I am considering how much detail to put on the electrical schedule for
new home and some postings have mentioned that I should specify
outlet's, switches, etc. to be "commercial grade."
Is it correct to assume that there is one code that applies to
residential electrical and a different code that applies to zoned
commercial electrical? Will I find the differences between regular
components and commercial components by comparing codes or is
commercial grade just another way of saying "high quality"?
Any input on why or why not to pursue this path are appreciated. I
plan on living in house for a while, so a small increase in materials
cost is not a factor as long as there is more than a subtle differene
in quality. Thanks for your feedback.
The only real "grade" is "hospital grade" and a government spec for
their jobs. The rest of those grades are just marketing jargon for
better quality devices. It is a good idea to do this .,.. if they will
let you. First you should probably determine what they plan to use.
"Decora" is usually one option (the flat rocker switches) and they are
generally better than the economy grade if they are the real thing. If
you do want to specify "spec" or "commercial" grade, expect a bigger
markup than the difference at Home Depot.
Residential is cheap, light duty, and commercial
is more expensive, heavier duty. Don't know if
there is any difference in light switches (you
probably can wear out a light switch) but
commercial grade sockets have heavier contacts and
stronger spring contacts. Commercial is fine for
most all home applications. You might want heavier
duty sockets wherever you plug in a hair dryer in
a bathroom, plug in an unplug appliances in a
kitchen, and in your workshop.
Personally, I would specify residential everywhere
and then change the sockets that wear out or go
bad to commercial grade. But that is just me
because I'm cheap. The cost difference, depending
on the size of your house would likely be less
than $100 between residential and commercial
I think any homeowner should specify as much as possible not only with
grades of materials, but with specific brand names and model numbers. That
way you are ensured that your bids from contractors will be on an "Apples to
apples" basis. Without specifications the contractor will choose whatever
he/she wants to keep the price down and profit up. Prices for receptacles
start at around fifty cents each at Home Depot and go up to around $40.00
for a surge suppressor wall outlet at an electrical supply house.
With respect to your receptacles, I would specify that they each be wired
using the pigtail method instead of feed through. That method will give you
more trouble free service for many years.
I would also specify the bathroom fans. Builders tend to put in the cheaper
noisy models. I would suggest that you specify a fan rated ceiling box with
a three wire connected to two wall switches in the bedrooms and other living
spaces. If you are considering recessed lighting, the time to plan it is
now. It will be more trouble and expensive to install it after the home is
built. If your main electrical panel will not be located in the basement, I
recommend that you have a subpanel installed in the basement for future use.
I suggest that you also specify your TV, phone, and computer wiring. RG-6
quad shield for TV, 4 pair cat 5e for telephone, Cat 6 for computer.
Something else to plan for is outside lighting. Even if you don't want to
install anything immediately, it is a good idea to have the wiring in place
for the future.
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