How will you power your tiny home? Are you planning to power your home from solar panels, or will you have access to AC (alternating current) on your home site? Aside from being an important part of making your tiny home a comfortable place to live, these decisions are crucial to your safety as well.
Do Your Research
No matter your power source, you’ll need to do some serious study to install your wiring correctly. YouTube videos can be a great starting point once you determine your power source. For example, if you plan to power your house from a residential power source, your house wires will include multiple wires inside a Romex sheath.
You can connect like colors at the switches and outlets in your home.
- Black wires are always “hot” or powered.
- White or grey wires are considered neutral.
- Red wires are the secondary hot live lines and are the power source for hard-wired features of your home such as smoke detectors.
- Green wires are the grounds in your system.
Wiring diagrams will refer to these colors, so pay careful attention when you start wiring switches and outlets. Confusion over wire colors can be dangerous.
Getting the Equipment
In addition to the Romex wires, you’ll need tools to cut the wire sheathing and the wires inside it. A pair of needle-nose pliers will help curl the wires tight so you can screw them down inside the switch. You’ll also need flat and Phillips head screwdrivers. When cutting through wire sheathing, remember that there will be multiple colors of wire inside the sheath. Use a sharp utility knife to cut the sheathing and work slowly so you don’t cut too deeply and leave copper exposed. A wire-stripping pliers can help you both remove sheathing from individual wires and protect the copper inside.
Make a Plan
Where will power come into your tiny home? Where will the outlets be mounted? You may need different gauges of wire for different applications, so be honest with yourself about what you’re planning to use with the plugin. It’s a good idea to draw your wiring into the blueprints so you don’t have to just wing it (and likely make a critical mistake in the process). If possible, have a professional look over your plans.
The easiest time to wire your tiny home is when the walls are open. Make sure to drill through studs at a depth far enough back that anyone putting screws in the walls in years to come won’t puncture the Romex sheathing. If you’re planning to use solar power, take care of your appliance and tool choices to make sure that you purchase DC tools and appliances so that you’re not draining your batteries just to keep the lights on.
Tiny living makes it much easier to come up with a simple wiring scheme that you can install yourself. However, you will first have to decide what your power source will be and build from there. And if you get stuck, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional — it can mean the difference between a comfortable, liveable tiny home and an electrical house fire.