The first thing I did before deciding to do all the electric was get a quote from an electrician. "Holy cow!" is all I can say to the estimate I was handed, but it was just the motivation I needed to learn how to run electric. Now, I want to say that I don't begrudge any electrician his fair pay, but for a job the size of mine, I just cannot justify hiring him. I went out and bought a couple of books and set about reading. I settled on two really good books you may wish to look into purchasing: The Black and Decker Complete Guide to Wiring a House and Rex Caldwell's, How to Wire a House. Now, truth be told, I prefer Rex Caldwell's book. He explains things like you are sitting in a Denny's talking over a cup of coffee. He doesn't talk down to you and he is straightforward. But the book by Black and Decker also has very good information and explains things step by step, but follows everything up with, "Call and electrician." Thanks, but uh, I bought the book so I didn't have to call an electrician. I liked these two books best of all, but I suggest you take the time to check them out at your local library before investing in case they are just not what you are looking for.
Ok, so after reading through both books, I sat and diagrammed and listed and thought about my needs and calculated and all that good stuff, over and over. I made a list of all the components I need. The list was daunting, but I was lucky enough to have a little help. I received a coupon from the US Postal service when I changed my address for 10% off an order up to $5000 at Lowe's. After going over the list several times, I headed there with my list and had a shopping spree today. I tried to find a place to buy discounted electrical components, even checking Amazon and Ebay, but in the long run, Lowe's was as good as any place. The extra 10% off helped too.
So here is a condensed list of what I purchased:
- Service Panel 200 AMP with 32 Circuits and 40 Slots
- 15 amp and 20 amp Breakers
- Gang Boxes
- Fixture and Fan Boxes
- Wire Staples
- 12/3 Wire
- Toggle Switches
- Standard Receptacles (15 amp)
- Standard Receptacles (20 amp)
- GFCI Receptacles (20 amp)
- USB Receptacles (15 amp)
- Switch and Receptacle Covers
- Ceiling Fan
- Light Fixtures (interior)
- Light Fixtures (exterior)
It might not seem like much, but today's total came to $519.32 after the 10% discount. I still have some more supplies to buy, but they are not needed until it is time to hook the panel up to the service entrance, so I have time before I will need them.
I have almost all the tools I need for the job thanks to my dad before I left Phoenix. He fished through his multitude of tools to hook me up with some specific ones that I had not yet purchased that are specific to running wires. I can hardly wait for the shell of the Shouse to be delivered so I can get to work getting the electrical running. My next large purchase will be an A/C unit cause it is really freaking hot this time of year and I would like to sleep without waking in a pool of sweat while being swarmed by mosquitoes. Just sleeping indoors with window screens and a fan will be a huge relief.
Some things I had to consider as I set my electrical plan into play was:
- How many small appliances will I be running?
- How big is my Shouse going to be? Will I be able to expand my electrical?
- What dedicated circuits will I need (refrigerator, freezer, a/c unit, dryer, etc.)?
- What else would I like dedicated due to usage (tv, computer, etc.)?
- Where do I need or want plugs to be?
- What switches will I need?
- Do I need more than one way to turn on a light in a room?
There are many more things to consider when it comes to your electric service, but those questions will help get you started. As I begin work on my Shouse, I will make sure to take lots of pictures and label them so you can see what goes into wiring a house from the shell up.