Electrical Planning – Do You Need 3 Phase Power?

3 phase power is used for heavy duty electrical appliances.

So what is 3 phase power?……………….When power is generated at the power station it comes out as Alternating Current (AC) in three separate phases which are transmitted via individual cables. When power is required the three phases can be combined (3 Phase) or separated(Single Phase).

A Typical House

Most houses only have single phase power.

All the typical electrical equipment in your house such as TV, fridges, freezers lights rub on single phase.power.

Reasons for 3 Phase

The only time a domestic house will need three phase power supply is likely to be:

  • If you have a really big house with a large capacity air conditioner.
  • If you want to have an Electrical Instantaneous Water Heater.
  • If you are want are a DIY enthusiast and want to run a commercial size arc welder (Single Phase power should be OK for 275 Amps which is enough for 10mm steel.)

For a new house on a farm where you want to run farm machinery it may be a different matter.

What happens with 3 Phase

If 3 phase was run to your house and you didn’t need actually need it, it simply means that your single phase circuits (power points, lights, oven) would be shared out over the 3 phases as evenly as possible.

What this can mean if their is a power failure that only affects one phase you will still have some power.

For a large house this might be the way to go, but it should not be considered as totally necessary, especially as it will cost substantially more.


If you think you might need 3 phase power I would suggest you contact an electrical contractor and have a chat with them.

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More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – General

Do some of your power sockets look like this photo?

Next time you visit a show house have a look at the power point provision……… You would think most builders are still living in the 1950’s.

Typically you get a couple of double sockets in each room. . . . Sometimes you even see single sockets.

Thats because hardly any of the display home fittings need to work!

They do spend a bit more time on the light fittings, typically with down-light’s everywhere. (Not my favorite form of lighting. I’ve had them once and I won’t be having them again.)

However the down-lights are unlikely to be in the builders standard provision so if you do want them they will add significantly to the base cost.

In our first house, 30 years ago, when we renovated we had at least six double sockets in each of the lounge, main bedroom and kitchen. It seemed a lot when we put them in but most of them were used.

For the last two houses we have practically doubled the power point provision to make it easier to find a vacant power socket when you need it. . . . and avoid having extension cords around the house.

You will find a number of posts on Electrical Planning which provide some thoughts for planning each of the main rooms in the house.

These will help you think about what electrical work you will require when building a new house, and help you prepare for the Selection Meeting.

Although you will have gathered I am keen on upgrading the electrical provision its worth remembering each additional double socket will cost around $75. We had an extra 22 at our last house so make sure you don’t bust your budget!

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Electrical Planning – Living Rooms / Rumpus Room

Living Room, Family Room, Rumpus Room………….some houses have one room for all functions.

Bigger houses can have three separate rooms, perhaps even a Parents Retreat!.

As far as electrical planning is concerned the issues are really the same.


Some of the things to allow power for are;

  • TV,
  • Sound system,
  • Foxtel (if you are connected),
  • PC (for streaming)
  • Gaming Console.
  • NBN Box
  • Wireless Modem

To minimise the cable tangle I prefer to use a power board to the shelves or cabinet rather than plug each device separately into the wall.

With some surround system sub-woofers and rear speakers get a wireless signal or transmit through the mains rather than running speaker cables. . . If that’s the case you will need extra power sockets at the back of the room.

Wall Hung TV

If you want a wall mounted TV it is going to be much neater if you have a power socket on the wall behind the TV.

Its most likely that things like your DVD player, Foxtel, Surround Sound, etc will be in a cabinet or shelves on the floor.

You should definitely think about either getting cables pre-installed behind the plaster or at least some conduits for future installation of the cables………..The best outlet height is going to be about 1200mm above the floor as the most comfortable viewing position is straight ahead when you are sitting down.


In addition to the entertainment options you should allow for some spare power outlets for things like:

  • Table or floor lamps
  • Power to gas heater or a fan heater for days when you don’t want to run the full heating system
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Laptop charger(s)
  • Doing the ironing while watching TV
  • Point for the Vacuum Cleaner

I would never put less than four double power sockets in a living room with five or six being preferred.


For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Electrical Planning – Bedrooms 2, 3, 4

Secondary bedrooms are usually considered less important that the main bedrooms but that doesn’t mean that the electrical planning doesn’t need to be considered.

You need to think about the different possible occupiers of the room over a wide range of years.

