Monday, June 30, 2014

Steps to Choosing the Right Electrician Services Company

Hiring a company to do electrician services for your home or business can be a very stressful decision. What if you choose the wrong one and something disastrous happens down the line? What if the costs soar half way through the project and you can't afford to continue? This article attempts to provide a good step-by-step method for choosing the right electrician for the job. So take a deep breath... It will be okay!
STEP ONE: Appropriate Credentials Electrical services companies working in your home must be licensed and insured in case of problems. Every electrician you consider hiring should be licensed, insured, and bonded. They should be very willing to let you know their individual state license number. Also, check to see if they have the appropriate insurance for general liability and workers compensation. TIP: The potential dangers of hiring an uninsured electrician are enormous. What would happen if that "friend" of yours who "knows a lot about electricity" gets badly hurt while under your house or in the crawl space of your office? Well, more often than not, it is you who would be held 100% responsible for any injuries that they incurred while on your property.
STEP TWO: References Ask for and check their references! You want to make sure that the company has a history of doing good work in the community.
STEP THREE: Their Employees Some of the more reputable electric service companies make sure all of their employees are regularly drug-tested and background checked. This is a great indication that the company has your interests in mind before theirs. This process is an expensive one, and it tells you right away that they have invested a great deal in their own employees. TIP: See if the company is on any "best places to work" lists in your area.
A great place to work means that the employees are treated well and respected. Good feelings between employee and employer will translate to their work as well. happy and have your interests in mind above theirs.
STEP FOUR: Getting a Price Up Front Believe it or not, you won't get the best price by bidding the job around to multiple companies. Call ones that you are interested in working with, and get a feel for their customer service (a live person answering the phone is always a good sign!) THEN call one out to your home or office to prepare an estimate. A lot of companies are offering first time discounts for new customers, and if not will usually try to get your long-term business by cutting the costs of that first job. TIP: You want to develop a good, long lasting relationship with an electrician. The odds are that you will call them more than once during your stay in your home or office.
STEP FIVE: Knowing that you have called (Not Hired YET!) the right electrician. Here are a few things to look out for when that electrician comes to your door the first time: o A great electrician will ALWAYS arrive at your door in a clean uniform. The more professional companies insist that their electricians carry enough clean uniforms so that they can change after every job if one gets dirty. o A great electrician will have business cards with their company name, telephone number, and a license number on it. o A great electrician will NEVER perform a job without getting the appropriate permits. Yes, you can always get someone to do the job cheaper and faster by not pulling permits, but it puts you and your family/employees at great risk when you do so. Also, what happens if you don't pull permits and something goes wrong, like a fire? Chances are that your insurance company will make sure that the appropriate permits were in place, and, if not, you may not be covered!
o A great electrician will always call you back within 24- hours or less, provide a well documented written estimate outlining all labor and materials, and put a timeframe on the estimate as well. TIP: Let's say that the project unexpectedly "grows" at some point, and through no fault on anyones part you have to spend more to get it done. A great electrician will stop and provide an written addendum to the original estimate so that you know what to expect at the final bill.
o A great electrician will always listen to what you want to have done, and then make recommendations based on their expert opinion. There are many things that need to be factored into a rewiring job, for instance: (total amperage usage, dedicated circuits for computers, high wattage kitchen work lights, vacuum cleaner usage, types of bulbs needed, existing wiring, etc etc) A great electrician will factor in all of the ancillary things that you might not think about, explain them, and give you options on which direction you want to go.
o A great electrician will always wear those funny shoe covers when coming into your home from the attic or the basement. They also won't ever leave a mess of dust and debris once they are done.
o A great electrician will install parts that are designed for long-term use and wear. Any time you have electrical work done, you should also keep in mind the resale value of your home/office. Good contractor grade materials will only add to the value of your home/office, and will insure a great inspection report before the sale.
STEP SIX: Hiring your electrician Make sure before work begins that you have signed an official estimate approved by you and the contractor. Make sure that you have allotted enough time for the work to take place (major electrical projects the night before a big party is not a great idea!) Make sure that all permits are in hand and posted appropriately. TIP: Don't let price alone determine who gets the project. Go with a company that you trust, has good references, and has open communication with you about the project.
Good communication from an electrician is the best sign that they will do the job right, and that you can trust them. We hope that this helps in finding the right electrician for your project!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Your Electrician Is Important!

