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Old 02-29-2008, 09:38 PM   #1
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


I've been reading in my spare time and got many of the texts recommended on the forum (I vetted some through the library first).

It gets long winded (when doesn't it, right?) but here are my thoughts:

- Wiring Simplified, Richter/Schwan/Hartwell, Recommended as a reference. 2008 edition hits the shelves some time this spring. 220+ pages in a handy small format (perfect for the bathroom) a technical but good overview for a novice. Heavy on text, a few useful diagrams. Authors are wedded to safety and the NEC. This book assumes you know something about electricity and basic wiring practices. For a pure newbie it was a great place to start, but it cannot stand alone to teach a novice DIYer how to wire/re-wire.

- Wiring a House, Cauldwell Recommended with reservations. Glossy and packed with useful diagrams. Author's tone is conversational and not a bit preachy. Comparable to any of the Big Box Store electrical guides - short on content compared to say the Black and Decker series. I was concerned by some categorical statements (thou shalt not X Y or Z) that the author made without explanation or citation.

- Wiring Diagrams, Professional Reference, DEWALT. Recommended only as an adjunct. It has diagrams for things like door bells, various configurations of switches and lights, box fill charts, etc. But, it will not teach you how do any of those things. Sure, I don't need to know how to properly seal conduits in gas pumps, but now I know where to find the information. I wouldn't have bought it, except that if I spent six more dollars my shipping from Amazon was free. It's fun to flip through.

- Electrical Wiring Residential, Mullin. Highly recommended. The fact that this is a textbook is reflected both in its content and price. The 16th edition includes the 2008 NEC changes. The concrete presentation of the information was genuinely useful (though I did not do the end of chapter tests). As a true novice, the book did a good job of giving me an impression of what it takes to be a good electrician and at the same time disabused me of any notion that reading a book alone would teach how to be one. Reading this cover to cover was time well spent. I will read it again.

- Your Old Wiring, Shapiro. Highly recommended. This is the clear authority on houses with old wiring. Of all the books it was written and organized in the most pleasant manner. It is meant to be read as a whole, not as a reference to pick and choose information from. The author starts with getting familiar with your system. This was crucial for a system like mine, that is a hybrid of several systems going back to turn of the century. All the books have a 'tools' chapter. The author takes it the next step and goes into detail about how to use them - the sections on how to properly strip a conductor and how to properly splice wires was priceless. Finally, a book that taught some technique, not just theory. The author provides tips and solutions for many common problems in re-wiring with 'old wiring'. He stops short of some more complex problems. The 2001 publication date is getting a little long in the tooth, but then again my wiring isn't getting any younger.


So, there you go.

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Old 02-29-2008, 09:41 PM   #2
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


Nice to see you have the Mullin text. It is a required text in first year of apprenticeship. I would also recommend it.

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Old 03-01-2008, 12:34 AM   #3
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


Is Mullins work availabler for those DIY'ers shopping at Home Depot / LOwes etc ?
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Old 03-01-2008, 05:32 AM   #4
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I liked Mike Holt's Understanding the National Electrical Code. It was a good visual reference for a few code questions I had. I also have Electrical Wiring: Residential and Wiring Simplified and agree with the reviews.
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:30 AM   #5
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


I have to say I can recommend all of those books too. (Except maybe the Dewalt one...only because I haven't read it) Mullin's book has a lot of info that other books don't. I like how everything has code references. I also like Shapiro's book, for several reasons. First, the author is a pro and knows what he is talking about. (many books like black and decker are written by a bunch of editors) There is lots of hands on info in it and his tips are excellent. There aren't any other books (besides his two) that deal solely on old wiring.

People always ask, what is a good all around wiring book? I don't think that one book can explain everything about wiring. (Obviously experience plays a big role as well)

But I have to ask, if someone asks you what book you recommend and they only want to buy one book on wiring, which would you choose?
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Old 03-01-2008, 10:54 AM   #6
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


For the average DIYer I would pick the Mullin.

For someone with 'Old' wiring I would pick the Shapiro.

But, to be truthful I would never pick just one book. That's like getting one estimate.
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Old 03-01-2008, 12:19 PM   #7
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingsmurf View Post
Is Mullins work availabler for those DIY'ers shopping at Home Depot / LOwes etc ?
don't know if it is available at the big box stores but you can get it on amazon.com or at barns and noble or borders i bought mine at amazon.com was cheaper than borders softcover version and mine was hard cover from amazon. I would highly recommend it I had to buy it for my vo-tech good book very informative at times it is a little hard to follo tho

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Old 03-01-2008, 01:33 PM   #8
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Frances View Post
But, to be truthful I would never pick just one book. That's like getting one estimate.
That is a profound statement. And right on the money.
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:57 PM   #9
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FYI: reviews of electrical DIY books


Quote:
Originally Posted by junkcollector View Post
I have to say I can recommend all of those books too. (Except maybe the Dewalt one...only because I haven't read it) Mullin's book has a lot of info that other books don't. I like how everything has code references. I also like Shapiro's book, for several reasons. First, the author is a pro and knows what he is talking about. (many books like black and decker are written by a bunch of editors) There is lots of hands on info in it and his tips are excellent. There aren't any other books (besides his two) that deal solely on old wiring.

People always ask, what is a good all around wiring book? I don't think that one book can explain everything about wiring. (Obviously experience plays a big role as well)

But I have to ask, if someone asks you what book you recommend and they only want to buy one book on wiring, which would you choose?
"Practical Electrical Wiring: Residential, Farm, Commercial & Industrial" by H.P. Richter and Frederic Hartwell, is absolutely fantastic. It is updated every code cycle. It was one of my very first "how-to" books on the subject of wiring. I got mine at a yard sale for $2.00, based on the 1984 Code. About 10 years out-of-date when I got it, but still very relevant and informative.

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