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Residential Wiring Diagrams

Residential wiring diagrams are an important tool for completing your electrical projects. An electrical wiring diagram can be as simple as a diagram showing how to install a new switch in your hallway, or as complex as the complete electrical blueprint for your new home.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

Hooking Up a Generator to the House Panel
Using a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit
for Backup Power

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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Home Wiring Diagrams
Wiring diagrams can be helpful in many ways, including illustrating wire colors, showing where different elements of your project go using electrical symbols, and showing what wire goes where. This is why a good wiring diagram is important for wiring your home safely.

Keep your wiring diagrams nearby. You’ll want to refer to them often as you work on your project.

Electrical Wire Colors:

Electrical wiring diagrams that are in color have an advantage over ones that are black and white only.
*The individual wires on the diagram should be colored the same as the actual wires you will be using.
Green or bare wire is the ground wire.
White or off-white is neutral. The neutral wire carries power back to the service panel.
Black indicates the hot wire. The hot wire carries power from the panel to the device you are wiring.
Red blue, or other colors also indicate hot wires.
electrical wire colorsSee more about the types of wire and what they are used for. More about wire

*Important Note: When wires or cables such as Romex are used with switching applications and as Switch Legs, the function of a colored wire may be different from what is noted here. The only way to positively identify wires used for any application is to purchase a good volt tester and understand how to use it.
More about electrical testers

Electrical Wiring Symbols

When looking at any wiring diagram, start by familiarizing yourself with the symbols that are being used.
The electrical symbols will not only show where something is to be installed, but what type of device is being installed.
Make sure you understand the symbols on your diagram before beginning your project. There should be a chart on your diagram showing what the different symbols being used represent, much like a legend on a map.

home wiring diagram A surface ceiling light will be shown by one symbol, a recessed ceiling light will have a different symbol, and a surface fluorescent light will have another symbol. Each type of switch will have a different symbol and so will the various outlets. You’ll even find symbols showing the location of smoke detectors, your doorbell chime, and the thermostat.
Click on the link to find out more about the different electrical wiring diagram symbols

Light Switches
When it comes to household electricity, there’s a lot more to consider than simply turning a switch On or Off. Some of the most common questions electricians receive involve switches. Once you understand the different types of switches and follow a good wiring diagram, you should be able to install a new switch in your home or repair existing problems with the ones you have.

Here are some of the more common switching configurations.
After absorbing the following information, you will be able to wire switches just as well as the pros:

Single-Pole Switches
A Single-Pole Switch provides switching from one location only. Single-Pole may sound simple, but there are different ways to wire a Single-Pole Switch. The power can come from either the switch box or the fixture box and a set of electrical wiring diagrams will explain each of these scenarios to you clearly.
Single-Pole Switch Wiring Diagrams
Three-way Switch Wiring Diagram 3-Way Switches
3-Way Switches are used to control one or more fixtures from two different locations. This is a common configuration in hallways and staircases. There are many ways to wire a 3-Way Switch. The power can start at a fixture or either of the two switches. Without a wiring diagram it can be very easy to make a serious mistake that will cause the circuit to malfunction and possibly become a hazard.
Knob Dimmer Wiring Diagram Dimmer Switches
A wiring diagram will even take the mystery out of wiring a
3-Way Dimmer Switch

A dimmer switch can be either a rotary or a sliding switch that lets you adjust the intensity of a light. Both are wired the same way. What a great way to enjoy softer light and a reduced energy bill!
Slide Dimmer Wiring Diagrams
4-Way Switches

One of the most complicated wiring configurations is a
4-Way Switch
These switches enable you to control one or more fixtures from three or more locations. It would be almost impossible to write the instructions in a way that you could simply read them and complete your project. However, a good wiring diagram will make it possible for you to successfully and safely tackle wiring 4-Way Switches.

Four-Way Switch Wiring Diagram
Residential wiring diagrams for switches Safety when Wiring Switches
As important as electrical wiring diagrams are to the successful completion of your wiring project, safety and respect for electricity are essential. Never work on live circuits. Before you begin your project, identify the circuit you’re working on and then turn off power to that circuit at the main panel. Then confirm that the power is off with a voltage tester.
IMPORTANT:If at any time you feel unsure about what you’re doing, please call a licensed electrical contractor.

More about Wiring Light Switches
Single Pole Switches
Wiring diagrams that explain the basic wiring for lighting control from a single switch location.

3-Way Switches
Once you see these wiring diagrams you will understand how to wire 3-way switches.
3-Way Dimmer Switches
Take the mystery out of wiring a 3-way dimmer switch and enjoy softer light and a reduced energy bill when you use one of these wiring diagrams.

4-Way Switches
Did you know – you can have any number of these switches installed on one control circuit? Once you see how these switches are wired you’ll be amazed, its just one more step up from the 3-way design – you have to see these wiring-diagrams!

Resources to help you with Home Wiring
Electrical Wiring Outlets for the Home
110 Volt Outlets
220 Volt Outlets
Residential Wiring Diagrams

More about Home Electrical
Home Electrical Wiring for Bathrooms
Home Electrical Wiring for Bedrooms
Home Electrical Wiring for Kitchens
Home Electrical Wiring for Home Office
Home Electrical Wiring for Laundry Room
Home Electrical Wiring for Garages
Home Electrical Wiring for Workshops
Home Electrical Wiring Diagrams for Outlets
Electrical Wiring Diagram Symbols

Ask The Electrician – Main page

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book
Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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