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electricity
instruction, regulation, insurance, safety, etc

Most of the world’s problems are tied to energy use.  At the same time, many of the greatest luxuries of our time are powered by electricity.  To maximize your luxuriance and minimize your electrical footprint calls for experience with electricity.  

Otis has a lot of experience with electricity.  And he needs to know that you have experience too.

sand badge

Complete 5 points to get this badge (no duplication allowed):

Lead Acid Battery maintenance on three batteries   1 point
create a micro heater bubble   1 point
move a lead acid battery to the shop, charge it, and put it back   1/2 point
replacing a bathroom fan switch with a timer   1/2 point
repair a lamp (110v, 12v, car)   1/2 point
repair a motion detector flood lamp   1/2 point
replace a flood light with a motion detector flood lamp   1/2 point
repair a light switch   1/2 point
install a permanent light fixture 110v ac   1/2 point
install a permanent light fixture 12v dc   1/2 point
install a power outlet 110v ac   1/2 point
install a power outlet 12v dc   1/2 point
install a light switch   1/2 point
put a new end on an extension cord   1/2 point
label the breakers on an electrical panel  1/2 point
replace the heat element in a water heater or clothes dryer - 1/2 point
set up a solar water pump (combo w plumbing badge)   1 to 2.5 points
small DC only solar system    4 points

straw badge

35 points required
Get at least 5 points from new items from the sand badge.
No more than 20 points of duplication allowed
Oddball points allowed

Lead Acid Battery maintenance on twelve batteries - 3 points
Add a lighting circuit and circuit breaker - 2 points
  - At least 2 lights
Add an outlet circuit and circuit breaker - 1 point
  - At least 4 outlets or one 20A dedicated outlet (fridge, disposal, etc)
  - If GFCI or AFCI protected, add ½ point
Add a 220V circuit and circuit breaker and outlet - 1 point
Replace an electric water heater - 1 point
Add a new circuit breaker and install a new electric water heater - 2 points
  - Combo with Plumbing
Install a doorbell system (chime, transformer, button) - 1 point
Install a shallow well pump for potable pressurized water - 1-2 points
  - Combo with Plumbing
Install a deep well pump for potable pressurized water - 4-8 points
  - Combo with Plumbing
Install a control system and secondary pump for a cistern - 4-8 points
  - Combo with Plumbing
Install a pair of three way switches to control a light/device - 1 points
Install a set of four way switches to control a device - 1.5 points
Install an exterior grade outlet (code compliant cover) - 1 point
Install an exterior grade outlet (Paul compliant cover) - 2 points
Install 20 feet of wire in an unfinished space - 1 point
Install 20 feet of wire to a finished space from an unfinished space - 1.5 point
Install 20 feet of wire, flawlessly, through an existing finished wall - 4 points
Install a subpanel with ground - 6 points
Trench power to an outbuilding properly - 10 points

Document electrical usage of 12 devices with a Kill-A-Watt - 2 points
Troubleshoot and fix an electrical appliance - 0.5 to 4 points
Set up an emergency back-up battery system that is always charged - 1 point
"Charge and Carry" lithium battery power box - 20 points
Augment a pickup (or other rig) to be a power generator with at least 2 batteries - 4 points
Create a Travis Johnson style PTO driven home generator
  - properly (to code) power a grid tied house for an hour - 12 points
  - augment off-grid batteries - 2 points
  - able to run certain appliances with a cord - 2 points
Set up a power wall
  - Off grid - 10 points
  - Grid tied - 20 points
Set up a micro hydro power system
  - Off grid - 10 points
  - Grid tied - 20 points
  - cross over points with plumbing
Set up a wind power system
  - Off grid - 10 points
  - Grid tied - 20 points

wood badge

180 points required
Up to 35 points of duplication allowed
Can get up to 60 points of new points from Straw and Sand
Oddball points allowed

Fully wire a small structure with a single supply wire - 4 or more points
  - need to get to at least 4 points to get this BB.  Points come from the number of outlets, switches and fixtures with bonuses for exterior and GFCI/AFCI applications
Fully wire a small structure with 3+ circuits (panel installed already) - 12 or more points
  - need to get to at least 12 points to get this BB.  Points come from the number of outlets, switches and fixtures with bonuses for exterior and GFCI/AFCI applications
Fully wire a large structure with 6+ circuits (panel installed already) - 40 or more points
  - need to get to at least 40 points to get this BB.  Points come from the number of outlets, switches and fixtures with bonuses for exterior and GFCI/AFCI applications
  - properly illuminated, at least two outlets outside and at least one 220 outlet
Install a main panel, meter pedestal, ground and connect their wiring - 15 points

