Learning electrical work ...

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Hi there,
I tried searching for it like mad, but was not successful and hence this post.
Is there any place in the Bay Area, California where I can learn about basic home electricity? I can work with some electrical contractor or trade school or anything that works. The problem is, I haven't found any resources as well. I asked at Lowe's and other places but to no avail.
I think that such things work only when you have a project at hand and I do have one -- installing track lights at home. Can anyone help me (I can get the work contracted out, but the contractor should give me basic idea).
Regards, Kedar, a zealous student
(I tried searching, http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/677a8337d15ba670/81df77d27043b5ee?lnk=gst&q=learning#81df77d27043b5ee -- had no responses).
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Kedar Mhaswade wrote: ...

Your public library comes to mind...
It depends on what you mean and how you want to do this learning...if you're thinking you can get somebody to come babysit you at your convenience while you do some small task as you have outlined, then the answer is almost certainly "no". That's not a reasonable thing to expect from somebody who is competent and attempting to earn a living at a trade.
I'm sure there are any number of trade schools both private, union and community colleges with curricula that would provide journeyman-type training in the trades but they will expect remuneration and commitment, not just a drop-in attitude.
For DIY-er training, the library for "how to do it" books (and these days, videos, dvd's, etc.) is probably still the best bet (along w/ a liberal dosage of TOH and other similar TV).
--
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Thank you for your response.

Thank you.

Oh no, that's not what I meant. I don't want to be unfair to anyone. I just wanted to see how to /start/ with electrical work for my own sake.
For example, we do want track lights to be installed in our living room and I wanted to understand what I can do. I have two options: 1- Get a contractor signed up to do this and pay him what it takes. Get the job done. 2- Learn to do it on my own. It takes longer and most likely, I will go wrong.
I just wanted to gather courage to take option 2. Of course option 1 is easy and doable. I can get this work done by paying someone competent. But then, I wouldn't learn.
I am just not sure if reading books alone should be enough. Again, I am trying to fathom the risk and see what's practical. I don't have time and energy to make this a career. It's still a recreational, hobby kind of job.
It's a new house and I don't want to commit too many mistakes.

Oh of course. I am a professional (computer) programmer and I respect anyone's ability to earn. This is what it may boil down to -- Finding the "right" resources. I have searched the Internet, have asked at local hardware shops and have seen some books (e.g. I recently bought a book at Lowe's and I think it's a good book).

Ok, I was looking for the reference that would be rather authoritative in this case. e.g. If I were to build a radio, I must get ARRL handbook, if I were to learn math, I should get Richard Courant's "What is mathematics", if I were to prepare for parenting, I must get Dr. Spock's book and so on ...
Hope I have communicated well this time. And of course, many thanks for the suggestions, again.
Regards, Kedar
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... ... ...

I'd again suggest going to the local branch library and perusing the shelves -- in a place as sizable as the Bay area there's bound to be multiple feet of resources on the shelves plus all the other media. Many (I understand) may even have loaner programs for tools and so on besides.
As you note, at some point you do have to get your hands dirty. A lot depends on just what your background is. I also made a longterm living as a (mostly computational) R&D engineer, but I grew up on a farm and had that advantage of immersion into nuts 'n bolts of mechanical repair, etc., plus took all the shop courses could because I enjoyed it during high school. If one hasn't been fortunate to have such an upbringing then the basic familiarity is difficult to come by, granted.
If this is the case, several alternatives come to mind. One that is nothing but a dedication of personal time is to go volunteer for local Habitat for Humanity builds. One gets to be on site and get at least a viewpoint of what goes on in the basic stages. Of course, the more skilled labor and trade work is performed by those with the skills to do so but you certainly can use the opportunity to observe the building of a structure to see how stuff goes together and at least observe the plumbing, wiring, etc. It's also a place where you would have a better chance of finding volunteer licensed contractors or trained journeymen who also volunteer being more inclined to share knowledge than expecting a hired contractor to coach while on a paying job (where you would undoubtedly be far more of a hindrance than a help).
The rest depends on how much and how fast you really want to get into it...if you are intent on doing more than just the casual weekend once a year or so, it could well be worth the money and time spent to sign up for a semester at a trade school for a trade. OTOH, I still think the most likely place to start is the library resources.
--
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Thank you for your response.

Thank you.

Oh no, that's not what I meant. I don't want to be unfair to anyone. I just wanted to see how to /start/ with electrical work for my own sake.
For example, we do want track lights to be installed in our living room and I wanted to understand what I can do. I have two options: 1- Get a contractor signed up to do this and pay him what it takes. Get the job done. 2- Learn to do it on my own. It takes longer and most likely, I will go wrong.
I just wanted to gather courage to take option 2. Of course option 1 is easy and doable. I can get this work done by paying someone competent. But then, I wouldn't learn.
I am just not sure if reading books alone should be enough. Again, I am trying to fathom the risk and see what's practical. I don't have time and energy to make this a career. It's still a recreational, hobby kind of job.
It's a new house and I don't want to commit too many mistakes.

Oh of course. I am a professional (computer) programmer and I respect anyone's ability to earn. This is what it may boil down to -- Finding the "right" resources. I have searched the Internet, have asked at local hardware shops and have seen some books (e.g. I recently bought a book at Lowe's and I think it's a good book).

