How To Select The Correct Parts For Your Wiring Project

Installing new electrical components requires the use of properly rated electrical parts. Failure to use the correct wiring or parts could lead to component failure, electrocution, or fire from overheated wiring. The kind of wiring and electrical parts needed will vary depending on the existing lines or the power consumption of electrical appliances to be used. 

Adding additional outlets to an existing circuit line

You may wish to add additional outlets to a room with an insufficient number. First, you will need to determine if the circuit is a fifteen or twenty amp line. Fifteen amp lines are usually adequate for a limited number of small appliances and lights. Twenty amp lines are used for higher power consumption, either for single high powered appliances such as air conditioners, or to split and run several offshoot lines throughout the home.

You will need to buy additional wiring in order to add outlets to a circuit. Wire thickness is measured by gauge. Fifteen amp circuit lines use fourteen gauge wire, while twenty amp lines use thicker twelve gauge wire. A lower gauge number means thicker, and more expensive, wire. Never attempt to save money by purchasing a thinner wire than required, because the wire could become overloaded and cause a fire.

To determine what gauge of wire to purchase, you will need to look at the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the existing line. If the panel box is not clearly marked, or you aren't sure which breaker controls the line, plug a radio into an existing outlet and turn it on. Start turning off breakers, and when the music stops, you've found the correct breaker. The amp rating will be printed on the breaker.

Adding an additional line from your circuit box

Modern homes have many more electrical appliances than in the past. You can only add so many additional appliances before lines become overloaded, causing circuit breakers to trip or fuses to blow. You should first determine the intended uses for an additional line. If you just need a few more independent outlets, then a fifteen amp line is sufficient. You must purchase a fifteen amp circuit breaker from the same manufacturer as your circuit box in order to guarantee a proper fit. If you intend to run a line that branches out to supply outlets in multiple locations, a twenty amp breaker is needed.

When measuring to determine how much wire than you will need, remember that it will not run in a straight line, but through walls and ceilings and around obstructions. Fourteen gauge wire is much less expensive and easier to bend and snake through walls than twenty gauge wire, so if a fifteen amp line suits your needs, you will have an easier time installing your new line.

For more information, contact Miller & Humphrey Plumbing & Electric Inc.


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