Wiring a House: 5th Edition, is a must-have reference on home wiring for homeowners, electricians, and apprentices. You'll find all the information is updated to the latest electrical code and contains significant revisions that impact residential work, including:
Expanded AFCI and GFCI protection in homes New approaches to ensure the safety of photovoltaic (PV) electrical systems New methods to distribute low voltage power New DC provisions designed to save energy lost in conversion from AC Updated to the 2014 NEC (current through 2017)
Written in plain language. Author Rex Cauldwell shares his wealth of experience in a simple, straightforward manner. He covers all the basics from idiot-proof advice on how to keep track of your tools to the highly technical aspects of wiring, and tried-and-true industry tips.
Current and accurate information. Wiring a House is a comprehensive guide written by a master electrician with nearly 40 years of experience. An indispensable reference for keeping pros up-to-date, it also provides apprentices and homeowners an accessible reference with the latest information:
350 full-color photographs
120 instructive illustrations
Plus information on lighting, inverters, and electrical vehicle chargers.
Write Your Own Review
Preface to the Revised Edition, 2
1. The Basics, 6
How Electricity Flow's, 8
A Residential Electrical System, 13
Wire Gauges, 15
The Wire We Use, 23
Conduit Systems, 31
2. Tools of the Trade, 34
General Tools, 36
AC -Powered Tools, 44
Cordless Tools, 50
Specialized Tools, 53
3. The Service Entrance, 58
Buried or Aerial Service, 60
Calculating Amps, Choosing Cable, 60
Locating the Meter Base, 66
Buried Service Entrance, 70
Aerial Service Entrance, 71
Connecting Meter Base to Panel, 78
4. Panels and Subpanels, 84
Elements of the Main Panel, 86
Picking a Panel, 88
Mounting a Panel, 90
Bringing Cables into the Panel, 96
Balancing the Load, 106
5. The Art of Grounding, 1
A Grounding/Bonding System, 110
Protection through Grounding, 112
Choosing Grounding Materials, 115
A low-Resistance Panel-to-Earth Ground, 118
What Needs Grounding, 123
6. Wiring Room by Room, 132
Outlet Box Design Location, 134
Pulling Cable in New Construction, 147
Routing Wires in Renovation Work, 157
7. Fuses and Circuit Breakers, 164
Circuit Breakers, 169
8. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters, 176
How a GFCI Works, 178
Ground-Fault Protection, 184
Testing GFCIs, 191
Portable GFCIs, 192
9. Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters, 196
What Is an Arc Fault?, 198
Wiring AFCIs, 201
Troubleshooting an AFC Circuit, 203
10. Receptacles and Boxes, 206
Receptacle Boxes, 207
Wiring and Installation, 223
11. Switches, 232
Switch Boxes, 234
Types of Switches, 239
Light Dimmers, 248
12. Wiring Fixtures, 254
Choose the Right Box, 255
Incandescent Lights, 258
Fluorescent lights, 259
Ceiling Pans, 261
Smoke Detectors, 268
Track Lighting, 269
Outdoor Light Fixtures, 270
Recessed Lights, 274
13. Wiring Appliances, 276
Kitchen Appliances, 277
Baseboard Heaters, 282
Electric Wall Heaters, 286
Utility-Room Appliances, 287
Submersible Pumps, 291
Whirlpool Tubs and Spas, 293
14. Lightning and Surge Protection, 294
Induced Voltage, 296
Utility and In-House Surge Creators, 297
Phone and Coaxial Cable Protection, 306
Protecting Pumps, 308
15. Standby Generators, 312
History of Incorrect Connections, 313
Transfer-Switch Style, 314
From Generator to Switch, 319
Picking a Generator, 321
Automatic Generators, 325
Preface to the Revised Edition
This new edition takes into consideration all oft he latest code
changes. If you haven't wired a house in a decade or Iwo, there are a few code
changes von should he aware of. (Vote that states can adopt codes at different
times and may exempt sections they don't agree with.)
One change was in marking the white insulated wire in switch legs. At the time Wiring a House was originally written, code did not require the installer to indicate whether a white insulated wire, such as a traveler in a 3-or 4-way switching circuit, was not a neutral, or whether a common switch was using a white wire for its incoming power. Code now requires the white insulated wire to be taped (any tape color except white gray, or green) to make sure you know that it is not a neutral.
