Electrical Boxes

When you turn off a light, have you ever wondered what is on the other side of the switch plate? Or, how a light is able to turn on and off upon demand? Behind every light switch, outlet (receptacle), or any type of switch requiring an electrical current, there is an approved electrical box where electrical currents connect. An electrical box usually consists of a steel or plastic enclosure inside which electrical connections are formed.


National Electric Code

There are strict codes that must be followed as a result of the type and function of the box. Depending on where you live and what type of work you are performing, an electrical permit may be required. Electricians consult the National Electric Code (NEC), which is updated every three years, to learn the correct circuit wiring and capacity. As an electrical mandate, all wire connections or cable splices must connect within an approved box.

Electrical Box Placement and Connection

Boxes are either surface- or flush-mounted. By positioning the box in a convenient location, inspecting and upgrading the wire connections are not trying. Also, in case of a fire, the box is readily accessible. The number of connections per box depends on the size of the box. The larger the box, the more connections are permitted. Many shapes and types of electrical boxes exist, allowing room to choose the precise box for the appropriate connections and utility reasons.

Electrical Box Installation Tips

If an electrical specialist is not required, many homeowners choose to install electrical wires and connections themselves. If this is the case, it is crucial to know the fundamentals on installing electrical wiring. Ask an electrician, read a book, and even check online for the basic information.

Grounding an electrical box is essential. In other words, when working with electrical devices, be sure:

  • A green wire goes to the ground
  • White or neutral wire transports electricity back into the power source
  • Black and red coated wires signify live wires.

Also critical, is choosing the right electrical box or receptacle for the job. Check the NEC for specifications.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter

A popular type of electrical box is the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). Designed to prevent electrical shocks, this outlet includes a black "Test" button and a red "Reset" one to determine whether it still functions properly.

Three-way switches allow a light to be turned on one side of the room and off in another, and vice versa. Retrofit boxes are preferred when cables must be pulled through a finished wall. Construction and remodeling work often rely on those boxes that can support heavy fixtures. Surface-mounted utility boxes found in garages, basements and even on utility poles, carry switches or receptacles.

Electrical boxes are essential no matter their shape or function. The importance of following correct installation and code is absolutely necessary for safety's sake.