Convert a vehicle to electric (joint project with Metal Working) - 40 points
  - Street legal, capable of 60mph and 40 mile range
  - also earns 65 points of Metal working (Iron)
Convert a motorcycle or dirt bike to electric (joint project with Metal Working) - 20 points
  - Street legal, capable of 20 mile range
  - also earns 12 points of Metal Working (Iron)
Convert a tractor to electric (joint project with Metal Working) - 40 points
  - Capable of 6 hrs run time
  - also earns 65 points of Metal Working (Iron)
Troubleshoot and repair an electrical issue with an electrically powered vehicle - 2 to 20 points
  - Electric car, golf cart, tractor, motorcycle, etc

Large articulating solar panel system ala Solar Leviathan (40+ square feet) - 40 points
  - also earns 40 points of Metal Working (Iron)

iron badge
No Iron badge at this time
COMMENTS:
 
steward
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stuff from the heat bubble:

  - document your comfort after one hour with the air temp is 60 degrees F
  - optimize bubble so you can be comfortable, sitting still, for three hours at 50 degrees F
  - must have one incandescent directional light
        o close to head, but not in your eyes
        o light is not in the eyes of anybody
        o easy to turn on and off
  - must have a dog bed heater
        o a style that will not overheat
        o easy to turn on and off
  - must have a lap warmer
        o couch or chair can just be a blanket
        o desk must be a kotatsu
  - desk must have
        o heated pad under keyboard and mouse, or
        o heated keyboard and heated mouse




 
steward
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Just to check, are the first two items (maintain batteries and heat bubble) both required, plus a tiny item and a big item?  Or were they supposed to be part of the tiny list?  Just checking if the list is bullet pointed correctly...

In the interest of finding myriad ways to create heat bubbles that work without buying stuff (dog bed heater, kotatsu desk, heated keyboard, heated mouse), would it be possible to attempt to create a heat bubble by other means?  With things that we might have laying around anyway?  I'm imagining I could attempt it by putting a salt lamp under my desk, a directional incandescent for my hands and head and a blanket to enclose the desk opening around my legs.
 
paul wheaton
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The first two are required.  

And, yes, I am cool with the heat bubble being done in alternative ways - but if you are doing an alternative, I would like a detailed explanation of a review.  Preferably over several hours and something that is close to being equivalent.   Remember - in my test, the person was uncomfortable at 65 degrees F.   But, adding in 82.5 watts of micro heaters, the same person was comfortable at 50 degrees F.

 
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Heat bubble idea:  When I lived in the UK it was bleeping cold.  The landlord wouldn't put the heat on until it was minus 10 C outside (icicle on noses temperature), so I used to put my PC tower under my desk and a blanket over the desk.  I had a space blanket against the wall to reflect the heat back at me.  Not the safest for the PC, but is sure kept me warm.  
 
Mike Haasl
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For a number of wonderful reasons, this badge has been converted to a points-based system.  We're working on the Straw, Wood and Iron badges so more nifty stuff will be coming in the near future.
 
r ranson
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Do replacing an electrical plug and light switch count as repair?  They do sparkle a little and they are ugly... I hope that replacing them repairs both issues.
 
Mike Haasl
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Yes, replacing a receptacle (outlet) would count as a repair.  Since I'm pretty sure the only safe way to repair them is to replace them.  I don't see repair a switch on the list so that may need to be added...  Take pictures (before/during/after) just in case!
 
r ranson
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Are bathroom safe plugs very different than regular ones to install?
 
pollinator
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r ranson wrote:Are bathroom safe plugs very different than regular ones to install?



Not drastically different, but different. You have to know which wire is being fed into it from the load box, and which one is going to the downstream outlets.

It also depends on what configuration you want. You can wire a GFCI to protect just that outlet, and NOT the ones downstream, or you can wire it so that it protects that outlet, and all the outlets downstream from that outlet. I cannot think of a good reason to do the former though. In my house, every outlet is GFCI protected.

But it is very, very easy to wire. It is just where you put the incoming (Load) and outgoing (Line) wires that matter. It says right on the outlet how to do it.
 
Travis Johnson
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On the Straw or Wood Badge, you should have a 3 way switch as a task.

They can get confusing. I can wire them, but I do not do it often enough, so I have to really think about how to do it sometimes.

A three way switch, for those that do not know, is like a hallway. In that situation you have a hallway light, but you want to be able to turn on or off the light from each end of the hallway, or turn on or off the light from any doorway. In my house, I have three bedrooms, a bathroom and a utility room coming into the hallway. Plus I want to be able to turn on or off the light from each end of the hallway. So I want my daughter to be able to step out of her room, turn on the hallway light, walk in to the bathroom and shut it off. Or any variation of that.

How do you do that?

