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How to Wire a Room With Electric

Wiring a room for electricity is a project that requires only a few basic skill sets that are easy to learn. The most important thing here is getting started properly. You need to have a copy of the latest revision of the National Electric Code on hand, the 2008 Revision, and refer to it often. You need to apply for and get a wiring permit from your municipal building department before undertaking this project and you will need to have all the required inspections done by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), an inspector from the municipal building department. DO NOT begin this project without having a wiring permit. For this article, the room to be wired will be a master bedroom.

Interior wall framin
    Tape Measure
  1. Layout the locations of the duplex receptacles. The NEC requires that no point along the unbroken floor line be more than 6 feet from a receptacle outlet. Beginning at the door and measure off 6 feet and mark for the first device box. In the United States, wall studs are placed 16 inches on center (O.C.) so 6 feet would place the first device box between the fourth and fifth stud, so mount it on the fourth stud. The Code tells us that the distance can't exceed 6 feet, being under 6 feet is OK. Position rest of the boxes at 12-foot intervals. A duplex receptacle is considered two receptacles so each receptacle covers the code requirement for the 6-foot rule to each side of the box. Any continuous wall space 24 inches or more in width requires a receptacle to be installed.

  2. Hammer
  3. There's no Code requirement for outlet mounting height but 12 inches to the top of the device box measured from the finished floor line is considered standard. Position the boxes on the studs in such a way that the front lip of the box will be flush with the finished wall surface. Most ABS plastic boxes have a marking gauge on them that make this easy to do without any measuring. Mount the boxes using the "Captured" nails.

  4. Battery powered drill/driver
  5. Drill 5/8-inch holes through the studs approximately 24 inches above the finished floor line. Drill these holes so that the front edge of the holes are at least 1 and 1/4 inches from the near edge of the studs. At breaks in the wall line (closets and other openings) drill down through the walls bottom plate on both sides of the opening. Route the 12/2 cable through these holes to connect the duplex receptacles.

  6. Spade bit
  7. Drill a 5/8-inch hole down through the base plate at the device box nearest the location of the service panel. The "Home-run" cable, the cable running to the service panel will be routed through this hole.

  8. wire nuts
  9. Drill a 5/8-inch hole down through the base plate at the device box nearest the location of the service panel. The "Home-run" cable, the cable running to the service panel will be routed through this hole.

  10. Black plastic electric tape
  11. Route both "home-run" cables back to the service panel. Route the cable to the lighting outlet box(es) and between the receptacle device boxes. Insert the cables into these boxes so that they extend 6 inches to 8 inches beyond their point of entry.

  12. Wire strippers
  13. Remove the cables outer jacket using the razor knife. Remove3/4 inches of insulation from the individual insulated wires using the wire strippers.

  14. Needle nose pliers
  15. Using the needle nose pliers, make loops in the ends of the stripped wires in the outlet device boxes.

  16. Lineman's pliers
  17. Cut 6-inch lengths of bare copper wire for grounding pigtail splices, one for each of the duplex receptacles except the last one and one for the switch. splice one pigtail to the two bare copper grounding wires entering each box. Make the splices by holding their ends side by side and twisting them together in a right hand twist. Complete the splice by screwing on a wire nut.

  18. Wire cutters
  19. Install the duplex receptacles. Attach the wires to the receptacles by placing the wires under the screws in a clockwise direct. Affix the black wires to the brass screws, the white wires to the silver screws, and the bare copper wires to the green grounding screws.

  20. Screwdrivers
  21. Install the light switch. splice the two white wires together. Hook one black wire to the bottom brass screw on the switch and the other to the top brass colored screw. Connect the grounding pigtail to the green screw. Wrap the terminal screws with tape.

  22. Light Switch with Faux Wood coverplate
  23. Install the light switch. splice the two white wires together. Hook one black wire to the bottom brass screw on the switch and the other to the top brass colored screw. Connect the grounding pigtail to the green screw. Wrap the terminal screws with tape.

  24. Turn the main breaker off and remove the cover to the service panel. Remove two "Knock outs" from the side of the panel box and install the cable connectors.

  25. Install the Arc Fault circuit breakers. Depending on the style panel you have these breakers may simply snap into place or they may be secured to the panel's Buss Bars by screws. Uncoil their white pigtail wires and attach them to the panel's neutral bar.

  26. Install the home-run cables in the panel. Attach the black and the white circuit conductors to the brass colored and silver colored screws on the breakers respectively. Connect the bare grounding conductors to the panels grounding Buss Bar.

  27. Close up the service panel. With the newly installed Arc Fault breakers in the off position, turn on the main breaker. DO NOT turn on the new breakers until after the ceiling has been finished and the lighting fixtures installed. For safety, cap off the wires in the lighting outlet box with wire nuts until the fixture is installed.

About the Author

Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jerry Walch has been writing articles for the DIY market since 1974. His work has appeared in “Family Handyman” magazine, “Popular Science,” "Popular Mechanics," “Handy” and other publications. Walch spent 40 years working in the electrical trades and holds an Associate of Applied Science in applied electrical engineering technology from Alvin Junior College.