Book Reviews, Charles, Practical Skills
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Wiring Simplified: Based on the 2014 National Electrical Code (H.P. Richter et al.)

I have gradually come to realize the limitations of the Internet for providing information on technical subjects. Yes, a vast volume of information is available for free. But there is so much chaff that often it is hard to find accurate answers. When and if you do find accurate answers, they are surrounded by a cloud of invasive ads and other devices meant to distract you, which have the effect of making it difficult to view and comprehend the information as a whole (not to mention the constant temptation to lose focus and check out something else on the Internet). And searching online for something even moderately complex frequently creates a bias towards focusing on the easy answer, since that’s the answer that’s going to be simple to find, and find repeatedly. Maybe on page 20 of the results you’ll find a passing reference to a less easy answer—and then find that more details are behind a paywall.

That’s not to say that the Internet is not superior for some things. For example, often there is no substitute for videos—a picture is worth a thousand words, and so on. But more often, you get a disjointed pile of information, from which you have to extract the key pieces and assemble them into a coherent whole. So, while Internet research has its place (especially for binary answers to factual questions), I find that more and more going to books for important matters makes sense.

This is a long way around to recommending this book. The excellence of this book for its purpose, communication of basic wiring information, brought fully home to me the limitations of Internet research. I’ve finished, and am working on, various small wiring projects in a newly acquired house. I’ve carefully evaluated what I’m doing using multiple Internet sources. I haven’t had any problems—but after reading this book is the first time I feel like I both clearly understand the principles involved and have a complete grasp of basic wiring, and I see some minor errors that I have made. Up to know, the knowledge I’ve gotten has been fragmentary and poorly laid out, despite my best efforts to research online from multiple sources.

Here, clearly organized and laid out, are the key provisions of the (2014) NEC. The authors start with basic information, including simple yet complete and accurate explanations about electricity, wires and conduit, diagrams, grounding, and so forth. They explain why things are the way they are. Later chapters cover all aspects of wiring, from the service entrance to receptacles, as well as rehab and repair wiring, appliances, and so forth. Finally, the book also covers special situations, such as motors, farm wiring, and low-voltage wiring. Clear pictures and explanations of them are found throughout (and the stupid reviews demanding color pictures should be ignored).

None of this could be found researching online, except in fragments, frequently contradictory or incomplete, where the reader has to perform the function of cohering the information and deciding which pieces are false or useless. The price of this book is a low price to pay for avoiding that task and getting an organized, logical, complete set of facts.

2 Comments

  1. Nick Marcu says

    I was very surprised to find her in New England many houses still on the knobs and tube wiring. In many cases is still functional but unfortunately people connect appliances to this wires and also cover them with insulation. If I have a reasonable easy access (basement) we run new wires from the panel with the right amperage breakers and keep if possible only lighting on this old wires. I had to do the same searches to familiarize myself with the subject. I found out that is important to use the right therminology to be able to get to specific information. Very frustrating endeavor. The same holds especially when I tried to find the OIM part number for trucks. Information hold close by dealer. It was strange to realise that every system is built like a castle. Hard to get in and expensive to get out, with unnecessary complexity built into it, making a dealership visit hard to avoid.

    • Charles says

      Sounds challenging! My wife’s grandmother’s house in England had knob-and-tube, with bare wires stretched across the attic, covered in dry leaves. They eventually fixed it, but really, that sounds hazardous!

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