Improper wiring in a house raises the risk of fire and electrocution. However, with a little planning, the risks can be successfully avoided. Also, placing the switches and sockets at the correct height means that you will not have to bend or jump to use them. And admit it, dangling wires are a nasty sight too.
Although electrical wiring should preferably be done by certified experts, in case you want to go the DIY way use this guide that we created keeping convenience and safety requirements in mind. Also, do not forget to have it inspected and approved by a local building inspector.
- Wherever there is a switch or a socket, the wiring must be vertical to it.
- Wires should be at least 10 cm (4 in) away from doors and windows.
- The main lighting switch should be placed near the door at a height of about 75-90 cm (30-35 in).
- Switches for pantries should be located in the hallway.
- Switches for rooms should be located inside the room and the same is true for the kitchen as well.
- Inside rooms, sockets should be installed at a height of 30 cm (12 in) from the floor, and switches at a height of 90 cm (35 in) from the floor.
How to plan your socket layout
- Make a plan for your room setup and draw it out on a piece of paper. Mark all your furniture items as well as your electrical appliances like TVs, computers, sound systems, etc.
- Then mark all the socket points you will need (including for your internet and telephone).
- Aesthetically, it is desirable to have the socket for all stationary items like TVs and computers placed behind the items themselves to keep them, as well as their wires, hidden.
- Sockets for items which will be used regularly like, for example, vacuum cleaners, should be placed on open walls at a height of 30 cm (12 in) above the floor.
Wiring the bathroom
Most modern bathrooms need sockets inside for appliances like hairdryers, razors, etc. Also, you will need wiring for items like Jacuzzis, heaters, and exhaust fans, and maybe even a washing machine.
- The outlet for the Jacuzzi and shower can be installed behind the wall since they will not have to be regularly plugged and unplugged.
- Near the bathroom mirror (usually placed above the sink) you can have a couple of outlets for small appliances, like a hairdryer.
- In some countries, the washing machine is often placed in the bathroom. If the size of the bathroom allows, you can also create space and add a socket for this. Bear in mind that the sockets for this appliance should be located at a distance of at least 50-60 cm (20-24 in) from the water pipes.
- Sockets and switches in the bathroom must comply with the standard for wet rooms (protection class at least IP44) and should be properly grounded.
Wiring the kitchen
The kitchen needs more wiring, sockets, and switches than any other room in the house. You will need sockets for a refrigerator, an electric range, an exhaust hood over the stove, and a microwave. Also, you might have a dishwasher, a mixer, a blender, a coffee grinder, a coffee maker, a juicer, a waffle maker, a sandwich maker, and a bunch of other types of small appliances, all of which will need a power supply. While wiring the kitchen, you must keep in mind the following points:
- You will need at least 5 sockets for appliances that will remain permanently plugged in.
- For the refrigerator, the socket is usually behind it. If you keep a microwave over your fridge, its outlet can also be located behind the fridge.
- If you are going to use an electric range, that will need separate wiring and a separate socket.
Wiring the bedroom
- If your bedroom has a classic layout, with a bed in the center and one bedside table on each side, then you will need 2 sockets next to each of them for connecting the lamps and charging mobile phones and tablets. The same number of sockets are needed if you have an arrangement with 2 separate beds.
- TVs are also usually present in the bedroom, so you will need sockets for that too, preferably hidden behind it.
- For houses that don’t have central air, the air-conditioner sockets should be placed near the windows where you wish to install them to avoid any dangling wires.
How to Wire a Bath Fan and Light with Two Individual Switches
How to install a smart light switch
Things you’ll need
- A Philips head screw driver
- A flat head screw driver
- A smart light switch that fits your wall switch and wiring setup (more on this later)
- Wire cutters
- Wire connectors
- A flashlight or battery-operated lantern
- Electrical tape
How to install a smart light switch
Step 1: 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 a smart light switch, 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.
Step 2: Choose a smart light switch. Once you familiarize yourself with your wiring setup, choose a smart light switch that fits your situation.
With two-gang switches, you can run into traveler wires and other unique situations. Therefore, the instructions moving forward will assume a single-gang smart light switch with a neutral wire, like Wemo’s smart light switch.
Step 3: Remove your old light switch. Ensure the power is off at the breaker. Disconnect the old light switch completely by disconnecting each wire one by one. Take note of which wire is which as disconnect them to avoid confusion later. It helps to label the wires with colored electrical tape so you can keep track of them
Step 4: Connect your smart light switch. Connect the wires on your smart light switch to the wires inside your wall. Connect the “in” wire to the “in” wire, the “out” wire to the “out” wire, the “ground” wire to the “ground” wire, and the “neutral” wire to the “neutral” wire. Secure your connections with wire connectors, and make sure you don’t have any loose or exposed wire in the box (note: the ground wire might be a bare wire).
Once you’ve made all of the connections and secured them, test your connections by turning on the power. If your switch has power, move onto the next step. If your switch does not have power, re-check all of your connections.
Step 5: Secure the smart light switch in place. Turn the power back off at the breaker. Neatly place the wires connections into the wall box. Sometimes, it’s a tight fit, and it’s hard to get the wires into the box. As tempting as it is to forcefully shove them in the box, take your time and neatly place them to avoid loosening the connections or creating a fire hazard.
Once you’ve fit the wires in the box, screw the smart light switch into place. Then, turn the power back on at the breaker to make sure you didn’t break any of the connections. If your connections are all intact, snap on the wall plate, and begin setup in the app.
Step 6: Connect your smart light switch to Wi-Fi. Install the smart light switch’s corresponding app and connect the switch to your network. Once you get the switch connected to the app, name the switch and connect it to Alexa or Google Home and start voice-controlling your lights.
- Read the smart light switch’s instruction manual thoroughly to ensure you understand its wiring and setup.
- Your wiring setup might be different in different rooms throughout your home. Don’t assume all of your wall switches have the same wiring setup.
- If you experience issues connecting your switch to the app, make sure you have it on a 2.4 GHz network. You can also try resetting the switch, which typically involves holding down the button that turns the light on for about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install a two or three-gang smart light switch, and on how to install a smart light switch without a neutral wire.
Have you learned something new from this article? Let us know which other guidelines you would follow if you had to re-wire your home. And if you know someone who is moving into a new house, share this article with them and spare them of the hassle of having to look for this information all over the internet.