Questions tagged [electrical]

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. Posting photographs of wiring junctions or drawing a wiring diagram and posting it is also highly recommended.

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25
votes
4answers
93k views

Why are homes wired using solid wire rather than stranded?

If stranded wire can carry more power for a given wire gauge, why are homes typically wired using solid? If solid wire is less expensive to make, that provides a compelling reason why solid is used, ...
24
votes
16answers
6k views

How to dig a trench for a cable for a garden office

I'm trying to dig a trench for the electrical cable for a shed/office I'm building in my back garden. This is about 7 m long and should be 0.5 m deep. My soil seems to be about 5 cm of ...
24
votes
4answers
6k views

Why don't electrical receptacles have more than one ground?

All modern receptacles have places for additional hot/neutral wires so you can add more outlets in series, but they all have a single screw or hole for the ground wire. Why don't they have two ground ...
24
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4answers
136k views

Should all Federal Pacific panels be replaced?

I understand that Federal Panel Stab Lok breakers have the potential for becoming stuck, overheating, and starting fires. My home has a Federal Pacific panel but no outward markings of being a Stab ...
24
votes
4answers
92k views

Do I really have to fasten interior-wall electrical wire to a stud to keep it from moving?

I am fresh out of cable staples and would rather not go all the way to Lowe's just to get a box. What are the implications of not fastening loose electrical wires to a stud? It's not like there's ...
24
votes
2answers
9k views

What is a tandem breaker (aka duplex, cheater, twin, double-stuff, etc.)?

I keep hearing about tandem breakers, and how they won't work with 240V loads and how they should never be used for a multi-wire branch circuit. Aside from those issues... What is a tandem breaker? ...
24
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7answers
3k views

How can I add an ammeter and/or voltmeter to my home breaker panel?

In my professional life, I work in datacenters and all of our PDUs have ammeter displays on them. Of course they do: we always want to know how many amps a PDU is using. But in my house, nobody has ...
23
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8answers
12k views

Drilled into studs, light flickered momentarily but everything else seems fine now - should I be worried?

I was installing shelving in my closets, when drilled a hole into studs, the lights flickered momentarily for 2 seconds. I stopped drilling, and everything else seems fine now. The circuit didn't ...
23
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3answers
5k views

Why do single electrical receptacles exist?

Given that the following are true. They are the same size. They take the same amount of work to install. Doubles are twice as useful. Double adapters are a thing. Why do single electrical ...
23
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
23
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3answers
4k views

Now I realize I used too many GFCI outlets. How can I reclaim them?

Yeah, so the building inspector redflagged a bunch of outlets for not being GFCI. Before I understood how the LOAD terminals work, I just replaced every single one with a GFCI outlet. Most had a ...
23
votes
2answers
124k views

How do you plan capacity for electrical circuits?

I'm finishing a section of my basement, which currently only has one bulb for bare light. In planning the electrical arrangement of things, how do I estimate the load of light fixtures or electrical ...
23
votes
3answers
742k views

What wire gauge do I need for a 100 Amp subpanel at the end of a 60' wire run?

I am adding an attached garage to my house. I'm going to be putting in a 100 Amp subpanel which is about 60 feet away and run through the basement joists. What gauge wire do you recommend for ...
22
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11answers
16k 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 ...
22
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13answers
19k views

What items in a house can potentially be damaged by shutting them off at the circuit breaker?

Are there certain items in a house (anything from a computer to a furnace) that can be damaged by shutting off its circuit at the electrical panel? If so, must one avoid turning off that circuit at ...
22
votes
4answers
28k views

What should I use to secure/organize data cable runs?

I am running Cat-6 and Coax in new construction. I am looking for advice/best practices on how to organize and secure the cables during the runs. I will be running 2 Cat-6 and 1 Coax to a single-...
22
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3answers
8k views

Is my repair to this plug safe?

The red copper wire was burned so I took out the burnt part of the wire and reinserted all the wires by myself.
21
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6answers
14k views

Is it important not to scratch copper wire when removing insulation?

I use a small cutter made for max 14 gauge wires, but I'm bad at removing insulation, it takes me a bit of time to get it right, so I end up cutting and repeating, because I see scratches on copper ...
21
votes
10answers
16k views

My inflatable hot tub says “don't use with an extension cord”… but can I?

Sadly they don't explain WHY not to use it with an extension cord. I wonder if it's to do with the risk of having such connections outside in the elements? The cord it comes with is 7m long, and ...
21
votes
8answers
56k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
8k views

Why don't I have ground wiring on any of my outlets?

My house in California was built in 1989 (I believe) And in the last 5 years I've replaced at least 20 outlets myself (successfully), and noticed there were never any ground wires to connect to the ...
21
votes
1answer
87k views

What do I need to install LED strip lighting?

I've been looking to install LED strips, either RGB or white for lighting and ambiance. It wouldn't be the main lighting of the room, so no necessity for high power LEDs. The perimeter of the room is ...
21
votes
6answers
89k views

Where should I NOT use a GFCI or AFCI?

