I am a homeowner who has done dozens of minor and major electrical projects over the last 20 years.
This book is full of practical tips and details I have not seen in the basic books. I wish I had read it years ago.
Not the best starter book, it's for those who want to go beyond the starter books.
Cauldwell has and conveys a deep understanding of the electrician's work. His many insights and "Above Code" sidebars help you do a better job than your $90-an-hour electrician would do.
Heavy emphasis on mechanical tips...fishing, drilling, etc. which is usually the most challenging part.
Excellent photos and illustrations.
I don't give it 5 stars because there's too much missing. How many conductors are permitted in size X conduit? What gauge wire do I need for 50 amp service? What if it's a long 100+ ft. run? Can the ground wire be a smaller gauge? The book desparately needs reference tables for this kind of stuff.
There are no tips for pulling wire through conduit, bending PVC conduit, or outdoor wiring in general.
Too bad, because in many respects this a masterpiece.
on March 3, 2003
I'm building my own house. I am a former industrial electrical engineer (I've moved on to other things). The problem with being an engineer is that I know the big picture, (I can spec a panel and size the service entrance cables in a heartbeat, I used to know the NEC like the back of my hand). The problem that I run into is figuring out the way the guys who install the stuff I spec make what I spec meet code and do it quickly and easily.
This book will show you how the guys who do installations every day do them.
If you understand basic electricity, this book will be a good guide to help you do an installation that will make your inspector happy.
on February 16, 2001
Cauldwell's book, overall, is an excellent text for those who are building their own homes and doing the bulk of the wiring themselves. The book's strengths are the straightforward explanations and clear exploded wiring diagrams. Cauldwell does a good job pointing out common safety issues and how to avoid getting zapped. However, the book has some weak points. One is that he doesn't acknowledge that master electricians (and utility company engineers) don't agree on many wiring procedures, particularly in the areas of grounding the electrical system and wiring branch circuits. For example, I followed his recommendation of installing two ground rods -- and was ordered by the utility company to remove one of them before they would wire the meter, as their policy was to only have one rod (I found that utility companies have their own policies for grounding residential electric systems that aren't always the same as the 96 NEC). A couple master electricians disagreed with his suggested procedures for wiring receptacles, although their alternate suggestions certainly weren't easier. They also noted that in my county, placement of smoke detectors is governed by the UBC, not the NEC (smoke detectors in every bedroom, outside BR doors, in living and family rooms, and at the bottom of lower floor stairs). Thus, future editions of the book might remind us to check with our electric utility before getting deeply into the wiring job,to obtain their specific policies and local codes rather than relying only on the NEC. Future editions also might give more information on where to find large capacity receptacle boxes; in order to avoid some of the cable fill violations he aptly describes; and more clearly emphasize to us beginners just how much practice it takes to wire receptacles correctly, particularly in parallel. Otherwise, it's a good book written in a pleasant, digestable style.
on December 6, 2002
This book is clearly written and has many photographs to help you understand the material. The author does assume that you
already have a basic understanding of house wiring. It would
not be the best book for the beginner or someone just starting out.
A better book for them would be Black & Decker's "The Complete Guide To Home Wiring" or "Wiring - Basic And Advanced Projects"
by Creative Homeowner but after reading these books if you want
to go into more detail then go with this book. The style of the
book is the same with more detail on what is important.
on November 27, 2005
All in all this is a very good book, I looked at alot of books on the subject, and this is the best. Lots of good pics, concise, well written, easy to understand explanations of everything from wiring a fixture, to building the service panel.
My only reason for not giving it 5 stars, was the lack of good info on how to use electronic testing devices, and troubleshooting. But in all fairness none of the books I looked at did. You can't go wrong with this book.
No wiring book does it all - except the one I might write one day....
I love / hate wiring. I have gotten really good at after installing 2500 feet of NMC cable, 3 sub-panels, a 220V electric charging station, bending EMT metal conduit and so on.
Lessons leaned: you can start with the all trades in one home depot book but as you get more into the projects you will need more books - that's why I own 5? books and many pro tools - Klein line pliers, right angle drill, Irwin 3 blade bits and extensions, cable lube, pulling sticks, etc. I also pay a licensed contractor to review my more in-depth projects.
CONS: this and all books...
Pictures Pictures Pictures - The more the better.
Oh so that's how that ran / run that cable or attach to that box etc.
