Table of Contents
Electrical work is really an important aspect of civil work. Everyone gets
concealed wiring done nowadays so that the wires and their casings are not
visible on the walls. You have to fix all your electrical points up front,
depending on where you want to put furniture and other decor items that may
require spot lighting. Similarly, you need to fix your appliance positions
in the kitchen. In addition, you need to figure out the internet and cable
connections. Your layout design should be frozen before you start
the electrical work.
Our electricians were very sincere and had a very can-do attitude about making
changes in the original design. The problem we faced that is due to some changes,
and some mistakes on their part, they had to drill into the walls multiple times. They did not
do any PoP work, and our PoP guy would not come for small touch-ups. And our painter
was also not very keen to do PoP finishing. So such things - work that can be done
by multiple agencies - can fall between the cracks. Its better to find an
electrician who will do some PoP work, especially for breakages caused due to his
Electrical drawings are a bit difficult to make. See a sample electrical design
In some sense, its fairly obvious
where you want lights, sockets, and fans but all this detail needs to be
communicated to the electrician. You also have to decide where on the walls you want
the switch boards - height from the floor, location on walls, two-way switches, etc.
We got our drawings from our designer (before we
stopped working with him) but they were quite a mess, and reviewing changes from one
iteration to another was difficult because the changes are not easily visible. But the
basic electrical design is not that complicated and in principle, can be done by a layman.
We installed a projector in our living room to project on to one of the room walls.
This required considerable planning as we had to take an electrical wire and signal cables up to
the false ceiling. We also had to provide a socket right next to the projector so it
required a lot of drilling in the vertical wall. Luckily we could hide the horizontal
wire easily above the false ceiling. Special requirements such as this one
will be tricky to design
and get just right.
Some tips that we thought worked for us:
- If your space is small, stick to fewer switch boards (SB). Try to minimize SBs
barring basic convenience such as two-way switches. Two-way switches are convenient
but mainly required just for a light and a fan near a bed. Especially in small bathrooms,
one SB is more than sufficient.
- Get all switches in a room on a SB near the room door. This SB will help
to turn on and turn off all the lights in one shot when you leave the room.
- Some times, especially near electronic items such as TVs, DVD players, etc., a dual
setup for SBs works well. Have the sockets on a SB at a lower level where the
electronic items will be place and the corresponding switches will be at waist level so
you can reach them easily. The idea is that the sockets will be used very infrequently so
better to get them out of sight.
- Plan for air conditioners upfront. ACs require socket points with higher amperage. They
also require some wall drilling to take half of the split unit out of the room. It is difficult
to add ACs later on without compromising on aesthetics.
- Have a distribution box and a main-power-off switch located at a considerable height so it is
accessible but not reachable by kids.
- Spot lighting is tricky and difficult to plan ahead of time. But try to see where you
want to put some decor items such as frames on the walls and add lights accordingly.
Electrical work is done in multiple phases. First,
pipes that hold electrical wires starting from the main distribution box
are laid on the floor underneath the tiles so this work needs to be done
before floor tiling begins. Grooves are made in walls to lay the pipes that
goes along the walls and hold the wires. After the pipes are laid, the grooves
finished with Plaster of Paris (PoP) to give it a smooth finish. If there
are some electrical mistakes, this process has to be repeated. Making the
grooves in the wall is very messy and causes a lot of dust. Also its difficult
to get PoP laborers to come from small jobs. So its best to get everything
fixed right from the beginning.
Then after the other civil and carpentry work is done, electricians will
come again towards the end, right before painting. They will pull wires through
the pipes, install the lampshades and fans, and set up all the lighting. They
will fix the switches and the SBs. Each SB has an external
plate that can be easily removed, to hide the hole in the wall where
the SB is installed. Its best to install these plates after
the painting is completed so the paint goes to the SB boundary and
gets covered by the external plate to give it a smooth finish. This work has to
be done at the very end by the electrician after the painting or you can
easily do it yourself.
Electricians will quote you based on the number of fittings in the house. They
have fixed rates for every light point, fan point, socket, fan regulators,
different cables such as electrical/TV/data that need to be installed on a per
running foot basis, A/C point, internet and phone points, distribution box,
etc. The rates for
light, fan, and socket points will vary depending on the brand of switches that
you choose. The electrician's quotation is inclusive of the material cost. We
redid most of the electrical work in our house and it cost us almost Rs. 2 lakhs,
There are two main light colors: white and warm white aka yellow. White is the traditional
tube light color and warm white is the traditional bulb light
color. People tend to like the light that they grew up in. But generally, warm white looks good
in common areas such as living rooms and dining rooms whereas white light works better in
bedrooms and offices where you may need more bright light for tasks such as reading.
One more color that is available in LED lights (strips and false ceiling fixtures) is off-white
aka natural aka day-light. It is not as harsh as white but brighter than warm white.
Main lighting is done with bulbs and tubes. You get really slim tubes in the market that are
visibly appealing too. Bulbs - you can get the good old incandescent ones; newer bulbs include
CFL and LED bulbs which are more expensive but consume less power. For example, a 60W regular
bulb gives the same light as a 15W CFL but the CFL bulb will consume much less energy. Bulbs
come with pins or (small or big) threads for fixing to their holders. Both are equally popular
and easily available. Wattage varies depending on the type of holder you choose. So make sure
that the bulbs you get fit in the lampshade fixtures. CFL bulbs have long or spiral tubes -
spiral tubes are more expensive but are more durable and look nicer is public areas where the
bulbs are more visible. Also some small lamp shades do not accommodate the longer CFLs so you
have to use the spiral ones. Summarizing bulb features:
- Type: Incandescent, CFL, LED
- Color: White, Warm-White
- Holder: Pin, Small thread, Large thread
- CFL Tube pattern: Spiral, Long
- Wattage: 1W onwards
False ceiling lights are completely different and there is wide range in the market, mostly
from China. Indian-made ones are Abba and Phillips but they are both considerably more
expensive than the China-made ones. You can get LED fixtures (which contain the light source
too), or fixtures in which you can
install small CFL bulbs. They come is various sizes but only two shapes - square or round.