It might start out as a guest bedroom, or nursery. . .  but may finish up as the live at home bedroom of one of those SKIPPERS (Single Kids In Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings)

Perhaps you don’t want to make it too comfortable for those young adults!

Our spare bedroom is set up as a sewing room, and has our printer.

Here are a few thoughts for planning:

  • Next to bed, power sockets for radio alarm, phone charger, electric blanket, bedside light, on both sides.
  • Desk location, power sockets for computer, desk light, printer.
  • Other locations, power for TV, DVD player, stereo, game console, and phone charger.
  • Don’t forget the hair dryer.
  • Other cabling may include a TV Aerial Socket and possibly a data connection.

As the use of the room changes sockets may be in the wrong positions so you can’t plan exactly.

My recommendation would be to go for a minimum of four double sockets. One close to each corner.

What does your teenager have that I’ve forgotten?

For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – Kitchen

I was walking around a ‘Good Guys’ electrical store last week looking at the kitchen equipment.

In addition to the items we have got there must have been 20 or 30 items we haven’t got.

For example appliances for making: bread, pies, crepes, yoghurt, popcorn, donuts, hot dogs, etc, etc.

Well here are the Appliances you will most likely need power for:

  • Oven and Hob. Even if they are gas you will probably need power to run the ignition system, warning lights and timers. If you go for one of those electrical commercial ranges you may need a heavy duty supply.
  • Range hood. Some people question them but I wouldn’t be without one, with extraction to outside!
  • Microwaves. We have got one but I have heard of people having two, and can understand why.
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Freezer
  • Kettle, unless you have one of those boiling water taps
  • Toaster

Beyond these items its up to you what you think you will need.

In our case its:

  • George Foreman Grill
  • Slow Cooker
  • Coffee maker
  • Milk frother
  • Stick mixer

Non cooking items include:

  • Lap top charger (See Mission Control)
  • Phone charger
  • Cordless phone charger

For the worktop items you will need plenty of sockets either just under or just over the benchtops.

For fixed appliances its best to have the power inside the cupboards.

In addition to the power lighting is fairly important. We have the following:

  • Centrally mounted ceiling fitting for general lighting
  • Wall lights either side of the hob
  • LED downlights over the bench

What are your ‘must have items’ that’s not on my list?

For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – Garage

In my current garage I had three double power points installed. . . . which I thought was plenty.

With the amount of power needs on my workbench, including battery chargers I had to fix this power board to the wall.

What We Had Installed

I asked for double outlets at:

  • The corner close to where my beer fridge is, about 1m from the floor level.
  • Behind the shelves where my power tools are stored about 1m from the floor as a recharging station.
  • A low mounted point on the wall where my workbench is located.

What I Would Do Differently

  • Rather than the low point located behind the workbench I would have put two double points, one at either end of the workbench. They would be set above the height of the bench, say about 1200 from the floor.
  • Have task lighting above the workbench.
  • A single point on the ceiling, which would have made wiring the garage door opener in a lot easier. (We had that installed a couple of years after the build.)
  • An extra double 1m from the floor on the opposite side of the garage to the workbench near the main door. To run the pressure washer when cleaning the car on the drive. It’s also where I store my compressor.

Other Thoughts

  1. Some people might suggest having a 15 Amp point installed so that I could run a heavy-duty welder.
  2. I have seen some garages where people have a complete kitchen in the garage for things like making big batches of tomato sauce. If you had thought of this perhaps you should be looking at the kitchen post
  3. Why not run a television aerial to the garage so you can keep an eye on the cricket when working on a project.
  4. Have a hallway light switch in the garage so that as you go through the connecting door you can switch the hall light on.


For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – Home Theatre

Do you want the full Home Theater Experience?

If so perhaps the dedicated Home Theater Room is the thing for you.

The electrical planning for livings room post will cover many of the aspects of the Home Theater but there are some additional points to consider.

  • Projectors. If you want the biggest screen projectors are the way to go. These are best mounted as high as possible to minimise any issues of throwing shadows on the screen. Ceiling mounts are fairly popular, as long as your ceiling height is adequate. Otherwise high on the back wall should be OK. Either way you should allow for a power point, and data cable runs behind the plasterboard.
  • Powered Screens / Curtains If you go for these they will need handy power sockets.
  • Alternative Lighting You may want strong lighting for general use and even things like using some of the exercise consoles. For movies a more subdued lighting, perhaps with remote dimmers is the way to go.
  • Media PC The home theater room will be the best location for the Media PC. As well as its own power supply the Media PC will need an incoming data line. It will also be worth installed cabling from the Media PC to any other rooms where you may want to send the signals.
  • Fridge. If you are watching the footy live it might be good to have some cold beers handy! Perhaps this is the location of your Beer Fridge rather than the garage!


