Proper Expectations for Electrical Set-Up

Home Office Inspection - MilwaukeeWith today’s growth in home-based businesses and telecommuting, having a home office has become almost essential to modern home owners. But what if your home is older and wasn’t designed with a home office space? Thinking of converting a spare bedroom into a home office or work space? Great idea! But before you get started, there are a few things you should think about.

Several factors go into creating a functional home office; good lighting, storage, a desk, and so on. However, if your home is older, you will want to think about more than the design of your home office. Today’s home office requires a lot more. You will have to plan for phone lines, fax machine, photocopier, printer, broadband, networking, high-speed Internet access, and even video/television technologies. Will the electrical set-up in your spare bedroom be able to handle the extra load needed for a home office? Let’s find out.

What’s Your Current Set-Up?

Most bedrooms in homes that are 10-30 years old have 110-volt, 100-amp electrical service. The room itself usually has three two-receptacle, 15-amp wall outlets. One of the outlets is normally controlled by a wall switch at the entry door. Does this set-up sound familiar? If the answer is yes, then you will want to properly prepare your space with an electrical set-up that will save you days of frustration and aggravation in the future.

Modifying an Existing System

Modifying an existing electrical system can be expensive, so finding a way to better manage power consumption is cheaper than adding capacity. Home-office receptacles can be increased by using a ganged receptacle box (four or six receptacles) with its own circuit breaker. The metal or plastic box is plugged into the existing outlet and the house circuit is protected by the receptacle’s breaker. These boxes can be purchased at any home center.

Two independent circuits are recommended, with one dedicated to sensitive equipment. Done at the stud-stage of construction, the cost is about $75. Waiting will cost $400-$500.

Maximum Power Requirements

Record the watts or amperes of each piece of equipment (located on the power-rating label). For incandescent lighting, read the wattage rating on the bulb; for fluorescent lighting, read the label on the fixture.

Convert all power requirements to amperes by dividing the number of watts by 110 and compare the calculated ampere to the circuit-breaker handle at the electrical panel. The more the potential load exceeds the circuit-breaker’s range, the greater the possibility of overloading the circuit.

If you plan ahead, you can make sure your home office is set-up correctly from the start. In the long run, the right electrical set-up will ensure that you can spend more time working and less time waiting or dealing with frustrating electrical problems. Your home office should be just as functional and ready for a work load as you are.