Depending on the size of your room, you will need to pick the right size, number, and
wattage to get enough light in the room. LED fixtures are more common for installation.
Also the new thing
is to install LED strips for mood or soft lighting, in addition to your main lighting with bulbs
and tubes. But its a bit tough to get high quality LED lights in the market - most are imported
from China and don't have much warranty. We have installed LED lights in the false ceilings in
our common areas, and they really look nice especially when you have guests over for a quiet
All electrical shops will give you a 10-20% discount on fittings. If you are on a budget, spend
more on lighting in the common areas such as living and dining rooms, and you can use simple
tube lights which are very cost-effective for bedrooms and bathrooms.
There are four main types of fittings we had to choose, in addition to lighting:
There is ample choice in the market for lampshades. The basic idea of a lampshade is to hide the
bulb. If you are installing tube lights everywhere, this is one item you do no have to consider.
Bulbs and lampshades cost much more than tube lights and give less bright light. We had only
bulbs in all our bedrooms so we thought
that the light may be insufficient with regular lampshades that are all vertical. They will only throw
light along the wall where they are installed, not to the center of the room. So either you have
a lot of light points for your room or you install a couple of lampshades for aesthetics and soft
lighting, and one main tube light for bright light in any room. Then you can have a free choice of
lampshade design. We ended up picking a very simple design which did not completely hide the bulb
from all angles but lit up the room much better than a vertical lampshade.
Phillips has a good range of lampshades, especially cute ones for kids although the kids' ones are
very expensive. You get a lot of China-imported lampshades in the market but you can see that the
quality is not as good as Phillips. The glass may not be uniform or smooth to touch, the finishing
is missing some times. But they are definitely cheaper. You should plan for at least Rs. 800/lampshade
to get any decent looking lampshade of reasonable quality.
You will different kinds of lampshades in different parts of your house: main entrance door, bedrooms,
spot lighting, staircase lighting, terrace parapet and wall lights, bathroom mirror and ceiling lights,
etc. So make a list of all the lights you need and try to shortlist some candidates before you make
your final selection. Also make sure you pick lampshades with the right sockets so you can buy the right
bulbs for them.
We looked at three main switch brands told by our electrician: Anchor Roma, Legrand, and Schneider
in increasing order of cost. Schneider is of better quality due to better internal wiring but costs
about 8-10% more than Legrand. Roma's quality is not that good and also looks a bit shoddy. So we went
with the middle option of Legrand. There are some more options within Legrand switches - just go to
a local electrical shop which can show you the different types of switches, and you can choose one
you like. Once you get a particular series, you will get all switches, fan regulators, sockets, etc.
of that series. Its best to get the universal sockets that can be used to plug in US-pin devices too
as quite a few electronics now can work over the 110-240V range without converters.
Fairly standard choice for fans is available in the market. There are many brands which are
available - Usha, Crompton Greaves, Khaitan, Havells, etc. They are all mostly similar.
We got Havells because we thought that they looked marginally better. You can go to any
standard electrical shop and choose one that you like. There are some special designs with
lights in the middle of the fan, as well as for kids' rooms. But the rest are fairly
standard with limited color and design choices. Fan prices range from Rs. 1500 onwards.
- Exhaust fans:
Same as fans. There is a fairly standard variety available in the market. Havells exhaust
fans were marginally quieter than other brands so we bought them. There is very little
design and color choice. However, you can get very fancy-looking designer exhaust fans
which do not have blades but a more disc-like motion. Regular exhaust fans are in the
Rs. 700-800 range where as the fancy designer ones cost more than Rs. 2000 each. Make sure
that you get the right size based on the space available in your bathroom to fit the fan.
Shops in Pune
Narayan Peth in the heart of the city is the best place to go for lights. There you will
see all the choices for lampshades, fans, exhaust fans, switches, bulbs, tubes, LED
strips etc. Here are some of the shops I liked:
- Ambika lights: My top choice for lampshades. They do not keep Phillips lampshades but
they have a good variety of China-made lampshades, and are very reasonable.
- TLites: Excellent choice for Phillips lampshades and other lighting products including
high quality LED strips. A slightly higher markup than the market.
- Phillips showroom: Located near the Z-bridge, they have a good choice of their own
products. Some items can be very expensive so best to comparison shop with other brands.
They will give you a good discount if you buy in bulk. They also have the full range of
Phillips bulbs that are not usually available in the rest of the market.
- Success Enterprises: For buying fans and exhaust fans. The most reasonable rates in
all the fan shops for the same brands and quality.
- Maharaja Lights: Located in Karve Nagar. They have some nice designs but are
over-priced and do not have very good customer service, especially for defective pieces.
- Chandramukhi Lights: Located opposite Bal Gandharv theater on Jangli Maharaj Road, this
is a high-end shop. They had good selection of lampshades but a bit ornate for my tastes.
And they are way over-priced!