to them without having to get out and climb a small ladder to pull the power ...
3
votes
1answer
293 views

Single outlet resettable breaker?

Basically I have an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) which has a 20amp plug and I know that the load on the UPS will NEVER exceed 15 amp (Bought it mainly because it can attach more battery units to ...
6
votes
7answers
6k views

How important is circuit breaker breaking capacity?

All else being equal circuit breakers can have different "breaking capacity" - it's the maximum current which the breaker can disconnect and it's typically several thousand amperes. The idea is that ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

What information do I need to select a circuit breaker?

I am having 2 new lines run in my basement to power a workbench's tools and an unrelated computer station. I have room in my panel for additional breakers, and rather than tie into existing wiring, I ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Amp rating of ganged circuit-breakers

Backstory: I'm considering replacing my current tank water heater with a tankless whole-house unit. The units I see generally require a 120-amp breaker circuit. Currently, my panel has two ganged ...
3
votes
1answer
436 views

Service mast too short

I've read that the service mast on the roof should be 12-18 inches high. The one we have is a lot shorter than that. Does that pose any safety issues? We recently purchased the house, and the previous ...
3
votes
1answer
221 views

Identify type of switch

Can anyone identify the type of switch this is? There are 4 connectors at the bottom and 3 at the top. I've already purchased a 2 gang 2 way switch which turned out to be the wrong one (it only has ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Running electric cables in basement shop

I am setting up a workshop in the unfinished area of my basement. I need to run a couple of electrical outlets and would like to run them along the block walls through grey PVC. Will this be a ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

What's the correct way to pass wire to exterior electrical box?

I'm doing some remodeling in our basement, and came across the following (see pictures). It looks like the contractor simply wrapped tape around the conduit to secure the box to the wall. How are ...
8
votes
3answers
5k 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
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
495 views

How to install 230V Light with Light-activated-resistor?

I am trying to set up light-activated-resistors that activate a light during dark hours. I have bought a ready Chinese thing that apparently contain a driver to change from AC to proper DC output for ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Parallel Fluorescent Wiring

I've got a few ceiling lighting 'boxes' that have one capacitor, two ballast, two starters, and two fluorescent lamps in each. Everything seems to be nicely wired up internally and I just need to ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

When wiring two circuits through the same conduit, what wire coloring is required?

Problem I am wiring a septic control/alarm box to a subpanel. They are on the same post, so the wire run is through a short stretch of 3/4" flex conduit. There are two circuits required: a 240V for ...
2
votes
1answer
201 views

Is it safe to replace a switch with a dimmer on halogen spots?

I live in Europe (so we're on 220V), and in the house we've got two halogen spots (on a transformer) on a plain switch. Is it safe to replace the switch with a dimmer (like these)? Do the transformer ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Ceiling fan switch replacements

I have 2 ceiling fans that were in my house when I moved in. Both fans have recently had the pull strings torn out of the switch. I took the fans apart, and wrote down the information on the switch, ...
17
votes
11answers
4k views

What should we look for when buying a fixer-upper house?

My fiance and I are considering buying a fixer-upper house rather than an apartment when we get married. Obviously things like location, neighbors etc. are important, but; what should we be looking ...
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
568 views

What do you call a DIY AC plug?

This may the dumbest question ever, but I'm trying to replace the AC plug on a small appliance (it's European but voltage-switchable and I'm using it in the US), and I don't know what to call those ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
644 views

What's the best/easiest way to install and wire a wall light?

I would like to add a wall light to a wall, but I'm not sure the best way to go about doing this. I'm thinking it will be easiest to wire it up to a ceiling light (directly above proposed placement ...
3
votes
2answers
367 views

Should I run 2 regular circuits or a subpanel to my septic site?

We're installing a septic system on otherwise undeveloped land. Eventually there will be a house near the septic system, but that could easily be years away. The electric service entrance is on a post ...
2
votes
1answer
914 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?
6
votes
4answers
19k views

How can I tell if a circuit breaker is worn out?

I was installing a light and tripped the breaker (in retrospect, should have turned the breaker off before starting). When I finished installing it I reset the breaker and tried the light switch. ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

Insufficient voltage to dryer receptacle; what next?

I just moved into a home and I am hooking up a used dryer (which I'm told works). The dryer spins, but I get no heat. I bought a multimeter, and it tells me that the receptacle provides insufficient ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Can I convert ceiling mounted octagon box to electrical receptacle?

I've installed a number of strip lights in my garage to replace the single incandescent fixture on the ceiling. They all use a 3-prong plug, not hardwired. I want to replace the incandescent fixture ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Why are my downlights constantly blowing?

I have a strip of 3 downlights in my living room, and I am constantly changing globes. Usually two of the globes blow in the first day or two of use, but the third globe will last much longer (at ...
1
vote
1answer
767 views

Fix intermittent connection problem in a monorail low voltage light fixture

I have a WAC low-voltage monorail (probably a SOLORAIL model) that is about 7 years old. The rail is about 12 ft long and has four fixtures attached. For the past 2 years, one of the fixtures has ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Large voltage swing on incoming main hot line- definitely outside?

So for much of last fall, I had an issue of flickering lights in my house (half of the house seemed to flicker in unison). Back in December, I called the electric company, who came out, and claimed ...
1
vote
5answers
515 views

Light fixture inside knee-wall storage

We framed knee walls in our attic and want to use the areas behind them for storage. These areas are triangular in cross-section, about 3' high at the knee wall, and of course the ceiling hits the ...