I've been doing a little household wiring work recently and it's really
shown me how little I know about this kind of thing.
Can anybody recommend a nice online guide to electronics, with a particular
emphasis on household wiring? I've had a good read of the uk.d-i-y FAQ and
it's just a little bit above my level. Something to help bridge the gap from
a schoolboy's knowledge up to a working knowledge is what I need.
What I want is a guide to electrics that explains the fundaments... questons
such as what Earth is and how it works and, I guess by extension, how AC
electrics works on a fundemental level (ie the kind of thing that
electricians get taught in their first couple of classes at college).
It's not really practical advice on wiring that I'm after - that will come
later. Actually, I understand that kind of thing to a certain degree
Then I'd have a look at what Maplin offer. Several books which cover this
sort of thing for students - as well as electronics.
But for a practical guide on house earthing you'd need a guide to the 16th
edition. TLC sell one.
*A day without sunshine is like... night.
Dave Plowman firstname.lastname@example.org London SW
Would you be this rude to somebody you were speaking to face to face? I
suspect you'd get a slap. I mean, come on - an apology is in order. I
haven't been rude to you, and I don't know what to deserve such a rude
My knowledge of *electronics* comes from school, in what they called Control
Technology classes. I know about circuits, about DC voltage, about what some
electronic components do, and so on.
What I *don't know* is about AC voltage circuits, or earthing, and so on -
what a number of people have pointed out is referred to as *electrics*. I
wasn't taught that kind of thing at school. This is what I'm trying to find
out about, and this is what I've asked the group for help on. I asked in a
genuine way for genuine help - this is how I'm treated?
That wasn't really rude. You might get that later on...
The comment was probably meant to indicate that, in the poster's
opinion, you don't know how little you know. It's a LOT more than
electric circuits and earthing. You need to know about (and here's a
Types of earthing; what earth fault loop impedance is; what 'diversity'
is; what is meant by 'derating' and when to apply it; the difference
between a type B and a type C MCB; when to use an RCBO; how to test a
newly installed circuit (hint: you need a lot more than a simple
continuity tester); different kinds of circuits; limitations of ring
final circuits; 2 way and 3 way switching; heat considerations,
including different kinds of sheathing;.....
There's a lot more; it was just summarised as 'Hmm'. Or, as I said
before, you don't know how little you know. And the knowledge isn't
And that's before we start on Part P; that's the new regulations that
limit what you can DIY, except under very stringent inspection and
A good initial list. So, if the OP is (as he now tells us, but failed to
do so in the initial query) happy with basic circuit ideas, I'd suggest
the following two books in this order:
1) 'Electric Wiring: Domestic', by B. Scaddan, A.J. Coker, & W. Turner,
pub. Newnes, now in its 11th edition, ISBN 0-7506-2058-7. It's slim
(112pp.), covers the basics, sticks to the Regs nice and close, aimed at
the studying-for-C&G market. Reliable.
2) 'Modern wiring practice', W.E. Steward & T.A. Stubbs, Newnes again,
12th edn, ISBN 0-7506-2134-6. More detailed than the previous one,
sound, only slightly behind the times in approach ('ooh! look!
computer-thing programs to do circuit design!) but good, detailed,
worked examples, with equal emphasis on practical skills and electrical
design considerations. I suggest this order (the shorty Scaddan first)
because the detail in Steward&Stubbs can be intimidating at first.)
There are others around - skimming the electrical sections of the
Collins D-I-Y guide is useful to check out the basics; the IEE On-Site
Guide is useful; Whitfield's 'Electrician's Guide to the 16th Edn Wiring
Regs' isn't bad, though always very firm and sometimes wrong despite his
certainty. Most of it is online at www.tlc-direct.co.uk in their
Technical Section, along with a fair bit of other product and practical
See - now you've told us what sort of background you have, it's possible
to make vaguely sensible book recommendations. Your first message gave
us - me at least - very little to go on, and the mixing up of
'electrics' and 'electronics' inspired little confidence that you had
any relevant background knowledge...
HTH - Stefek
Your requests for help haven't exactly shown any practical knowledge of
domestic wiring. And perhaps most of it - to be safe, needs just that - a
practical knowledge, not some theoretical 'school' learning of basic
You don't give that impression.
You've been given good advice. Start with a decent DIY book. Collins or
Which. Get a TLC catalogue which will show you all the common household
wiring bits and the current rating of cables etc. And get a guide to the
16th edition wiring regs from them also - it gives all the various
I'm not trying to be clever, but a little knowledge of 'circuits' when
applied to household electrics is a dangerous thing. That's where we get
things wired in totally unsuitable cable etc because the person knows how
a circuit works, but not how to do it using the correct materials.
*It is wrong to ever split an infinitive *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
I'm with the OP ("Brian") on this one. His netiquette might be a little
rusty, but I do think I understand where he is coming from because I was
once in that position myself.
The thing with household electrics is that there are firm guidelines set
down (e.g. in the OSG) which, even if they are blindly followed without
in-depth knowledge of the physics of the thing, are practically
guaranteed to produce sensible results.
In other words for most practical purposes (and this was what I think
the OP referred to when he said he'd already done some wiring work) you
do not need to know *why* 2.5/1.5mm cable is used for a 32A ring
circuit, or *why* you can only add one accessory on a spur, you just
follow the rules and it works.
If I am correct, the OP wants to know the physics of what happens
between the transformer and the house: How on earth (no pun intended) is
a copper rod stuck in the earth by your front door going to give a
couple of tens of Ohms resistance back to another copper rod (or
whatever) in the ground at the transformer a quarter of a mile away?
Why, in fact, do we need an earth at all? Why do we tie neutral to earth
instead of having a totally floating and hence totally safe system?
If TN-C-S is possible, why isn't it done everywhere? Why 240V and not
100V or 50V or 1kV? What does "RMS" mean, and why aren't we worried
about the peak-to-peak Voltage being a lot more than 240V? Why 50Hz?
What are the practical differences between 50Hz and 60Hz? How can the
supply company keep the Voltage close to 240V when the load obviously
varies enormously through the day? Why do switches have a current
rating, and what does that rating mean?
And so on and so on. These are all practical questions which are
generally *not* covered in any of the wiring guides or guides to the
In other words, something a bit more advanced than DC physics taught at
age 16. Something that will explain the bit in the regulations (and the
OSG and all the guidebooks) which assumes a certain level of knowledge
and states that (for example) exposed metalwork should be bonded in a
He wants the knowledge to challenge John Whitfield's assertion that
bonding is always required in a kitchen, rather than relying on para.
4.6 in the OSG which says that such bonding is not required, without
These are exactly the questions I wanted answered some years ago when I
started thinking about taking up electrics as a business, and I have yet
to find a simple, clear, concise explanation of such matters.
Martin Angove: http://www.tridwr.demon.co.uk /
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