Thursday, February 26, 2009

Electrical service

This post is a little out of date, but we had our cutover to our new 200 AMP electrical service a week and a half ago. I took some pictures of the friendly utility workers who came by to do some of the work. They actually came by a day early due to an ice storm warning, and did much of the work required then so they didn't have to climb up utility poles the next day. The advantage for us is that instead of having the power out for hours, it was only out for a few minutes on the cutover day because of all the advance work they did.

A couple comments on the new electrical. I love having breakers and not having overloaded circuits! I will say that I'm not a huge fan of arc-fault protectors. The new code requires arc-fault (AFCI) protection for all bedrooms. AFCI's are notorious for tripping and being really touchy with things like lamps and anything with a motor (don't use a reciprocating saw on an AFCI circuit). One of our new AFCI breakers tripped every time we turned on a table lamp. The cause was two wires that were slightly pinched in one of the boxes. Very hard to diagnose and yet another reason to hire professionals to do your wiring.

Also, our electricians insisted that they had to put light switches at 51" (or thereabouts). This meant that all our old light switches need patching as they were at 46-48". They told me this was code, but I can't find a single mention of a height for switch boxes in the code. I'm not happy about this because of all the extra plaster patching that I have to do. We've also noticed that we should have spent more time thinking about where to put switches and plugs in some of the rooms. The electricians put them where they thought they should go, and now that we're using them, we notice that not all of them are best placed.


  1. Except in special environments (kitchens, bathrooms, etc.), I don't know of anything in the NEC that specifies heights for light switches. I know that locally, code requires that outlets be a certain distance off the floor - this will create a problem for us in the future, should we ever do any major rewiring, as I really really like having outlets in the baseboard. Of course, none of this speaks to the CEC or any additional local building codes you may have to deal with.

    It's interesting to hear about your experience with AFIs. When we upgrade our breaker boxes, eventually, I plan to get GFCI breakers instead of GFCI outlets for our bathrooms. That way we won't have to remove a couple outlets in our bathrooms, which are in less than safe locations.

  2. You are right, your electrician is wrong. We are Electrical contractors and no, there is no code restriction for switch height. If there were, those with handicaps, wheelchairs would have an awful time. We personally have our switches at 42" and it's becoming common for our customers to request this height.
    Too bad they caused you that added patching expense. Love your blog by the way.