It seems that there is always at least one location in our homes where an electrical outlet would be handy, but there is no outlet in sight. So today we are going to talk about installing or adding electrical outlets.
Installing an electrical outlet is one of the easier electrical wiring projects to complete and something that most of us DIYers are faced with doing in our homes.
A couple of handy items that you will need for this project are a multimeter and receptacle tester. The multimeter will help with any troubleshooting, and the receptacle tester will ensure that the new electrical outlet is wired correctly once the project is completed. Be sure to turn off the power to the circuit that you are working on before you begin and verify that the power is off with the multimeter.
Now you need to determine an exact location for the new electrical outlet. Something to consider here is the level of difficulty in getting a wire or conduit to this new location. The next thing that you need is a power source. If this is just a convenience outlet, then you can get power from another electrical outlet circuit. If you are plugging something in that will be on all of the time and use at least half of the circuit’s current, then I recommend installing a dedicated circuit.
Determining the wire size for your new circuit depends on the size of the circuit breaker protecting this circuit. If you have a 15 amp breaker, then you need to install 14 AWG wires. If you have a 20 amp circuit, then you need to install 12 AWG wires. In a home, you will typically use a 14/2 NM cable with ground (Romex) or 12/2 NM cable with the ground for electrical outlet circuits.
When installing the wire through the studs, be sure to drill in the center of the stud. Your wire needs to be protected by at least 1 1/4″ of wood. If this can’t be achieved, then you need to install a metal plate on the face of the stud called a notch plate to protect the wires from drywall screws. If you are going to install the new circuit on the surface, then you need to protect the wires with either wiremold or EMT conduit.
Terminating the Circuit
When terminating your new circuit, I recommend working backward towards the power source. Start terminating at your new electrical outlet, then go to the power source location. Be sure to verify that the power is still off before touching any wires.
The bare wire is the ground, and it connects to the green screw on the electrical outlet. The white wire is neutral, and it connects to the silver-colored screw on the electrical outlet. The black wire is the hot wire, and it connects to the brass-colored screw on the electrical outlet. Now go terminate the wires at the power source.
Finally, turn on the power and use the plug tester to test the new electrical outlet.