Dear Mr. Electrician: I would like to replace the existing fluorescent light fixture in my condominium kitchen. How difficult is it to install recessed lighting in a condominium and will it make a difference in appearance? Answer: The most challenging aspect of installing retrofitted recessed lights is the measuring and laying out of the location for each light. With a finished ceiling there is no simple way of knowing what obstacles might be in the way of your light installation. Therefore you must probe the ceiling ahead of time to see if there are any utilities where a light was planned. Something to be mindful of is the fire rating of the ceiling if there is another condominium above yours. Remodeling type recessed lights are usually not fire rated. An alternative would be to install surface mounted LED disks on the ceiling which have a similar appearance to recessed. Below are some photos of a recessed lighting installation in a condominium kitchen.
Dear Mr. Electrician: I want to have a portable generator connection for circuits in my house such as the furnace, the sump pump, and the refrigerator. How can I install this? Answer: One simple installation is a stand-alone generator sub-panel for some previously selected circuits to be powered when the generator is on. Below are photos of a generator sub-panel installation with a PB-30 generator inlet. Some of the applicable articles from the National Electrical Code concerning the installation of generator sub-panels are: 210, 230, 250, 300, 310, 314, 334 and 702.
Dear Mr. Electrician: I have a set of Three-Way Switches in my house that have worked for many years without problems. Now I find that one switch has to stay in the up position at all times just so the other switch will turn on the light. How do I diagnose and fix this? Answer: I am guessing that one of the three-way switches broke down. It can be a little tricky for an amateur to diagnose which switch died due to multiple wires being hot in this particular type of wiring. I suggest that you change one switch. If that doesn't fix it, then change the other one. It's a good idea to replace both switches at the same time as the other one could fail soon after. Be very careful to identify the line and load wires BEFORE you disconnect the switches. The LINE wire is usually the easiest to identify because it is hot at all times. It should be terminated on a copper or black screw on the 3-way switch. A Voltage Tester with a built-in continuity tester is good for testing the live or dead wires. All three-way switch wiring has the same basic components: Wires consisting of a line, a load, a neutral, a pair of travelers, and two 3-way switches. If you are trying to troubleshoot a 3-way switch operation, then you will need to identify the function of each wire. Try to do this before you disconnect any wires from the switches. Note the colors of the screw terminals on the existing 3-way switches. The dark or red color screw is the most important to get right. Between each three-way switch or 4-way switch is a pair of "Travelers" which are connected to the common terminals. On one of the 3-way switches a line or hot wire gets connected to the copper or black screw terminal. On the other three-way switch the load wire gets connected to the copper or black screw terminal. Below is a simple diagram that can be applied to all three-way switch connections. There are several three-way switch wiring methods that can be used and it is usually the installer that determines what is the best way for his or her purposes. The National Electrical Code now requires that a neutral conductor (White wire) be installed at most switch locations. I think that the most common method used to wire a set of 3-way switches is to bring the two wire line cable into one switch box and bring the two wire load cable into the other switch box. A 3 conductor cable with a ground is then installed between the two 3-way switch boxes. At the line switch box, the black wire of the two wire line cable gets connected to the copper or black screw terminal on the three-way switch. The red and black wires (Travelers) of the 3 wire cable get connected to the common terminals on the three-way switch. It doesn't matter which traveler goes on which common terminal. The white line neutral wire gets spliced to the white wire of the three conductor cable. At the other...
Dear Mr. Electrician: I need to install an electrical receptacle outlet on the ceiling of my garage for an electric garage door opener. I do not have access to the ceiling from above as there is a bedroom located over the garage. Any suggestions on how I may proceed with this? Answer: In a few garages where there was already an electrical receptacle installed on the wall, I was able to install Wiremold surface metal raceway to bring power to a ceiling outlet. Below are some photos of a Wiremold installation that was used to replace an old extension cord that was powering the garage door opener.
Dear Mr. Electrician: How do I install a generator inlet box to supply portable generator power to my Cutler Hammer main circuit breaker panel so that I can power all of my circuits. Answer: A generator interlock kit works best if you want to supply power to your entire circuit breaker panel and can be an economical choice compared to installing a separate external transfer switch Below are step by step photos depicting an interlock kit installation on an older Cutler Hammer main circuit breaker panel. A YouTube video depicting the same installation is at the bottom.
Dear Mr. Electrician: How can I install an Interlock Kit on my existing GE main circuit breaker panel so that I can connect a portable generator to it safely? Answer: You first must determine if you have the needed spaces for a generator circuit breaker. Then you need to order the correct interlock kit that is approved for your circuit breaker panel. The photos below depict an interlock kit installation onto a GE main circuit breaker panel that was originally installed in the 1980's.