There is the new rule on bathroom receptacles. Now you can put a whirlpool tub, a bath heater, a heated towel rack, or bath lights on a single bathroom receptacle circuit as long as that circuit is not overloaded and stays in that one bath.
Common 125-volt 15- and 20-amp circuits in outbuildings, like workshops or sheds, need GFCI protection. The wiring to the outbuilding (multicircuit) should be done with four conductors with an added ground rod at the panel.
To keep children from grabbing appliance cords and pulling the appliance down onto themselves, all countertop receptacles are now required to be above the countertop and cannot be installed on a horizontal surface. Exceptions are made for peninsulas and islands designed for handicapped persons.
Installers are now allowed to use nonmetallic (NM) cable in residential
installations at any grade level, including basements and attics. Also, common
15- and 20-amp 125-volt receptacles are now required to he tamper resistant
(shutters built into the receptacle). AFCI requirements have now evolved to
encompass the entire house except in GFCI areas, such as garages, kitchens,
baths, and laundries. And when you install these same receptacles in wet and
damp locations (such as outdoors) they must now be rated weather resistant
(special receptacles}ï¿½even GFCIs. You might want to verify that your locale has
adopted these changes before you wire.
All 15-amp and 20-amp 125-volt receptacles installed outside (you are required to have one in the front and one in the back) must utilize waterproof covers that keep the receptacle waterproof even when a cord is inserted.
Above Code is my way of ensuring that the homeowner has a safe, high-quality, trouble free, long-lived electrical installation. An example of using Above Code is in wiring bathroom receptacles. If you were to simply "meet code," you could load up a bath receptacle circuit with the lights, fan, heater, and so on. A single hair dryer on a low setting would wind up kicking the breaker and leaving you in the dark. In fact you could even put the bath lights on the GFCI circuit so that the lights would go out when the GFCI tripped and you would literally be walking on a wet bath floor in the darkï¿½and all by code. My Above Code system shows you how a bath should be wired so that doesn't happen. In addition, my system tells you how to wire better, what products to buy, and which ones to avoid.
The following list is dedicated to all those who have requested a singular list of the Above Code sections of the book so you wouldn't have to thumb through and write them all downï¿½as well as some commonsense code requirements. I didn't previously do this because I really didn't expect my method or wiring to become so popular assuming most of the populace would prefer to wire the cheapest way possible no matter what I suggested. So to all those who have calluses on your thumbs from turning pages, I dedicate this list to you.
- Splices outside must use silicone-filled wire connectors. Buy them prefilled, or fill them yourselves.
- A subpanel is to have its own main breaker.
- An outside 125-volt receptacle, if not a GFCI receptacle, must be of the heavy-duty type (around $3 to $5), preferably nylon. This is to prevent it from becoming cracked or broken, as happens when heavy-duty extension cords are wiggled in them.
- Do not put the overhead bath light on the load side of a GFCI.
- Smoke alarmsï¿½For new installations, remember that an AFCI will cut off power to the bedroom alarms if the AFCI trips due to a fire, arc, or overload. Verify that all your smoke alarms have battery backup and that the batteries are fresh.
- Wire gaugeï¿½Use nothing but 12-gauge cable for all the 125-volt receptacle and switch wiring with the following exceptions. If you are on a budget, you can use 14 gauge on the three-way lighting circuits due to the extreme cost of the cable. This means that all the 14-gauge three-way lighting is to be kept away from the 12-gauge cable and on a 15-amp circuit. If you have the smoke alarms on their own circuits, you can use l4-gauge wire.
- Each bathroom 20-amp, 125-volt receptacle will have a dedicated GFCI circuit with nothing else on that circuit.
- Service conductors should be copper. This makes for easier wiring, as they can be two gauge sizes smaller than aluminum.
- Splice single-strand aluminum conductors to single-strand copper conductors with the new covered 3-hole bus strips that are sold in home centers.
- Have a switch (for the overhead light) at all the entrances and exits of the kitchen
- Watertight-while-in-use coversï¿½Install for all the outside receptacle outlets.
- Color coding of the cable sheath (for non-colored-coded sheaths) Either buy color-coded sheath cable or paint your own (side only).
- Receptacles to be of high qualityï¿½No Quickwire or Speedwire type of receptacles where the conductors are pushed in small holes in the hack of the receptacle/switch and released by inserting a small object into a release hole.
- In damp areas orient the splice connecter downward.
