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Electrical wiring for a house.

I know almost all people live in an electrified house. That is regardless of the source of electricity. The source can either be solar or hydropower. I have decided to mention hydro and solar power because they are the most popular or widely used sources of electric power. I will discuss electrical house wiring through the listed topics below.

Distribution boARD
Distribution Board
  1. Tools
  2. Tubing
  3. Wiring
  4. Final fixtures.
  5. Testing

1.Tools

In order for any electrical or electronics work or project to be completed successfully,you need to have proper and correct tools for the job. I am going to list basic electrical tools that will help you in house wiring from start to completion.

  1. Measuring tape
  2. hammer
  3. chisel
  4. screwdriver
  5. multimeter
  6. Drilling machine
  7. Angle grinder.
  8. Fishing wire or tape
  9. Chalk line

This is a list of basic tools that I personally use to wire a house.

The uses of the above listed tools

  1. Measuring tape: A measuring tape is a very useful tool in electrical house wiring. This is a tool that you use to measure the heights of your switches, sockets, meter boxes, distribution boards you can use it to mark the positions for your security lights. When you use a measuring tape in combination with a spirit level, this ensures that your sockets switches and distribution boards are at the same height and are well leveled.

2.Hammer: A hammer is a multi-purpose tool. In electrical wiring, you use it basically for two major works. That is, for chiseling and fixing saddles. For fastening saddles and cable clips, you use a claw hammer while for chiseling you use a bigger size hammer like a 4 pounds hammer.

3.Chisel: Basically there are two types of chisel that I use when I am doing electrical works.The pointed chisel and the flat one. This tool helps when installing conduit pipes in walls and concretes.

4.Screwdriver: A screwdriver is used for screwing and unscrewing screws. There are a lot of screwdriver types that are out there. For me when I am doing electrical works, I use three types for most of the installations.

  • Philips or star screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Terminal screwdriver. It is good to point out that a terminal screwdriver can either be flathead or Philips. The only difference is that a terminal screwdriver is small in size.

When you have these three screwdrivers, you can literally do any basic electrical installation works. For simple maintenance and testing, I would advise that you include a neon test screwdriver as one of the necessary screwdrivers to have.

5. Multimeter

This is a very useful tool in house wiring. You can use a multimeter to do various tests like continuity. And many more tests.Learn how to use a multimeter here

6.Drilling machine.

When fixing light fixtures on walls, you will need a drilling machine.

7.Angle Grinder. A grinder is a multipurpose tool.It can help you to do a lot of tasks with ease. I personally use it in cutting walls and concretes. I cut walls because before you do your tubing or fixing conduit pipes into walls and concretes, you need to chisel the walls. Therefore, you first cut the walls with a grinder, then use a chisel and hammer to remove those cutting. Then you put your conduits in the wall.

8.Fishing wire or tape. This tool is the one that you use when drawing in wires into conduits pipes. It is a very useful tool when you are wiring a house.

9.Chalk line. A chalk line is a tool that is useful in making straight lines. I particularly use it for marking the positions for downlights and other light fittings that I install on ceilings.

2.Tubing.

Tubing is simply putting conduit pipes in the house. What do I mean when I say putting conduit pipes in the house? Let’s say you have decided on what electrical circuits you will have in a home. What you will do next is to put or create a way or a path in which you are going to wire those circuits.

In a basic house, you have the following circuits as listed below.

  • Lighting circuit
  • power or socket circuit
  • Geyser
  • Air conditioning circuit
  • Cooker circuit.

There are basically two main types of tubing , flush mounted and surface mounted. In flush mounting, you ensure that your conduits are buried in the walls, while in surface mounting,you mount your conduit on the surface of the wall.

Materials needed for tubing.

In order for you to do a good job . You will need the following materials and accessories. Bear in mind that the materials listed below follow the British standard.

  • Conduit pipes
  • couplings
  • Loop inboxes
  • Bends
  • adapters
  • saddles
  • 3 by 3 GI boxes
  • 3 by 6 GI boxes
  • 6 BY 6 GI boxes
  • ceiling nails
  • Meter box
  • Distribution box
  • PVC glue

After securing the above-listed materials, then you proceed to do your tubing. For power or sockets circuits, I would recommend that you do slab tubing, that is, before pouring the concrete on your slab, lay your conduit for the power circuit. This ensures that you use fewer cables when wiring the same circuit.

