If you are a DIY enthusiast who wants to broaden your skill set and is looking to familiarize yourself with electrical wiring, it can seem like there’s a lot to learn. You might have limited experience that you’re looking to expand but wonder just where to begin. Which is where we come in. Here we take a look at the basics of electrical wiring and how to understand the insulation and sealing technique.
What is an electrical circuit and how does it work?
An electrical circuit is a continuous loop that carries electricity through a home via a main service panel and back again. There can be several receptacles connected to the main circuit that can power a number of different items around the home such as lights and appliances. It works by current entering hot wires and then returning on neutral ones. These wires are color coded with the hot wires being either black or red and neutral ones gray or white. It’s important these wires are insulated and sealed correctly to avoid harm to both people and property.
What materials are used for insulation?
As touched on above, insulation and sealing of wires is vital for keeping you safe when sorting electrical wiring. This prevents electric shocks and electrical fires from occurring. There are a few main types of insulation materials, including:
PVC - This is flexible and easy to use as well as being cost effective.
TPR - A mix of rubber and other plasticizers, TPR is versatile and known to resist heat and weather well, making it a good choice for more demanding environments.
Nylon - This is highly flexible with fantastic chemical and abrasion resistance
PTFE - A fantastic insulator, this is resistant to extremely high temperatures as well as chemicals and UV
Silicone - This is a common choice for general wiring thanks to its great all-round properties
How to insulate and strip wires
When insulating wires you need to ensure they’re safe. There are a few ways to do this, including with electrical tape or tubing. We recommend Wirefy heat shrink tubing as the most reliable and highest-quality solution. As part of insulating your wires, whether it be for a new lamp, doorbell, or adding an outlet to the wall, you’ll need to strip the sheathing from the wire. There are different specialist tools you can purchase for this, including a wire stripper to make this process a little easier. You can also use scissors or pliers but it can make the process a bit more fiddly! To strip a wire with wire strippers, you need to find the notch that matches the gauge of the wire before gently closing the jaws. Squeeze gently enough to just cut through the insulation, not the actual wire, before sliding the stripper off the wire, taking the insulation with it.
Importance of sealing electrical connections for safety and reliability
If your electrical connections aren’t properly sealed and connected it can leave them vulnerable to the elements. They could become damp, overheated, or too cold. When this happens erosion or damage can occur, both to the wires themselves and to your electrics overall. It can also put you at risk of an electric shock. When it comes to sealants, there are a few different types you can choose from.
Sealant paste - This is similar to glue and can be used to close gaps for electrical wires
Electrical tape - This is wrapped around the joins in electrical wires to keep them together
Heat shrink connectors - This connects two wires together and fits to size once heat is applied. This is the most popular option as it’s safe, resistant to wear and tear, and less prone to splitting and damage.
Best practices for testing electrical connections
When checking your electrical connections you need to ensure they’re safe and compliant both for safety and longevity at home. To do this, you can use a tester such as a voltmeter or neon circuit tester. This identifies the voltage that travels through the wires and that it’s all working as it should be.
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If you’re looking to get into electrical wiring or have a projection mind, we have the products to suit. Browse our impressive selection of high-quality electrical connectors and tools to find the right products for your needs. You can find additional information and guidance on electrical wiring from our resource page here.