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Planning a Circuit

When planning to hook up a circuit, whether it is a new one directly from the breaker
panel or adding to an existing one, here are some general rules to follow :

1. You are only allowed to put a maximum of 12 lights on one 15 amp circuit, but try for
between 8 and 10, if you are combining receptacles and lights. Remember that switches
don't count as outlets. Run a separate circuit for any large appliances, pumps, and motors
etc. Start by marking the studs where you want your receptacles, switches, and lights to
be located. Then mount your outlet boxes. Screws are required for octagon boxes but you
can use either screws or nails for switch and receptacle boxes. The important thing to
remember is to make the boxes secure because, once the drywall is on, it's hard to re-
attach them if they do work loose. Don't forget that you must leave the boxes sticking out
from the face of the stud, slightly less than the thickness of the product that the wall will
be finished with.

2. Mount receptacles about 300 mm (12 inches) above the floor. The general rule is that a
receptacle is required for every 3.6 meters (12 feet) of usable wall space. You are
probably curious as to what useable wall space means exactly...any measurement from
the corner of a wall to a closet, fireplace, or to where the door swings open is considered
useable wall space but, only if the wall is over 900 mm (3 feet) to begin with. A
receptacle is needed every 3.6 meters (12 feet) along a continuous wall space so that at no
time can a cord connected devise be any more than 1.8 meters (6 feet) from an outlet.
Also remember that there is no maximum number of outlets, so make sure you have
enough, and that they are placed in convenient locations once the room is finished.

3. Mount switches on the inside of rooms opposite to the side that the door opens. Make
them as close as practical to the door opening, but not so that the cover plate will interfere
with the door casing. The height is fairly flexible, but should be consistent and practical
(any where from 1.1 to 1.3 meters or 44 to 52 inches).

4. Attempt to start your circuit close to the panel and then move out from there. For a
standard sized outlet box you are only allowed a maximum of 5 wires (excluding the bare
ground wire). Keep this in mind when running your wires, as you cannot run power into a
receptacle, and then feed two outlets from the same box. This would give you 6 wires
therefore requiring a "deep box". A standard octagon box used for light outlets has a
maximum wire fill of 7. These box fill maximums are also based on #14 gage wire which
is what you will use throughout 95% of your home. Of course these figures are right out
of the Canadian Electrical Code.

5. Here are two examples of how to set up a typical circuit and how you would run your
wires. Refer to methods 1 and 2. Keep in mind these are just examples and your wiring
does not have to look exactly like I've shown. This is just a starting point for you to
6. Once you have an idea of how you are going to run your wires, drill all the holes in the
studs. (A 3/4" to a 1" auger bit, driven by a 1/2" drill is the best tool for the job). Make
sure to keep the holes at least 1" in from the face of the stud, so that drywall screws or
nails cannot penetrate far enough to damage the wires.

7. Do yourself a favor and leave plenty of slack at each outlet. I recommend at least 300
mm (12"). Then strip the exterior sheath back about 150-200 mm (6"-8") leaving a loop
of slack before tightening the box clamps down on the sheath. This is done to ensure that
if the wires get damaged in any way, you will still have some slack to work with.
8. You are required to secure the wires with approved wire staples, within 300 mm (1
foot) of the outlet boxes. Also, every 1500 mm (5 feet) on a free run of wire there must be
a staple. Going through a hole in a stud counts as being secured.

9. Make all the splices that you require at the "rough-in" stage, so that when you come
back to install the receptacles, switches, and fixtures, it will be clear as to what wire goes