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Adding Receptacles

Once you find a usable power source, adding a receptacle is easy to figure out. Most of the work is cutting the wall, installing a box, fishing the cable, and patching the wall. You can tap into an existing receptacle, as shown on this page, only if it is at the end of a wiring run. If it’s in the middle of a run, all of its terminals will be occupied.

1. Begin making connections. NOTE: Shut off power. Find a receptacle box where you can draw power without overcrowding the box or overloading the circuit. (You also can draw power from a junction box. Just connect to the hot and neutral wires instead of to the receptacle.) Install the new receptacle box. Run a two-wire cable from the existing box to the new box. Remove the screws that secure the existing receptacle to the box, and pull it out so you can work on it. Connect the ground wires in both boxes.

2. Complete the connections. At the existing box, connect the black wire to the hot receptacle terminal, which is brass-colored. Connect the white wire to the other terminal. At the new box, also connect the black wire to the hot terminal and the white wire to the other terminal. Wrap both receptacles with electrician’s tape so that all the terminals are covered. Fasten both receptacles in place, turn on power and test your installation. Finally, attach the receptacle plates.

Adding 240-Volt Receptacles

Some 240-volt equipment— central air-conditioning units and electric water heaters, for example—have no plugs and are wired directly into junction boxes because they do not need to be moved. Ranges, clothes dryers, and other appliances are connected by cords and plugs and require special receptacles. The wiring requirements for 240-volt circuits are specific. For a 30-amp dryer, use a 30-amp breaker and 10-gauge wire. For a 50-amp range, use a 50-amp breaker and 6-gauge wire. Choose a receptacle designed to provide the correct amperage for your appliance and has holes to match the prongs on the plug.

240-volt wiring - NOTE: Shut off the power. Wiring starts at a 240-volt breaker or fuse in the service panel and ends at a specially designed receptacle. A 240-volt circuit should supply only one appliance; no other receptacles can be attached to it. Connect 120-volt wires to a breaker and the neutral wire to the neutral bus.

Wall-mounted 240-volt receptacle - Install a receptacle box and run 10-3 cable (for a 30-amp breaker) or 6-3 cable (for a 50-amp breaker) to it. Strip the black, red, and white wires to the length marked on the receptacle housing and attach.

Floor-mounted 240-volt receptacle - If no outlet box is available, you can install this unit on the floor. Position it so it won’t get bumped when you move the appliance. Remove the cover and connect the neutral wire to the terminal marked “white,” and the red and black wires to the other terminals.

Surface-mounted 240-volt receptacle for basement or garage - Install a box and run conduit to the desired location. Fish red, black, and white 10- or 6-gauge wire. Strip wires and insert them into the slots in the terminals as shown; tighten the screws.

Caution! Danger! High Voltage! Wiring for 240-volt receptacles is no different from 120-volt lines except that the danger is much, much greater. Even if you are dry and are wearing rubber-soled shoes, a jolt of this current could do you serious physical harm and perhaps even kill you. Check and double-check that the power is off before installing a 240-volt receptacle. This is one job where you may want to call in an experienced electrician, just for safety's sake.

Installing Outdoor Lighting

If you have eaves overhanging an I exterior door, it makes sense to install a light there, where it will be better protected from weather than a wall-mounted unit would be. You’re also likely to find it easy to run cable from an attic junction box to the eaves. Consider installing a motion-detector floodlight. These are quite inexpensive, and if you wire it to be controlled with a regular wall switch, you can switch off the motion-sensing feature.

1. Cut a hole in the eaves. NOTE: Shut off the power. Draw an outline of the new box—a retrofit box with wings for attaching to the eaves will probably work best. Drill starter holes, and cut the hole with a saber saw or a keyhole saw.

2. Run the cable, install the box. Fish cable and make connections to an interior switch . Connect the cable to the new box, and firmly attach the box to the eaves.

3. Wire the floodlight. Connect the wires to the floodlight using wire connectors, and screw the light firmly to the box. If your unit has a motion detector, wait until nighttime and adjust the direction of the sensor so it turns on as people approach the door.

Install a Low-Voltage Lighting System - For highlighting your landscaping, the easiest and least costly choice is low-voltage lighting. Kits containing 10 or more lights, a transformer, and lots of wire are inexpensive and readily available. Installation is simple: Assemble the lights, and attach the cable. The lights usually can be poked into the ground, and you don’t need to dig a trench for the wiring—just cover it with a bit of mulch. Fasten the transformer to a wall at least 3 feet above the ground and plug it into an outdoor receptacle.

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