Who's rewired their house for this hobby?

Geoff Oltmans oltmansg at gmail.com
Thu Nov 27 01:13:17 CST 2014

On Nov 26, 2014, at 3:04 PM, Chuck Guzis wrote:

> Electrical resistive heating for household heading in the US is being discouraged.  There are government incentives to convert to much more efficient heat pump technology--with the side benefit of air conditioning in the summer.  I do have "emergency" resistive heating elements in my air handler--they're connected to two 40A/240V circuits.

Yeah, and heat pumps work great for heat until there is no heat in the outside air from which to extract. With my current (albeit aging) system, that temperature is around 28F, then it's on to the heat strips.

> Surely, you're familiar with the Jonathan Swift novel "Gullilver's Travels"?  The book, not the children's cartoon series, is in reality a biting social satire.  Lilliput and Blefuscu were two kingdoms at war over which end of an egg was best to open; i.e., fighting over nothing.

I have to admit that I always find this battle somewhat amusing. I am sure that there are a variety of reasons why one method is better than the other and vice versa. Nonetheless I am hard-pressed to think of a single time where I was unable to use some electrically powered device for as long as I can remember. Therefore I tend to think the system works just fine and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I wouldn't relish the idea of paying to rip out my current electrical service to replace with a 3-phase system. I'm quite happy living with it the way it is and paying the paltry $0.09/kWh we pay. I'm sure the massive cost to convert the system would negatively impact the rates we pay as well.

Now, I have run across some rather stupid installs regardless of the NEC both in my current house and my last that I'm sure would be an issue whether we're talking the North American, German, UK, etc. systems. In my experience people don't understand electrical wiring very well. Anyway, In the last house, there was a 20A 120V outlet in the garage that I hooked a brand-new air compressor up to that I purchased from Lowes. The compressor ran just fine for about a minute, and then the motor began to arc and smoke. I thought, "great, this thing's defective" and carted it back to the store and they swapped it for a new one. I got it home and started to plug it in and decided I should be on the safe side and check the outlet. It was wired 240V instead of 120V despite having a 120V receptacle! In addition to that, in one room there was a ceiling fan attached to the peak of a vaulted ceiling... not attached to a ceiling box, which is of course a no-no as well.

I have also run across some crazy wiring in our current house which was built in 1986. When we purchased the home, we noticed that in both of the front two upstairs bedrooms the light switches wouldn't operate the lights in the room. It was obvious that the old home owner was unhappy with the location of the ceiling fixture (I can't blame them) and so they relocated the fixture a couple feet to the side of the old box. The reason for this anomaly was that when the builder positioned the light in the room, they centered it over the longest span of the room, including the dormer which offset it for the main part of the room. Looked odd. Anyway, I finally got around to investigating this light switch issue and discovered in the master bedroom a wire was run from the old box to the new location, (again without a ceiling box <sigh>), that part makes sense. In the other bedroom, the light was offset by about the same distance as the master, so they again moved the fixture (NO CEILING BOX!!!!), but instead of wiring to the old box, they ran a wire from the new fixture location to the old ceiling box in the master bedroom... about 15' of unnecessary wire! The old ceiling box was left as is in the second bedroom, which explains why that light switch did nothing. Since the second bedroom was tapping off of the master's light power feed, we can't have both rooms being controlled by the same switch, can we? They bypassed the switch on the wall altogether. No wires were connected to the switch at all, they simply wire nutted the hots together there and left the dead switch in place. I have no idea if this was done by a licensed electrician or not, who knows... but it did

There's a couple of other wacky things I've found, easily corrected but you get the idea.

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