Author Topic: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?  (Read 964 times)

ice_beard

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DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« on: October 24, 2018, 02:34:16 PM »
I would like to add some fluorescent lighting in my garage, add some outlets (there is only 1) and outside the garage, install a motion detecting security light. 

I replaced a chandelier and an outside light a few weeks ago and it was very straightforward and not scary.  Turn off the juice, replace the pieces, easy.  But the electrical lines were in place and that will not exactly be the case for this next project.  I have an existing power source into the garage and I assume I can expand this line to meet my needs.  I'll only be running lighting, charging devices, occasional power tools, etc off this line.  It's not like I'm attempting to power a woodshop or anything like that.  I've always hesitated at plumbing and electrical work, but now that I'm a homeowner, I'm ready to up my game a bit. 

Thoughts?  thx

GuitarStv

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2018, 02:44:43 PM »
This should be very easy and not intimidating at all.

If you want to be safe (and plan for future expansion and maybe heavier use down the road) it might be wise to run a new line from your breaker box to the garage though.

lollipop_hurricane

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2018, 02:47:53 PM »
I'm much braver when it comes to plumbing than electricity.  I also recently became a homeowner, and had the Culligan man out to examine our well water.  He wanted $7000 to get it drinkable.  Hahahaha.  For $7000, I suddenly have a lot of confidence in my own plumbing. 

GuitarBrian

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2018, 02:54:26 PM »
I have found electrical work very simple and straight forward.
First understand how to size the breaker to protect the wire and loads. If you use 14ga wire in any of the circuit, then 15amp max breaker. If it is all 12ga wire, then 20amp and so on. Mixing wire is fine, but size the breaker to the smallest wire.

The mental part will be determining if you need additional feed circuits or a breakout box or not. The physical part will be running the wire. The artistic part will be finishing the outlets and fittings so they look good (might be less important in a garage)

I like dedicated outlets in the garage, since power tools and the like can have large draws... Run two at a time and you might pop the breaker... Lighting and other loads with a known max draw can be combined.

Good luck!

lthenderson

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2018, 06:43:36 AM »
I too find electrical work to be fairly easy but I've been doing it for decades. However, I would recommend a basic understanding of home wiring before attempting to do it yourself. Such as knowing the difference between a ground, hot and neutral line and what is the function of each. Knowing some standards of where to put an outlet so that it is safe and how to terminate wires so that they don't become fire hazards later. Wiring up a house is a lot easier than doing it in a way where it doesn't burn down next month. I guess my recommendation would be to spend some time watching videos and reading up on basic wiring before I would jump into something other than swapping out a fixture.

Over the years, I uncovered lots of DIY wiring jobs that have scared me to death because the person who did them obviously only knew enough to be dangerous.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2018, 05:16:49 PM »
I will also say I find electrical work relatively easy (the work itself). The real work is figuring out what needs to be done. At this point for me basic work has been done enough to be simple to figure out. Sometime a novel situation comes up in terms of what I am doing (for example code doesn't consider running 240 for an electric brewery in a residential setting), something I haven't done before, (replacing a sub-panel) or just difficult logistics (getting power into an existing fireplace for installing an insert without damaging drywall), require some real thinking and planning.

I like to keep lights and outlets on separate circuits. If I were you I would assess your source of power (15A, 20A, and so on), what is currently on it (turn off the breaker and look all over the house for things that do not work, for example my pantry light and water softener are installed on the same circuit as some of my garage outlets), and what you plan on using it for (~1800 watts will trip a 15A circuit and ~2400 watts will trip a 20A circuit).

For example a small subset of the items I have in the garage are a shop vac has a 11A nameplate (11A*120V=1320W), a 2x500w (1000w) halogen work light, a 1500w ceramic tower heater, a DeWalt battery charger ~80W (that's what the modern 18v max is rated for any ways) and the lighting is 13 14.5W (159.5W) LED bulbs.

So running the work light, the shop vac, and the DeWalt charger (not unrealistic) would result in 1800 watts and trip even a 20A breaker (1320+80+1000=2400) if they were all on the same breaker.

My garage, which includes my wood working shop, is touched by all or part of 10 different circuits.

DoNorth

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2018, 08:57:05 AM »
I hung all my own lights, fans, installed switches etc.  3 and 4 way switches were beyond my knowledge level so I had help there, but most of it is pretty intuitive.  It does help when you have an electrician who can teach you little tricks like putting spacers behind some of the mounting brackets so you don't have to bob it up and down trying to get a nut on a fixed bolt or something like that.  Also, I picked up some other tips for twisting and capping wires that made it easier. 

ice_beard

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 07:40:15 PM »
Thanks for all the replies. 
I've got some guidance from a family member which will certainly help, but I don't want him to do all the work. 

trollwithamustache

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Re: DIY basic electrical work, scary or not?
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2018, 07:08:25 AM »
so take your electrical safety very seriously. Respect the electrons same as you would the table saw.

Electrical is actually super easy and a huuuge opportunity to save money since electricians are expense. Get your self some testing equipment and don't ever feel silly about over testing for if something is live, voltage drops, power ect.