More on Electrical Work in Straw Bale Construction

Written by Andrew Morrison

installing electrical in straw bale wallThe conversation about electrical wires continues. Here’s a reply to my last comment that adding extra cost in the form of electrical conduit to an already costly building process is unnecessary.


Conduit is CHEAP ……. Look at the cost of Romex as compared to conduit and ordinary insulate wire. Conduit functions as your ground lead and thus simplifies your wiring as well as providing a good tight system where wire is invulnerable……..

You might drill into romex… but would have to be pretty stupid to put a drill bit through conduit into wiring inside it…..and if you did, there would be little fire danger. large main supply conduit with regular access makes upgrading and adding circuits easy. Don’t cheap out here if you are doing it yourself…… You don’t save much and end up paying for it in frustration later.

My Reply

My experience has been the opposite in terms of cost. My electricians here all agree that pulling ropes is much cheaper than running conduit and pulling individual wires. You may be right for the do it your self clan, but I disagree for those who will hire the electrician. Also, my electricians have said that upgrading wire happens so little and that additional boxes will have to be placed any way so the conduit would not make it all the way home. So I don’t see why the conduit would be a good idea for the future.

I do whole heartedly agree about the added protection conduit brings for the crazy drill operator; however, if the wire is tucked far enough back into the wall (1 1/4+ for plaster plus 3″ into the bale) i think there is little chance of the average person hitting the Romex anyway. I have done a bunch of these houses and that has proved the easiest: Romex style ropes. I am not against learning and trying new ways, as long as they do not increase the cost of the home for my clients.

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5 Responses

  1. So how does one convince their local Electrical Inspector that simple Romex buried in the bales won’t be crushed under the weight of bales if not in conduit?

    Of course, this seems logical to us, but everyone likes to get all “just in case” about every little detail concerning straw bales.

    We went ahead and put the Romex through conduit under our slab … just to make for some simple straight runs to key places, but I would like to NOT use conduit at all and just run Romex buried in the straw if I can get my inspector to see the light on this.


  2. Great question Meaghan. The best I can say is that a conversation with the inspector is a great start. Find out what their concerns are and answer them directly. In some cases it is moisture, in other the pressure. I think either is unwarranted. You can also use direct burial wire instead of conduit. Both conduit and direct burial are harder and more expensive than Romex, so push for that if you can.

  3. Might you be able to provide a general guide fro running the ropes? do you just set them in between the bales? do you tack them down with anything? or do the electricians com in after all the bales are set? At what point do you set you outlet boxes and how do you attach them? This is the only part of the whole process I feel foggy.


  4. Hi Eric. I cover all of this stuff in my DVDs and workshops if you prefer hands on learning. The spacing is based on your local codes as is what material you can use. IN general, Romex is fine, but some areas require direct burial wire. Be sure to set them far enough back in the bales to avoid puncture once the home is complete. Again, I can give you general info here, but if you want a detailed overview, you can check out my DVDs or visit me in a workshop.

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