Hiring an electrician to rewire or upgrade your home's electrical system can be very expensive. However, there are some unconventional DIY methods you can use to reduce wiring costs without compromising safety or code compliance. As a homeowner trying to save money, I researched and applied several of these techniques which yielded significant savings.
Learning Basic Electrical Skills
Before attempting any electrical work, I took time to learn basic skills like:
- Electrical safety - avoiding shocks and electrocution hazards
- Reading electrical plans and diagrams
- Using multimeters to test circuits
- Properly handling and connecting wires
- Installing various electrical components like outlets, switches and junction boxes
I read books, watched online tutorials, and practiced on mock-ups before touching anything live. Gaining a solid understanding of electrical fundamentals was crucial for safely navigating this DIY project.
Buying Supplies at Auctions and Salvage Stores
Instead of paying full retail price, I scoured auctions and salvage stores to purchase used:
- Romex wiring
- Copper wire
- PVC conduit
- Breaker boxes
- Switches and outlets
By carefully inspecting items for damage and wear, I acquired quality materials at around 30-50% off retail pricing. This allowed me to purchase significantly more wiring for the same budget.
Pro Tip: Search for regional auction houses and salvage stores to find deals on electrical supplies. Test and verify all used items before installation.
Using Existing Wiring Where Possible
Rather than running all new wiring, I tapped into the existing electrical system wherever feasible. For example:
- I converted old phone lines to ethernet rather than pulling new cat5 cables.
- I converted doorbell wiring to run new low-voltage landscape lighting.
- I repurposed speaker wires from an old sound system to add outdoor speakers on the patio.
Getting creative with existing infrastructure saved on labour and material costs.
Learning How to Add Circuits Myself
Instead of hiring an electrician to add new breaker circuits, I watched YouTube videos to learn how it's done. The steps I followed were:
- Turn off main breaker and verify power is off
- Remove panel cover
- Locate knockouts and use hole saw to create openings
- Mount and connect new breaker switch
- Run wire from switch to rooms needing new circuits
- Terminate wires properly into outlets/fixtures
- Replace cover and turn main breaker back on
- Test circuit is working properly
With patience and attention to detail, I was able to add several new 20 amp circuits to increase capacity.
Installing Lower Cost Lighting Fixtures
Rather than paying top dollar for designer lighting fixtures, I opted for more budget-friendly options:
- LED shop lights for garage and basement illumination
- Ceiling mounted fluorescent fixtures for large unfinished areas
- Dimmable Edison-style bulbs for accent lighting
- Durable metal cages with bare bulbs to replace expensive pendants
The lighting is still attractive but at a fraction of the designer cost.
With proper research, planning, and safety precautions, significant electrical savings can be achieved. By equipping myself with fundamental skills and utilizing unconventional supplies and techniques, I successfully upgraded my home's wiring on a strict budget. The results are safe, code-compliant, and aesthetically pleasing.