Don’t be afraid to attempt some of the electrical projects for your cozy home. Electricity should be properly respected, and when worked with safely and correctly it can be very rewarding. Adding accent and specific task lighting creates a unique and functional home that’s uniquely yours. Here are 8 steps for installing switch boxes and plugs in your tiny home:
1. To eliminate the possibility of shock, locate and shut off the correct breaker switches on the main electrical box. Granted, most of us guys think it’s no fun unless “It’s Alive”, and it’s going to be dark with no electricity, but it’s the safest thing to do.
2. When adding a remodel box to existing construction, having a torpedo level close by makes it perfect every time. Check your codes for proper heights or measure the distances of other outlets and switches close by to determine the proper height.
3. Use the correct tools. On the photo above you will see that the electrical outlet screws have a square tip rather than a Philips.
4. The best habit to get into is protecting the wires. Take a few extra seconds to tape around the sides of the outlet which secures and protects the wires. This is definitely the best thing to do when you working with metal boxes.
5. When attaching wires with a wirenut first make sure they are all the same length. Secondly, make sure that the exposed area of the wire is not too long, causing the exposed wire to be seen outside the wirenut. Thirdly, continue to twist the wirenut until it begins to twist the wire also. This guarantees a tight connection and protects the wire from pulling apart. You can also wrap the nut with some electrical tape to further guarantee a tight connection.
6. Leave plenty of wire coming out of the box. This might seem wasteful (especially with the cost of wire these days) but you will need the extra wire to work with. It’s much easier to take away wire than to add wire, and future repairs and modifications will require additional wire.
7. Use the right wire for the job. Typically 12/2 gauge wire “yellow” is for electrical outlets and 14/2 gauge wire “white” is for lighting. Make sure to check your local electrical code for breaker sizes and load limits per run. Yes, 12 gauge is more definitely more expensive and kind of a pain to mash into small boxes so be prepared for that.
8. Choose the proper wirenut for the job. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they are rated for the number of wires on the specific gauge being used.
Here’s a unique situation: sometimes hot and neutral are not always black and white. Note the black electrical tape on the orange wire in the above photo. This is to let the next person who works on the box know that it’s the hot wire. Test it anyway. I later discovered that the green grounds in this box were live, and that opened up a whole new set of challenges.
I guess it was a good thing that I didn’t take my own advice about turning off the breaker.
Cozy, Kevin B Harrington