Please read our disclaimer.
All the DIY know-how you could possibly need is now available on the web, but where exactly do you look for it? I've hand-compiled a list of over 150 of the best DIY electrical pages I could find, helping you understand everything from fuseboxes to lightning strikes—all on one handy, uncluttered web page! If you want more general DIY advice (things like plumbing, building, home decorating, and woodworking), check out our home page.
I no longer have time to maintain this site, so the domain and its contents are currently for sale.
Please contact me if you're interested.
You might think electricity is an amazing invention—but it was more of
a discovery. Electricity is not an invention at all, but a basic aspect
of how our world works. Electricity is caused by electromagnetism, one
of the four fundamental forces of the universe. It's easiest to think
of electricity as a kind of energy that builds up in one place (static
electricity) or moves from place to place (current electricity). The
appliances and gadgets that feature so prominently in our lives use
either one or both of these aspects of electricity. Laser printers and
photocopiers are based on static electricity, for example, while
batteries, electric motors, and electronic circuits use current
Of course, as you wrestle with your broken Christmas tree lights (for
the fifth year running), curse when a fuse blows, or search for the
candles during a power outage, fundamental forces, electrical energy,
and electromagnetism are the last things on your mind: all you care
about is getting the power back on again. That illustrates the one big
problem with electricity: it's so incredibly convenient and reliable
that we take it for granted. Can you imagine life without it?
It's hard for us to appreciate now but homes, offices, and other
buildings have been powered by electricity only for about 100 years or
so. It was only at the end of the 19th century that amazingly prolific
US inventor Thomas Edison built the first electric-power generating
plants, making electricity on a big enough scale to light the world
with his much-improved design of electric lamp. Once electric power
started to become widely available, modern appliances started to appear
(during the early decades of the 20th century).
As concerns mount about the environmental impacts of using fossil
fuels, electric power is becoming more important than ever. Since they
first appeared in the 19th century, virtually all cars have been
powered by petroleum; soon, gasoline engines will be a distant memory
and we'll all be buzzing down the street in electric cars and buggies!
Our homes will still be powered by electricity, but we'll be generating
more of our own through solar panels, micro wind turbines, and other
kinds of renewable energy. Electricity has had a glorious history so
far, but it's only just beginning!
From changing a fuse to wiring a plug, all of us need to know a least a
little bit about electricity. That's what this simple web page is all
about. Here you'll find over 150 hand-compiled, hand-reviewed links offering
you a basic introduction to virtually everything you could ever want to know
about electricity in your home, from finding a reputable electrician to
simple science fair projects for the kids!
We hope you find the information here helpful!
Last updated: 20 March 2013. Links completely checked, revised, and updated.
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Contents: what's on this page
Safety advice: before you start
General DIY safety
Electrical DIY safety
Finding a qualified electrician/electrical contractor
As far as we can tell, these are the most definitive lists of electrical contractors in each country:
Choosing and using electrical power tools
General power tools
Introduction to home electricity circuits
General and background guides
- Voltmeter: A fairly clear and simple introduction on Wikipedia.
- The Basics of Digital Multimeters: "A primer on symbology, terminology, connections, and basic measurement techniques for modern multimeters."
- Electronic test equipment: A brief review of different kinds of test equipment (e.g. osilloscopes, voltmeters, ammeters, signal generators, etc) from Wikipedia.
Practical testing guides
Useful pages on popular DIY sites
- Ask the builder: electrical: Lots of electrical tips and an "Electrical 101" from Tim Carter.
- DIY chatroom: A message board/forum website. Click on "Electrical" to read or post queries about home electric problems.
- DIYnot: Plenty of good electrical advice and project guides here! Note that some of the electrical info is UK specific, however.
- Hometips.com: Click on electrical in the sidebar for articles on all kinds of simple electrical tasks and problems.
- Mrs Fixit: Go to the "Category drop down" and click on "Electrical & lighting" for a selection of basic aDIY electrical advice, including handy help with some of the nicer aspects of home redecoration (choosing a chandelier, making your outlets match), and so on..
- Ron Hazelton's House Calls: Lighting: Ron explores some of the simpler home lighting jobs.
- This Old House: Home electrical lighting: Lots of simple, well-illustrated project guides.
Everyday electrical jobs and repairs
In some countries (including the UK and New Zealand) it is now illegal to carry out certain aspects of home electrical work yourself. It's up to you to confirm whether any electrical work needs to be done by a qualified electrician and/or officially inspected and approved afterwards.
