Saturday, July 14, 2012

Getting Closer to smaller living: Stage 1.6.5 - Infrastructure; Wiring

electrical and other wiring is another issue in a micro home.   You dont need the over the top complex system that you find in a regular home,   In fact you can get away with 2-3 Circuits total.  and all of this can easily be done by a regular person,   no electrician required.  A very small RV style or regular breaker panel is all that is needed, and it can be placed almost anywhere.   BUT where you place it is where all your electrical wiring will be ran to, so pick wisely.   Outside in a service shed that is attached is certainly legal and safe, but do you really want to go out in the snow to reset a breaker when you ran the microwave, toaster, and George Foreman grill all at once?  Putting it inside is the best choice.   Separate the Kitchen on it's own breaker, the rest of the house on it's own breaker,   Lights on it's own and finally any outside outlets on it's own.  4 breakers total for a large micro home with fancy extras like outside outlets.

But that is if you want 110/120Volt lights.   I will be wiring my home differently, all my lighting will be 12 volt.  This requires a different approach.   I will use different wiring as well,  Low voltage is Red and black instead of white, black and green.    Red is 12Volts and Black is ground, while in AC wiring   Black is 120Volts, White is return and Green is ground,  Yeah,  electricians like to make it difficult.

This means I will have two separate electrical systems in my home.   12Volt DC for lighting and a few outlets,  you can get wall 12V power outlets from an RV store so I can use a car charger for my cellphone, or even 12 volt appliances.  This gives me an advantage I will cover shortly.   and a high voltage 120V AC system that most everyone is used to.   This will run a shaver, toaster, Laptop Charger, hair dryers, etc...

A Split system like this has advantages and disadvantages.   First it requires I double up on everything.  I need a breaker panel for AC and a breaker panel or Fuse box for DC.  I need double wiring, and a way to convert one to the other when I am on different power sources.   that means a 12VoltDC power supply/charger that makes my DC voltage when I have only 120VAC power available, and an Inverter to make 120VAC when I only have 12V battery /solar power.   This also makes life more complex as you need to switch between systems.   If I am using the inverter and I plug into a 120VAC source,  I will blow up the inverter.  Flames, sparks, really bad things will happen.  So I need to make sure I have a disconnect so that only one can be connected.  OR I spend a few extra thousand and buy a syncing inverter.

My DC system will have inverters and chargers as well as a battery bank for power storage,  this makes the system a LOT more complex.  If you can make sure you will always have a place to plug into,  you can skip all the Low voltage DC systems and just wire up the home for 20 amp AC service and use a heavy duty (10awg) extension cord to plug into your power.  This simplifies things a LOT.   You then just wire up outlets and lights as if it was a normal home, talk to the guy in the electrical department at home depot, he can tell you everything you need to know.

There are two more things you might want in your micro home that deal with wiring,  Network and antenna for TV,   network wiring is CAT-5e or Cat-6 and requires special connectors, plates, and  TV antenna wiring requires RG6 with special connectors.  The advantage is you can put the TV antenna near the peak of the house inside the construction to get far better reception of free TV channel signals, or you can run it to a connector to the outside so you can put an antenna higher on a pole off the edge of the roof.    You can also embed an XM or Sirius radio antenna up there if you want to have sattelite radio in your home.

The network wiring is really not needed as a wireless setup will cover the entire home easily, but some specialized devices might use a wired ethernet, like a Xbox360.  Having a network in the home allows you to share the internet with devices, friends and family.

Just remember, you can easily go overboard on electrical and you will not gain much.   Keep it simple.

No comments: