Electricians

What’s The Deal With Light Switches Installation

Must-Know Tips for Wiring Switches and Outlets Yourself

Buying a Dimmer Switch

Dimmer switches are available in many styles and configurations, including slides, knobs and touch-sensitive dimming mechanisms.

Don’t Reverse Hot and Neutral Wires

Connecting the black hot wire to the neutral terminal of an outlet creates the potential for a lethal shock. The trouble is that you may not realize the mistake until someone gets shocked, because lights and most other plug-in devices will still work; they just won’t work safely

Cutting Wires Too Short

Wires that are cut too short make wire connections difficult and—since you’re more likely to make poor connections—dangerous. Leave the wires long enough to protrude at least 3 in. from the box.

Be Positive the Power’s Off

When you’re doing electrical work, don’t assume that because you flicked a switch or flipped a circuit breaker the power is off—always double-check. Buy a noncontact voltage tester and check all the wires in the box before you do any work—or plan on some melted dental work!

Circuit-Finding Radio

Instead of running upstairs, let the Rolling Stones help you find the right breaker. Find circuit breakers by plugging a loud radio into the outlet you’re working on. You’ll know you have the right circuit breaker when the music dies. But don’t assume the electricity is off in all the other outlets or lights in the room. Before doing any wiring, plug the radio into other outlets you plan to work on. Some duplex outlets can have different circuits running to adjacent outlets. To be safe, test both the top and bottom with the radio. For lights, turn the light switch on and off to be sure.

 

Find an electrician the easy way

How much does it cost to have a light switch installed?

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a lot of have a light switch rewired or installed. While the total cost to rewire a house can be upwards of a few thousand dollars, getting a light switch installed by a licensed electrician should only cost around $200.

Laws around wiring a switch yourself

There are strict laws around what electrical work can and can’t be undertaken by someone without an electrician’s licence. While these laws vary from state to state, the basic parameters remain the same. In general, if you’re touching wires, that counts as electrical work, and you need to be licenced.

NSW fair trading says an electrical licence is required before any wiring work can be done. The definition of electrical wiring work includes  installing, repairing, altering, removing, or adding to an electrical installation, as well as the supervision of that work. In NSW, it’s an offence to do electrical work without a licence or certificate, and you can be fined $22,000 as an individual for doing unlicensed electrical work.

Worksafe Queensland advises that DIY electrical work, which includes wiring or re-wiring a switch, is regarded as unlicensed electrical work, which is illegal, with penalties of up to $40,000 for individuals. Additionally, any electrical work that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness attracts a maximum penalty of $600,000 for an individual ($3,000,000 for a corporation) or five years imprisonment.

How to change a light switch plate

If all you’re looking to do is to change up your dirty old light switch plates, you’re in luck! So long as you’re not changing any wiring, anyone is allowed to replace the plates over their switches.

 

How to install a smart light switch

Smart light switches allow you to remotely control your lights by voice command or with your smartphone. They have an advantage over smart bulbs because you can turn your existing lights and ceiling fans into smart devices. Once installed, you will turn your lights on and off effortlessly, leaving your hands free for more important matters

The installation process for a smart light switch can be tricky if you’ve never installed one before. We have done the research for you and put together this how-to list to make installing your smart light switch an easy task

How to install a smart light switch

Learn your existing wall switch and wiring setup. Before you purchase a smart light switch, you’ll need to figure out the type of switch you need. If the wall panel only has one switch, you need a single-gang. If it has two switches (maybe one switch for a light and one for a ceiling fan), you’ll need a two-gang smart light switch. If it has three switches, you’ll need a three-gang switch.

You also need to know what type of wiring you have. Turn off the power at the fuse box to avoid getting electrocuted. Then, open up the existing switch where you want to install your smart switch and examine the wiring. To open up the switch, unscrew the screws on the wall plate (they’re usually located on the top and bottom of the plate). Use a butter knife or flat-head screwdriver to pry the plate off of the wall, as it can stick in place (often because of paint). Then, unscrew the screws on the actual light switch and gently pull the switch forward.

Look at the wiring setup. Most smart light switches require a ground wire, an “in” wire, an “out” wire, and a neutral wire. Most homes have the in, out, and ground wires, but some homes built before the 1980s don’t have neutral wires. Typically, the neutral wire is a white wire (or group of white wires). If you don’t have a neutral wire, you can still install many smart light switches, but you’ll need to purchase a specific type of smart light switch that doesn’t require a neutral wire. For instance, the Lutron P-PKG1W-WH-R Smart Lighting Dimmer Switch will work without a neutral wire, but it does require its own bridge.

