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Installation of Additional Lighting and Power Outlets

The ability to charge cell phones, tablets, computers and other electronic devices is a basic need. Having plenty of outlets and switches throughout the house helps you get the electricity you need, when you need it.

Adding an additional outlet to your home is fairly easy, but there are some important considerations you should know before you begin.

Install the Light Fixture

Installing a light fixture isn’t difficult and can be done with just a few basic household tools. This DIY-friendly project is an excellent way to save money and avoid a costly call to an electrician.

First, remove the old light fixture and any glass globe or cover that might be in place. Next, find the mounting screws that attach the fixture to the junction box.

If you’re installing a new fixture, it should come with a bracket that connects to the ceiling or wall. This bracket is often a round or square piece that’s screwed into place.

Once you have the fixture in place, use your wire nut to bundle together the black, white and ground wires. If you don’t have a wire nut, use a pair of pliers to strip away about half an inch of insulation on the wires and expose the metal wires.

Wires are typically labeled by color: a black (hot) wire, a white (neutral) wire and a green ground wire. This ground wire will most likely either connect to a screw on the grounding bar in your home or to a dedicated copper wire coming from the electrical box in the ceiling.

Install the Outlet

Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, adding a home theater or putting up a motion sensor camera, you may need additional lighting and power outlets. These projects are usually a little more complicated than standard outlet wiring, but you can still do them safely as long as you are familiar with the basics.

Step 2: Run a cable from the circuit breaker panel to your new outlet location. The easiest and least expensive way is to use Romex(r) cable, which is commonly known as “Type NM” wire.

The length of the wire should be determined by the size of the circuit breaker you have installed. For example, a 14-2 cable would require a 15 amp circuit breaker.

The bare copper ground wire should be connected to the green screw of your new exterior GFCI outlet (or any other metal box). This is a simple process, as long as the hook you use on the short end of the bare copper grounding wire connects properly to the green terminal of the outlet.

Install the Switch

If you’re familiar with the basics of home electrical wiring, installing a switch and power outlet is a DIY project that can save you money. However, if you have no experience in the area, hiring a professional is always a good idea.

To install a switch, begin by disconnecting the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box. Then, remove the switch plate and loosen the screws that hold the switch in place.

Use a non-contact voltage tester to check that the switch doesn’t have any hot wires connected. If you have more than one switch in the same box, test each before working with them.

Once you’ve tested the switches, pull them out of the boxes and wrap a piece of black electrician’s tape around the end of each hot wire to indicate that it carries power. Repeat this step for each switch. Then, connect each hooked end to the screw terminals on the new switch.

Test the Outlet

Electrical outlets are located throughout your home, giving you the ability to plug in lamps, televisions, and other devices. It’s important to make sure that your outlets are functioning properly.

A good way to do this is with a multimeter. This small device allows you to measure volts, current, and resistance.

When testing for voltage, hold one of the meter probes to the neutral terminal and insert the other in the live terminal. If the reading is zero, it means that the wires are grounded correctly.

If you find a reading between the neutral and ground, the wiring is reversed. This might not pose a problem for a light fixture, but it could be unsafe for electronics like computers and appliances.

Another way to test an outlet is with a circuit tester. This tool is placed into the outlet like a plug and has lights that indicate if it’s working.

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