Wiring a House (For Pros by Pros)
by Rex Cauldwell
Paperback: 245 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.56 x 10.74 x 8.48
Publisher: Taunton Pr; Revised and Updated edition (August 2002)
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From Library Journal: Electricity is one of the least understood yet most important aspects of do-it-yourself building and renovation. Used safely, it allows us to enjoy a life of convenience, but when its basic rules are violated it can destroy one's home. A master electrician, building inspector, and licensed general contractor, Cauldwell shows how to properly use electricity in this revision of his 1996 text. Starting with electricity's basics, he then explains tools of all types, shows how and where electricity enters the house, and explains grounding (which is vital for safety). Proceeding through the house, Cauldwell demonstrates how to wire both new construction and renovations and to install receptacles, switches, fixtures, and wired-in appliances. Important safety information is provided, including ground-fault circuit interrupters, lightning, and surge protection. Finally, Cauldwell gives instructions for wiring "Above Code," his system of wiring that exceeds the minimum standards required by the electrical code and results in a safer, higher-quality installation. This title does an outstanding job of explaining an area of perennial confusion for do-it-yourselfers. Recommended for every collection.
Book News, Inc.: An electrician's reference guide demonstrating the best practices in residential electricity. Master electrician Cauldwell shares of a wealth of practical information on tools and materials, safety hazards, designing electrical wiring, installing main service panels, grounding, installing receptacles and switches, fixtures, household appliances, running wiring in new and existing constructions, and also surveys the requirements of the 1996 National Electrical Code (NEC). Includes numerous illustrations and photographs.
Midwest Book Review: Master electrician Cauldwell has been wiring houses for almost thirty years and is in a fine position to explain the job. From avoiding the wrong materials to designing new wiring and working with old, Wiring a House focuses on safety and long-term durability alike, telling how to work with both new and old construction. An invaluable guide.
Book Description: This classic reference book on home wiring for homeowners, electricians and apprentices has been completely updated to reflect changes to the electrical code since it was first published in 1996. New material on home generators, lightning protection and wiring "above code" has been added to this edition. New design and color photos and illustrations throughout are featured.
Ideal for my needs!, December 30, 2002
Reviewer: k2ua from Canadice, NY United States
I bought this book after reading some of Rex's work in Fine Homebuilding (my favorite magazine). I really like to get into the details of things, and this book has not let me down.
I had accumulated significant wiring experience and tools already, in home projects. But there are many aspects of home wiring that are not intuitive, such as temperature derating, box and cable fill, and many other nuances of the NEC. Plus--something I find at least as important--the book is full of tips from a very experienced electrician that helps prevent costly mistakes and makes the work go faster and easier.
I wound up buying this book, followed by the 1999 NEC (an eBay find) and Electrical Wiring Residential by Ray Mullin. The standard I refer to over and over, and recommend to many other people, is this book by Rex Cauldwell. It's a great read, cover-to-cover. To me, it's best-in-class. I just hope that Taunton Press (also the publisher of Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking) keeps it up-to-date with the 2002 NEC. That's the only pitfall of books of this genre--many things are indexed to the current NEC, which means you need to get a new edition every three years. Alas, it's worth doing.
This may not be a beginner-level book, but it is outstanding for its intended audience and a must-have for anyone contemplating any home electrical project of any scope beyond the trivial.
Comparison of 3 how-to books on home wiring, December 18, 2002
Reviewer: Atheen Hills from Mpls, MN United States
I've decided to remodel my spare bedroom. It's one of those "furnished closet" type spaces that tends to collect junk at an alarming rate. While it's a lovely little room when it's empty, it disappears in the furniture that gets put into it. Even the sliding glass doors over the small balcony don't give one an illusion of spaceousness. I had a roommate for a while who used that room, and she had to climb over her bed just to get to her bureau.
The plan is to put up lighted crown molding to add dimension and indirect lighting to the room and to remodel the ample closet space into a bureau cum mini-closet cum desk area. By putting in a full sized futon, I can use the room as a sitting room/spare bedroom, and without the clutter, it'll seem quite spacious.
To accomplish my goal, the project required some rewiring of the room, so I found three books that seemed to have the information I needed: Wiring 1-2-3 by the people at Home Depot, The Complete Guide to Home Wiring by the Black and Decker people, and Wiring a House by Rex Cauldwell. Each is an excellent book with much to offer, but I definitely found that each had a slant that made it specialized in some way.
