As the days and weeks seem to blur into one another, it’s hard to say how long it took to complete the wiring in the tiny house, but for me personally, it was one of the most enjoyable phases of the build so far.
Research and Planning
Electrical in a tiny house is an interesting subject due to the the red tape and safety concerns governing electrical wiring.
Here in Canada, when wiring takes place in a grid-tied home, a qualified electrician must pull a permit from the relevant authorities in order to be granted permission to conduct the work. If a homeowner is going to conduct the work themselves then a different, yet similar process is required.
When building on a trailer, there is no process currently in place to govern this procedure and so, money is saved, but the safety risk increases.
The cost to pull a permit can add hundreds of dollars to any installation. But as one is not ‘necessary’ in a tiny house, this saves a lot of money. Having said this though, it appears that it is currently impossible to install an officially ‘approved’ electrical system in a tiny house in Canada. Perhaps there is another way that this can be done, perhaps through RV regulations, but my research has not yet led me to this discovery. (If anyone reading knows of an official process, please share in the comments)
Despite this lack of approval processes, there are still many codes and practices that can be observed when installing electrical. I recommend spending as much time as possible to find the relevant safety information when installing electrical. I’ve mentioned them before, but finehomebuilding.com has some excellent resources, especially if you sign up for the monthly pass to more in-depth articles.
There are many things to consider when wiring your house and it’s just too involved and lengthy to get into it here and as I am not qualified to teach electrical, I will not. But there are many other training videos available.
Just to give you an overview of what to consider I’ll offer you the following list. I have also created a small series of videos to give you an overview of my own processes. The list is in no particular order, but will at least give you an idea of what you need to think about and research.
- 120v or 240v
- Type of breaker box (main panel / sub panel)
- Location of breaker box
- Wiring sizes (20 amp 15 amp)
- GFCI’s in wet locations
- Location of outlets
- Outside outlets?
- 12 volt systems
- Renewable energy
- How to connect to mains power
- Where your light switches will be placed
- Installation of extractor fans
- Separate circuit for a fridge
- Separate circuit for heaters or air conditioners
- 20 amp circuit for kitchen receptacles
- 3 way switches
- Wiring routes through studs
- Protective plates for studs
- Wiring hole sizes
- Low voltage wiring being separate from standard voltage
- Receptacle box sizes & allowable wiring inside boxes
- Pig tailing
- Safety testing
- Breaker types
- Grounding / bonding all metal
- Vapour barriers if necessary
- Height of wire in the walls
- Attaching wire to studs within a certain distance of boxes
- How to thread wire around the corners of the house
- How many circuits you want
- Getting it checked by a professional
- Using certified wire for all voltage types
- Adding conduits for installing additional circuits later
- Access panels
- Not hiding junction boxes
This list maybe long, but it is not exhaustive. Please do your research and don’t simply do what I do, I’ve only created this as inspiration and for some considerations to document the process for myself.
Tiny House Electrical Overview Video
The video below is the first in a series of videos, that at the time of writing, have yet to be published. To be notified of the new videos, subscribe to the youtube channel.