Robinson Engineering, Inc.

Wired: Building an Electrical Panel, Part 2

Last time, we got the components from the box to the panel and this time we’re going to wire them together.

There is more than one way to wire a panel, and some ways are definitely better than others. The general idea, though, is to get the right wire from point A to point B, and to make it as pretty as possible. Pretty wiring, you say? That’s right – pretty. Like a potter molding clay, a good panel builder makes wiring a panel into a work of art. Developing such talent takes time, so we’ll just discuss the basics.

You’ll want to consult your electrical drawing again to make note of each wire’s characteristics usually including how the wire should be labeled, wire size, and wire color. This is REALLY important so you can ensure safety, quality, and functionality.

Wire label, size and color

The nature of the electrical panel will determine exactly how neat it will be able to look. If the panel is small and there isn’t any room for wire duct like the one below, you’ll have to route the wires sensibly to give it an organized look.

Electical Panel without Wire Duct

Hopefully, though, you’ll get to utilize the beautifying capabilities of wire duct as seen here:

Wired Electrical Panel

As stated above, the general idea is to get the wires from point A to point B as stated in the electrical drawing, and to do so as neatly as possible. Here are a few things to pay attention to that will help you in this process:

  • Wire length
    • You can’t really make a wire longer once it’s cut, so make sure that you measure out the wire before cutting it to make sure that it’ll both reach its destination and also have a little bit of slack. You can measure it by actually measuring the distance the wire needs to cover or just by holding the wire at point A and then routing it to point B the way it needs to get there. Properly measuring wire before cutting it will help reduce waste and save time.
  • Wire Labeling
    • Make sure that all of your wire labels face the same direction. This can get tricky when you have wires in terminals on different sides of the same component, so pay attention so you don’t have to go back and fix it later on.
  • Wiring Consistency
    • If your company is producing more than one of the same panel, work with each other to make sure they leave the shop looking identical. We expect our shoes to match, right?
  • Wire Preparation
    • Wires should be stripped and ferruled (when called for) correctly to ensure proper connections.
  • Whatever you do, DON’T DO THIS:

Awful Electrical Panel

That’s just bad, bad, bad. Turning out something like this once will hopefully earn you a lot of training, but doing it more than once just might cost you your job.

The list can go on and on. In your experience, what other things should one keep in mind when wiring an electrical panel? Share your thoughts!

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