The Basics: Glossary, Electricity, Electrical Systems
Codes & Standards: Canadian, BC, Local Inspectors
Wiring: Symbols, Wires, Switches & Receptacles
Products: AFCI, Structured Wiring, Surge Protectors
Renovation: Existing Walls, Raceways, Circuit Map
Issues: Aluminum, Knob & Tube, Old Fuse Boxes, Wiring
Resources: Safety, Backup Power, BC Trade Association
Top Pick: If You Have Time To Surf Only One Site
1. The Basics – Glossary,
Electricity, Electrical Systems
Glossary Of Electrical Terms
Do you know what a goof plate is? Find out at this PBS Hometime site where they have a glossary of common electrical
terms used in residential construction
The basic concepts of electricity are explained in a way that even I can grasp (which means pictures as well), in this
online tutorial from the Smithsonian Institute.
Home Electrical Systems
For an overview of residential electrical systems components, along with some code references, planning guidelines, and
installation tips check out this Rona Web site.
2. Codes & Standards:
Canadian, BC, Local Inspectors
Canadian Electrical Code
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) develops our national electrical codes and product standards. Here is a
summary of their electrical products and resources.
BC Safety Authority
In BC, the BC Electrical Safety Program regulates electrical equipment and installation safety. Their site has info
on acceptable certification marks, permits, fees and more.
Ask The Inspector
The Electrical Inspectors Association of BC provides a forum for local interpretation of the electrical code. Their
site has an Ask the Inspector form that you may find worth a try.
3. Wiring: Symbols,
Wires, Switches & Receptacles
If you ever have a hard time figuring out what some of those symbols on electrical wiring diagrams mean, this chart from
the Electricians Toolbox site will come in helpful.
Cable & Wire
This brief article from Electrical-online provides you with an overview of cable and wire types, how wire is sized, and lists
the most common cables and their uses.
Switches & Receptacles
Lowes offers you info on switches and receptacles (outlets) including how to decode the labels, GFCI, single and double
pole, 3-way, dimmer, time based switches, and more.
AFCI, Structured Wiring, Surge Protectors
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters
There has been strong debate whether AFCIs should be made mandatory. To better understand what they are and
how they operate check out the Handyman Wire site.
This NAHB Toolbase report explains how structured wiring can provide voice, data and video from any wall outlet. It also
lists benefits, limitations and a number of product suppliers.
To protect sensitive electronic equipment from damage due to unavoidable surges in electrical systems, install surge
protectors, as described in this online booklet from NIST.
Existing Walls, Raceways, Circuit Map
Running Cables Through Existing Walls
Installing switches and receptacles in finished walls doesn’t necessarily mean drilling a whole bunch of holes. Fine
Homebuilding gives you some good tips in this article.
If running wires through existing walls is too much hassle, use electrical raceways to encase electrical or communications
wiring. This PATH Report offers an overview and resources.
Mapping Electrical Circuits
To label circuits, or to find out if an existing electrical system can handle more outlets or equipment, try mapping out
what each circuit now serves as per this Easy2 How-To tutorial.
6. Issues: Aluminum,
Knob & Tube, Fuse Boxes, Wiring
The BC Electrical Safety Program issued a bulletin explaining that aluminum wiring is safe if properly installed. But it does
require specific types of switches and receptacles.
Knob & Tube Wiring
Properly installed knob and tube wiring is not a problem in and of itself, but handy homeowners, critters, and time are enemies of this vintage wiring system. It is the belief of this home inspector when asked in The Old House Web, that this type of system should be replaced.
Old Fuse Boxes
Are old fuse boxes a fire hazard? It depends, and this article from The Old House Web tells you how to check out
whether there is likely to be any cause for concern.
Ten Common Wiring Problems
This article from Fine Homebuilding details mistakes and solutions for panels, wrong cables, staples, cable trimming,
outlet boxes, power supply, back-wiring and series wiring.
Safety, Backup Power, Trade Association
The WorkSafe BC site has a number of free online booklets, reports and links that cover different issues around electrical
safety and electrical hazards on your jobsite.
If you or your customers are considering a backup power system this report from CMHC will be helpful. It offers ten tips
for planning and explains six types of backup systems.
BC Trade Association
The British Columbia Electrical Association serves the electrical community in BC. Their site has info on what’s happening
in the industry, member’s listings, and more.
8. Ken’s Top
Pick: If You Only Have Time To Surf One Site
Content experts from Electric Smarts have reviewed thousands of electrical Web sites for their “Best of the Web”
Resources. You can search them by the topic of your choice.
For Today: On
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
- Chinese proverb