Installing electrical wiring in your home can be a great way to save money, but it's important to make sure you know what you're doing. As a homeowner, you're allowed to do minor electrical work in most jurisdictions, but anything more complicated or dangerous should be left to a licensed electrician. Here's what you need to know about safely installing your own electrical wiring to save money.
Research Electrical Codes and Get Proper Permits
The first step is to research your local electrical codes and get any required permits before starting work. Electrical codes ensure safety standards are met, and getting a permit allows your work to be inspected.
Check with your local building department to learn about permit requirements in your area. Permits are often required for any new circuits or wiring.
Read through your local electrical code so you understand the rules. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the standard for safe electrical installations across the US.
Common code requirements include: minimum wire sizes, circuit breaker ratings, outlet spacing, grounding, and more. Following code is crucial for safety.
Buy Quality Electrical Supplies
Invest in high-quality electrical supplies from the start to ensure safe and reliable wiring. Here's what you'll need:
Wire - Buy copper wiring in the correct gauge for your circuit size. Common sizes are 12 AWG and 14 AWG.
Boxes - Choose electrical boxes approved for the number of wires entering them. Plastic or metal are both fine.
Conduit - Use conduit to protect wire runs and provide extra safety. EMT metal conduit is versatile and easy to install.
Breakers - Choose circuit breakers that match your circuit amperage to avoid overloads.
Outlets and switches - Buy commercial-grade outlets, switches, and cover plates. Avoid cheap versions prone to failure.
Install New Circuits Safely
When running new wiring, work carefully to avoid injury or fire hazards:
Turn power off - Switch off the main breaker before working so wires stay de-energized.
Follow code - Keep to minimum bend radii, proper box fill, cable stapling rules, etc.
Make solid connections - Use approved connectors and tighten wires securely. Sloppy connections can cause arcing or heat buildup.
Test wires - Verify wires are de-energized before touching them. Double-check with a non-contact voltage tester.
Work cleanly - Keep the area neat and don't leave loose wires hanging. Prevent tripping hazards.
Common DIY Wiring Projects
Here are some of the most popular DIY wiring projects for homeowners looking to upgrade their electrical system:
- Running new lighting circuits is a straightforward project. Calculate your electrical load, size wires and breakers appropriately, and follow NEC rules for installation.
Rewiring Old Homes
- For old homes with outdated wiring, consider fully rewiring one room or section at a time. Take precautions with old materials like cloth-wrapped wire or asbestos insulation.
- Add new receptacles for appliances like window AC units. Follow code spacing minimums between outlets. Run wire through walls or conduit along floors.
Hardwiring Smokes Detectors
- For better reliability, wire smoke detectors directly instead of using batteries. They can be tied into an existing circuit easily. Group alarms together for simultaneous activation.
Adding a Subpanel
- When your main electrical panel is full, installing a subpanel can provide more circuit capacity. Feed a new subpanel from your main panel.
Work with Professionals When Needed
Although many home wiring projects can be DIY, it's best to hire an electrician for:
Big jobs like rewiring a whole house or service panel upgrades
Connecting power from the utility lines
Installing 240V circuits for large appliances
Troubleshooting tricky wiring problems
Their expertise ensures work is done to code and safely. Consider getting a free quote to compare costs.
With proper planning and attention to safety, you can upgrade your electrical system yourself and save money. Just be sure to get permits, follow electrical code, and use caution during the installation process. If in doubt, consult a professional for advice or to handle more complex wiring tasks. Over time, the DIY savings will add up!