When a homeowner decides to overlook their innate fear of working with electrical components and embarks on a home electrical project, their first questions may arise before they've even bought their supplies for the job.
Here's a few tips on basic supplies that you will need for various electrical projects around the home.
Supplies for installing a new circuit from the breaker box
Unless you're installing a line for a high powered appliance such as an electric dryer or stove, you'll need either a 15 or 20 amp breaker. Adding a 20 amp line will provide more power to the circuit to feed a multitude of hungry small appliances, but uses heavier gauge wiring that is both more expensive and harder to install.
When you've made your choice, buy a breaker from the same company that made your breaker box to guarantee compatibility.
The selection of wiring is important, because undersized wiring can overheat and burn down your home. You will use 14 gauge wire for a 15 amp line and 12 gauge wire for a 20 amp line. The wire will be sold in sheaths of 3 wires, with a hot wire, a neutral wire, and a green or copper wire within the plastic sheath.
The length of wiring required for a project can be extremely deceptive because of the unforeseen obstructions that block the intended path of wiring in walls and ceilings. It's always best to err on the side of caution and buy additional length, rather than cutting it too close and coming up short during the wiring process.
These are the plastic or metal boxes in which outlets are seated inside walls. You will see a choice of "new construction" boxes, which are supplied with horizontally placed nails for attaching to exposed studs, and "old work", which include front screws for installation inside existing walls.
You will need the "old work" style of gang boxes for installing a line inside walls and ceilings and "new construction" boxes for remodeling projects in which walls are stripped with studs exposed.
If you are installing outlets for regular use, you will need 15 amp outlets even if you install a 20 amp line. These outlets have the familiar parallel slots and round grounding receptacle. If you intend to install a outlet in a wet location such as a bathroom, you'll need a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet, which shuts off power to the outlet under poor grounding conditions.
Do yourself a favor and buy at least a few electrical tools, such as a wire stripper tool for removing insulation form wires, a voltage tester for checking to see if a line is powered before working on it, and a wire fish tape that you will need for pulling wiring through your walls. For more information, visit websites like http://www.dunedinelectric.com.
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