Step by step tubing

Before starting to do your tubing, make sure you know how many lighting circuits you will need. Do the same thing for all the circuits. Then you proceed to lay conduit for each circuit that you will have in your home.

If you have been hired to wire a house for a friend or client, ask them what they would like to have in each room take it down. This process will help you in planning your tubing works in the right way. I have found out that by using this method, I have fewer alterations to the final circuits.

Always separate your lighting circuits from the power circuits this makes it easy when the time for doing maintenance works comes.When you have more than one air conditioner, its good practice to give each air conditioner a separate circuit.

It is during the tubing phase that you mount switch boxes, distribution boards meter boxes and lighting points.

Wiring

Wiring is a process of fishing in cables into conduit pipes so that you can bring your circuit into reality. I will lead you through the process of wiring from the consumer unit or distribution board to the final individual circuits. Below is a list of circuits that I will consider.

  1. Lighting
  2. sockets
  3. Geyser
  4. Cooker
  5. Air conditioner

Lighting

Before I continue to talk about the lighting circuit, I would like to say that all the circuits that I will talk about originate from the consumer unit.

For a lighting circuit to be complete, it should have the following components.

  1. Circuit breaker
  2. Cables or conductors
  3. Switch
  4. Load.

The basic lighting circuit, starts from a distribution box, via a circuit breaker, it runs through the conduit pipes to a switch and finally to a load typically a light bulb.

CIRCUIT BREAKER SWITCH LIGHT BULB

You run your cable from the circuit breaker to a switch and then from the switch to a light bulb.

From the consumer unit you run three cables, that is a live cable, neutral and earth cable

Live wire or cable is a cable that carries current or electricity from the circuit breaker.depending on the number of phases that you intend to install, the color code for a single-phase is red. or brown. For a three-phase installation, you have red yellow and blue phases. When wiring lighting circuits, you should ensure that all connections of the live wires are done in the switch. This makes maintenance works and faults finding easy. Do not join live wires in each and every looping box.

Neutral this is the return path for electricity from the load. The color code for this cable is black.

Earth is a protective conductor that protects appliances and people from electric shocks and damage. the color code is either green or green/yellow/bare conductor uninsulated.

Types of lighting circuits.

There are three main types of lighting circuits, these are :

  1. One way switch
  2. Two-way switch
  3. Intermediate switch

ONE WAY SWITCH: In this type of switching, you have a light position that is controlled by one switch and from one position as shown in the diagram below.

One way switch

TWO WAY SWITCH: With this type of switching system, you have a light point or more that is controlled by two switches. usually called one gang two-way switch.and from two positions.check the diagram below.

2way switch
2way switch

Mostly this switching is used in a hallway or a room that has two entrances or doors.At times it is used in corridors.

INTERMEDIATE SWITCHING: In this system, you have a light point or more being controlled by three switches and from three positions.in order for you to wire this circuit, you will need two( 2) 2-way switches and one intermediate switch.

Intermediate switch
Intermediate switch.

This system is usually used in areas or rooms that have three entry points or in long corridors.

sockets or power circuit

When I say socket or power circuit I mean a circuit in your home that usually powers your home appliances like:

  • Television set(TV).
  • Microwave.
  • Refrigerator.
  • Charger for a smartphone.
  • Laptop.
  • Pressing iron.
  • Coffee maker.
  • Home theater.

Types of power circuits

There are basically two main types of power circuits. Being ring and radial.

RING CIRCUIT: In a ring circuit, you run your power cables from the distribution board through all the sockets in that circuit then you run it back to the distribution board. This system is used to ensure that there is always a continuity of power supply to that circuit. One main advantage of this system is should there be any fault in one part of the circuit,power will still flow from the other line.

Ring circuit

RADIAL CIRCUIT. In this type of wiring, you run your cables from the distribution board to each and every socket. How is this, in a radial circuit, the last powerpoint, does not go back to the distribution board.You run your cables from the distribution board through each socket outlet and the last socket point does not go back to the distribution board. see the picture below.

Geyser circuit.

