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Electric Upgrades – It’s the Small Things That Count

Metal Backsplash Outlet

Electric Upgrades | You may want an electric outlet or two in very specific locations in your kitchen. Here's a typical electrical outlet cut through a metal backsplash. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Electric Upgrades - It's Not All About 200-Amp Service, Silly!

If you're like the average homeowner, I doubt you will do any deep thinking about electric upgrades. You'll be so busy picking out faucets and siding colors that you'll not give much thought to electrical outlets, switches, and other electrical needs as you plan your new home.

Typically many of these decisions are left to the electrician or the architect. Many electrical outlet locations are mandated by the National Electric Code, but there is usually nothing stopping you from exceeding this wonderful set of rules and guidelines.

CLICK or TAP HERE to get FREE BIDS from local electricians who can add outlets for you.

Where Are the Best Electric Upgrades?

For example, let's talk about the mundane subject of your garage. Sure there will be receptacles in the garage, but are they in the right place and worse yet, will they eventually be hidden by things stacked against the wall? Have you ever worked on a project just outside the garage door on the driveway apron? I'll bet a convenient outdoor receptacle by the garage door would have come in handy. Are you going to have a workbench in the garage? You need perhaps four receptacles in and around this area.

zircon breaker id

Here's a double-duplex outlet. Many don't put these in and it's a big mistake. You can plug four things in one place. The black device with the red LED light is covering two outlets so you know.

Where Should a Bathroom Outlet Be?

Bathrooms are a pet peeve of mine. The power outlets should be immediately adjacent to the spot where appliances will be used. I don't want the hot curler cord stretching across a sink anymore than you do. Think about what you might use in a bathroom and where it will be used. The electrician can almost always put the receptacle where you want it.

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FIRE DANGER! Beware Extension Cords - Get the RIGHT ONE

Are Christmas Outdoor Outlets Hard to Install?

Christmas outdoor outlets are easy to install. You can have several daisy-chained together so they can come on with the flick of an indoor switch. These make for great electric upgrades.

Do you decorate indoors for the holidays? If so, you want strategically located outlets on top of mantles, next to handrails, and any place where you think you might have light displays or strings of lights. If you think these things through now, you will never have to rely on an extension cord. Do you think I bend over twice a day to plug in and then unplug my Christmas tree lights? No way. I simply flip a wall switch.

Exterior holiday lighting needs multiple outlets as well. Your electrician can put any number of exterior outlets under soffits, hidden in overhangs, and other places that will allow you to minimize the amount of spaghetti extension cords that drape all over your home. Once again, these outdoor lights can be easily operated by an indoor wall switch or two.

CLICK or TAP HERE to get FREE BIDS from local electricians who can add outlets for you.

What About Smart Plugs?

Smart plugs are a great idea. These plugs can be turned on and off via the Internet so long as WiFi is operating in the house and the smart plug can connect to the WiFi. Watch this video about how to water a Christmas tree to see a clever use of a smart plug:


CLICK or TAP HERE for a wide variety of smart plugs.


End Tables and Night Stands Require Careful Measurements

End tables at couches and night stands in bedrooms are also a sore spot with me. I want my outlets centered at the exact table location so that I am not reaching behind a couch or a bed to find an outlet. I also prefer to place these outlets 16 inches above the floor so that the lamp cords can be bundled up behind the piece of furniture. When you do this, no wiring can be seen when you walk around the room.

Can I Install an Outlet in a Floor?

Yes, you can install electric outlets in floors. There are special cover plates made for them. These floor outlets are very useful for houses with open floor plans.

If you have special wiring requirements as I do for a special glass-covered coffee table that has two miniature working model trains under the glass, you may need a floor outlet located directly under a table such as this. Extending an extension cord under a carpet is a very dangerous thing to do. You want to plan now for these highly-specialized electric needs.

Tim's small office desk

Home office needs are also important.

What Are the Best Outlets for a Home Office?

The best outlets for a home office are ones for a computer, phone charger, desk lights, a printer, and a scanner.

Home office needs are also important. I prefer to have my printer and a few other machines up on shelves just above my desk. I can easily reach the printed papers and this frees up desk space. But the electrical outlets need to be high on the wall and behind or next to the machines. Once again, if you plan out where your equipment will be, the electrician can almost always accommodate you.

electric panel wiring for future

Wiring for the future. Think about what might happen in 2100 and beyond.

Circuit Panel Needs Extra Slots

Last but not least, keep in mind your actual circuit breaker panel, the actual wire that feeds each circuit and future wiring. Be sure you have six or even ten empty spots in your panel for future circuit breakers. You may discover that 20 amp circuits throughout the house makes more sense than lower capacity 15 amp circuits.

My own home has all 20 amp circuits wired with 12-gauge wiring. Be sure the electrician installs several blank conduits that allow him or a future electrician to quickly feed wire from the electrical panel up into an attic or a crawl space. You can also install blank conduits into remote walls so that getting a wire to a hard-to-reach location is a breeze.

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