- Bath/fan light or light-only fixtures need to accept incandescent bulbs with standard screw-in basesï¿½not candelabra or other style bases.
- Be sure all switches are grounded (code).
- Do not put the kitchen lights on the kitchen receptacle circuit by accident. What this means is that it is against code but connonly done knowing the inspecfor won't find it.
- Avoid fluorescent lights that don't have "outside light"ï¿½hype bulbs.
- Avoid putting 4-ft. fluorescent lights anywhere. Avoid any fluorescent in the garage, as they do not work well in cold temperatures.
- Use three-conductor cable on all the three-may switch circuits, even those with electronic dimming.
- Bring power for all switch circuits into the switchï¿½not the overhead light or tan in the bedroomï¿½and bring a three-conductor cable from switch to overhead light or fan light.
- Always bring the power cable into a switch or receptacle box on the upper left side.
- All splices are twisted together before the wire nut goes on unless you are using push-in splice connectors.
- Minimum service is 200-amp 40/40 panel.
- Circuit panel is Siemensï¿½ or other high-duality unit with the same specs.
- When possible, install receptacles with the hole for the ground pin on top.
- Wire strippers are to he used to strip wire, not knives or pliers.
- Dimmers on incandescent lights.
- Consider light switches adjacent to bedside.
- Consider spot or track lights over bed.
- Cannot put the bath light on the path circuit.
- No multiwire circuits. Use insulated staples. No handy boxes.
- Use all deep boxes within walls for receptacle and light switches.
- In lightning-prone areas, install surge protection in layers: surge breakers in panels, hardwire protection at on/off panel boxes, at wells it needed, and point-of-use surge strips at loads.
- For lightning-prone areas use my Above Code grounding system.
- Wire a common free-standing stove with #6 copper fused at 50 amps.
- Take the design of a flat appliance plug into consideration: Is the cord end going up or down? Flip the receptacle as necessary as to keep the plug cord from folding over the plug end. Typically this is at the washer and fridge.
- Even it your main house water heater is 3,500 watts, wire it with 10 AWG to allow for a future 4,500-watt upgrade.
- For overhead bedroom lights, always use metal "fan approved" boxes even if a
fan is not being installed.
- For overhead paddle fans, always rise metal boxesï¿½not plastic ones.
- Always use toll-size breakers.
- For 200-amp service, a ways rise a 40/40 panel (this is considered a full-size panel). The exception would he when you add a second panel to the first 40/40 and that panel has high-amperage breakers. If your high-amperage breakers pull close to 200 amps with only a few breakers, getting a physically large panel is a waste of money
- Always opt for overhead lighting instead of lights or lamps plugged into switched receptacles.
- If the basement floor is bare concrete, have all general-purpose receptacles ground faulted, even if the area is considered finished.
- Use screws, not nails, to attach the service panel.
- Leave just enough sheath on the cable as it enters the service panel to identify what it goes to. If you are grouping cables as to function (for example, lighting circuits), use colored tape to identify the group.
- On the back of each switch and receptacle plate, write the breaker number that controls it.
- Use only 2-in, or larger galvanized pipe as mastsï¿½smaller-diameter pipes bend too easy.
- Jump from 200 amp to 300 amp to 400 amp to 500 amp to 600 amp. Do not use amperages ending in 25, 50, or 75.
- For 300-amp service, use one 200-amp panel and one 100-amp panel. For 400-amp service, use two 200-amp panels. For 500-amp service, use two 200-amp panels and one 100-amp panel. For 600-amp service, use three 200-amp panels.
- Do not use cheap electrical tape. Use Scotchï¿½ Super 33+ (7 mil thick) or Super 88 (8.5 mil thick).
FOR PROS BY PROS
WIRING A HOUSE 4TH EDITION
Install GFCIs and AFCIs
Learn Failsafe Troubleshooting Techniques
Hook up a Standby Generator
Install Main Service Panels and Subpanels
Wire a Whole-House Renovation
Since it was first published in 1996, Wiring a House has become the standard reference on residential wiring. Updated to the latest National Electrical Code, this fourth edition features revised information on backup generators, AFCIs, GFCIs, tools, and room-by-room wiring. An indispensable reference for keeping pros up-to-date, Wiring a House also gives apprentices and homeowners the most current and accurate information in the most accessible form.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A third-generation tradesman, Rex Cauldwell is both a master electrician and a master plumber. His book Inspecting a House is a popular industry standard.