Electrical Engineering/New wall outlet in room


Dear experts,

I am a DIYer and love to learn new things. Therefore I am seriously considering doing some basic electrical work myself. I took some basic electrical classes a very long time ago in HS so I understand some principles.

To get to the point: I have a decent size closet that I'd like to convert to a small home office. The bad news is that there is no power outlets in that room so I'd like to add a couple. The office equipment I'm likely to run would be:

- One Macbook Pro laptop (1.5 amps)
- One 27" LCD monitor (1.0 amps)
- One old Mac desktop (< 3 amps)
- One Windows desktop PC (< 4 amps)
- Six full size external firewire or USB hard disk drives (Aprox. 9 amps total)
- A set of BOSE computer speakers (1.5 amps)
- An all-in-one inkjet printer (0.8 amps)
- A desk lamp (0.5 amps)

Adding all amperages above totals to 21.3 amps. However, I will very rarely (or probably never) run all this equipment at the same time.

I'm considering one of the following two options:

a) Tap into the nearest existing outlet (which is just across the hall) and run electrical cable up to the attic and then down again into the proposed office. This candidate outlet is running off a 15 amp breaker but it already is powering the 3 hall wall outlets, 4 hall lights and the closet light itself.

b) Install a new breaker at the breaker box and run a new circuit for the new desired outlets.

From what I've gathered during my research, it seems to me that it's not a good idea to tap into that nearby hall outlet since it is already running a lot of outlets and lights. Not to mention that this is where the vacuum cleaner is normally plugged in (which itself is rated at 10 amps!)

If my assumption of going with option (b) above is correct, can someone please tell me what gauge wire I should use and what amperage should the proposed new breaker be?

In case it matters, I live in Houston and am not sure what the electrical codes are.

BTW: I promise I will kill the MAIN switch when installing that new breaker

1. Make sure that you follow all electrical codes.
2. When installing the new breaker, it would normally be 15A (some codes may allow 20A, but 15A is sufficient for your requirement).
3. Some codes may allow 14 gauge wire for 15A, but it would be better to use 12 gauge wire.
4. Switches and sockets sometimes have a slot or hole into which you just push the stripped wire.  But I have repaired many of such terminals due to poor contact.  It is much more reliable to use the screw terminals that are also supplied.

Hope this helps!


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Dave Nyce


I have been an electronics engineer for many years. I can answer questions on analog and digital circuits and my specialty is sensors.


I am the inventor on 27 US patents, and also some foreign ones. Developed sensors for many years. Licensed private pilot (airplane and rotorcraft), have HAM radio license. I'm not an expert in computer networking.

AAAS, Certified Control Engineer, (former UL Advisor for Intrinsic Safety), Benefactor member of NRA. Life member of the following: Experimental Aircraft Assoc., US Parachute Assoc., National Trapper's Assoc., Apex Masonic Lodge #584, Scottish Rite of Raleigh, NC, Academy of Model Aeronautics, Grass Roots North Carolina, NC Rifle & Pistol Assoc. Member of the following: Aircraft Owners & Pilots Assoc., US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Assoc., Tripoli Rocketry Assoc., Apex Historical Society, The Planetary Society, USA Volleyball, Shriners of North America, York Rite Masons, National Space Society, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Precision Aerobatics Model Pilots' Assoc.

Books: "Magnetic Displacement Sensors" section in: Measurement, Instrumentation, and Sensors Handbook, CRC Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8493-8347-1; "Magnetostrictive Sensors", "Hall Effect Position Transducers", & "Strain Gage Accelerometers" in: Instrumentation and Control, a Mechatronics Handbook, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. NYP; “Magnetic Level Gauges” chapter in: Instrument Engineers’ Handbook - Measurement & Analysis, 4’th Edition, CRC Press, 2003; Author of the book “Linear Position Sensors, Theory & Application”, John Wiley & Sons, 2004; “Electronic Transmitters”, “Linear & Angular Positioning of Machinery”, and “Inerting Systems” sections in: “Instrumentation Engineers’ Handbook – Process Control, 4’th edition, (2005); “Hazardous area classification and management”, and “HART Networks” sections in the book: “Instrumentation Engineers’ Handbook – Digital Process Networks and Software, 4’th edition, publication in 2011 Magazines: Magnetostriction-Based Linear Position Sensors, SENSORS magazine, April, 1994: Tank Gauging Advances, Fuel Technology & Management, January, 1997: Magnetostrictive Position Sensors, Measurements and Control, September, 1998; A Moment in Positioning, PTDesign, February, 1999; Magnetostrictive Position Sensors (update), Measurements & Control, September, 1999; Position Sensors for Hydraulic Cylinders, Hydraulics & Pneumatics, November, 2000; Magnetostrictive Linear Position Sensors, Fluid Power Journal, April, 1999; Sizing & Applying Magnetostrictive Linear Position Sensors, Motion Systems, Feb., 2002; Position Sensors in Medical Applications, ECN, May 15, 2002; Featured in “Level Sensors Go Floatless”, Machine Design, May 8, 2003; "Guitar Man" feature article, The Pelican Post, Oak Island Press, Oak Is., NC, Winter 2005; The LVDT: A Simple and Accurate Position Sensor, SENSORS magazine, August, 2005; "Model Airplane Day!", FLYING MODELS magazine, September, 2006; “Kids Having Fun!”, Half-A Flyer magazine, January, 2012

BSEE, MBA, Management by Objectives - Honeywell, Total Quality Management - MTS Systems Corporation, Looking Glass Management Workshop - Center for Creative Leadership, Motion Control Systems - Western Michigan University, College of Engineering, Organizational Excellence - University of Cleveland, Finance for Executives - Sloan School of Business, MIT.

Awards and Honors
Vaaler award, EDN magazine, "Inerting for Safety", 1987 Listed in Who's Who in Engineering, in the South, in the World. "Total Quality Management" medal awarded by MTS Systems Corporation 1991 "Best Sequel" award for the video production: "For Engineers Only" at the MTS national sales meeting, Las Vegas, 1998 (written and directed by David S. Nyce) Voted "Most Effective Leader" at Center for Creative Leadership: Looking Glass, Greensboro, NC 1995 Silver Award for New Technology at SENSORS EXPO, in Chicago, 2001 for SEF Liquid Level sensor MTS Circle of Innovators award, 2003 Elected Master of Masonic Lodge #584 , Apex, NC, 2005 "Gold Honour Award" for outstanding service in York Rite Masonry, by the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, August 22. 2007 Board of Directors: WaaRev Sensors, and the Apex Historical Society Maynard Pearson House Plaque hanging in the Masonic Fellowship Hall, for Outstanding Service and Dedication to Apex Masonic Lodge #584, Apex, NC

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