How to Wire Your Home’s Electrical System on a Budget

How to Wire Your Home's Electrical System on a Budget

I recently decided to take on the project of wiring my home's electrical system myself in order to save money. As a novice, I learned a great deal about home electrical work through extensive research and some trial and error. Here is my guide on how to wire your home's electrical system on a budget.

Selecting the Right Gauge Wire

Selecting the proper wire gauge is crucial for safety and performance. The gauge refers to the thickness of the wire's conductor.

Some key factors to consider when selecting wire gauge:

For most 15A, 120V branch circuits, 12 or 14 gauge copper wire will suffice. For the main service panel feeder wires, 6 gauge copper is commonly used.

Choosing the Wiring Method

There are several wiring methods to consider for residential installations:

Nonmetallic Sheathed Cable

Often called Romex, this is a flexible plastic-sheathed cable containing two to four insulated conductors. It is the most common and cost-effective wiring method for indoor residential branch circuits.

- Inexpensive
- Easy to install

- Not suitable for outdoor or wet locations


Metal or PVC conduits physically protect wires routed through them. Conduit allows you to easily replace or add wires.

- Durable protection
- Allows modifications

- More labor intensive
- More expensive

Armored Cable

BX or MC cable is flexible steel armored cable containing insulated conductors. The metal sheathing is an equipment ground.

- Rodent proof
- Durable

- Difficult to install around bends
- Only suitable for certain applications

For most residential branch circuits, Romex is the simplest and most cost-effective choice. Use conduit for outdoor, wet, or hazardous locations that require extra protection.

Creating a Circuit Diagram

A detailed circuit diagram is essential to provide a wiring roadmap.

Accurately labeling each circuit at the electrical panel is also extremely important.

Purchasing the Right Materials

After determining your wiring methods, create a bill of materials to purchase everything you'll need:

Shop around for the best prices on quality electrical supplies. Buying in bulk can offer major savings on wire and conduit.

Pulling and Installing the Wires

Carefully pull the wires through the walls and ceilings between boxes. Avoid excessive bending or kinking of the wires. Ensure proper firestopping when penetrating firewalls.

Observe the following guidelines when wiring boxes:

Take things slowly and double check your work. Pay close attention to safety.

Connecting Devices and Fixtures

The fun part is installing devices like receptacles, switches, and light fixtures once the wires are pulled.

Thoroughly test each circuit before completing the installation. Fix any issues.

Inspecting and Testing the Installation

Meticulously inspect the entire installation and test all circuits before putting it into service. Verify:

Making corrections is much easier now rather than later. Don't cut corners.

Completing the Project

With the hard work done, it's very rewarding to turn on the main breaker and have everything function properly. Be sure to:

The finished product is a safe, high-quality electrical system tailored to your home's needs and budget. While exhausting at times, the experience gained is invaluable.