 

Is it necessary to replace both switches in a 3-way circuit with smart wireless switches?

On a set of switches for my outside lights, I replaced one of the 3-way switches with the HS210 and replaced the other with a manual 3-way switch with pilot lite. Both switches work fine. I can turn the lights on or off manually with either switch (as before replacing them). The pilot light on the manual switch appropriately lights only when the outside lights are on. No matter which switch I use to turn the lights on or off, the HS210 reflects the correct status on the switch and on the network within about a second of the change. In other words, it all just works.

The support page for the HS210 (3-way set) actually tells us that we can. I had to install mine in this scenario. Only one of my switches had a neutral wire. I left the switch without the neutral wire alone and only replaced the switch with the neutral wire. It works fine

P-Link makes the HS200 single pole switch that will not work with 3-Way switches. It has been mentioned that people have gotten the HS200 to work with 3-Way switches, but they have hacked them, which requires soldering electrical components to the circuit board. The issue is smart switches communicate with phone apps, the cloud, and other smart devices. These things need to know the current state of the switch (On or Off). When you have two switches in a 3-Way situation, both need to communicate with each other so each knows the on/off status. The HS200 does not have that capability. Until now there was only one smart switch company that made a companion switch for 3-Way situations, but it required an additional hub. I originally installed 6 HS200’s in my home. I went with TP-Link because of their reputation in the IT world and their smart devices do not require the use of an additional hub. The rest of my switches are 3-Way. I have been waiting for TP-Link to release the HS210 because I want all my switches to have the same look and feel

I found out accidentally that you do not. I was told by TP support that you did. I replaced 1 of my old switch with this one and tested if it would work manually with the 2nd old switch. And it did work. Next I replaced the 2nd old switch with this one. The problem I had was that in the 2nd box, there was no ground wire. I went ahead and wired in the 2nd switch and it would not work. The light would turn off and on. So I re-installed the 2nd old switch. I was going to re-install the 1st old switch, but then I thought I would try to activate the 1st new switch. It did activate via the kasa app. I tried it out and it did work both manually and via the kasa app. I located the 1st new switch on my echo and added it. So now the light works via manual switches and via kasa or alexa.

 

Switch Installation

This chapter describes how to install and connect a Catalyst 3650 switch. It also includes planning and cabling considerations for stacking switches.

Preparing for Installation

Ensure that the following sections are read and understood carefully before the switch is installed

Installation Guidelines

Before installing the switch, verify that these guidelines are met.

For the clearance to the front and rear panels, make sure that:

Front-panel indicators can be easily read.

Clearance is at least 4.4 in. (11.1 cm) from the switch’s rear panel.

Access to ports is sufficient for unrestricted cabling.

AC power cord can reach from the AC power outlet to the connector on the switch’s rear panel.

The SFP or SFP+ module minimum bend radius and connector length are met. See the corresponding SFP or SFP+ module documentation for more information.

Access to the rear of the rack is sufficient for connecting the optional Cisco RPS 2300 module.

For switches with the optional 1025-W power supply module (PWR-C2-1025WAC) or the 1100-W power supply module (PWR-C1-1100WAC), rack-mount the switch before installing the power supply module.

Use Home Electrical Safety Inspection For Your Home Safety

What does an Electrical Safety Inspection Involve?

Similar to a vehicles MOT, an Electrical Installation Condition Report documents the condition of your electrical wiring and gives you a clear, concise, safety verdict (Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) as well as a summary of the overall condition.  In addition, the  report also details any defects found and tells you how serious they may be.

For an average house the inspection and testing procedure takes 2-4 hours. The size of the property, any outbuildings, swimming pools, garden power & lighting etc. all affect the time and cost of an E.I.C.R.  Please call us to discuss your requirements and we will provide a fixed price quotation for an inspection specifically tailored to your needs.

The inspection & testing involves minimal disruption to the property. We do not need to lift floorboards, or make any mess. The procedure starts with walking around every room and outbuilding to make a visual inspection of the electrical installation. We then carry out a detailed set of tests at the fuse board / consumer unit and at sockets, light fittings, and other electrical outlets throughout the property. Once our on-site work is complete, we take our results back to the office to assess all the measurements and compile your report.

 

9 Tips for Passing an Electrical Inspection

If you are considering attempting your own electrical work on your next project, I implore you to apply for electrical permits from your local government.