Of the three books, only the Cauldwell book was written in a person-to-person format. The author is a third generation electrician with years of experience, and as he says quite charmingly, "I have written this book from lifelong experience and knowledge--some of which has been passed down through each generation. However, there is no one within my family to pass the gauntlet to--no fourth generation to pick up the trade. Therefore, by reading this book you will become heir to my knowledge and experience. You, in effect, will become the fourth generation (p. 1)." His style is very much master of the craft to learning apprentice, explaining all facets of his field from how electricity is produced, how it is measured, what types of wires carry it to and into your home, and what tools one needs to do electrical work. He not only provides the information, he tells the reader the "whys" of what is, which I find helpful because it permits one to problem solve and trouble shoot more effectively. Particularly useful are those things that he tells the reader to avoid and what can happen when they aren't! The drawings are very helpful, particularly as they are clearer than photographs can be. Sometimes less is more in this regard. The schematic of the main floor of a house (pp. 22-23) which detailed how wiring is arranged for each room was quite helpful for my project, since it described what I should (and did) find in the walls when locating my power source and routing new wiring. I also found that the information on materials to select was helpful. I was able to go to the store and pick out just what I needed without any trouble at all.
While the Cauldwell book is a good one to read from cover to cover because of it's clear and thorough discussion of electronical wiring and its many helpful hints (which I did), it really did not help with my specific plans. It does cover some types of project, but I found that The Black and Decker book was more useful for my specific wiring goals. It's definitely a "how to do it" book with information on trouble shooting current wiring for potential problems (pp. 122-143), on code requirements (pp. 145-146), on how to calculate electrical loads and when to upgrade. It also includes simple repairs for the home owner, everything from checking which fuse controls which part of the house, to replacing plugs and repairing fluorescent lights. It also provides some advanced projects, like rewiring a kitchen or installing outdoor wiring. Of particular interest to my husband, the computer guru in our household, was the information on the home network wiring systems.
For my own project, I found the circuit maps for 26 common wiring layouts of greatest help. With the aid of this feature and the Cauldwell book, I was able to draw on paper the likely arrangement of the present wiring in my spare bedroom, and plan in the pathway to and from the projected new outlets. The diagrams on pages 155-167 also gave me a clearer idea of which wires connected to which specific sites on the receptacles, and what the pathway of the current would be. I was thrilled when I turned on the wall switch in the room, and the lighted crown molding actually came on, first try!
Wiring 1-2-3 is another group-effort type book like the Black and Decker. It'd made a splendid gift for the new home owner or prospective buyer. It provides the most extensive information on inspecting the home for electrical problems and providing measures for repairing them. The table of contents highlights almost every conceivable project, and each project has a list of materials, a skill scale that projects the level of difficulty to expect, and the amount of time that would be required by the experienced, the handy and the novice. It also makes some suggestions regarding the selection of a professional electrician for difficult projects, and does not urge the novice to go beyond their comfort level.
Although I didn't use the Home Depot book for actual planning and wiring, I found it was especially helpful with the messy stuff, things like drilling holes through the attic to route wires, the nitty-gritty of fishing for wires, and repairing the damage to walls where holes had to be made to route wires. In general these books are useful all round books.
I'd give all three books a 5, each for its own area of usefulness. If you're a person who likes to have a multi-perspective approach to your projects, then I'd recommend all three. Certainly the Home Depot book would be a very nice house warming gift.
Good book for the right person, December 6, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Aliquippa, Pa. United States
This book is clearly written and has many photographs to help you understand the material. The author does assume that you already have a basic understanding of house wiring. It would not be the best book for the beginner or someone just starting out. A better book for them would be Black & Decker's "The Complete Guide To Home Wiring" or "Wiring - Basic And Advanced Projects" by Creative Homeowner but after reading these books if you want to go into more detail then go with this book. The style of the book is the same with more detail on what is important.
New Home Wiring for the Intermediate DIY Electrician, June 18, 2002
Reviewer: Douglas B Kubel from Chapel Hill, NC United States
Rex Cauldwell's book is an excellent text for those with basic electrical knowledge who are looking for guidance on safely performing common wiring tasks in new construction. The text is concise, practical, well-organized, and well-targeted for its audience. The photographs and illustrations are plentiful, clear, and well-coordinated with the text. His explanation of code requirements and recommendations on best practices are valuable, but should be checked against local codes.