There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of GFCI and AFCI and the places where they must or should be used. But are there any circumstances where you're better off without them? If I ...
20
votes
11answers
10k views

My room lights' brightness pulses when I turn on my toaster oven

I have a house with old 2-prong wiring in most of my bedrooms. My toaster oven is plugged in on the kitchen countertop. Whenever I turn it on, the brightness of the lights in 3 (out of 4) of my ...
20
votes
8answers
299k 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 ...
20
votes
6answers
32k views

Can I safely use a 9w LED bulb in place of a 40w incandescent?

I bought a reading lamp that on the box says: Max 1x40W The shop also sold me an LED light bulb that says: 9W=75W So my question is, can I use light bulb or not? I am confused between the 75W and the ...
20
votes
18answers
140k 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 ...
20
votes
6answers
7k views

Does unblocking power bar outlets through short extension cords increase fire risk?

Power supply units are often large relative to the outlet and block access to adjacent outlets in a power bar. A simple solution is to use 1/2 ft or 1 ft (15cm, 30cm) power extension cords to keep ...
20
votes
10answers
72k 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?
20
votes
6answers
19k views

Is this light switch installation safe and legal?

I did this wiring in my bonus room years ago, and now I'm wondering if it is in fact legal and safe. This is a built-in book case that I built and installed myself. The bookshelf went in over a ...
20
votes
4answers
42k views

Do USB sockets draw power when not in use?

I would like to replace a couple of electrical outlets in my house with ones that have USB sockets. My concern is that they will continually draw power, even when I don't have a phone plugged in to ...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

Weird Power Outage in Certain Rooms- Condominium

Half of the Condo I rent is losing power sporadically, sometimes for minutes other times for hours. We have power loss to our kitchen lights, microwave, outlet above dishwasher, the dishwasher, entire ...
19
votes
6answers
7k views

Why does Tesla recommend such a small gauge wire for their chargers compared to this chart I found online?

We are looking to install two NEMA 14-50 outlets for our kids to charge their electric cars, and I'm confused about wire choice. I thought I understood the correct wire to use, but then ran across a ...
19
votes
5answers
9k views

Can anyone help me identify this old audio cable?

I have this old Bang & Olufsen vinyl record player, with a old connector for the speakers. Do anyone know what type of connector this is? And if there exist some converters? Looks like DMX, but ...
19
votes
7answers
5k 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. Any guidance on how to rewire them, how to ...
19
votes
2answers
9k views

What danger/code violation is oversized breakers?

I just got the results of a home inspection where they claim there is mismatched breakers and wires in my electrical panel. Specifically, the range (40A breaker) and heat pump (50A). He claims the ...
19
votes
5answers
14k views

Orange Outlets Near Breaker Box

I haven't noticed these over the years I've owned my home. Only recently I happened to look down and think "huh, that's odd, why are those outlets colored bright orange." I have, over the years, ...
19
votes
4answers
132k views

I have a 3-pronged receptacle but no ground wire connected to it. Is this ok?

I removed the plates from outlets to paint walls and noticed that some of my electric boxes have ground wires connected to outlets while others do not have a green wire at all. Is this ok? I know ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I calculate my anticipated peak current load?

Preamble This question takes place in Japan. In Japan, domestic electrical service is metered, but there is also a monthly fee that increases with larger service capacity. Units are wired for (...
19
votes
12answers
105k views

What is simplest strategy to map circuits to breakers in the panel?

My breaker box is very poorly labeled and I want to figure out which circuits may have overloaded (or close to it) and which could reasonably handle a little more. In the past I have just tried ...
19
votes
3answers
19k views

What is the right way to connect 7 conductors in an electrical box?

What is the "right" way to join 7 different wires in a single electrical box? Here's the situation. I opened up a four-gang light switch. There were four switches controlling five lights. As ...
19
votes
8answers
17k views

Is there a lifetime failure count for a breaker?

I have an external cutoff for my air conditioner that has two physical fuses (TR-50's, time delay 50 amps) outside. This is between the condenser unit and the main power panel, where it is protected ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it OK to create a third prong ground from a cold water pipe, for a 2-wire circuit?

When or is it NEC code compliant to upgrade a 2-wire circuit, by adding a third prong equipment ground from a nearby cold water pipe? A different case of borrowing a ground from a nearby circuit is ...
19
votes
4answers
5k views

How can I get a wire that is outside a wall to be inside a wall

I recently removed an abominable drop ceiling from my dining room and found this close to the ceiling on the one side of the room. There is definitely a stud between these two holes. On the other ...
19
votes
4answers
254k 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it permissible to have exposed mains conductors in holiday lights?

I've just had a holiday lights company install some outside tree lights, and I found they had done it so that at several places the prongs of mains cable plugs had been left exposed, and carrying ...
19
votes
5answers
268k 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?
19
votes
8answers
349k views

What's the standard height for an outlet?

I am installing outlets in my patio room. What is the standard height recommended above the ground for these to be installed?
18
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2answers
8k views

Half my house losing power, HVAC the key factor

For the past couple of weeks I have been losing power occasionally to half my house. My central AC goes out, half my kitchen, living room and my kids' rooms. There are no tripped breakers though. I ...
18
votes
7answers
22k 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 ...