Electricity and gas

Some bungalows will need to be rewired as part of renovation.

Many original bungalows did not have electricity installed. In those that did, the number of outlets will not be sufficient to meet modern demands.

Though most bungalows will have been rewired at least once, if any original wiring does remain it will have to be replaced as it is likely to be unsafe.


From about 1910, electricity was widely available in New Zealand and by about 1918 it was being rapidly adopted by New Zealand households. It was considered safer than gas, and allowed for greater variety in the placement of light fittings.

It also allowed for a greater range of appliances. The first electric washing machine became available in New Zealand not long after 1910, and the first electric refrigerators went on sale in 1928.

However, many bungalows were still gas-lit in the 1920s and only had electricity installed closer to, or after, the Second World War. And those that did had few power outlets by today’s standards.


The early electric cable had a cloth-covered, rubber-insulating sheath. It was contained in steel conduit hidden in the wall framing and ceiling spaces so the only visible components were the wall-fixed light switches and the suspended or wall mounted light fixtures. 


Light switch fittings were generally made from brass, porcelain or bakelite

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Electrical wiring

Original wiring and modifications

The rubber sheathing of the original cloth-covered rubber-sheathed wiring becomes brittle over time and is unlikely to still be found in houses, but the steel conduit was generally left in wall framing and the roof space as it was easier than removing it.

If any original wiring remains it must be replaced as it is likely to be unsafe.

TRS (tough rubber-sheathed) wiring was used during the 1940s and 1950s and may have been installed to replace the original wiring. The sheathing was also found to deteriorate over time, so any remaining rewiring is likely to be in need of replacement.

Thermoplastic-sheathed (TPS) cable became available in the 1960s. This may have been used to rewire houses, in which case the wiring may not need replacing and the main issue is likely to be that there are insufficient electrical power outlets for current household requirements.

Meter boards

Original meter and distribution boards were wall-mounted with a timber surround, and generally located in the hallway near the front door. They were fitted with surface-mounted ceramic fuses and could also have bakelite fittings.

If the board is original, it is also likely that the fuses are original and the meter will be included on the board. If the board is original, consider replacing it with a new exterior meter board and internal distribution board. (Some power companies offer subsidies to relocate meter boards to outside as it facilitates reading the meters.)

The condition of the board is often a good indicator of the condition of the wiring in the house generally. For example, where there are new meter and distribution boards, it is likely that the house has been in part or fully rewired. 
Miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) were introduced in the 1970s and should still be in sound condition. 


Rewiring provides the opportunity to install additional lighting and power outlets.

Rewiring of a house and replacement of the distribution board must be carried out by a licensed electrical worker, who should also certify their work by supplying a Certificate of Compliance. You can check that an electrical worker is licensed on the Electrical Workers Register.

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Dunedin was the first city to have reticulated gas. Coke gas was produced and supplied to homes for the first time in 1863, and this availability of reticulated gas soon spread to other parts of the country. At first, it was only used for lighting, but was soon also adopted for cooking.

By the 1920s, gas was also being used for water heating. Gas califonts were located above the bath or kitchen sink to provide hot water.