Electrical Planning

Attention!

The articles concerning electrical are not intended as an instructional guide on performing electrical work. They are designed to provide a general understanding of residential electrical wiring and electrical devices so that you can be better prepared to plan your electrical project with your renovator and/or electrical contractor. You cal also contact Home renovations in Melbourne for free quotes.

Introduction

A proper electrical layout is not just a matter of installing a few receptacles, light fixtures and switches. Careful consideration must be given to electrical code requirements and your particular needs. Keep in mind, that once the area has been finished, it will be very costly to alter an inadequate or non code complying electrical installation.

Code Review

Since electrical codes govern by region, we can only focus on general fundamentals. Specific details must be obtained through your electrical authority or electrical contractor. If nothing else, your installation must comply with the electrical code in your area. Remember, the code is designed with your safety in mind and to establish minimum requirements for the electrical needs in your home.

Your electrical code will specify the number and maximum spacing between receptacles for a given room or area. It will also require specific types to be used based on the areas intended use. For example, kitchens require split receptacles, bathroom, laundry and the exterior require GFI protection. Minimum lighting, usually 1 fixture per room or area. Also the location and type of switching the light is required to have. For most rooms, living, dining, bedrooms, bathrooms etc., single pole switching will suffice. For staircases and hallways, 3 way switching is required.

Your code will also specify certain appliance based requirements. For example, dishwashers and whirlpool tubs usually require a dedicated circuit with GFI protection. Electric stoves/ovens and dryers are often required to be 240 volt plug. Many areas do not permit these to be hardwired.

The code establishes standards for the type of wire permitted and how the wire is to be run and supported through wall and ceiling spaces. Device boxes for receptacles, switches and light fixtures are specified by type and size depending upon the intended device and the number of wires and/or connections within the box. There are requirements as to how wires may be interconnected to each other and/or to a device. For example, most receptacles come with 4 or more built-in connectors to accommodate branch wiring, there are however a number of regions where the code does not permit this.

Ergonomics

This is an often a forgotten planning element. Although you may only be working on paper, it is important to visualize your room or area. Try to develop a sense of how you or your visitors will move through and within the area, how the area is being used and how it is to be furnished. With this in mind, identify the need for lighting, switches and receptacles based on what appears to be the most natural place. For example, if the entrance to a new room is to receive double French doors, then a light switch near the entrance must be accessible when the doors are closed and when the doors are open. If there is a choice, should the switch be on the left or right side of the door opening. If you apply ergonomics to your planning, you will be very surprised at how many little details you uncover.

Lighting

This is an important part of any electrical plan. The type of lighting you choose and where the lighting is located or directed will have a dramatic effect as to the feel and look of your room or area. Be very careful on this one, do not expect one or two table lamps to give you a decorating magazine look. Most lighting schemes utilize 3 or more lighting systems or methods. Recessed lights for overall room mood, recessed or track lighting to highlight one or two architectural focal points and table and/or floor lamps to provide localized lighting. Each of these lighting systems should be individually controlled including dimming capabilities.

Receptacles

What’s the problem? Just install one every 6-8 feet along the wall and were finished. The problem is that when you go to plug in your phone it is unlikely that an outlet will be there. What about central vac, does the powerhead need to be plugged in near the vac outlet? Do you really like moving the sofa each time you need to plug something in?

Look at where furnishings or tasks are to be performed. Two or more receptacles in a computer area or near the home theater system would most likely be very useful. Try to reduce or eliminate the need for extension cords and power bars. Keep in mind that a receptacle only costs a few dollars, so this is not the place to save on your renovation budget.

Precautions

Electrical wiring should only be performed by a qualified professional. Most electrical work requires inspection. Improper or faulty electrical work can result in fire or electrical shock causing injury or death. Before performing any electrical work, check to make sure that the breaker or fuse servicing the circuit you are planning to work on has been turned off or removed. Do not attempt to perform any work on live (powered) circuits or devices.