If you’re considering becoming an electrician, you might be surprised by the variety of standards and regulations set in place for wiring systems in residences such as homes and cottages. Homes contain a variety of appliances and safety features which require electrical wiring. Hydro One, Ontario’s electricity provider, has a number of specifications in place for how they are to be installed within the home.
Here are five things to consider with regards to residential wiring.
Wiring Sizes May Be Different for Residences
For residences, common wire sizes may be different from other types of buildings. The American Wire Gauge Number (AWG) serves as the standard measurement of a wire’s diameter. Residences typically use four kinds of AWG wire sizes, with different amp circuit numbers for each: 8 (40 amp circuits), 10 (30), 12 (20), and 14 (15). The No. 8 AWG is often used for loads like electric ranges. No. 10 is used for loads needing electricity, such as dryers and electric water heaters. No. 12 serves loads like kitchen counter receptacles (e.g. appliances like microwaves). And No. 14 works best with loads such as lights (eg. lamps), switches, smaller appliances, and receptacles. Electrical box sizes may also vary, but this depends on several factors. These include the mounting of switches or receptacles, how many wire conductors are present, how many are in use, and the conductors’ sizes.
Many Different Appliances Require Electrical Installation in a Home
The home has a variety of appliances which have different electrical installation needs. The oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, counter spaces, built-in microwave ovens (and possibly more) all require consideration when planning for residential wiring. These appliances typically require their own, separate receptacle, from an entirely different circuit. As those with electrician training may know, any receptacle with 15 to 20 amp circuits must not only be marked, but tamper-resistant. This is because inserting any conductive object that is not a plug into the receptacle can cause electric shock. However, Hydro regulations state that, if a stationary appliance’s receptacle is a minimum of two metres above ground and/or out of reach, tamper resistance is not necessary. Prior to installation, be sure to mark on your floor plan where these appliances—and their corresponding receptacles—are located.
Different Rooms Within the Home Require Different Wiring Configurations
If you’ve completed maintenance electrician training, you will need to follow many requirements when working on residential homes. Hydro One has a set of requirements for each room in the house to ensure safe living conditions for residents. For one, each room must be equipped with a light controlled by a light switch. Two lights controlled by a three-way wall switch—one for the bottom and the top each—is required for any stairway containing a minimum of four stairs. Keep in mind that, on any two-wire branch circuit, 12 outlets are allowed at maximum. This includes receptacles and lights. Range receptacles must also be installed in the home with their receptacles marked on the floor plan.
Those With Electrician Training Should Plan to Install Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms are an important and necessary safety feature for homes. They are required to be installed on each of the home’s floors, and a battery backup should also be present. Additionally, there should be one in each bedroom and an additional alarm in hallways attached to them. These smoke alarms must all be interconnected and should operate at 120 volts. Either a branch circuit with a receptacle/lightning combination or an unswitched lighting branch circuit can be used for these alarms.
Service Size May Depend on the Requirements of the Home
Typically, homes should have a distribution panel containing 24 circuits, and a service size of at least 100 amps. When calculating the service size, take into account the kilowatt demand. There are multiple factors which help to determine this, such as electric heating, the area of the floor, and appliances, among other loads that may be present. Although the service size should be larger if a home requires greater amounts of heating, most homes with a minimum 100-amp service size should be able to maintain both their typical electrical loads and electrical heating of up to 10 kW.
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