Although people who opt to build their home instead of buy one already on the market work closely with an experienced builder, contractors, and designers, sometimes some details get overlooked. It’s not until long after they’ve already moved in that they realize they should have made themselves part of the discussion when it came to certain things, including places to access electrical power in the home. To avoid having to use extension cords and power bars, take the time to think through where you’d like to be able to easily access electricity in your new home. Here are some places to consider:
The National Electric Code, as modified by local government, prescribes the minimum number and general location of electrical outlets in your new home. That doesn’t mean you can’t add as many plugs as your electric service box will allow. The kitchen, home to small and large electric appliances, is a good place to start the process. Plan outlets on all sides of your island to allow for mixers, beaters, and other small electrics. Take a long look at your layout and put higher amperage plugs wherever you think you might move your refrigerator and microwave in the future. Place outlets underneath cabinets to provide soft LED lighting that costs virtually nothing to leave on all night.
It seems like everyone has at least one device that needs charging these days, so plan on putting ample electric outlets in all four corners, along with more outlets in the center of each wall. If you are hanging a flat screen TV on the wall, place a plug directly behind it to hide the cords. Consider in-floor plugs in the center of the room in case you want to have a display coffee table to show off mementos. If decorating for Christmas is a big thing in your family, consider where the tree will go and put a plug on a switch in a handy location. Take advantage of all the conveniences you can when planning your new home.
You’ll want plugs in multiple locations for charging stations, but also consider putting plugs toward the in preparation for any lighted bar signs. If you have a bar, make sure there are plugs in the backsplash to run the blender as well as outlets underneath the bar for a small refrigerator and icemaker. Have a fireplace? Put some extra outlets on either side of the mantel in case you want to plug in a lighted sculpture or clock.
Your electrician will know to use only GFI rated plugs around water, but think about the location. Have him install the plugs near where all the appliances are used. Stretching cords across a sink is not only dangerous, it’s inconvenient.
First figure out where your bed is going, then place plugs behind where the night stands will be, about two feet above the baseboard to hide the cords. Plan ahead and place these plugs on a 3-way switch, with one switch inside the door to turn the lights on, and two more on either side of the headboard where you and your partner can easily switch the lights on and off without ever leaving the comfort of your covers. Don’t forget about your walk-in closet or dressing room. Think about where you want your vanity and put an outlet there.
The garage is one of the places that usually gets left out when planning electrical outlets. Along with an outlet in the center of the ceiling for the garage door opener, put multiple outlets along the wall where you plan on having a workbench. Keep outlets away from the hot water heater, but otherwise place them every 6 feet or so around the base of the garage to make using air compressors, shop vacuums, and other electric tools easier.
Keeping with the Christmas theme, plan outlets underneath your eaves so you can take full advantage of all your holiday decorations. Connect the plugs to a switch so it’s easy to turn the lights on and off, or better yet ~ connect them to a dawn to dusk sensor. You’ll also need GFI outlets closer to the ground all around your new home to allow for the use of tools and landscaping equipment. If you plan on having an outdoor kitchen at your new home, take advantage of this opportunity to run the outlets at bar height. Outdoor fountains, lighting, and pergolas also require outlets. A little planning now goes a long way to saving money later.
Nothing is more inconvenient that having to crawl under a desk to plug and unplug computers, modems, routers, and printers. Have plugs installed slightly above desk height to make this task much easier. If you plan on mounting a small TV on the wall, this is also the time to put an outlet in the appropriate location.
Plan for the Future
Make sure your electrician provides an electric service box that has at least half a dozen empty locations for future expansion. While you’re in the planning stage for your new home, also have the electrician run empty conduit into the attic from the service box. This will make connecting future outlets a much easier process. While it’s nice to believe you’ll think of everything before you start construction, there’s always something that slips through the cracks!
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