My time this week has been spent making half a dozen videos for the You Tube efforts I put out. I am trying to assemble some notes/tips for newbies about putting in electrics. However, I thought I would share some thoughts here too before showing you any actual work done on my house ..... truth is there isn't any actual work done..... but I swear, now all the kit is out, I will be adding lights to the basement tomorrow.
First decision when wiring a house is which system you want to use. Round wire v. copper tape. In discussion with a real expert and all round gentleman of wiring we did agree that round wiring is probably slightly better than copper tape. His thinking was that in the hands of the average person copper tape can be fraught with issues. He also said that it is not as long-lasting or easily repairable as the wired system is and really needed to be assembled with some good soldering. You should also avoid acid wallpapers as they can have an effect on the copper wires over time. If you do have a problem with it you will have to locate the 'break' (not so easy when covered with paper) and then you you'll probably have to strip a room or rooms to get it sorted. With the other method if you sit your round wiring in deep grooves under the floor covering (make sure the floor covering is easy to remove) it is not such an issue to deal with a single light that has gone out for some reason. It also means that you could just replace a light or fire with something you like 'better' at a later stage.
For round wiring you will need to be able drill holes where the light will hang and make a groove from there to the back wall with a further hole through that wall to allow the wire through to the power source at the back of the house. All of this, of course, assumes a front opening house with wiring going through to the back. You may need to vary this depending on what you're building.
Drilling holes can't be done with a normal power drill once the house is built as, usually, you only have a 7 to 10 inch space between floors and you can't get a drill in there vertically. You can buy a right angle drill attachment for your power drill or even a specific right angle electric drill and these will do the job beautifully. Most people will find that they can manage very well with various manual drills - again not in the usual size but there are small drills for tight spaces if you look around the web. A pin vice will do but needs a lot of pressure. An Archimedes or screw drill is a bit easier and you can get the little old-fashioned sort with a winding handle. I did say a pin vice needs a lot of pressure but to be honest I find all drilling is best done by someone with muscles. It takes me about three times longer than my husband to make a hole in MDF even with a power drill.
Cutting grooves is a bit more fraught especially if you are going to be doing a lot of wiring. One way round this (I haven't done it) is to surface lay (no grooves) all your wiring across the ceiling or across the floor above and add a false floor or ceiling to cover the wires. In effect you are making a sandwich of the kit floor along with a piece of card or foam-board or maybe thin ply (?) and a few strips of something between to make supporting spacers. I wonder how much that layer would show from the front of the house when it is open? Maybe you could add a trim?
If you do make grooves the most basic way to cut one is with a steel ruler and a knife. Cut the line you want using steel rule and knife and then a line in parallel nearby and then gouge out the wood between using the knife or lino cutter or v-shaped chisel. It is much easier to use a rotary tool with a carving attachment.
|cut lines with a knife, channel with rotary drill and tidy up with a file|
When you have the required hole and groove, thread the wires through the hole, lay them down in the groove, exit through the back, tug gently to make them lie neatly in the groove and then tape them down with some masking tape to make sure they stay that way.
|don't remember now why the hole and groove aren't in the same place, but there was a reason|
Most lights come with a plug attached; this will need to be removed by pulling out the two pins, releasing the wire and removing the plug. You then replace the plug by reversing the process at the back of the house if you are going to plug it into a gang plank type socket. This will then go to an adapter and then the power source. I don't use these power strips but this is one I had in the beginning of my mini life.
I don't like putting plugs back on - it is a fiddly job and the power strips are generally cheaply made and not wonderful. The whole thing can also be extremely bulky if you have a project with a lot of lights and fires.
I'll show you an alternative method when I get to that stage. For now there is enough here to get you started - along with the videos if you want them. I warn you they are rank amateur and are not to be taken as an instruction - just sharing.
Friday: Have posted the first 'electric' video - just click on the YouTube link at the top of the left hand column.