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August 27, 2004 - editor.  Home construction and home building in Pattaya, Thailand.  Installing electric in a house with examples.  Types of electric sockets.  Example of grounded electric installation.  Underground electric installation.  The use of conduit in electrical systems.  Using temporary electric during the construction phase.  Why ungrounded electric systems are not safe.  Getting shocked when working with a computer and ungrounded electric systems.



Grounded electric is not yet a standard here.  Most appliances only have 2 prongs, like the following example shows.  This two pronged plug has a position to add a ground, and it can easily be modified by adding a round piece of metal as the ground.  This isn't the only type of plug, there are many variations, from the round posts to straight posts.  As of the current date most house electrical is not grounded, but that is slowly changing.  To turn on the electric service now an inspector from the electric company will require grounded electric, but the inspection I observed wasn't very thorough.  The inspector only asked about how the system was grounded, but did not check.  There are simple voltage meters which can check voltage as well as the ground.  Also, the same inspector then immediately approved a house that I know doesn't have grounded electric.  Anyway, the point is that they are starting to require grounded electrical here and there really isn't any reason for new construction not to have it.  As an added note to clarify: they are not requiring that all (or any) socket outlets in the house be grounded, only that there be a ground connection from the breaker.

During the building of a house, adding grounded electrical is not expensive.  The additional cost would be the cost of the ground wire, which will need to be run to each receptacle, the cost of the grounding rod and wire, and the cost of grounded sockets.  Grounded sockets are quite a bit more expensive than ungrounded, but they still are not very expensive, ie. a ungrounded socket costs about 8 Baht, a grounded one costs more than 70 Baht.  If a house is done without being grounding it would be very expensive to redo it later to add the ground.  One of the primary motivations to build a house (for me) instead of renting is that previous rental houses didn't have grounded electrical.  I would get shocked just by looking at my computer!  OK, maybe that is a bit of an overstatement, but with the computer, if I wanted to hook up something (like a USB device) I would shut the computer down and turn off the electric surge protector.  Even after the surge protector was turned off I would still get shocked!  And touching the computer when turned on would lead to a nasty shock.  Now, after living in a house with grounded electric, I would never go back to ungrounded.

Some other things which should be considered before starting on your building project.  Normally the electric is run directly from the street into the roof of the house.  A somewhat fancier option is to run the wire underground from the meter into the house.  The approach should be decided at the onset of construction.  This now brings us to an important topic, the electric plan.  Normally it is done on the fly, but I can see the advantage to having an electrician do up an electric plan up front.  The electric layout is not a part of the regular plan (blueprint) done by an architect.  Depending on the complexity, it might be useful to have a official plan done before starting construction.  It isn't hard to find electrical subcontractors who will do a plan, but I'm not sure of the cost involved.  As an alternative, talk to the electrician about all the options up front and have him rough sketch the plan with you.

Electric is necessary during the construction process for tools and other necessities.  An application can be made at the electric office for 'temporary' electric which the regulations state should not be used more that 6 months.  Your electrician will prepare a place for a temporary meter on the nearest electric post.  The electric department will then come out and inspect and, if it passes, hook up the temporary meter.  You can then have the electric wire run from the meter to the building site.  There is a deposit required at the Bang La Mung electric department (Pattaya) to activate the temporary electric of 10,000 Baht.

Whether buying or building a house, a good thing to check for is electrical conduit.  There are two types, PVC and metal.  It shields and the electric wire from all kinds of things, and because of the fact that there really are no inspections here, it is often omitted.



Conduit is imbedded in the wall.  The electric wires run up from the switch box or socket outlet box in this conduit.  (22-Mar-04)

A example of conduit used above the sheetrock ceiling.  (26-Apr-04)
Conduit which is used to route the electrical.  (18-May-04)
The correct orientation of a large switch box, with the tabs on the left and right side.  (26-May-04)
The back of an switch panel showing wiring, the red is positive, white negative and green is the ground.  (31-May-04)
This shows the location a  ground wire and rod. In this example, the ground wire (grounding electrode conductor) is size 16, which runs to a piece of metal rod with is run into the ground 1.8 meters. The metal is 4 hun. (02-Jun-04)
An eight station circuit breaker.  The main switch is required to be 45 amp by the city electric department.  (09-Sep-04)
With a new housing development, outside electric will need to be run into the development by the electric department, as in this example.  This road was given to the county, ie. it is now a public road, but the installation must still be paid by private funds.  In this example, the cost for the project (for the entire street) was 35,000 Baht.  (12-Jul-04)
Electric meter after installation.  The prep work must be done by an electrician and then the electric department will come and check it.  If it is OK they will hook up the meter.  (21-Aug-04)
An example of a grounded socket outlet box.
This is a large socket box with 5 grounded receptacles and a phone cable outlet.  These are configurable, you can get many different face boxes and configure each one as you would like it.  Further there are many styles which can be purchased.  The middle sockets in the example shown here don't add much benefit, since the sockets are so close together not all can be used at the same time.
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