Laying electric cables featured

More laying out: electric cables

With the water tubing in place, I rolled out quite a lot of electrical cabling (those of you that already noticed in the photos, well done!). As with the water this required some planning beforehand, as we were trying to find out what we wanted to go where. But we managed, and how!

Before we start a little warning: I plan to use some kind of home automation. With future flexibility in my mind, I have placed a lot more of the outlets on a wire going straight to the electrical distribution cabinet. In a regular, old-school wiring fashion one would have a single cable going to the first outlet of that circuit, then onto the next and so on until all outlets of the circuit are reached. This in itself then determines what outlets are on what circuit. With the setup I’ve laid out I still have the flexibility of moving outlets from one circuit to another (at the expense of more, dare I say a lot more, wire to be put in place). This means I didn’t have to think about circuits yet, although in my mind I already made some kind of division. Just a heads-up.

Choices, choices, choices

I’m an engineer with (among others) a passion for electricity and anything automation. It should come as no surprise I’m aiming for a little more than just a run-of-the-mill standard electrical installation. So before you can even start planning your outlets and switches and all the rest, there are some hard choices one needs to make.

How far apart do you space your outlets?

It is my belief one can never have too many outlets (unless you’re going absurd and making a caricature of it by placing them next to each other along the length of your walls). I chose to try never to be further away from an outlet than 3 – 4 meter.

How many outlets at each location?

How many outlets do you want at each location? One? Two? Three? Even more? It’s a matter of cost versus practicality.

Even though this isn’t something I really needed to decide now, I did think about it. Especially if you’re going the old school route it can pay of to think about it. The more outlets, the more the current demand can be (but it doesn’t necessarily has to be). I opted for double outlets at most of the locations, which, combined with the previous remark, should suffice.

How about switches?

Again one that didn’t concern me right now, but again, if going old school, you might want to think about it as well. Old school means cable from cabinet to switch, from switch to light, and that first cable possibly lies down on the floor (underneath it actually).

Any special requests?

And then there’s the little special things you need to pay attention to as well. Anything electrical installation related in Belgium needs to comply with the AREI (Algemeen Reglement op de Electrische Installaties – General Regulations for Electrical Installations) as per the law. One of the things in it is about washing machines and dryers. They both need to have a separate electrical circuit, with their own breaker and so on. So even if you’re going old school, you still need to know this, it needs to be an extra two circuits!

What’s going where?

Armed with the answers to the above questions, I could fire away! Wiring for outlets always needs to be done with wire of at least 2.5 mm² copper section (AREI requirement), so all wiring (except one) in this post is done with 2.5 mm² wire.

The kitchen

First all the necessary outlets for our appliances needed to be taken into account: one for the fridge, one for the oven, and one for the microwave all located nearly at the same place.

Laying electrics kitchen fridge oven

Then we move over to the counter against the wall, underneath the window. There will be twin outlets at each side of the counter, and a single outlet for the dishwasher. As the washing machine and dryer, the dishwasher also needs its own circuit.

Laying electrics kitchen overview

On both sides of the sliding glass door we want an outlet, so two more cables to go!

Laying electrics kitchen detail

Last but not least: the island. We’re planning to have the stove (an induction one, yay!) on the island, and some of those fancy outlets that rise out of the counter as well. For the outlets I put a regular cable (as before), but for the stove I put a slightly bigger cable. According to its specification, the stove could draw up to 10kW. To be able to deliver that kind of power, I picked a 6 mm² cable with 5 wires (we have a 3 phase 230V connection, so I need at least 4 cables to connect to that). It might be overkill, it’s a bit of a pain to work with (less flexible), but the hell I will not be able to fully use the stove!

The storage room

The washing machine and the dryer both have their own circuit. I used a cable with 5 wires in it to keep me from having to roll out two cables next to each other.

Then there are two outlets in this room that are just above the ground, one at each door (or door-to-be).

Laying electrics storage detail

The entryway

In that last photo you also see an outlet in the entryway, right next to the door-to-be to the storage room.

Next up is a cable for the telephone. Well, it’s actually just an ethernet network cable, but that can be used for telephony as well. I’m not planning on a lot of telephony cables across the house, so this seems like a nice solution. It’s definitely not unheard of.

Laying electrics entrance detail

And then there’s another outlet right next to the front door as well.

The basement

The basement’s electricity naturally goes underground, so this one needed to be tackled as well. As with the washing machine and dryer, one cable, 5 wires is all I need for outlets and lighting. It’s that cable going straight into the wall in the photo above.

The living room

You might not have seen this one coming, but the living room actually is just at the other side of the wall of the entryway. So for anything that needs to go into this wall living-room-side, now is the time!

As this wall is the wall where our future tv and home entertainment is going up against, I put quite a lot of cable in it now. There’s again a cable with 5 wires for power, there’s a network cable for telephony, there’s 6 more network cables for anything home media with a wired network connection (TV, amplifier, HTPC, digital tv decoder, Playstation, etc – all cat6 ofcourse). And don’t forget the coax cable for tv and radio distribution still in use with a cable subscription.

Laying electrics living room

That’s quite a lot of cable, crossing the entryway, all neatly tied together. On the other side it looks like this now.

Laying electrics coming together

All power cables are bundled to the left, all data cables to the right. It’s all about avoiding interference (at least I try).

Keeping it all in place

It’s the same method as the one for the water tubing: drill enough holes, put plugs in said holes, and screw some band iron in, holding the cabling in place. This time I did go up to four cables before needing another screw (opposed to three for the water). Trusty Makita to the rescue!

I know there are other methods out there as well. I chose to do it this way because it’s reliable, flexible, and quite cheap. Concrete nails for instance would have been faster to use, but certainly not as flexible. There are special clips available, but you still need to drill holes and the clips are quite expensive. It takes some time, but once you get the hang of it, it actually goes quite fast.

Final thoughts

I love electricity. Especially after starting my engineering education. I love planning it, I like to get my hands dirty placing it, and even troubleshooting it can be fun (even though that part still has to come). How about you, what’s the part that really talks to you when thinking about doing things yourself?

With the electricity and the water done, we’re ready for the next step.

Laying electrics entrance done

Laying electrics storage overview

Yeah, I’m a bit OCD, even on stuff I’m never going to see again. Ordnung muss sein!

On another note: I’m still not convinced: long posts, or short ones?