Just like in lighting and power circuits, in order for you to wire a geyser circuit, you run your cables from the distribution box to the geyser switch then you run the cable from the geyser switch to the geyser outlet(the point where you connect your geyser)

Air conditioner circuit.

In this, I am talking about how you provide power to the air conditioning unit. Mainly split type mini air conditioners. You run you power cables from the distribution board to the isolation point or switch, usually the same switches like for a geyser unit. Then from the switch to the air conditioning point.

Cooker control unit.

A cooker control unit circuit is specifically meant to power a cooker. How do you power it? As usual, all circuits start from the distribution board. You run your cables from the distribution board to the cooker control unit switch. Then you run a cable from the switch to the point where you will connect the cooker. For the cooker circuit, you use three cables Red Black and Green.

Final fixtures for house wiring.

This is a stage or phase in house wiring where you start to install your fixtures. This is usually done after you have finished wiring all your circuits. How do you proceed with installing final fixtures?I for one I first start by dressing the meter box and distribution board.

For single-phase houses, I usually use a 100A MCB as my income, which is the circuit breaker that supplies power from the meter box to the rest of the circuits in the house. At times I use a 62A MCB depending on the load in that house.

How do you arrange the circuit breakers? You start by mounting your incomer then followed by the rest of the circuit breakers, starting with the highest rated amperage end with the list or smallest rated amperage circuit breaker.

MAIN

COOKER

SOCKETS

AIR CONDITIONER

GEYSER

LIGHTS.

This is just a guide,if you have two cookers, you have to mount two circuit breakers for the two cookers. This follows for all the circuits. That is if you have three lighting circuits, you have to put three circuit breakers one for each circuit .why do you have to do this? You do this in order to avoid overloading the circuits.

what is the standard amperage rating for various circuits.

LOADAMPERAGE(A)
MAIN MCB100
COOKER32
SOCKETS32
GEYSER16/20
AC20
LIGHTING10

These MCB ratings are strictly for house wiring

INSTALLING SOCKETS AND SWITCHES

When I finish dressing the distribution board,I start to install sockets and switches. I would advise you to start installing switches and sockets after the house has been painted with the first coat but before the final coat. This is done so that your sockets and switches are not stained with paint.

INSTALLING LIGHT FITTINGS

After installing sockets and switches,its time to start mounting light fittings. Where you start first is a personal preference. Below is a list of light fittings that you may mount or install.

  • Pendant lighting with ceiling rose
  • Fluorescent fittings
  • Downlights
  • chandeliers
  • Bulkhead
  • Strip lights

CHANDELIERS: When you are installing chandeliers, I would suggest that you do not assemble the chandelier on the ground, instead start assembling it on the point where you want to install it. Why is it so? chandeliers become heavy when you assemble them as a result, they pose a challenge when installing them. And it might take you a long time to install.

DOWNLIGHTS: Mostly downlights come in a recessed manner. Therefore, when installing downlights you should cut through the ceiling. This requires you to use the correct size of a hole saw. When you use a wrong hole saw you might find it difficult to install downlights.

TESTING FOR HOUSE WIRING

Why is it important to test a new installation? Test your installation ensures that your newly wired house in good condition and ready to be occupied. The ultimate goal is to make sure that your house is safe and free from electrical shocks and hazards. Safety for people and appliances. Below is a list of tests to be conducted in a newly wired house.

  1. Continuity test
  2. Insulation resistance test
  3. Polarity Test
  4. Earth loop impedance test
What are the 3 wires in a house?

A house is basically a single-phase installation. In single-phase installations, the three-wire are
1.Neutral-Black
2.live- red
3.Earth -green/yellow

Which wire is best for house wiring?

In Zambia there are four common cables that are in use.
1.ZAMEFA -My number one most reliable cable
2.ZALCO
3.NEELKANTH
4.TROPICAL.

Is a house wired in series or parallel?

In answering this question, it is better to know the basic attributes of both a parallel and a series circuit. In a series circuit, the voltage divides whereas the current remains the same. Therefore, you would use a series circuit when you want to divide the voltage.

In a parallel circuit, you divide the current while the voltage remains the same. In a house, you divide the current through the distribution board. That is why you put different circuit breakers for various loads. The conclusion of the matter is that a house is wired in parallel.

Learn more about electrical house wiring here.

Should you have any questions or experience, feel free to share in the comments below.

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