Adding an Electric Line for a New Air Conditioner


If you are considering the purchase of a portable air conditioner, you may want to determine if the existing power circuits in the room is sufficient to handle the additional power requirements.

If your household is similar to those of many modern families, the present lines in the room are already used to their capacity. It may be time to add an additional line from your circuit box for your air conditioner.

What Type of Circuit Should Be Added?

The capacity of the circuit will depend on the maximum amount of power that will be needed for the size of the air conditioner to be installed. An air conditioner consumes the most electrical power when the compressor starts to run. The compressor will start when the ambient room temperature rises above the desired setting on the air conditioner.

Most air conditioners will offer this information in the instructions or on the box. If the maximum power use listed is above fifteen amps, then a twenty amp line will be needed. A consumption level of less than fifteen amps will require only a fifteen amp circuit.

What Kind of Tools and Equipment Is Needed to Install a Circuit?

You will only need a few tools and supplies, including:

  • Wall outlet, outlet box, and cover plate.
  • A fifteen amp or twenty amp circuit breaker, depending on the capacity of your air conditioner.
  • Fourteen gauge wire for a fifteen amp line, and twelve gauge wire for a twenty amp line. Measure the distance from your circuit box to the planned location of your new outlet, and add several feet to be sure that the length will be sufficient.
  • Wire stripper tool
  • Drill with 12" drill bit for drilling through walls and ceilings
  • Hole saw 

How Do You Install a New Electric Line?

You will first create a hole where the new outlet is to be placed by tracing the opening of the outlet box, then using your hole saw to cut the hole. You will feed the wire through this hole until you reach the location of your breaker box.

You will need to determine the path of your wire to your breaker box through trial and error, trying the least circuitous route possible through your walls and/or ceilings. This is the most difficult part of the job, and may require the assistance of an electrical services company if every possible pathway is obstructed.

When your wire reaches the approximate location of the breaker box, you will need to drill a hole near the box and fish the end of the wire through the hole. Pull the wire until it reaches the box, and then pull it for several more inches until there is slack between hole and box.

Cut the wire at the outlet location, leaving several inches of slack. Strip the insulation from the end of the wire bundle, and the individual wires within, about two inches from the end. Punch out one of the holes in the side of the outlet box and pull the wires through. 

Connect the wires to  one side of the outlet, black wire to gold connection, white wire to silver, and green or copper wire to brass colored connection. Place outlet box in hole, and attach with nails or screws, depending on the model. Place outlet inside box, avoiding cramping of wires, and screw it onto the box. Attach the cover plate.

Strip the insulation from the ends of the wires at the breaker box. You will then locate the main breaker to the house and shut off all power. Using a flashlight, punch out a pre-punched hole in the side of the breaker box, as well as a pre-punched slot in the box to add the new breaker..

Pull the wires through the side if the breaker box. Attach the black and white wires to the breaker, and the green or copper wire to the grounding bar inside the box. Snap the breaker into the slot until it clicks into place. Turn on the main breaker and then your new breaker and you're ready to go. 

For more information, contact Williams Electric Supply.


8 April 2015

adding electric lights to your yard

How well is the outside of your home lighted? Do you have several areas around your home that become pitch black after the sun has fallen for the day? If you live in an area that does not get very much sunlight during the day, you probably have the same amount of success as I have had trying to use solar powered lights to light those dark areas. I finally broke down and contacted an electrician to help me run some power to the dark areas and install some much needed lights. He was able to give me a few suggestions that would not only brighten up my dark yard, but also look very nice from the street.