We’re Gonna Rock Down to Electric Avenue

July 14, 2016

…And then we’ll take it higher…

Confession: I miiiight have planned to use this song lyric as the heading to the electricity post before we even started on the house. The song is actually really weird, and I have no clue what it’s about, but I’ve probably sung the chorus in my head at least a 1000 times in the last few months. Every time we do anything with the electricity, this song pops in my head. And, now I bet you’ll be singing it for a while, too. You’re welcome!

Anyway, you guessed it, this post is about electricity and wiring the house for power. I should clarify now that I don’t fully understand what went on here, so this might end up just being a bunch of pictures. Also, this process was a good few months ago, plus I was in and out of town a lot, so I missed a few steps along the way and barely remember the rest. We’ll just get started and see how it goes!

Wires. All the wires. Wires everywhere.

Wires. All the wires. Wires everywhere.

The first step in wiring a house is to decide where all the lights, switches, and outlets need to go. Some of those items go in pretty obvious spaces, but you also have to think about needs for the future and random needs every household ends up having. Eric and I took the 5 steps it takes to walk around the house to decide where all these thing need to go. We marked each outlet and light switch with different colored duct tape to keep things straight.

From there, Eric attached outlet boxes to the studs in their correct spots. He then mapped out which outlets would be on which breakers. The AC and water heater outlets were each on their own breakers, and the other outlets and light switches were divided up to share the other breakers. We had a bit of a hard time find the right size breaker box, but eventually got that figured out using a 125 amp box with 12 breakers. The only reason we needed a box this big was to have enough breakers on the same side of the box and have a main breaker to turn the entire house’s power off and on. Eric then ran wire from the breaker box to each outlet, switch, and junction box through holes drilled in the studs.

We marked the outlet locations with duct tape (white for outlets / grey for switches) and then Eric went back and attached the boxes.

We marked the outlet locations with duct tape (white for outlets / grey for switches) and then Eric went back and attached the boxes.

Eric is attaching the living room ceiling light junction boxes.

Eric is drilling a hole through the ceiling beam to run the wire through to attach to the living room ceiling light junction boxes.

The two living room light locations.

The two living room light locations. Now working on the junction box for the light over the table.

Before outlets...

Before outlets…

...And After! Plus, and HDMI outlet was added. All those wires are going through the studs.

…And After! Plus, an HDMI outlet was added. All those wires are going through the studs.

Putting the wires through the studs in the corners required a drill bit like none other. But, alas, I forgot to take a picture of it.

Putting the wires through the studs in the corners required a drill bit like none other. But, alas, I forgot to take a picture of it.

Wiring the house and working on the outlets and switches

Wiring the house and working on the outlets and switches

Thankful that Eric knows what he's doing!

Thankful that Eric knows what he’s doing! If it were up to me, we’d be using candles.

*No one was shocked in the wiring of this house.

*No one was shocked in the wiring of this house.

Putting the outlets in the boxes

Putting the outlets in the boxes

Running everything to the breaker box and figuring out that mess.

Running everything to the breaker box and figuring out that mess.

Too complicated for me.

Too complicated for me.

Breaker box

The breaker box

Along with figuring out where the light junction boxes would go, we also had to decide what kind of lights we would be using. We had already decided on LED lights so the amount of energy used would be as low as possible. What we didn’t realize is that there are about 11,000 combinations of brightness and color for LED lights. When standing in a Lowe’s isle looking at the samples, however, it’s really hard to tell what those lights will look like in the house. When the samples are all next to each other, no one can tell how bright an individual light is. And, when the blue white lights are next to the yellow white lights, you can’t tell what is normal anymore. 600 lumens or 1200 lumens? 5000 kelvins or 3000 kelvins? NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.

We decided on some recessed LED lights for the ceiling, and ordered them off Amazon. I wanted the lights to be a bit brighter and whiter so our small space would be as bright and open feeling as possible, so we went with 5000k at 900 lumens. Once all the wiring was in place, we tried out the light in the loft. When we turned on the light, it looked like an UFO was beaming Eric up to the heavens. SO BRIGHT. SO BLUE. So. Terrible. It was like a spot light, shining down from our ceiling and burning into the loft floor only 4 feet below. It was blindingly clear we chose the wrong light. (Pun!) We then debated wether we should have wall sconces in the loft to reflect the light up and onto the ceiling, or find a light with some sort of cover to diffuse the light into the whole space, not just spotlight it downward. We decided on the later. No matter what light we ended up choosing, we knew we were going to get something around 3000k – 3500k (a warmer, yellow white) and only about 600 lumens for the ceiling lights. We didn’t leave the lights in the junction boxes because we still needed to add the insulation, and the only point of wiring one up was to test the color and brightness and location on the ceiling. (I’ll talk about the other fixtures we chose for the rest of the house in a later post.)

Working at night to test the lights.

Working at night to test the lights.

Beaming up! No, no, no. Notice how the one spotlight of light is very intense, but doesn't light up the rest of the loft. This is not working.

Beaming up! No, no, no. It’s a little hard to tell in the picture, but the spotlight of light is very intense, while it doesn’t really light up the rest of the loft well. This is not going to work!

Once we had all the details confirmed for the lights, Eric was able to finish up the wiring. He then ran a grounding wire from the breaker box to the metal rod that helps hold the wall to the trailer. When we park somewhere, Eric with then run a wire from the trailer to the ground, so we will be officially grounded people. He also began working on the main wire that would hook us up to the grid. It took a while to figure out how to make the outside plug work, but sure enough, Eric figured it out. He then ran the very large cord from the breaker box through a hole he drilled out of the wall, and to the outside. Now, we couldn’t have a long cord dragging behind us as we drive down the highway, so he attached a small metal utility box to the back of the house that contains the cord.

Eric even wired the plug! Who is this guy?!

Eric even wired the plug! Who is this guy?!

The box to hold the power plug. (The white stuff on the edge of the box and "leaking" onto the green siding is just a sealer. It dried clear.)

The box to hold the power plug. (The white stuff on the edge of the box and “leaking” onto the green siding is just a sealer. It dried clear.)

Cord and plug box

Cord and plug box

There she is. Our power cord.

There she is. Our power cord.

Once the main power cord was installed, it was time to test every outlet and switch. Thank goodness everything worked, there were no sparks, and we didn’t burn the house down. Eric did a great job, and we’re also thankful for the help from his dad, David. Below is a video that really walks through the house to show where everything is located and how it all links together. I hate the sound of my voice on recordings, so it won’t hurt my feelings if you mute it. You’ll also get a sneak peak at the plumbing. Yes, the plumbing is already finished, but I’m still catching up, remember? Plumbing will be our next post, and it will be soon! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  • Reply Light It Up – Tiny House Lighting – the EM & EM tiny house March 19, 2017 at 12:27 AM

    […] You might remember reading about how we struggled with the brightness and whiteness of LED lights here. But, overall the installation of the ceiling lights was fairly straight forward and […]

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