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Old 01-25-2012, 11:31 PM   #1
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Trunk and Branch wire organization


Good evening everyone,

First I'd just like to say:

Hello! Thanks for the insight I've found so far on DIYCR! Thanks in advance for putting time into this site and being willing to impart some knowledge and wisdom to teh Interwebz. I expect to learn a lot in the near future, and I'm looking forward to it.

Goofiness aside, I'd like to start my time on this forum soliciting thoughts on wiring a new two-story 16x32 foot house that was built by Tuffshed. My wife and I are doing the vast majority of finishing the interior, which leaves me somewhat free to put in an electrical system of my choosing. I have only done a limited amount of wiring before, but I understand the concepts and (stop me if you've heard this one before ) I'm not an idiot. (Time has been spent working on turboprop engines, molecular and microbiology labs, and other fun environments.) Anyway, my point is that if someone wants to explain things from a highly technical perspective, it would be very much appreciated and respected, and I apologize in advance if I seem abrasive. I'd just like to do things as well as possible, which is why, for example, I wasn't too happy to learn post de facto that one of the best ways to have the house grounded would have been to tie in to the rebar in our foundation or footer before it was poured. I thought maybe the concrete guy we hired would have brought such a thing up. But, I guess we learn from our oversights and mistakes if we're paying enough attention.

TL;DR

With regard to my wiring the house, I'd like to keep things very much like the plan for the rest of the house. In other words, organized, modular, and relatively elegant, if not simple. From what I can tell, there's no reason not to run all the circuits horizontally and circumferentially in sort of a "trunkline" along the top of the wall and then, when an outlet of some sort (receptacle, switch, what have you) needs to be put in, drop a stretch of line down to the outlet via a branch point in a square junction box. Then I would have it in parallel with the rest of the circuit (when needed) while avoiding running the line through/in front of/behind insulation so as not to worry about its location pretty much ever. The downstairs wall has the frame with the sole plate and the head plate for the first 8' or so, and then there is a ceiling joist area composed of 2x12 joists running perpendicularly to the orientation of the 200 amp load center. My plan is to run the lines through as few knockouts as possible up the wall, then through a hole in approximately the middle of the ends of the joists about 1.5 inches in from the "waistband", if you will, of the house. Of course, the lines would also be held in place by stackable cable holders that nail to the wood, and would be stapled or clamped as necessary throughout. The upstairs circuits are planned the same way, except the branches for them will be run upward from the trunk through the sole plates in the upstairs walls. FWIW, I've already read posts all over the place arguing for and against it, but for ease of use and in light of positive user feedback I'm using Ideal Push-In connectors pretty much throughout. (That is, unless someone has hard data demonstrating why I should not). Just something else I thought I'd mention.

Thoughts? Links to info from people who have done this sort of thing before? Helpful hints or advice? Am I insane?


Last edited by Micromachine; 01-25-2012 at 11:34 PM. Reason: Corrected capitalization in the title
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:31 AM   #2
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Trunk and Branch wire organization


Don't use push in connectors and don't use backstabbing on the outlets and switches, the get loose over time!!!

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Old 01-26-2012, 06:00 AM   #3
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Trunk and Branch wire organization


Depending on what city you live in, foundations with reinforcing bars poured after a certain date must have a ground wire (grounding electrode conductor) going to one of the rebars and also there must be a GEC to the cold water pipe as the latter exits the house.

Usually running cables for specific groups of receptacles horizontally through the wall at about the level of the receptacles consumes less wire. Cables going to other parts of the house before the first outlet box are best run where it is not necessary to drill holes in wood and where the cables do not detract from ability to stuff insulation.

Individual cables must be run for each 15 or 20 ampere branch circuit. Fatter "trunk lines" fed by a larger ampacity breaker must go to a subpanel before lighting or ordinary receptacle subcircuits can be fed from them.

Don't forget that junction boxes must have accessible covers.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 01-26-2012 at 06:06 AM.
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:27 PM   #4
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Trunk and Branch wire organization


Since I'm kind of out in the middle of nowhere outside a small town, there aren't very stringent requirements for the infrastructure here. My line from the power company is run underground to a ground-mounted transformer to avoid damage from falling trees due to wind and ice storms, but for the most part no one else (including the power companies) has done it that way around here. They'd rather repair the lines when they get broken every few years than put them in the right way the first (or second, or third...) time.

I'll be on a well and septic system using PEX, so no water pipe grounding either. From what I can tell, I'll need to periodically replace the copper-clad steel grounding rod just outside the footer, but I don't know the best way to ascertain when that's needed except by pounding in another ground rod to test the resistance between the two. Anyone know what kind of time period I'm looking at? I suppose the replacement interval will probably be determined in part by the pH of the soil on my property. At the same time, I don't know how or if the pH changes at increasing depth, so I'm not sure a mere surface soil pH test would be reliable in the first place. *Shrug*

Regarding the running of wire at receptacle level: I have roughly calculated and found that the least wire will be used by doing it the "normal" way, but it's not exactly modular or easily accessible. My goal is easy and organized, not cheap; thank you, however, for the tip. None of the circuits will be over 20A, except of course for the dedicated lines running to the double wall oven and the range. I looked into sending a larger trunk with all the kitchen amperage to a subpanel and then branching out from there, but the cost at that point was about double. (There is a limit to my madness and my finances.)

I won't be putting in an isolated ground, at least not at this point. With some luck, my electronics will be protected adequately by the UPS's they've always been plugged in to. (I can't say the same for the fridge, microwave, etc, but I'm not sure if I should do anything special to protect them.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Depending on what city you live in, foundations with reinforcing bars poured after a certain date must have a ground wire (grounding electrode conductor) going to one of the rebars and also there must be a GEC to the cold water pipe as the latter exits the house.

Usually running cables for specific groups of receptacles horizontally through the wall at about the level of the receptacles consumes less wire. Cables going to other parts of the house before the first outlet box are best run where it is not necessary to drill holes in wood and where the cables do not detract from ability to stuff insulation.

Individual cables must be run for each 15 or 20 ampere branch circuit. Fatter "trunk lines" fed by a larger ampacity breaker must go to a subpanel before lighting or ordinary receptacle subcircuits can be fed from them.

Don't forget that junction boxes must have accessible covers.

Last edited by Micromachine; 01-26-2012 at 10:41 PM. Reason: changed "dedicated" ground to "isolated" ground
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