Sunday, February 24, 2013

Electrical Rough ins

Electrical rough in started this last week.  They have a few more days of work yet from this posting, and hopefully they finish up and things get inspected this week.  I have foamers scheduled on Friday to foam the sloping roofs, eaves, and clerestory walls so we needs things finished up. 

Nothing special here to show, just a typical wiring of a house...minus the can lights.  Ok, we have 2 can lights in our master bathroom over the tub and shower since apparently you can not have a surface mount fixture said the code official....No problem there, they will get wrapped in batts and foamed in the attic. 

The bath fans are super efficient Panisonic fans sized correctly for each bathroom.  The feature a light as well as a night light function. 

We are installing a whole home audio system.  For the speakers that go into the ceiling, I built boxes out of scrap osb for them to go inside.  This will allow me to air seal the box above it in the attic and still blow the full r60 on top.  After drywall is installed, its just a matter of cutting the opening for the speaker without having an insulation in the way.  All of the wire is in-wall rated 16 gauge.

Each room gets a box with a Cat5e cable ran to a central hub which will be in the living room.  This will have a key pad on it that controls the audio sources and allow each room to play anything they want from the speakers.  I placed the controls on the wall at switch height in each space.

Each room will get RG6 and Cat5e cables as well for TV and data.  While we will have wireless, hard wire is still faster and more reliable I think.  Cat5e cable is pretty cheap so why not put it in the walls?

In our bedroom, I am installing the tv mounted on the wall.  For the tv media box (directv or mediacom), I built an opening in the wall into our closet.  I will build a shelf that these will sit on.  You can see the outlets and data we are installing for the tv and for the items on the shelf.  I will also have a box that connect the items on the shelf to the tv via HDMI cable for a nice clean look. 

I am doing a similar concept in the living room.  The media closet on the left will be 2 built in cabinets.  The upper cabinet will have glass doors to see the equipment inside.  The dvd player, tv media, receiver and whole home audio will live in this location.  You can see all of the Cat5e data and while speaker wire ran into the closet location.  These are for the whole home audio connections.  Obviously power is placed inside the cabinet.  I ran a 1.5" low voltage flex tube from the media cabinet to the back of the tv over the fire place.  This will allow me to fish the HDMI cable through the wall to connect the tv to the receiver. 

This image shows the controls for the HRV and also the thermostat location in the hall.  The HRV (below) stat give us several options for air control.  The setting include continuous circulation or time intervals on low, medium, and high speeds.  Will be nice to cook come bacon, turn it on and have the smell gone in a fairly short amount of time!

The HRV is a Fantec model sized for 3500 sqft.  A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) works by pulling fresh air from the outside as it also sucks air from the returns in the house.  It crosses the air (does not mix it) which transfers some of the heat from the already conditioned air with the new exterior air, thus recovering some of the energy used to heat the air from the furnace.  In then discharges the 'old' house air outside and supplies fresh air to the supply registers inside. 

You can see the insulated duct connecting the HRV to the main ducts.  The only problem is they did not really install it how I think they should.  The problems are on both the fresh air supply as well as the exhausted air.  They have the fresh air from the HRV supplying to the top of the supply plenum above the furnace.  This is fine, except colder air is getting dumped into the conditioned air lowering the temperature of the air being supplied to the house.  Another issue is, while the HRV had a filter, it still needs to send the fresh air through the filter on the furnace.  They need to have the fresh air supplied into the bottom of the return plenum right in front of the filter.  This will allow the fresh air to run through the furnace filter and get conditioned prior to being sent into the ducting. 

The issue with the return/exhaust side is the exhaust duct (seen on the right side of the return duct branch).  They way it is set up is only pulling exhausted air/return air from one half of the house.  This needs moved to be at the top of the return plenum so it can suck air from all returns in the house. 

Here is the Lennox furnace referenced in a previous post. 

A couple pictures of the duct sealing referenced in the previous post.

And back to electrical...

I decided to place the living room speaker boxes in the walls instead of in the ceiling since they are so tall.  This location is definitely not ideal, however the Polk Audio speakers have aimable tweeters, so that will help direct the sound down better.  The entire OSB wall area gets foamed, so boxes are needed here as well. 

Here are the boxes on the other side of the living room.  Since that is air space over the garage trusses, I cut through the OSB and mounted them on the back side.  Also seen in this picture is the kitchen...without any can lights.  Cans, besides being major leaks of energy, cast a lot of shadowing since they are a very directional light.  A kitchen is a bad place to have shadowing, so to overcome it....they install even more cans.  Shadowing is created because the can is highlighting the space directly below it, and in most cases, that is the top of your head.  Kitchens need to be full of light, but the light at the task at hand.  The lighting concept is quite simple really.  Provide lighting for tasks and then provide indirect lighting to illuminate the space without shadowing. 

Task lighting will be achieved above the counters with under cabinet lights.  They will be a continuous T5 strip fixture under the upper cabinets.  T5 fixtures are bright and use almost as little energy as LED lighting does.  The advantage of T5 fixtures, in my opinion, is they are a constant light.  LED are typically dots of light every inch or so, which can create minor spotting effect.  For task lighting over the island and sink (since there are no cabinets) pendant lights will be used with either CFL or LED bulbs.  3 pendants are over the island and 2 are over the sink. 
For the indirect lighting, I am installing double T5 fixtures above the cabinets.  They will be set at a slight angle directing the light out into the space instead of straight up into the ceiling.  The ceiling paint will be a gloss finish to help reflect and bounce the light around better.  This concept should create a near shadowless space that is bright and provides plenty of light at the counter surface for the tasks at hand.

I furred the kitchen wall out to make it easier for installing electrical since there is quite a bit on the wall in the kitchen.

Speaking of installing electrical... alot of people asked how it is done in ICF walls...well here it is.  Using a hot knife...or actually a charcoal starter (I recommended to the electrician to get one of these $8 items...they claim they work great) they simply slice out the foam for the wire.  They then shove the wire into the channel.  We will go around after the inspection and fill the void with expanding foam.  This will replace the insulation as well as hold the wires from ever coming loose. 

The final image is of the living room.  This will have a large 72" ceiling fan that will pull any hot air down back into the space.  4 additional lights will be hung from the ceiling to provide additional lighting.  They will have either CFL or LED bulbs. 


  1. looks good. We ran our HRV from the bathrooms eliminating the need for bathroom fans.

  2. The problem I have with that method (and many do it that way) is it creates a lot of condensation for the HRV to handle. I prefered having dedicated fans that could run just for that specific space to get the moisture out instead of having the HRV exchange the air from the entire house to do so.