I have never bothered with a home theater myself so this post is based on researching articles and talking to a few people I know.

If there is something you think I should include please comment and I will update the page.

For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists

in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – Master Bedroom

Perhaps you agree with most builders, who seem to think a couple of power points in the bedroom is fine………….. Well I think that’s nowhere near enough and here’s why:
Starting on my side of the bed I have:

    • Table lamp
    • Radio alarm,
    • Mobile phone charger.
    • Lap top charger so my wife or I can browse the web on weekend mornings.

As a result I have a 4 way socket so its a good job we don’t have an electric blanket.

On my wife’s side its:

    • Bedside reading light
    • A wireless phone charger

She has a double socket so charges her mobile phone elsewhere.

Next is the TV that’s on a trolley so we can move it depending on whether we are in bed or sitting on the couch. To save cables snaking off the trolley we have one of those 4 way power leads which we need for the TV, DVD, Hard Drive, and the wireless Foxtel connection.

Don’t forget the aerial socket as well.

We don’t like to use the main light too much so we have a standard light to provide low intensity background lighting in the evening.

As we want somewhere to plug in the vacuum cleaner better make all the singles doubles so we have still got convenient sockets.

Light switches are another matter.

    • We have a three way set up for the main light so we can control it from the door and either side of the bed. the bedside switches are set to be 300mm above the bedside cabinet height
    • In the walk in robe we have a motion detector switch so we don’t have to worry about leaving it on all day (This works very well a long as you have a door to the WIR. The dog sleeps under the bed and if the door is open and he walks round the room in the night the light goes on)

Don’t forget the smoke alarm outside the bedroom door.

For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists

in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’



Electrical Planning – Bathroom and En-Suite

Here are a few thoughts about electrical planning for your new bathrooms.

  • Fan over the shower. I like these better than the centrally mounted fans.
  • Heating unit. A lot of people like those 3 in 1 heating/fan/light units but I prefer separate lights,heaters and extraction fans.
  • Heated towel rail.
  • Power sockets If you really want them try and avoid putting them in a place where you will not be tempted to touch them with wet hands.
  • The ‘lady of the house’ will probably appreciate good lighting of her face (with warm white lights) when she stands in front of the mirror. It is easier for her to get her make-up right.

Luxury Bathrooms

When it comes to luxury I’m not really an expert as I am more a; get in, S**t, Shave, Shampoo, Shower (SSSS) and get out.

A friend of mine however went the five star treatment.

His bathroom includes a two person spa, flat screen TV, and ‘champagne fridge’ within easy reach of the spa, a bit out of my league.

Another luxury fitting which is gaining a following are those ‘Japanese Bidet Toilet Seats’. If you want one of these you will need a power point behind the toilet.

Interesting Fact

Do you know that in England the Electrical Wiring Regulations don’t allow power sockets or wall mounted electrical switches in bathrooms.

All switches must be ceiling mounted pull switches.

The Australian Regulations are far more relaxed about people touching 220 volt switches with wet hands, or dropping the hair dryer in the basin!


For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists

in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


3 in 1 Bathroom Heaters or Separate Units?

In a previous house we had one of those 3 in 1 bathroom light/heater/extraction fan.

I can’t say I was impressed. . . . It suffers from the Swiss Army Knife Syndrome…… doing lots of things, but none of them as well as a purpose designed tool.

It seems more sensible to me to have the fan directly above the shower and extract the steam at it’s source, rather than let it drift across the ceiling and then extract it.

As far as Lighting is concerned it’s easier to see yourself clearly in the mirror if the light is in the area between the mirror and you, rather than behind you. . .

I think that ladies putting on make-up in the bathroom will agree!

For heating I never seemed to get much heat from the heat lights. (One exception was a unit in a hotel bathroom with a low 2.1m ceiling)

The best bathroom heating solution for us has been a wall mounted fan heater

A couple of low price alternatives are:

  1. Leave the door partially open overnight allows enough heat from the ducted heating to flow through to the bathroom in the morning.
  2. Switch the bathroom fan on a few minutes before your shower and it will pull the warm air into the bathroom.


Thinking about underfloor heating? . . . Check out this Link : Underfloor Heating


For more see Bathroms and Ensuites