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
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;
Foxtel (if you are connected),
PC (for streaming)
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
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.
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.
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.
Some people might suggest having a 15 Amp point installed so that I could run a heavy-duty welder.
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
Why not run a television aerial to the garage so you can keep an eye on the cricket when working on a project.
Have a hallway light switch in the garage so that as you go through the connecting door you can switch the hall light on.
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.
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:
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.
Downlights are very popular and can give dramatic light effects so you seem them a lot in show houses, and shops ……but I won’t have them again.
A but harsh? . . . . here are my reasons why.
The dramatic effect means that the light from each fitting is fairly limited in area so you need lots of them.
The cost of each individual unit, including installation is high. With four – six in small rooms and ten or more in large rooms the cost really starts to add up.
Because the light is directed down you don’t get much reflected light of the walls and none on the ceiling resulting in a very uneven light, not what you need for reading or general household tasks.
Because the down lights run hot its dangerous to cover them in insulation which means that the effectiveness of your insulation is reduced. .
Changing bulbs can be really fiddly and exasperating, especially with some of the cheaper fittings. Not good when you are working off a ladder.
Now LED downlights are common these are better than the old incandescent so if you love your existing downlights It could be worth upgrading to LEDs.
Here is a comparison of costs; A typical room will need at least 6 down lights at $100 each including installation, Total $600 and using around 50W. Compare this against a single $50 LED bulb on an oyster fitting costing $50 and using 15W.