This book is not intended for, nor does it serve, people who have absolutely no experience with electricity, nor does it address the many issues associated with updating old wiring or remodeling. For those projects, I'd recommend David Shapiro's book, Your Old Wiring.
not recommended for beginners, January 28, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Gloucester Pt., VA USA
I know I'm going against the grain here, but I didn't like this book at all. It may be a fine reference for more experienced folks, but as a complete novice with no experience at all, I found it left much to be desired. Some parts of the book were better than others, but I was really quite lost with many of the descriptions of various tasks. There were a lot of passages which were incomprehensible. Features and objects were not described clearly in many cases, and terminology was used and not defined clearly. For the beginner, Black and Decker's "The Complete Guide to Home Wiring" is far better. In that book, color photos illustrate every single step. That's the kind of guidance a beginner needs.
Exactly What I Wanted., January 9, 2002
Reviewer: Ned Fuller from Arlington, VA United States
Cauldwell not only knows what he's writing about, he also writes very well. It's as if you were sitting down talking to him, listening to him explain all he's learned over a lifetime. He must assume that you know a little, and that's fine; guess everybody's got to draw the line somewhere. I knew what a sine wave was before I opened this book (if you don't, no sweat...pick it up somewhere else.) I had done a fair amount of wiring on my own, but found myself saying, "uh oh," and a lot worse, as I read. I am 54 years old, and am learning to be an electrician (it'll be my 4th career...what of it?) I'm really glad I found this guy. After this book, I'll read everything Cauldwell has written.
A must for the "how to" library, May 11, 2001
Reviewer: T. Houghtaling from Lexington, SC United States
I have built several garages with big power centers and rewired more old houses always thinking my work was to code or better. As I read "Wiring a House", I realized Rex Cauldwell was proving me less than fully informed. Mr. Cauldwell explains theory of distribution centers easily and vividly. (No grounding rods for garages please!). This book is by far and away the best and easiest reading of many differing code and "how to" books I have looked to for help. Well worth the money
Many strengths, a few weaknesses, February 16, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Indiana USA
Cauldwell's book, overall, is an excellent text for those who are building their own homes and doing the bulk of the wiring themselves. The book's strengths are the straightforward explanations and clear exploded wiring diagrams. Cauldwell does a good job pointing out common safety issues and how to avoid getting zapped. However, the book has some weak points. One is that he doesn't acknowledge that master electricians (and utility company engineers) don't agree on many wiring procedures, particularly in the areas of grounding the electrical system and wiring branch circuits. For example, I followed his recommendation of installing two ground rods -- and was ordered by the utility company to remove one of them before they would wire the meter, as their policy was to only have one rod (I found that utility companies have their own policies for grounding residential electric systems that aren't always the same as the 96 NEC). A couple master electricians disagreed with his suggested procedures for wiring receptacles, although their alternate suggestions certainly weren't easier. They also noted that in my county, placement of smoke detectors is governed by the UBC, not the NEC (smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside BR doors, in living and family rooms, and at the bottom of lower floor stairs). Thus, future editions of the book might remind us to check with our electric utility before getting deeply into the wiring job,to obtain their specific policies and local codes rather than relying only on the NEC. Future editions also might give more information on where to find large capacity receptacle boxes; in order to avoid some of the cable fill violations he aptly describes; and more clearly emphasize to us beginners just how much practice it takes to wire receptacles correctly, particularly in parallel. Otherwise, it's a good book written in a pleasant, digestable style.
lack of info, January 16, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Southgate, Mi United States
Not a bad book but totally lacking in tables and calculations for completing the projects described in the book. The better choice would have been the book by the N.E.C. This book didn't even have ampere ratings for the different size conductors. I would only recommend this book to beginners.
This is the only book you'll need!, December 12, 2000
Reviewer: hammerswinger from St. Louis Park, MN USA
Mr. Cauldwell has a very special talent. He has taken a very complicated and potentially dangerous subject and boiled it down to its essence. Not only is he a master electrician, but also proves himself to be a master teacher. In his chapter on service and subpanels, he dares tread where others fear to go! Using his book, I bought a quality panel and successfully upgraded my 100 a. service to 200 a. and also converted my old main panel to a subpanel. I worked with the utility company to change from overhead to underground service (thanks to this book). The city inspector was very pleased with my work and passed it on the first "final." Exterior branch circuits were easy to install based on his diagrams and expanations. The use of GFIs was clearly explained. I followed Mr. Cauldwell's guidance on exterior grounding and used "Hot Shots" to tie my ground rods together--ground resistance is zero, Mr. C!! I highly recommend this book over all others for non-pros. I wish he would offer more on the techniques of bending metal & pvc conduit.
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