It is very easy, you have a 3 way switch at both ends of the hallway, but beside every doorway is a 4 way switch. That allows the light to be turned on or off at any doorway, or any end of the hallway. But that extra traveler wire can get confusing.

 
Mike Haasl
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Good call Travis!  Three/four way switches are on the Straw badge list.  Here's the thread where we've been hashing out the higher level badges for Electricity.  There are similar brainstorming threads for plumbing and at least another one.  Electricity Badge Straw/Wood Brainstorming Thread

And I concur with everything Travis said about wiring the GFCIs.  One reason though to wire it so that the GFCI is only for that outlet is if the circuit continues to a weird place in the house and if the GFCI trips and the power goes out in that weird place, you don't have to remember where the GFCI is that tripped it.  Say if the GFCI is in a lightly used bathroom and the circuit continues to the attic lights.  

"Honey, why don't the lights in the attic work?"
 
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Oops - there's a thread with some brainstorming.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Eliot, I looked through your post before you edited it and it looks like you had a number of good things in there.  Many of which are in the brainstorming thread but maybe not all?  Feel free to go over there and add any that you think are missing or if you come up with new ones after reading the list!

I should have published the electrical changes already but since I haven't, there's still time to get more input
 
Mike Haasl
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Straw and Sand badges have been updated now!  We're always open to new ideas so if we missed something, just let us know.  And start getting those BBS!!!
 
r ranson
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I found out that changing a dimmer switch is different than changing a regular switch.

and changing a three-way switch is mildly different than changing a regular switch.

Do they all three counts as 'switch' or are they separate badges?  
 
Mike Haasl
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I'm thinking they all count as the Sand level "Install a light switch" BB.  There's always variation with wiring and the idea at Sand is to generally do the "replacement in kind" type activities.  Upgrading to a dimmer or smarter switch is a bit trickier but I'm guessing it would still just be 0.5 points.

But luckily, for the Straw badge you get credit for duplicates at other levels.  So if you do 10 switches, you'd get .5 points for Sand and 9.5 points for Straw.
 
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Today I had the chance to work on a lighting / outlet circuit in our home. I’m going to use this to attempt the following 2 BB’s for 2.5 points for the Straw Badge:

Add an outlet circuit and circuit breaker – 1 point
– At least 4 outlets or one 20A dedicated outlet (fridge, disposal, etc)
– If GFCI or AFCI protected, add ½ point

Install 20 feet of wire in an unfinished space – 1 point

Here’s a shot after about 1/2 of the insulation is in this bedroom wall. You can see the two light sconce boxes above joined by a run of 12/2 and the closest one connected to the switch box, red arrow.



This circuit has 1 light switch, two lights, and four outlets, 2 on each side of the wall. Here is a shot of the boxes and how wiring is joining them.



I waited until drywall was up to begin installing outlets, this is one outlet on the bedroom side which supplies power from the circuit breaker to the light switch.



I used the wire strippers to strip the wire back 5/8″ or so to make my loops. All three ground wires were twisted together then wire nutted.



Even though my receptacles can take wire straight in I choose to loop and screw. Here I’m making the eyelet loops.



Neutral and ground wires all attached to my receptacle. Red is to the light switch and green comes from the breaker box. Note loops are all oriented to be pulled shut as the screws are tightened.



Outlet installed and ready for testing.



The yellow wire is a 22′ run from the breaker box (distance) running along the floor joists then up into the wall (behind). I will be installing protective boards above the wire so if anyone decides to hang stuff from the wires they won’t be damaged.



Wiring run under the floor joists are stapled at 4′ intervals and 8″ from boxes.



We have a box that uses QO breakers, I try to keep a unit or two on hand, just in case…



This is a very old (circa ’67) breaker box and will be updated to a 200 amp unit when our solar array is installed. The yellow arrow is our new ground, red arrow is new neutral, and red oval is the new 20 amp arc fault breaker.



Clearing out a knockout in the breaker panel for the new 20 Amp breaker.



Outlet and wall sconce circuit finished as noted by lit light and correct two lights on the circuit tester.

 
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Erik, at first glance I think the install an outlet sand badge can be certified if you post it in the specific BB thread here.

I thought there was a circuit breaker BB in the sand level but apparently not. It looks like you might be ahead of the staff in getting the straw level BB's wikified. It looks like you have several ready to be certified, or close to it at least. Stay tuned.
 
Mike Haasl
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Yes, Erik is faster at doing the BBs than we are at typing them up.  I'm thinking that until we have them defined and typed up, it would be best to not post them.  Just in case the requirements are more stringent that the photographs that are posted.  Otherwise the person writing them up may struggle to decide if they should write them up the way they wanted or fudge it to match the documentation you predicted would be enough.

I'll say that this one will be certified for those 2.5 points when we have the BB done.  But it may be a while before we get them all written up.  We have about 1,000 to type up.  Any volunteers out there!

