The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
22
votes
11answers
10k 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
votes
13answers
14k 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
84k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
87k 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, ...
21
votes
6answers
12k 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
3answers
6k 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
4answers
25k 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-...
21
votes
3answers
631k 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 ...
20
votes
7answers
283k 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
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
65k 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
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 ...
19
votes
5answers
8k 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
6answers
25k 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 ...
19
votes
8answers
53k 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 ...
19
votes
18answers
128k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
125k 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
3answers
17k 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
2answers
5k 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? ...
19
votes
7answers
14k 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
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
265k 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?
18
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
18
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 ...
18
votes
2answers
8k 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 ...
18
votes
9answers
8k views

Can I cause damage to electrical appliances by unplugging them when they are turned on?

I don't mean damage caused to the socket and prongs, but only to the appliance itself.
18
votes
11answers
96k 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 ...
18
votes
13answers
5k views

How do I prepare my home for a power outage?

With several storms in the Northeast United States and more storms predicted this week, there have been lots of extended power outages. What are things to do to prepare your house for a power outage ...
18
votes
4answers
109k views

What is the proper way to run wires along/across basement ceiling joists?

I want to add an electrical outlet in my unfinished basement. It makes sense to run the wire along the ceiling because that's where all the other wires are. What is the proper way to install NM ...
18
votes
4answers
228k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

Small branch stuck in electric wire

A few weeks ago a small branch became stuck in the telephone and cable wires leading to our house. I hoped it would blow out, but the latest snow storm has put it in it's current position. Is this a ...
18
votes
8answers
310k 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
votes
5answers
73k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
6k views

Do I need to be legally qualified to install a Hive smart thermostat?

As a competent DIY'er, am I legally allowed to install Hive myself? The reason for the question is I have been asked to provide a cert as I'm selling the house. If not, can someone point me in the ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

One circuit on two 20 amp breakers

Can I put one circuit on two 20-amp breakers? I'm drawing too much power on just one breaker and I'm not able to run a whole new circuit right now.
17
votes
5answers
20k views

If I install a GFCI on the first outlet in a circuit will the other receptacles on that breaker circuit have GFI protection?

I have three electrical outlets in my garage which appear to be connected to one circuit breaker. I am assuming the outlet closest to to the panel is first in the three receptacle circuit. How ...
17
votes
5answers
49k views

My house was hit by lightning. What should I do?

A huge thunderstorm passed by the other night and lightning hit the condo building I live in. The fire department came out and inspected the attic, and removed the antenna that was hit. Inside the ...
16
votes
5answers
73k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

240 V outlet is not delivering 240 V

I recently moved into an apartment with a 3-prong, NEMA 10-30 outlet. It looks like this: I bought an old dryer that I confirmed was working before purchasing it and hooked it up and unfortunately ...
16
votes
6answers
5k views

Is it dangerous to run electrical cords through heating vents?

I'm living in an old apartment, and my roommate has fed electrical cords through a heating vent from the living room into the bathroom, up to a power bar on the side of the sink. I see this as a ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

Getting UPS Power from One Room to Another

I’d like to run power from a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) in ROOM A to where a work computer is used in ROOM B. I was thinking of installing an outlet box in ROOM A near where the UPS is plugged ...
16
votes
3answers
58k views

Are both legs of a home's power supply equally used?

This is basically just to satisfy my curiosity. Please correct me if I'm wrong about any of this: I believe power supply to a home's main panel usually consists of: A neutral wire A hot wire 120 ...
16
votes
4answers
81k views

When to use holes instead of side terminals to wire an outlet

This question comes from Shirlock's comment on this GFCI wiring question. When and why should you use the holes on the back of an outlet rather than the side terminals? I always assumed the holes on ...
16
votes
4answers
233k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
12k 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, ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Metal braided cord in the wall

I was expanding a hole in what I think is drywall in between two closets. When I took the drill out I noticed some metal protruding and it looks like I went through a braided cable, but the metal ...