Overview of Electrical Wiring Methods

Whether you’re an apprentice, journeyman electrician, or master electrician, you know there are different wiring systems and wiring methods. Choosing the specific method that’s appropriate for a given job depends on several critical considerations, such as the relevant National Electrical Code requirements, the environment you’ll be working in, and the costs related to the work you’ll perform, among other key factors.

Wiring Methods

Wiring involves connecting various things to distribute electrical energy from a meter to the outlets and appliances in a person’s home or office. This is achieved using two primary methods, the joint box or tee system and the loop-in method.

The joint box or tee system makes connections through joints which are housed in joint boxes. While this method doesn’t require as much cable as the loop-in technique, it’s often just as costly because it employs joint boxes. The joint box or tee method is often used in temporary setups.

The loop-in or looping method is the most commonly used. In this method, appliances are connected in a parallel manner. When a connection is needed at a light, a feed conductor is looped in, brought to the terminal, and then carried forward to the ensuing point that requires electricity. All of the feeds constitute a series of loops that connect to one another. Line conductors are then looped to the meter or box, while neutrals are looped to either the meter or appliance. Line conductors are never looped from an appliance.

Electrical Wiring Systems

Just as several wiring methods exist, multiple wiring systems are also used. Some of the wiring systems you may encounter on a jobsite include the following:

  • Cleat Wiring: While cleat wiring is outdated for use in modern permanent structures, you may see evidence of it depending on the age of the structure you’re working in. This system uses porcelain, wooden, or plastic cleats that are fixed on walls or the ceiling to hold cables that are insulated with PVC. This wiring system is inexpensive and easy to install. Today, it’s often used in temporary situations such as when a building is under construction. Cleat wiring is easy to customize per location and it’s also simple to alter or add to in accordance with the demands of your job.
  • Casing and Capping Wiring: In this system, cables are run through a wooden enclosure that has grooves. The casings used in this system have parallel grooves that keep the cables in place. The casings housing the wires are normally attached to walls or the ceiling using screws. After all of the cables are in position, a cap is put on top of the casing to cover the wires. While this is an affordable wiring system, it’s no longer used in modern construction — though it is still used in temporary structures.
  • Batten Wiring: This system runs insulated cables through wooden battens that are fixed to walls and ceilings with plugs and screws. Brass clips are used to fit cables on battens. These clips are attached to batten using nails that are resistant to rust. This system is affordable, easy to install, and is normally used for indoor installations.
  • Conduit Wiring: Conduit wiring is either surface conduit wiring or concealed conduit wiring. In this system, PVC cables are run through conduit pipes constructed of PVC or steel. If the pipes are visible on the walls or ceiling, it’s surface conduit wiring. If the pipes are located inside the surface of a ceiling or wall, the system is referred to as concealed conduit wiring.
  • Lead Sheathed Wiring: With this type of wiring, conductors that are insulated with VIR and covered with a coating of lead aluminum alloy are used to protect cables from various things such as corrosion and other kinds of damage. Wooden battens are used to run wires, and they’re fixed using clips.

You likely have an understanding of the different wiring types if you’re an active electrician. However, taking continuing education classes can help ensure you stay up-to-date on various materials and safety procedures as you tackle your day-to-day jobs.