Circuits for home improvement electrical systems

Now let’s get into some circuit runs for home improvement electrical projects. We’ll start with a plain outlet receptacle. Your local codes will indicate the number of minimum electrical outlets each wall will need.

Home wiring for electrical outlets is a circuit that can run from outlet to outlet along the wall and can service many outlets.

The circuit can also feed power to light switches, but I’ll keep it simple to better explain the process.
I prefer to have a lot of outlets. Most electrical inspectors encourage homeowners to have more outlets than needed these days for future expansion.

In these modern times where we have computers, the peripherals for the computer like printers, scanners, speakers, monitors, and external drives can completely fill up one eight-slot surge protector with several things left to plug in.

It’s the same for TV/Stereo entertainment centers. Remember, outlet boxes and receptacles are very inexpensive so definitely put in plenty outlets.

I thought I had gone way overboard by putting outlets about every eight feet. Still there are times when I could use another plug.

The picture below shows how to connect a plain receptacle in the middle of the circuit and at the end of a circuit run. In the middle of a circuit run, one cable comes into the box and one cable goes out of the box on to the next receptacle or switch.

At the end of the run, there is just a cable coming into the box, so only one hot terminal and one neutral terminal screw is used. Hot terminal screws are usually brass colored and neutral terminal screws are silver. The ground wire attaches to a grounding screw that is usually green.

electric wiring diagram

You will have to use only GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles in the kitchen, bathrooms, and outside outlets. It is a code requirement for home improvement electrical wiring upgrades.

You will want to wire the GFCI receptacles in a pigtail style and not in a continuous circuit like normal receptacles. You can wire GFCI receptacles like normal receptacles where you have both incoming and outgoing hot and neutral wires on each side, but if a GFCI trips, then everything after it on the circuit will be dead until the GFCI is reset. Not only that, but when you put too many loads on a GFCI, it will trip more often and you will be resetting it constantly.

It’s better to make a splice off of the circuit with wire nuts and have only one hot and one neutral going into the “line” terminals on each side. That is called a “pigtail”.


The picture below shows a basic diagram of receptacle outlet wiring.

wiring diagrams

Next, let’s move on to the home electrical lighting. There are a few different kinds of light switches, but they all have one thing in common.

A switch is just a voltage interrupter within the hot wires that either completes the circuit, or breaks it. This shows some of the basic light switches that are used frequently in residential construction.

wiring lights

Single-pole switches activate a light or lights, from only one location. Three-way switches activate a light or lights from two locations. Four-way switches activate a light or lights from more than two locations.

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Next, complex lighting circuits

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