How to Save on Electrical Wiring Costs With Non-Standard Methods

How to Save on Electrical Wiring Costs With Non-Standard Methods

Electrical wiring is one of the biggest expenses when building or remodeling a home. Installing wiring professionally can be very costly, especially if your home needs a lot of circuits or specialty wiring. However, there are ways to cut down on wiring costs without compromising safety or code compliance. Here are some tips on how I saved money on electrical wiring using non-standard methods:

Hire an Electrician for the Main Service Panel Only

The main service panel is what connects your home to the main electrical supply from the utility company. This involves working with high amperages and voltages, so it's not a DIY project. I hired a licensed electrician to install a new 200 amp main service panel which cost around $2000.

However, for all the wiring from the main panel to the outlets, lights, and appliances, I was able to do it myself for a fraction of what an electrician would charge. As long as you pull permits and pass inspections, most jurisdictions allow homeowners to do their own wiring. Just be sure to educate yourself on proper techniques and safety procedures.

Use Existing Wiring Where Possible

When remodeling a room or finishing a basement, look for opportunities to use the existing wiring. For example, when I renovated my kitchen, I was able to reuse the old wiring for some of the existing outlets.

I simply identified which circuit each one was on, disconnected it from the old service panel, and reconnected it to the new one. This saved me from having to run all new wiring for those outlets.

Install Shallower Electrical Boxes

Electrical boxes (also called junction boxes) are what house wired connections and outlets. Standard boxes are 3.5 inches deep, but you can get shallow boxes that are only 1.5 inches deep.

The advantage is you can use these in tight spots where a deep box won't fit. I used these in a couple places where I had to fish wiring through 2x4 studs. They cost a little more but allowed me to avoid bulky external boxes.

Use Surface Mounted Conduit

Running wires through walls and ceilings usually requires cutting drywall, drilling holes, and patching everything back up again. To avoid this mess, I mounted plastic conduit on the surface of walls and fed wiring through them instead.

It doesn't look quite as clean, but it saved me a lot of time and trouble. For unfinished rooms like basements and garages, surface-mounted conduit is a great option.

Install Outlets Directly to Framing

Wiring outlets inside finished walls involves installing electrical boxes, running wires to them, and then installing the outlets themselves. A faster method is to simply mount the outlets directly to the wall studs before drywall goes up.

You just need an extra long cover plate to hide the protruding outlet. I was able to wire most of the new basement this way and it was much simpler.

Use Modular Wiring Systems

There are now whole-home wiring systems that use modular components which simply snap or plug together. These make running new circuits easier and faster compared to traditional wiring methods.

One type I used utilizes wired tracks mounted throughout the house. You just cut and bend wires to route them from the panel to the tracks and then install outlet and switch modules anywhere along the track. It was great for quickly adding new wiring in the attic and garage.

Focus on Simplicity

In general, I found the simpler the wiring plan, the cheaper it was to implement. For example, putting all the outlets for a room on a single circuit instead of multiple circuits saved time and materials.

I also ran wiring in the most direct route instead of trying to conceal everything. Keeping wiring uncomplicated goes a long way towards saving money.

With some careful planning and strategic use of these techniques, I was able to do most of the wiring myself and reduce the cost significantly compared to hiring an electrician. Always make safety the top priority, but consider using one or more of these methods to save big on electrical wiring costs. Let me know if you have any other tips for DIY electrical work while staying code-compliant!