Example, I saw a picture of wire connectors inside a Panel board / load center - I asked my licensed contractor - can I splice a wire inside the fuse box (load center) he said sure.
I went to buy a sub panel but I needed more holes and in different places - he said drill them - I said how many - he said as many as you need! WOW - never thought of that and not a single book I own talks about either of these two cases.
South Western United states: Whoops we forgot about you!! I live in San Diego and I never saw the main or sub panel mounted outdoors! None of the books deal with southwest. When you install a surface mount sub panel it is super helpful to drill holes in the back of the panel to enter the structure. You avoid using conduit this way. In the books: lets just assume you have a basement and the panel is there with all exposed framing - HELLO in the southwest homes don't basements and the panel is mounted outdoors.
Some day maybe I'll write a book and deal with all this stuff.
on July 12, 2013
The 4th edition is my second copy of this book, and I refer to it often when working on wiring projects around my home. There is a lot of really useful info in the book, such as Rex's advice at the beginning about things you should or should not do. If you are planning on doing some home wiring, this book should be in your library. As others have mentioned, you will need to combine it with one or two other books to get the whole picture, for example other books I have show whole rooms wired, which this book lacks.
One or two minor issues with the book keep it from 5 stars for me. One, in the advice section at the beginning, the statement is made "no multiwire circuits", but then no further explanation is given and you need to use an online search tool to look it up to figure out what the author is talking about. Which if you are working on any electrical in your house at all, you should know exactly what a mult-wired branch circuit is, it consists of a 12/3 or 14/3 cable that feeds two circuits but shares a neutral. Prior to the 2008 NEC, these circuits could use separate breakers with no tie, and you could be working on one without knowing it, with a hot neutral - which can fry equipment plugged into it or worse. By the way I agree with Rex on this one, pull two cables instead of using MWBC, and other books actually show using this method in their layout diagrams (I'm looking at you, B&D).
Another issue is derating, I wish it was covered better. The author again recommends not bundling wire, and only putting one wire per hole drilled in studs or joists. This advice is reasonable, however you can't always do this, so it would be good if the book included further information on the subject. My recommendation on derating and running cables near each other, is to look up current code or consult another book on the subject, as you should know what this means if you are working on a larger project that involves multiple cables, cable stackers, stapling cables, drilling holes in tight locations, etc.
Overall this is a good book that packs in a lot of really good information and "above code" advice, I highly recommend it, just know that it does not cover every subject in depth, so augment it with other books and current code references.
on December 30, 2012
I bought this book as a read into how to wire a home, currently our home has an undersized and over-provisioned electrical panel, improper grounding at the panel (no ground rod), and no grounding at the receptacles. So in search I went. Rex takes a lot of time in explaining residential electrical systems, from the pole to the appliance and everything in between. There is a lot of illustrations and notes on above code ideas that would exceed electrical code, some make a lot of sense, and some may seem a bit overboard, but all have good intentions.
What detracted from the book for me is that it seems this book (4th edition) is based on the 2008 code, the illustrations and notes are often on a different page from where the topic is being discussed, so there was some page flipping back and forth. The section on generators was good, but focused heavily on portable hookups, with one paragraph (literally on the last page) about standby generators. There are a few areas where the book contradicts itself, and others that need additional supporting information. I was also disappointed at the very short section on running wiring in existing homes, but there were good tips overall.
Overall this is a great read and explains electrical systems very well. Rarely do I rely on one source for information, so I'm going to seek out an additional book to read, in addition to the current version of the NEC. I hear that there is a Black and Decker book out there that has been recommended.
on May 14, 2013
This book is definitely ahead of the other handyman DIY books on home wiring out there -- all the "how-to" info they have plus the author's additional info for going beyond the basic minimum NEC requirements to actually make your results more useful and convenient for the homeowner.
Enough of the meeting those minimum requirements - this book will give you some really good ideas for improving your results. And if you're like me and want to know whether the book is worth the price, just divide the cost of the book by the number of good ideas you'll get; this book spurs your thinking but it also gives you a great "cost for each new good idea " rate -- good book to have available for all your home wiring projects.
on July 12, 2013
This book has been a great help to me in wiring up a workshop with 240V, 120V, multiple location switches, lights, external outlets etc. It has details I needed and useful techniques that I needed. It was having a mentor and skilled friend to watch and question. It is a little light on the most basic items (like in my Readers Digest handyman guide) but was not intended for the very basic level. I highly recommend it.