Freddie from Freddie's Electrical is a fully certified electrician with a ton of experience. He has worked in the field for years and also served as the electrical inspector here on the island.
The first thing that Freddie needs to do a great job is a detailed set of electrical plans.
Compared to the plumbing plan, the electrical plan is quite a bit more complex. There are many more starting and ending points to consider. And just as with the plumbing, all the systems infrastructure will be imbedded in the concrete slab.
Therefore, once again, corrections after the pour can be time-consuming and expensive. It's important to get it right the first time.
The first thing to consider? On the islands, as with many other places that use concrete extensively for building, the wiring is done somewhat different than what we are used to back home.
Here all the wires are individual and run thorough pipe (conduit). They are not arranged the way we are used to seeing (2 wires and a ground wrapped in an insulating plastic that run through the lumber framework of a house).
Because the house's electrical system will be imbedded in concrete, it is important to have a way to repair any damaged wires (ex., a short circuit).
If we were to take the typical wire arrangement that we use and embed it in concrete, it would be impossible to make any repairs to it.
By using the conduit pipes the wires never make contact with the concrete and therefore can be removed and replaced easily enough.
Freddie and his helper Alberto start laying out the lengths of conduit over the steelwork. They start at the panel and run to outlets and switch locations. The conduits are different diameters, depending on how many wires will run through each.
At this stage they also run the conduit that will be required for telephone, cable, internet and stereo. And we run additional conduit to the outside of the house for any additional requirement we may have in the future for landscape lighting, pool, barbeque, etc.
Additional Conduit Pipes
Freddie has decided to set up a main panel and two sub-panels to do the distribution of the electricity throughout the house.
Electricity Distribution Panel
This helps minimize the length of conduit and wire that will be needed to get the electricity to its final destination. Basically, you take one conduit pipe and send it to the second panel, redistributing from there instead of running everything from one location. This keeps the system clean, neat and efficient.
Conduit Pipe's Length Minimization
A case in point is the distribution of electricity to the second floor. It is much easier to send one pipe to the second and then redistribute from there, instead of running all the wiring from the main panel through the first floor and then up to the second.
Distribution Point of Second Floor
It's vital that proper measurements be made to identify locations of division walls that will be placed after the slab is poured. You do not want to come up with conduit for an outlet or a switch through the slab only to realize later that the wall is actually 6 inches over and the conduit is not lining up inside the wall thickness!
Nothing can be forgotten at this stage because once the slab is poured that is it. "Rien vas plus" like they say in roulette. I am sure you know what I am taking about with regard to afterthoughts... Extension cords taped over floor tiles with duct tape and unsightly wires taped or stapled to baseboards is a great way to ruin what will be a sensational home.
Closer Look of Distribution Point
Freddie is methodical and efficient and before you know it all the conduit has been laid and fixed in place. He uses a variety of fixed and flexible conduit. These pipes cannot have any aggressive curves in them because it will make it difficult or impossible to feed the wiring through afterwards.
Layout of conduit pipes
Special attention is made to tape up the ends of the exposed conduit. The last thing that you want is some wet concrete finding its way into the conduit by mistake and clogging the passage.
An inspection and review with our existing plans is done to make sure that all is in place and secured properly... everything is perfect.
Electrician Freddie in Action
Things are moving very close now to a milestone date. The pouring of our main floor slab. The amount of effort required by Mike and the team to bring us to this stage has been Herculean to say the least and everyone is becoming very exited and impatient for the next step...