Ok, I was looking for the reference that would be rather authoritative in this case. e.g. If I were to build a radio, I must get ARRL handbook, if I were to learn math, I should get Richard Courant's "What is mathematics", if I were to prepare for parenting, I must get Dr. Spock's book and so on ...
Hope I have communicated well this time. And of course, many thanks for the suggestions, again.
Regards, Kedar
Your communication skills are fine. It would be very helpful for you to find a few electrical do it yourself books first. After reading the books, hire an electrician to do this small project, and be there as it's being done. Ask the electrician all the questions you want, while he's working, but try not to get in his way. Electricians are all very reasonable people, and I'm sure he won't mind teaching you a thing or two. If you then feel competent and comfortable, you can do the next project yourself.
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dpb and RBM,
Thanks. I think I will start with the books.
dpb -- thanks for the link to Habitat. I will find time to volunteer and learn something new in the process. I think that may be required since I believe books alone would not help be fill the void created. I wish I had played with nuts 'n bolts and wires and pipes in my childhood ...
I shall report my progress (not that anyone asked for it, but maybe it will help someone like me?). Thank you!
Regards, Kedar
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If you live in the south bay look at Approved Electrician Apprenticeship degree at San Jose City Collage.
http://www.sjcc.edu/new/Acad/Divisions/applied/electrician.html
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Thanks, I will check this out. Looks promising and I can really do San Jose. I live in the South Bay.
Regards, Kedar
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Get a book.
20 years ago my father bought me Simplified Electircal Wiring by Sears. I still use it ocasionally.
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There's a plethora of books available either from the home improvement stores or library. From basics to advanced.
steve

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/677a8337d15ba670/81df77d27043b5ee?lnk=gst&q=learning#81df77d27043b5ee
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re: "(I can get the work contracted out, but the contractor should give me basic idea)"
What does this mean?
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 13:25:05 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03

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I meant I can like to work with an electrical contractor if that's what this boils down to. The only (modest) request is I should get a basic overview of starting with such projects. I am a bit uncomfortable starting off with it on my own.
Yes, English is not my first language. And I hope I am getting better at (communicating with) it.
-Kedar
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On Mon, 12 Jan 2009 11:16:00 -0800 (PST), Kedar Mhaswade

I read most of the electrical books at the library, some good. Read a little about basic electricity and a few formulas. Ortho and Time Life have basic wiring books that are easy to understand. Once you feel comfortable and learn a few terms, start reading the National Electric Code--certainly not an easy read for anyone, but it has most of what you need to know. Then there are a few local codes you can get familiar--most local libraries have the updated local code books for reference. Starting off as an apprentice might be difficult (strong unions in your area.)
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http://groups.google.com/group/alt.home.repair/browse_thread/thread/677a8337d15ba670/81df77d27043b5ee?lnk=gst&q=learning#81df77d27043b5ee
I took an evening class at the local vocational school that was just a basic home wiring course. It was based on the book Black and Decker complete guide to home wiring (here's one on ebay http://cgi.ebay.com/The-Complete-Guide-To-Home-Wiring-2005_W0QQitemZ330238068878QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_Nonfiction_Book?_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116 ) . It was a hands on course where we started out by building a stud wall about 4 feet high by 6 feet wide (small enough to pick up and put on the work bench each class). From here we went through the book and used it as a guide to set the boxes, drill holes and wire up different circuits. This was only a 60 hour course, and not very advanced at all, but it did get my hands dirty. So, that is an option...build a practice wall, drill holes, and wire up a receptacle (you could use a cut up extension cord plugged into a gfci or afci as power for your circuit DOUBLE CHECK YOUR WORK BEFORE PLUGGING IT IN!!). Then work your way up to more advanced circuits like 3 way switches and so on. Remember to do all of your work with the breaker turned off (or your hacked up extension cord unplugged). Hope this helps some.
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Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate it. I will get the B&D book that you recommend. I am still not able to find the right "vocational school" where I live.
-Kedar
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Kedar Mhaswade wrote:

I have the same Black&Decker book and it is very helpful. I bought it about a year ago and was reading through it to get general information about rewiring a house, how to plan and do the various circuits, etc. I dragged it out again this week because a freind of mine is helping me do a lot of rewiring of an old house that I own (Actually, I'm helping him, since he knows most of what to do.) Seeing him do the work, and doing it along with him, has helped a lot. Then, I checked the book and it gave me even more information about what should go where etc. In the center of the book, there are two pages of "Common Electrical Code Requirements". One page is broken down "By Room" and tells what the ususal requirements are for Kitchens/Dining Rooms, Bathrrooms, Utiliy/Laundry Rooms, etc. The other page is broken down "By Material" such as Service Panel, Electrical Boxes, Wires and Cables, Switches, Receptacles, etc. Plus the book has tons of full color photos showing how and where to drill holes to run wires, how to wire various circuits, etc.
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Good grief, even Lowes has basic "how-to" books for sale at the front of the store. For more books try a bookstore or library.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
If you interested in training to actually become an electrician try searching the web for "electrician trade school."
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http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&safe=off&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS291US291&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=installing+track+lights&spell=1
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Oh thanks, but I am not sure you understood "what" I "searched" on. Probably I am an "old-schooler" who thinks that it is better (for me) to be guided by a human being. I understand that one can not always have such a luxury, but I wanted to know that before assuming.
It's interesting that I said "I searched like mad" and someone took it to mean the "web" (only)! Regards, Kedar (PS - no flames, please)
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