The Loft

The Home Base blog

Be Switched On

Always remember that your home’s electricals require careful planning


Reality TV has helped foster a generation of owner-builders and renovators who are keen to play a larger role in creating their dream homes. But the experts warn it’s not as simple as it may seem on television and there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of.

“If it’s not done right, the project could blow out beyond the original budget and become something that you’d rather not discuss – definitely not something to brag about,” Clipsal’s Erica Crawford says.

“Whether it’s knocking down walls, tiling bathrooms or landscaping, it’s always a wise move to pick the brain of a professional. They’ve seen it all and will save you time and money in the long run. But when it comes to your electricals, it’s not just wise, it’s essential that you speak with a professional.

“A relatively simple reno doesn’t mean estimating how many bulbs you’ll need in the area and how many back-ups you’ll need stocked in the pantry or linen press. You really need to consider all of the key lighting variables, such as projecting adequate light into each room, where to position lighting controls, use of efficient products like timers and LEDs to save money on electricity bills, and even matching the colour and design of each electrical product to the rest of your home.”

Safety First
There’s no point having an amazing home if it’s not safe.

“As a home owner-builder or renovator, you’ll need to consider all of the potential dangers that could be avoided, just by using the right equipment,” Erica says.

“Your electrician can talk to you about the importance of installing photoelectric smoke alarms in hallways and bedrooms. Most house fires start from heaters and candles in these areas, so reliable and rapid detection of smouldering fires is critical.

“Your electrician will also be able to show you how you can synchronise your smoke alarms with your lighting control or security system. Your lights can be set to automatically turn on when a smoke detector is triggered, to guide you safely from your home.”

Many lives are saved each year from residual-current devices (RCDs), which are also known as safety switches. They’re installed on your switchboard for both lighting and power circuits, which trip when there’s a leakage of current to earth. They’re sensitive enough to trip in as little as 30 milliseconds – protecting people and appliances.

“This is why you need to engage a professional for the electrical component of your reno,” Erica says. “It’s your electrician’s responsibility to know exactly what needs to go inside your switchboard and then they can show you how to restore power once tripped.

“Your electrician can also tell you about cooker switches and shuttered power outlets, which add another level of safety when children are present.

“In terms of more general security around the home, they’ll be able to show you how simple internal and external motion detectors will deter unwanted intruders. A well-lit front and backyard is a simple and effective way to achieve this.

“Motion sensors also offer that double benefit of providing safe, automatic lighting in and around the home after dark. You’ll never need to drop the shopping when looking for a light switch. And low-level LED lighting is a subtle way of ensuring your family can safely move around the house at night.”

To find out more, visit Clipsal or see the showroom at Home Base.