Applying to do my own work was a simple process.  In this case, all I did was fill out a couple of simple forms where I stated my name, address, the scope of the work being performed (adding 4 recessed lights) and the estimated cost of the work related to the permit.  After about two weeks, the township called me and let me know my permit was approved and ready for pickup.  I paid a $61 fee to the township and got started on the rough-in work.  Once I complete the rough-in work, I schedule the inspector and he pays me a visit.

The most anxiety inducing part of this process is the rough-in inspection, but if you follow these general guidelines, you’ll be much more likely to pass the first time.

  1. Ask the Inspector First. When you schedule the inspector, try to actually have a conversation with him or her about what they expect to see and what pitfalls you can avoid.  All inspectors should be looking for the same checks, but some have additional requirements or pet-peeves that can fail you.  Checking with them first is a great way to establish a name to a face and get a sense of their general requirements.
  2. Don’t Add Any Devices. During the rough-in inspection, there can’t be any devices on the circuits you are adding. No outlets, no lights, no switches, nada, nunca.  If you are adding an outlet to an existing circuit, then the NEW outlet should also not be installed either.  The rest of the outlets on that circuit that were originally there are probably fine, but if you disturbed the wiring in any outlet, it shouldn’t have a device for the inspection.
  3. Tie Your Grounds Together. In each outlet or electrical box location, the ground wires should be tied together.  This is something my inspector noted today.  Don’t tie anything else together though.  The hot and neutral leads should remain separate.
  4. Fire Block. Any holes or penetrations from one floor to the next or from one wiring passage to the next needs to be blocked so as to prevent a fire using the hole as a breathing hole or chimney.  Typically, you can use fire block expanding foam (which is bright orange in color) or regular fiberglass insulation to fill or plug these kind of holes.
  5. Plug Holes in Boxes. This one was new to me and I’ll have to fix it.  The electrical box I used have these bendable tabs where the cable enters.  Well one of these tabs snapped off.  The inspector told me I need to plug it.  I’ll probably use insulation and jam it in the hole here.
  6. Use Correct Breaker. Another correction I’ll have to make is the circuit breaker I installed.  The breaker in this application needs to be an 15 amp Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and I had installed a regular 15 amp breaker.  The AFCI’s prevent arcs and are required on all circuits that feed living spaces (I think).  You can buy AFCI’s in any hardware store and they are several times more expensive than regular breakers.
  7. Don’t Power the Circuit. Although the wires for the new circuit can be tied into the new breaker, the breaker needs to remain off or unpowered.  It shouldn’t be powered up until all the devices are installed.
  8. Cover the Wires with Wire Nuts. All the wire ends need to have wire nuts on them even if they don’t have any exposed conductor.  Same goes for the ground wires.
  9. Secure Cables with Staples. Cable runs need to be secured to framing every so many feet with cable staples.

That’s pretty much all I have for the rough-in inspection.  If you have any others, please leave them in the comments.  If you’ve never done your own electrical work, then I suggest you work with someone more experienced before you attempt it yourself.  Be safe and good luck.

 

The recommended frequency of Fixed Wire Testing varies between 1 and 5 years depending upon the business type, so how often do you need to test your workplace?

Fixed Wire Testing, also known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), checks that your electrical installations or circuits conform to the latest wiring regulations, in order to ensure you are compliant with relevant workplace safety legislation.

The frequency of testing is specified in the latest version of the IET Wiring Regulations (currently BS7671:2018) and is determined by;

  • The type of installation
  • How often it is used
  • The external influences or environment to which the electrical installation is exposed.

For many commercial businesses, an EICR, which used to be called a periodic testing report, will be required at the lowest frequency interval – every 5 Years. However, higher risk environments will require 3 Yearly or even more frequent testing.

It should be noted that all stated periods are maximum intervals. Deterioration of the installation may indicate a need to reduce the interval between testing.

5 Year Fixed Wire Testing

Most standard workplace environments need an Electrical Installation Condition Report to be produced at least every 5 years. However, there should be regular routine inspections conducted at least annually.

Typical workplaces which require 5 Yearly Fixed Wire Testing include:

  • Commercial spaces such as offices and retail outlets
  • Hotels and restaurants (excluding spa hotels)
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Laboratories
  • Community centres, churches and public houses
  • Care homes and hospitals (excluding medical locations)
  • Halls of residence, houses of multiple occupancy

3 Year or 1 Year Fixed Wire Testing

Environments which, for example, are exposed to moisture, dust, extreme temperatures or which are open to the general public constitute a higher risk and therefore require more frequent testing. These workplaces require testing every 1 -3 years, with more frequent routine inspections also required.