So take lots of photos of any work that will be submitted in the future!  Generally we aim for a before, during and after bit of evidence.  Sometimes it makes sense to take more (like closeups of a breaker box in this case).

 
r ranson
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I've been posting my to projects thread, then when the BB is written up, I post the relevant parts there.  That way, I have all the pictures in one place where I can grab them when the badge is ready.
 
Mike Haasl
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I've just been stockpiling the photos in my computer...
 
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Would replacing the battery bank in my household off-grid solar system fit somewhere in this PEP Badge.  I'm using AGM batteries so I'm not seeing it fitting in exactly with any of the BBs.  Should I submit this for the Oddball badge instead?  It was not a very difficult task (though it was rather expensive) so I would expect it to be something in the Sand badge category, maybe Straw since I did have to make new jumpers to wire them together into a 48 volt system.  The new batteries had different terminals from the old ones.  
 
Mike Haasl
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I'm thinking it's a good fit for posting in Electricity Oddball.  It gives more points than the plain Oddball badge.  But it's in Straw so you get delayed gratification.
 
David Huang
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Mike Haasl wrote:I'm thinking it's a good fit for posting in Electricity Oddball.  It gives more points than the plain Oddball badge.  But it's in Straw so you get delayed gratification.



Excellent.  Thanks.  I hadn't realized there were Oddball sections for some of the individual sections.  That does seem like the most logical fit!
 
Mike Haasl
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Yup, there are a few.  I think only in Electricity, Plumbing and Homesteading.  But there could be others I'm not remembering...  Enjoy!
 
Mike Haasl
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I believe I've completed the BBs for the sand badge!  5 points required
Maintenance on 3 batteries 1 pt
Move and charge a battery 1/2 pt
Replace fan switch with timer 1/2 pt
Repair motion detector light 1/2 pt
Install a permanent light fixture 1/2 pt
Install an outlet 1/2 pt
Install a switch 1/2 pt
New end on extension cord 1/2 pt
Label electrical panel 1/2 pt
 
Mike Barkley
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The sand badge looks good so I granted that. Don't see a BB65 listed. Did you max it out?
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Mike!  BB60 is as high as it goes, after that it's PEP1, 2, etc.
 
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Hiya, could I have a sand badge please?

I think I've got the 5 points required.

Small DC Solar 4 points
Charge a Lead acid Battery 1/2 a point
Light Fitting 1/2 a point

Thank you!
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

Congratulations on your first sand badge!

 
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Hey Guys,

I'm a domestic solar sparky from Australia and you'd never really find a 110V AC circuit unless you are in the industrial setting (ie. not for the everyday person let alone a domestic sparky) so for all the BB submissions that I'll be posting here do I have preface by saying so?

I understand the PE"P" aspect of all this but I'm working to the codes and regulations that are imposed on me.

Looking forward to the response!
 
Mike Haasl
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Is that because you use some other AC voltage over there?  
 
Brandon Gladefield
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Mike Haasl wrote:Is that because you use some other AC voltage over there?  



Precisely! The standard here is a 230V/240V circuit. 110V is only ever installed for the US-made machinery that gets imported for factories and other industrial settings
 
Mike Haasl
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I can put it on a list for Paul to look at but I'm guessing that he'll say that 110 and 220 are what they use in Montana so that's what this badge will require.  It looks like there are only a few BBs that specify the voltage, can you still work your way through the badges with them listed currently?

If we change it for Australia, then another country with another standard will raise their hand.  In order to get it suitable for the whole world may take a lot of work.  
 
David Huang
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I do believe I have now completed the requirements for my electricity sand badge.  Here are the links:

4 points for my small DC only solar system  (used most often when camping.)
1/2 point for installing a "light" switch.  (It's actually an exhaust fan switch.)
1/2 point for installing an AC outlet. (or 5 of them.)

This should total the 5 points needed with no duplication.
Staff note (Mike Haasl) :

You are hereby certified for the Electricity Sand badge.  Congrats!

 
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Here is my submission for the Electricity Sand Badge.

You can check out my profile page here.

Sand Badge Requirements - Complete 5 Points to Earn this Badge
  Install a Permanent Light Fixture - 1/2 point
  Install a Light Switch - 1/2 point
  Label the Breakers on an Electrical Panel - 1/2 point
  Replace a Bathroom Fan Switch with a Timer - 1/2 point
  Repair a Light Switch - 1/2 Point
  Install a Power Outlet - 1/2 Point
  Repair a Lamp - 1/2 Point
  Put a New End on an Extension Cord - 1/2 Point
  Perform Maintenance on Four Lead Acid Batteries - 1 Point
Staff note (Mike Barkley) :

Good job. Enjoy your new badge!

 
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