We have all seen an electrical box before, but not all of us understand how to use them, or what they are for. You never know when a situation might call for you to use junction boxes to get electrical connections back in order, and understanding the differences is important.
Junction boxes can be quite varied, but all have the same basic ideas. They have to be installed in an accessible place (such as on a ceiling or within a concealed wall panel) and have to be completely covered up when they aren’t being accessed. A junction box holds various wires that each link to some other available device and are designed for circuit protection. They provide a safe place for electrical wires to connect, as well as a place for users to disconnect them if absolutely necessary.
The wires in a junction box are either neutral (white), hot (black), or grounding (green/copper), as well as secondary wires. All wires are supposed to meet inside the electric box, ensuring that nothing can damage them and that the connections are always available in a safe place. They can be dangerous to work with, but are a necessary part of any home electrical system.
Are They Necessary?
A junction box is full of a specific amount of wires, known as the “box fill.” This is calculated from all the wires (worth 1), the grounds (also worth 1), and the devices (worth 2) linked to it. Only so many can fit in at once, and each junction box design has a maximum box fill. You may find that a certain box isn’t enough for your home, and you will have to go back and order a larger one.
A box like this is designed to protect you and keep key wires in order. Some devices and installations may be available without a box like this, but you will need to get a junction box at some point anyway if you plan on keeping your home electricity running correctly. A home without a junction box is sacrificing a lot of electric protection, and going back to add one retroactively can be difficult and expensive.
Without this box, electrical damage and problems are very common. The wires can get easily damaged if they aren’t kept in order inside a safe container, and a DIY solution using whatever containers are available can be even riskier. No matter how large your home is, you will need one in order to stay safe.
Other Box Types
An electrical box will usually either be metal or plastic (PVC or fiberglass), although outdoor metal boxes must be made with very specific materials. A metal electrical box is needed for any metal wiring conduits since this grounds the system to protect users from getting badly shocked. In modern systems, this grounding isn’t as necessary, but they still have to be connected just in case.
A pancake box, or round pan, is a shallow box type used for light fixtures. They have to be carefully fitted with wires, since they are shallow and can’t fit much in at once – they even have a dedicated “safe fill capacity” that shouldn’t be exceeded for safety reasons.
These are the same boxes used for wiring light switches and other simple systems, and can usually be linked together with other products of the same type as “gangable” items. They are around 2 inches wide and 3 inches tall, with varying depths, and are almost always made of plastic.
Gang Boxes are like standard rectangular electric boxes but are used to mount multiple devices. They are like standalone versions of “ganged” boxes, acting as multiple separate electrical boxes within a single body. The two are usually considered almost interchangeable, with only a few minor differences overall.
How Can I get A Junction Box?
Getting a junction box is fairly easy since they can usually be bought like consumer products. You might have to modify them yourself (some are designed for the user to punch holes into since their home could be wired in a unique way), but installation is fairly simple as long as you choose the right location for one.
You can either order them online or in certain real-life stores. Online orders are the same as any other product: supply an email address and other necessary details to the selling site and buy one. You can usually also use this email address to send an email asking about the specifics of the product if needed.
Just make sure that you are actually buying from the right site. Knock-off electronics can be dangerous, as can a bad cover box. If you are hoping to buy from (X).com, make sure you are really buying from (X).com and not a similar website that might sell cheaper, less reliable options.