flood lights
Illustrations: Trevor Johnson & Paul Perreault
Many homeowners who think nothing of tackling painting, carpentry and plumbing projects turn timid when it comes to electrical work. A little fear isn't necessarily bad when dealing with electricity — it could keep you from making a serious mistake. But that doesn't mean there aren't electrical projects you can handle. All you need is an understanding of how the electrical code applies to your project and some instruction on making proper wire connections. Installing an exterior floodlight — the first of three three simple, do-it-yourself upgrades we'll be covering — can be done on virtually any house. To safely guide you through this upgrade, we enlisted the help of electrical contractor Peter Eng, owner of Electrical Enterprises Incorporated in Litchfield County, Connecticut. It took him a day to complete all three projects. To facilitate your work, we've included photographs that outline the basic steps and illustrations that show all the wiring connections. Consult with an electrician if your home is wired differently than the ways illustrated. If you're still not feeling confident, here's an alternate approach: Run cables, install boxes, and wire in switches and outlets, then hire an electrician to make the final power hookups and check for any code violations. (Most municipalities allow you to do your own electrical work, though you're never allowed to wire someone else's home.) Also, get the proper permits from your local building department before starting. It's the law, and you'll also get the benefit of having your work checked both at the rough-in stage and when it's completed. Before starting work, turn off the power at the main service panel. Plug a lamp or circuit tester into the circuit you're working on to confirm the power is off. Finally, if you have any questions or concerns, always consult with a licensed electrician or building inspector before you proceed. Electrical work isn't difficult, but the consequences for not doing it right can be serious.
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