How to Rewire Your Office’s Electrical System on a Shoestring Budget


Upgrading an office's electrical system can be intimidating and expensive. However, with some planning and elbow grease, I was able to rewire my office on a tight budget. In this article, I'll walk through the entire process, from assessing my existing electrical system to installing new wiring and components. I'll share tips for saving money, resources for finding deals, and important safety considerations when taking on a project like this yourself. Whether you want to increase capacity, improve safety, or just modernize outdated wiring, follow along to learn how I revamped my office's electrical system without breaking the bank.

Assessing the Existing Electrical System

Before beginning any electrical project, it's crucial to fully understand the existing system. Here's how I went about evaluating my office's current electrical layout and components:

Inspecting the Electrical Panel

The electrical panel, or breaker box, is the central hub connecting all electric circuits in your office. I checked the following:

Evaluating Wiring and Fixtures

Next, I thoroughly inspected all visible wiring and electrical fixtures:

Considering Usage Needs

To plan required upgrades, I thought carefully about how we use electricity in the office:

Choosing Cost-Effective Upgrades

Before purchasing any materials, I determined which upgrades would be the most economical and useful for my office.

Prioritizing Essential Upgrades

Some improvements were mandatory to bring the system up to code or address safety issues:

Selecting Impactful Enhancements

I also wanted upgrades that would allow for future growth:

Balancing Wants vs. Costs

To keep costs low, I had to carefully weigh each upgrade against the benefits:

Buying Materials Economically

The materials for electrical work can be pricey. Here are some of the ways I saved money on purchasing upgrades for my office rewiring project:

Shopping Discounts and Sales

I checked ads and asked local electric supply stores about any discounted or leftover stock they wanted to get rid of. I also jumped on limited time sales.

Buying Generic Brands

Instead of big name brands, I purchased generics like Commercial Electric brand breakers and wiring. Just as safe and functional but much more affordable.

Scavenging from Habitat for Humanity

My local Habitat ReStore had donated light fixtures and hardware. I found designer switches and outlet covers here for 90% off retail price!

Ordering Online

Amazon and other online sources sometimes have better prices on electrical parts than local shops, saving on tax and markup. Just make sure vendor is reputable.

Getting Contractor Discounts

Some wholesalers offer discounts if you have a contractor license. I partnered with a contractor friend to save 35% off list prices.

Doing the Rewiring Safely

Electrical work can be hazardous if proper precautions aren't taken. Safety should be the top priority. Here are the measures I took to ensure safe rewiring of my office:

Turning Power Off at Breaker

Before doing any work, I switched the main breaker off and verified power was dead with a tester. I also turned off breakers to disconnected circuits I was modifying.

Working One Circuit at a Time

Rewiring was done by completing one entire circuit start to finish before moving to the next. This avoided confusion and danger from working on hot wires.

Using Appropriate Tools

I used insulated tools designed for electrical work. I also wore thick rubber gloves and non-conductive work boots for shock protection.

Double Checking Connections

Every wire connection was checked for tightness and insulation integrity after completing. Loose or improper connections can cause arcing or shorts.

Hiring Professionals When Needed

Although I did most of the work myself, I hired an electrician friend to assist with the tricky main service upgrade portion. You need expertise for very complex tasks.

Completing the Rewiring Steps

Once preparations were complete, it was time to dive in and upgrade my office's electrical system. Here is an overview of the process I followed:

Step 1: Main Service Panel Upgrade

With the power off, my electrician friend replaced the 100 amp main breaker panel with a new 200 amp unit to provide expanded capacity.

Step 2: Installing New Breakers

We added full suites of AFCI and GFCI breakers to the panel to meet safety codes. I also labeled each circuit clearly.

Step 3: Running New Circuits

New lighting and outdoor outlet circuits were added by running wire through the attic and walls. Necessary holes were neatly patched.

Step 4: Replacing Outlets and Switches

Old outlets and switches were swapped out for modern grounded and surge protected versions.

Step 5: Fixing Bad Wiring

Any undersized or damaged wire spans were replaced with appropriate gauge wire.

Step 6: Adding Surge Protectors

I plugged computers, appliances and electronics into whole office surge protector units for added protection.

Step 7: Testing and Cleanup

With all new wiring complete, everything was carefully tested. Then I cleaned up all dust and debris from the upgrades.

The Rewiring Results

After a lot of research, money-saving, and hard work, I successfully revamped my office's electrical system on a $2,500 budget. Here are the excellent results:

The project was very involved but worthwhile. By equipping myself with electrical knowledge, buying smart, focusing on essentials, and sweating the details, I now have an office electrical system that will support our needs for years to come - all on a shoestring budget.