It’s fair to say that there aren’t all that many things in this world quite as annoying as a tangled mess of wires.
And yet, we know that’s exactly what happens when we put a bunch of wires together in the same place. That is, unless we’re proactive about managing the wires before they even get to this stage.
Wire management is a topic that’s of equal importance to electricians and the general public. But what does it look like? How do you manage wires successfully while on the job and at home?
Managing wires on the job
You might be thinking, well, how complicated can it be? It’s just a bunch of wires.
Whether you’re familiar with the basics of wire management or not, a refresher can help prevent that nightmare tangle at the end of a job.
While we can provide you with some useful tips, the single most important step in managing your wires is simple: put in the effort.
It can feel easier to ignore your wires while you’re working and just deal with them when you’re done. But this approach often actually adds time to a job and definitely isn’t the most organized method of managing your wires.
Don’t leave too much extra wire in your panels
Many electricians prefer to leave some extra wire in the panel boxes that they set up. This can be a good way to prepare the box for any future work that may occur in it.
A bit of length? Super useful. Too much? Less so.
Ideally, you want to leave just enough extra wire to place it around the edges of the box. If you have to choose between leaving more extra wire than that or not leaving any at all, always opt not to leave any.
Number your wires from the beginning
Numbering your wires is essential if you want clean panel boxes. Doing so from the outset ensures you don’t have to deal with any confusion later in the installation process.
Most panel boxes will have odd-numbered spaces on the left and even numbers on the right, so if you can try and aim to use the same numbering system with your wires.
Numbering your wires will allow you to quickly see which wire belongs where throughout the duration of your work on the panel. This can save you time and make sure that you don’t mess up your wire organization while you complete the install.
Use screws or nails to keep track of everything
Keeping your wires managed at the beginning and end of a project is often easier than doing so while you’re actually completing the job.
The next time you’re setting up a panel box, try placing a few screws or nails into the studs on either side of the box. You can use these to keep wires out of your way while you’re working. They’ll be organized and you won’t have to untangle a mess at the end.
Untangle wires before putting them in a subpanel
As you’re finishing up a breaker box, it’s super important to untangle the extra wire length that you’re going to place in the box before doing so. If you just try to shove a bunch of tangled wires in a subpanel, there’s no way you’re going to be able to keep them organized.
Mount wires that need to run through the house
If you have to run wires from your breaker box throughout a home or business, make sure that you’re mounting them. Sure, it’ll take you some extra time to do so, but it’s going to make managing the wires that you lay out so much easier over the course of their lifespan.
You don’t need a ton of extra gear to mount wires either – it’s usually as easy as buying a few brackets and installing them along the wall to hold the wire. You can even place nails along the length of the wire to make sure that it stays in place.
Managing wires at home
As the number of electronic devices we own continues to grow, so, unfortunately, does the number of wires and charging cables.
This doesn’t have to be a headache. By taking just a few proactive steps now, you can save yourself the hassle of not being able to find the right charger or attachment when you need it most.
With that in mind, here are four ways that you can start managing your wires more effectively at home.
Use zip ties to keep wires grouped together
You don’t necessarily have to go through all of your cables at home one by one and reorganize from the ground up to get your wires under control. Zip ties are a quick solution that can help you get a big group of cables grouped together and looking neater in seconds.
Using them is a breeze, too. Simply grab a handful of cables tight in your hand, place a zip tie around them, and pull it tight. It’s clean, tidy, and takes up far less space than having sprawling wires everywhere.
Try painter’s tape
Painter’s tape is another quick solution that will help you tame out-of-control cables in your home. Its ideal use is to hold cords against the back of a piece of furniture or along a wall.
To use painter’s tape to manage your wires, just hold the wire firm against the surface that you want to attach it to. Then place a piece of painter’s tape over the wire and you’re good to go.
The only downside with painter’s tape is that it won’t hold forever. Command Strips, which can serve the same purpose, tend to last a bit longer.
Be Strategic About Power Strip Placement
Power strips are a great way to give yourself access to more electrical sockets within a small area. However, overuse can actually make your wire organization worse, not better.
Rather than placing a power strip on the floor, get strategic with your placement. This will help you to keep the wires that you plug in as hidden as possible.
For example, one neat trick is to use brackets or velcro strips to mount your power strips to the underneath of your desk or on the backside of a piece of furniture. Simple, invisible, and easily manages your cables.
3. Make Cable Labels Out of Household Items
If you’ve got a lot of electronics in your home, it may sometimes be hard to figure out which wire goes to which item. This can quickly become frustrating when you need to unplug one item in particular, and don’t want to unplug your whole setup with it.
Cable labels provide a simple solution. And with the items you may already have lying around your home at your disposal, there’s no need to spend any money on these either.
Bread bag tags are perfect for this, as they attach nicely to wires without any adhesive and are simple to write on.
Not into your carbs? No worries. Simple masking tape will work just as well, or get creative with colored washi tape for a color-coded system.
Check out Rock the Trades for more information
Wire management is useful for everyone, but for electricians it can often be the difference between completing a job efficiently and successfully and leaving a client less than pleased with subpar or late work.
Want to learn more about the types of tasks that electricians complete on a daily basis? Check out Rock The Trades. We’ve got tons of content that highlights the awesome work that tradespeople do every day.
Our mission is to help the industrial sector come roaring back to life and ensure that it thrives well into the future.
Are you interested in starting an industrial career? Regardless of where you are in the process, we’ve got you covered.
So why wait? Check out Rock The Trades today.