Legal or not, electrical work is dangerous and it's almost always preferable to get a qualified electrician/electrical contractor to do it for you than to attempt it yourself. The web links we present here are for your background information and reference only. We strongly recommend you find a professional electrician to do all your electrical work..
Please also note the advice in our disclaimer.
Harder stuff: "how-to..." project guides
- DIYnot.com electrics pages: Lots of different electrical tasks explained very clearly and simply, from extending a flex to replacing a light switch.
- Howstuffworks: How to Do Home Electrical Repairs: Explains home electricity from first principles, including how electricity gets into your home and what happens to it afterward.
- Electrical Appliance Manual (Haynes for home DIY) : by Graham Dixon. An introductory photo guide to taking apart and repairing common electrical appliances. There are various editions of this book, some newer than others, and some of the advice may now be out-of-dated. But the basic principles still hold true.
- Fix-it Club: Electrical Fix-It Guides: Lots of how-to fixit guides covering everything from home electricity circuits to small appliances.
- How to Install Electrical Wiring: Basic wiring explained with easy-to-understand diagrams. Not a lot of detail, however, and no photos.
- ACME Howto: DIY Home Repair Guide: An online library of test/repair guides for all kinds of domestic appliances.
- Basic Electric
information at DoItYourself.com: A basic introduction to some of the simpler household electrical tasks.
- Electrical Online: A website "created to answer all of your questions regarding basic home wiring projects and problems."
- DIY Data: Electrics: Some basic electrical tasks explored here, including replacing a ceiling light rose, electricity in the bathroom, etc.
- Doityourself.com: Appliances: Repair guides for dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, clothes dryers, and other household appliances.
- How to Repair Small Appliances: Covers how to repair a toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, food mixer, blender, vacuum cleaner, and more!
- Hometime.com: How-to: Electrical: A gentle introduction to basic home electrics. Includes how-to install sockets and switches, how to run cable, and common electrical codes.
- Dummies: How to Replace a Standard Switch with a Dimmer Switch: A video guide.
- Dummies: How to Install Track Lighting: A step-by-step photo guide, also from Dummies.
- Electrical Online: Home Electrical Projects Made Easy: Terry Peterman offers a variety of hints and tips and sells how-to books and DVDs through his site.
Wiring and circuit diagrams
More guides for beginners
- How to solder: A clearly illustrated guide covers all the bases: what equipment you need, how to prepare, how to solder, how to inspect the joint for problems afterward.
- How to solder: A good basic guide from the Instructables site.
- How to solder: A very clear, illustrated guide with a strong emphasis on safety and specific tips on how to solder the more fragile (i.e. heat-sensitive) components.
- How to solder: An excellent introductory guide from the slightly brusque Mike Allen of Popular Mechanics explains exactly the right way to "sodda." (Well he does it the way I do it!)
- How to do it: basic soldering: A slightly longer guide that goes into more details about the different kinds of solder and alternative soldering irons.
- Make: Superb hobbyist magazine for electronics geek-hacker types.
- Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M): Leading US technical magazine for electrical contractors and other electrical professionals. Lots of articles available online.
- IEEE Spectrum: Journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, though not confined to electrical issues anymore—it now tackles technology more generally.
- Electrical Contractor: US magazine for contractors. Lots of online content here too.
- Electrical Wholesaling: US magazine described as "the independent voice of electrical distribution".
- Electricity Today: Electrical engineering magazine aimed at North American readers.
- Electrical Times: Magazine for UK electricians and contractors. Online content is generally available only to subscribers.
- Electronics Design, Strategy, News: For electronic design engineers.
- Popular Mechanics: Quite a lot of coverage of electrical topics and projects.
- Wire Journal: From the Wire Association International, for the wire and cable industry.
- Electronics for Dummies: By Gordon McComb, Earl Boysen, Inc NetLibrary. For Dummies, 2005.
- Electronics Projects for Dummies: By Earl Boysen, Nancy Muir. For Dummies, 2006.
- Getting Started in Electronics: A Complete Electronics Course in 128 Pages: By M.M. Forrest, Forrest M. Mims. Master Publishing, Incorporated, 2003
- The Art of Electronics : by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill. Cambridge University Press, 1989. This is the classic textbook I used as a student. Rather complex for general readers, but great for university students.
- Electrical Engineering 101: Everything You Should Have Learned in School but Probably Didn't: by Darren Ashby. Newnes, 2005.
- Practical Electronics for Inventors: by Paul Scherz. McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics, 2006.
- Electronic Circuits for the Evil Genius: By Dave Cutcher. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2004.
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