I understand the author of the article knows his/her limits; this is not directed at him/her.
It never ceases to amaze me the advice given on slashdot. How to make network cables, what 2 way radio I should buy, what widget is good, what version of *nix should I run to do abc (insert favourite version of *nix here).
The above advices is often very helpful and gives many including myself a point in the right direction for learning. However as an apprentice electrician with a background in IT and telecommunications, I have learnt there are just some things you don't fuck with unless you have the necessary experience. Electricity is one of them. I work on the industrial distribution side of things where the smallest is 230V (Australia) and the more usual is 11/33 kV. I have done some contracting also.
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. With a electricity, even a moderate amount of knowledge is a dangerous thing. If a plumber stuffs up his pipes, the shit goes in the sewer and the storm water goes down the shit. An environmental issue, but not immediately life threatening. I'm not having a go at plumbers, just that water doesn't kill in the same sense. We mix active and neutral wires around and we kill someone. This is called polarity because the neutral is bonded to the earth by a multiple earth neutral (MEN) link. So now that you weren't sure which socket to put that wire into, congratulations, you just livened up every tap in your house. There have been many cases of this happening with workers and people dying.
The other thing to consider is how many KVA that you are going to need. This is related to power factor; in short how much extra overhead is needed to run the system, let alone you basic current draw. Examples of power factor (overhead) include starting currents for running fridges (up to 8 times it's operational current to kick over the compressor). Too much voltage drop on the circuit (a fair amount here, not just 1 or 2%) because of too high a load and congratulations you've just burnt out your fridge. What happens is the compressor does not have enough initial voltage to kick it over and continues to attempt to do so. If the voltage has dropped by half for example, the fridge is going to pull twice as much current to try and start. At 8 times *initial* starting current, we've just doubled that. We are now pulling current outside of what the fridge is designed to carry. Increased load = increased heat = increased resistance = increased load and so the cycle continues. Magic Black Smoke ensues.
Safety: I will keep this brief
It takes 0.4 A to induce an heart attack.
Our cells operate at very close the frequency of electricity (50hz in euro/aus, 60Hz in North America)
It can be said that low voltage (240 to 1000V) is more dangerous than high voltage (1000V to 33kv). I'm sure many here have mucked around with power supplies or power outlets and gotten a tingle. Some people get thrown across the room, if you unlucky enough to touch it with the palm of your hand, your muscles will contract and lock down. And will stay that way until you are a puddle on the floor.
The general resistance of a human is approimately 1000 ohms, thus doing the math (i = v/r) 110/1000 = 0.11 A. Those figures are starting to push into the major danger area. If you are slightly wet, sweaty or not wearing the right gear, your resistance goes down and your likelihood to die just went up a whole lot.
To put into perspective the testing tolerance on a working electrical glove for LV is 8mA at the very most before fail.
The calculations that go into design are not hard, and in the Aussie standards there are load recommendations as well. The point is a good electrician is also an engineer at heart, designing the system so you are not paying too much for something and not killing your system either. You pay for an electrician's skill, experience and insurance that he won't make it go bang or *kill* someone when he walks away. For those giving advice on slashdot, can you guarantee that your advice won't kill someone in the process? I know I am rambling, ranting and probably foaming at the mouth, but the death of someone from your handiwork would be a tough one to live with. Some advice is good and it will do the job, it's when things go pear shaped (badly) that you need to consider the consequences
A what of what I do in my trade as a whole is trade assistants work, just your basic trade work; stuff that makes a person a good tradesman. The key here is applying the detail you learn at college where you realise the requirements necessary for an installation. Are you sure you want to turn that breaker on? You'd better be otherwise things can go bang, and when the Magic Black Smoke comes out of it, it's very hard to put back in, let alone the issues of life and limb.