What Do You Need to Add an Additional Electrical Circuit for Your New Power-Hungry Christmas Gifts?

10 January 2017
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You knew the end was near before Christmas when your family started to bicker and compete over the last available outlet spaces. You may have even resorted to running power strips from existing power strips.

This a dangerous practice because it can cause an accidental overload of the circuit, resulting in a possible fire. With the additional need from new cell phones, TVs, and tablets, you need at least one additional line.

The best solution is to add a circuit line with a junction box from which you can branch multiple lines to several locations.

What is a junction box?

A junction box is a metal or plastic box where a single electric line is split into multiple lines. It may be a simple empty box with punch-out tabs along its sides from which wires can enter and exit, or it may contain terminals for easier wiring connections. 

Simple empty junction boxes cost only a few dollars while those supplied with terminals are more costly.

What do you need to install a new line with a junction box?

The junction box

If you choose an empty box, you will also need a bag of wire nuts (small plastic cones that are twisted onto wire connections) and a roll of black electrical tape (for securing the wire nuts and keeping moisture away from the exposed wire ends).

20-amp circuit breaker

You should add a 20-amp line because this is more capable of handling additional branch lines than a 15-amp line. These are the two options most used in residential settings.

Check your breaker box for its manufacturer because you will need to buy a breaker from that manufacturer to ensure a proper fit. If the manufacturer no longer produces the breaker, ask the clerk in the store for a suitable aftermarket replacement.

Wire

You will need a 3-wire sheath of 12-gauge wire for a 20-amp line. Never try to use thinner (and cheaper) 14-gauge or less wire on a 20-amp line, or else you risk overheating and fire.

The length that you need will be determined by the distance from the breaker box to the proposed location of the junction box. You will also need additional lengths for branch lines from the junction box to new outlets.

You are likely to run into obstructions when running wiring through an existing home, so always allow for additional wiring when you determine how much to buy. 

12-gauge wire can be bought in 25-, 50-, and 100-foot lengths in your local home-improvement store. You will buy rolls that are marked "12-3", which designates 12-gauge wire with hot, neutral, and ground wire inside the sheath.

There are many online tutorials that show the process of installing a new electrical circuit. Electrical work must be done with great care and attention to safety procedures. Never work at any location without being absolutely sure that the power is turned off to the location. 

If you feel unsure of your abilities or have an excessive fear of working with electrical components, contact an electrical-contracting company. They will do the job in a timely and safe manner. All you will need to do is decide where you want your new outlets to be placed to avoid the most family squabbles.

Talk to a company such as Williams Electric Supply for more information.