There's totally weird stuff that you've never seen before. Everyone around you is speaking English but nothing they're saying makes any sense. You know instantly that you don't belong and the only way out is to find the Wizard so you can ask him a few questions.
Chillax Dorothy. Once you pull the curtain back you'll realize it's not that complicated. Let's talk about what will likely be your first purchase if you're finishing your basement, electrical boxes.
Electrical boxes: Pro vs. Flimsy
The electrical box is a blue plastic box that gets attached to the wall stud. It holds the wire connections and the light switch or plug.
There are two grades of box "pro" and "flimsy". Okay, maybe flimsy isn't the official name but it should be. Don't buy the flimsy boxes. Spend a little bit extra for the pro box.
- The pro box will hold the wiring coming into the box much tighter. The tabs on the flimsy box tend to break off. Electrical inspection guys don't like to see those broken off and may fail your inspection until you can prove that the wiring is secured.
- A pro box will feel sturdy. The flimsy box "moves" a lot when you plug something in. Not a ton of movement but it just doesn't feel solid, it has a squishy feeling to it. The thicker plastic on the pro box holds the screw better and therefore keeps the plug from wiggling when you plug something in.
What's a Gang? What are they doing in my basement?
A gang, when talkin' electrical boxes, is a measurement of the width of a box. So one gang means it will hold one outlet or one light-switch. "Double Gang".... you guessed it, two outlets or two light switches. You buy the same box for outlets or light switches, they all hook on the same way, with two screws at the top and bottom.
Electrical box : New Work vs Remodel
When you're speaking to your friendly 'Wizard of Oz' in the electrical section, they may ask if you're doing "new work" or "remodel". New work electrical boxes have two nails on the side that you use to attach them to the studs.
If you are remodeling then the drywall is likely already in place and rather than ripping it down to install an electrical box you buy a remodel box that has a little latch on it that secures it in place.
Tip - Buy 2 more electrical boxes than what you actually need. Inevitably I broke one or decided to add an extra outlet. It's a major time and gas suck to have to drive back to Home Depot just to buy one more box. If you don't end up using it, just take it back for store credit, you don't even need a receipt.
So get your courage up, slap on your brain and walk on over the electrical section. There's no flying monkeys or broom wielding witches. In fact if you see somebody there that remotely looks like they know what they're doing they are usually more than happy to help you out. I know I would.