Wiring with SIPS Panels

Are you ready for your design?
Have you already purchased your section and your finance in place?
Do you know the size of your home and figured out your budget?
Have you done your research on SIPS Panels?
What design are you going for? Do you want a standard design or your personal touch?
When you answered these questions with yes, then it is time for your design.
After you have been appreciating the benefits of Structural Insulated Panels, it is important to get your professionals on board. Not only your architect, but engineer, electrician or plumber and builder (who are familiar, or interested in learning more about SIPS). It would be beneficial if you have one professional, who has already sufficient experience with SIPS panels, to get the job done.
Your electrician may have some questions about wiring with a SIPS construction and here are some tips for wiring with SIPS to get them comfortable to work with a high-performance product.
Electrical wiring with SIPS Panels is a little different vs a Timber Frame
Wiring with SIPS Panels is a little different from wiring a standard wood frame structure. By reviewing installation concepts, view the basic wiring designs and some pre-planning with the architect, you will find that the job can be easier. SIPS Direct can support your electrician with the preparation.
Two main options
The most common and economical option is to run the cables inside a ‘chase' or conduit within the panels. This needs to be planned carefully. As an alternative, a ‘service void' can be created by spacing plasterboard out on a 45 mm cavity. This option is easier for the electrician, and allows for the installation of LED downlights in a ceiling.
Less commonly, some people use conceal cabling within special skirting boards.
Plan your electrical openings wisely
Just as you plan door openings and window placements, you must also plan the locations of electrical openings, where our Architectural Studio Herring Design Ltd can help you with this if needed. Your floor plans should be provided showing actual dimensions of all wall, window, and door swing locations.
If there is no electrical design available, SIPS Direct provides a 20 mm horizontal Chase 300 mm from the bottom in wall panels, and one full-height vertical every 1220 mm. One vertical will be placed on the handle-side of each door opening for light switches.
If we have the information, we can place them almost anywhere, eg along the back of a benchtop, around curves, or different sizes.
Note that NZ electrical regulations prohibit mains power from being in the same location as any other cables. If you want speaker cables, data, phone or security cabling, we can run additional chases of the size and in the location you choose.
It is quite common to use both methods in one building, eg to have most of the cabling within the walls, but use a service cavity for home theatre cabling and sound control.
The wiring chases installed by SIPS Direct are for electrical wiring installation only. They are not for the plumber or for any other contractor. In our workshop drawings, the locations of the chases are clearly indicated. SIPS Direct can pre-install the electrical cables with a conduit from Marley in our pre-formed chases, if desired.
Switches and sockets are flush-mounted to the face of the OSB rather than screwed to a flush-box. The electrician can cut these holes themselves, or they can be done at the factory.
If you have a SIPS floor, cabling is most easily slung below this, with runs going up through the bottom plates into the wall chases.
Locations of ceiling fixtures must be on the electrical drawings
SIPS Direct can provide chases in the ceiling panels for lighting, but it is important to seal around these cables to prevent air/moisture getting into the panel. It’s easier to use light-weight cavity battens and hide the wires between the panel and the plasterboard or other ceiling lining.

Do not cut across the OSB panel for wiring chases
Remember that the OSB skins are the main structure for the building. Cutting across the face of the panels may cause collapse or loss of bracing capacity.
Can plumbing be installed in SIPs?
Plumbing shouldn’t be installed in the exterior SIP walls because of the possibility of condensation, potential leaking issues or supply lines freezing in cold climates. During the design phase of the project, all plumbing should be relocated through interior walls and/or floors, or a service cavity at the internal side of the external wall is provided.
SIPS Direct would much rather answer your question before a panel is damaged or improperly cut. Please call SIPS Direct if you have any questions or concerns.