Typical workplaces or environments which require 3 or 1 year Fixed Wire Testing include:

  • Spa hotels and leisure centres – 3 years
  • Industrial Units – 3 years
  • Theatres and places of public entertainment – 3 years
  • Caravans – 3 years
  • Cinemas – 1 year (front of house), 3 years (back of house)
  • Agricultural or horticultural establishments – 3 years
  • Medical locations in hospitals or clinics – 1 year
  • Swimming pools and saunas – 1 year
  • Caravan Parks and Marinas – 1 year
  • Fish Farms, Laundrettes, Petrol Stations – 1 year

 

 

Getting electrical work done

When you hire an electrician to do work on your home, make sure they are licensed and issue a Certificate of Compliance for their work. While you can do a limited amount of electrical work on your own home, unless you are sufficiently skilled, it is much better to get an electrician to undertake the work.

The law allows homeowners to do a limited amount of electrical work in their home.

Any person other than a homeowner who carries out prescribed electrical work is required to be registered by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB). All electrical workers who carry out electrical work in return for payment or reward must hold an annual practising licence.

When you contract an electrical worker always ask to see their practising licence and check the expiry date. This is proof that the worker is qualified to do electrical work safely.

Note: the colour of the licence changes every two years.  If you are unsure if your electrical worker is licensed get in touch with the EWRB

Certificate of Compliance (CoC)

Electricians must issue a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) to customers when doing any fixed wiring work, including fitting new power points. CoCs are not issued for maintenance work, such as replacing sockets and light fittings or repairing appliances.

The CoC indicates that the work done is electrically safe and has been carried out in accordance with New Zealand’s electrical safety standards and codes. It also shows they have tested their work once completed.

Keep your CoC in a safe place as a record of the work done on your property. It is an important document and may be required for insurance claims or when you are selling your home.

A CoC guarantees that the work:

  • has been completed by a licensed electrician
  • meets safety standards set by law, and
  • has been tested.
  • Electrical safety inspections

The law also requires some electrical work to be inspected, particularly work on the main switchboard, the main cable, and the main earth. The electrician you employ is responsible for arranging for a licensed electrical inspector to carry out the inspection. Keep the inspection report with your CoCs, a copy of this guide and other important information.

 

Do an Electrical Inspection Before You Buy a Home

Before you buy a home, you—or a professional—should inspect the electrical installation and its components. You could have the county or city inspector take a look, or you could find an electrical contractor to help you with the task. However you do it, make sure that the home is up to date and safety standards as required by the National Electrical Code.

You should have an electrical service that is large enough to supply the home and have room for future expansion. The wiring should be grounded and in good working order. The switches and outlets should be inspected to ensure they are in good working order and of the right type. Here are some of the electrical components of the electrical system that should be inspected.

Receptacles

The receptacles, often called outlets, should be inspected to make sure that they have a ground, don’t have any cracks or physical defects, that they have the proper tension to hold in a cord that is plugged into them, and that they are the proper type for the area. Specific areas to watch are bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garages, and outdoor outlets. Any of these areas could be wet or damp and are required to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) installed. Kitchens require many special outlets and circuits to supply the vast number of kitchen appliances in them.

Common Mistakes

There are plenty of common electrical mistakes that people make, and you may be wondering if the old wiring is safe or whether your home has aluminum wiring. Check for incorrect electrical wiring and signs that a previous owner overloaded a circuit.

Service Panel

To examine the electrical system even further, you can perform a service panel checklist examination. It will take some time to do all of this, but it is well worth the effort. After all, you wouldn’t buy a sinking ship with holes in it, and you shouldn’t buy a faulty home either. If you know the defects ahead of time and negotiate the price to offset the faults, you may get the home of your dreams at a price that you can afford!

Wiring Lifespan

Electrical wiring has a certain safe lifespan, and standards have changed over the years—knob and tube wiring was state of the art in its day, but it’s now outdated. Just like the electrical switches and outlets wear out and need to be replaced from time to time, the wiring should be updated when necessary.

Future Expansion

The home’s electrical service should be large enough for the current size of the house, with room to spare. Even if you are not planning an addition now, it is safer to have some breathing room.

Be sure to check the lighting for safety as well. Look in areas like basements, hallways, staircases, and garages—these areas should have sufficient lighting to ensure safety while passing through each. Also check outdoor lighting to see if the lighting is sufficient to enter and enter your home.