While attention to safety is important, outlet installation is something many people can do on their own. Sometimes issues are isolated to specific outlets. But it’s also important to realize there can be hidden electrical problems as well. If you’ve determined that it’s just a new outlet that you need, here are some important things to know.
1. The Power Must Be Off
Turn off the circuit breaker serving the outlet, at the electrical panel. To double-check, then plug in a lamp on that circuit to make sure it doesn’t come on. You can also use a voltage tester to make sure the breaker is off. Installing an outlet requires making proper wiring connections. If you’re wiring an outlet while electricity is flowing, you could be severely shocked or electrocuted.
2. Use a Screwdriver for Starter Holes in Drywall
Making room for an outlet can be challenging. Some people resort to a saw to cut through drywall. This is not necessary, as you can take a flat head screwdriver to make small holes that don’t compromise the integrity of the material. Then you can use a utility knife to make the holes larger if necessary.
3. Smart Outlet Options
Smart outlets have added functionality depending on the type. They include USB outlets where you can charge your phone. A Bluetooth outlet connects to electronics, allowing you to control them from anywhere in your home. With a Wi-Fi outlet, you can obtain data on power usage and see how much electricity certain electronics or appliances are using. This lets you turn off those that meet a threshold to save money.
4. Clever Places to Install Outlets
City or county rules cover things like outlet spacing. But for your convenience, you can choose where to put outlets, such as inside kitchen drawers and cabinets, underneath a cabinet to add lighting, or on the kitchen island. You can also install outlets at the entryway to your home. Outlets on living room floors avoid tripping over cords and plugs. Bathroom outlets can power things like hairdryers and shavers.
5. Electrical Codes
In addition to how to install an electrical outlet, you should be familiar with electrical codes. Some codes restrict the number of lights and outlets you can put on one circuit. For a 15-amp circuit, you usually can’t connect more than eight lights or outlets. Also, kitchen and bathroom outlets must be on their own 20-amp GFCI circuits.
Electrical codes also limit the number of wires going into a receptacle depending on its volume and the wire gauge. For example, if you use a 14-gauge wire on a 15-amp circuit, in an 18 cubic inch electrical box, you’ll need to install a larger box for a 20-amp circuit with 12-guage wire.
When working with outlet wiring, knowing the standard colors helps you make the proper connections. The ground wire is bare copper, while the neutral terminals are silver and hot terminals are gold (connect the wire to the neutral terminals first). White neutral wires connect to the silver terminal screw. When connecting the black hot wire, make sure it goes to the gold terminal screw and the bare wire attaches to the green grounding screw.
7. Hire an Electrician
Hire a professional electrician if you’re unfamiliar or uncomfortable with outlet installation. In an older home, you may not have a grounding wire, and fabric-insulated wiring may still be present. Your electrician can make necessary recommendations and provide safety upgrades. CMC Electric is available to help customers in and around Los Angeles. Whether you need to install one or more electrical outlets, our licensed, professional electricians get the job done right and safely.
Call 323-727-7799 today to schedule outlet installation and/or electrical service.