The primary roles of electricians include fitting, repairing and testing wires and electrical circuits in residential and commercial buildings. They may also be involved in installing switches and lighting in homes or traffic lights and street lighting. Some of the common tasks they perform include installing, repairing and maintaining electrical systems within buildings such as security and fire system. They also play the important role of testing electrical systems regularly. Electrical contractors have the choice of working in industries, commercial property or residential properties. They also have the right to choose to work in a team or on their own. The reasons why they are so important are:
They fix all electrical problems
If you lose electricity but your neighbor does not- the problem may not be with the utility company. As a result, you will need to hire the services of a professional electrician to fix the problem. If you are experiencing problems with the supply of electricity in your house it is always advisable to contact experienced electrical contractors to undertake the necessary repairs. When you choose to perform the repairs on your own terms, accidents can arise. You may not want to get into a position where you are causing harm or setting your house on fire.
They are good at their job
Electricians are good at their job because they have spent time in technical school. Others have acquired the necessary skills on the job, working under the guidance of experienced master electricians. When you hire the right technicians, they will be able to quickly diagnose the problem because they have the necessary knowledge in handing different electrical problems. They understand how electricity needs to work and what it can do. Some DIY homeowners often undertake simple projects such as re-setting the circuit breaker and rewiring the home entertainment center or computer. Nevertheless, simply because a homeowner can undertake some simple projects does not suggest they can handle high voltage electrical problems.
They have a good reputation
If you are looking for an electrical contractor, you will choose from several technicians with a good reputation. Many of them are recommended for their quality work. Therefore, you must avoid looking for professional hands based on price. Instead, you need to consider the workers based on superior work and customer service experience. The right technicians can be found through word of mouth. Consider asking your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to recommend the right professional. However, make sure they have a valid license and insurance.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Commercial Projects - Vacaville Electric

Tom shows that Vacaville Electric is a full range contractor ready to tackle any commercial job. See more at

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Using a Qualified Electrical Contractor

Whether you want to install new lighting into your home or office or run cables for the entire electrical system of your building, you should hire an electrical contractor. Not just any contractor, but a fully qualified electric contractor who will be able to install the cables, lighting and other electrical systems safely. There are many people who assume that the electrical systems in your home or office are easy to figure out and that you can just do them yourself. While you can find DIY manuals to use to help you along, it is always safer to use a professional electrical contractor to do the job.
When you outsource electricians, you also have to make sure that they are certified for legal purposes in case anything should happen. The same goes for insurance. They will not cover anything that you have done yourself, so you will need to ensure that an electric contractor is used who has the relevant qualifications.
When you go about searching for an electrical contractor, make sure that you check the certifications and also get some recommendations from companies or individuals who have used them before. You can choose to hire an electrical contractor as a team or just a private contractor who will work on his own.
With the vast number of new buildings and houses that require electrical connections, you will find that electric contractor jobs are quite popular, so you will have to get in on the action as quick as you can to hire the electrical contractor you want. As an electric contractor, you will have the chance to bid on projects that are posted and you can also use general advertising to find clients.
One of the best ways to get electrical jobs is to contact local estate agencies and building firms, and work out a deal with them so that whenever there is any electrical work to be done on any property or building site, that you are the first person they call. This is one of the best ways to get great electrical contractor work.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

No More Wires for TV - Vacaville Electric

Tom talks about the nuisance of wires hanging from a nice TV and how Vacaville Electric can help. See more at

Thursday, June 12, 2014

For Your Safety - Install An Organized Electric Wiring Layout

Many fires and accidents are caused by faulty
electric wiring layouts. Older homes specifically are susceptible to these hazards. So be sure to Understand how electricity works; recognize the potential electrical hazards; learn about safety devices that prevent shock; and hire someone that will check up the status of your residential electrical system. You can call a local service company for electrical repairs, electrical maintenance for your home, or
install electrical outlets to your home.
An organized electrical wiring layout prevents any cause of damage to you and your home. You may get "shocked" when you've read my introduction, but yes, a wrongly installed electrical outlet can shock you. And yes, a wrongly installed electrical outlet can burn your house down.
There have been many accidents about fire and shocks caused by electricity. Sadly, the numbers don't lie. So, if you think you're safe and will never be caught on a fire, think again.
According to the US Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Agency, five American homes are on fire somewhere as you are reading this article. And according to the Department of Consumer and Employment Protection', for the year 2006 to 2007 (present), there are 929 electric shocks, 22 serious electrical accidents, and 5 fatalities that occurred and have been reported.
An electric shock is defined as an incident where no injuries are sustained, but precautionary medical treatment is sought. A serious electrical accident is defined as an incident in which a person requires assessment or treatment at a medical facility. The higher the amperes get into your body the fatal it can get. Low currents that can get into your body may cause you mild sensations, medium currents can cause you muscle paralysis or burn your skin to a certain degree, and large currents can stop your breathing.
To prevent hazards caused by faulty
electric wiring layout like electrical shocks, fire, and other electrical accidents. Be sure to follow some of these basic tips:
o Keep appliances away from known endangerments like electricity from water. Another device that is commonly used to prevent shocks n the home is a ground fault circuit interpreter (GFCI). These are mostly installed in wall-mounted receptacles where electricity and water are most likely to come in contact (i.e bathrooms, laundry rooms, outdoors). GFCIs monitor electric current and can switch a circuit off before injury occurs. Most electrical dryers are come equipped with GFCIs on its plugs;
o Follow manufacturer's appliance information on product usage and its maintenance;
o Be particularly careful with older appliances and extension cords. Even new appliances can be the source of a home fire;
o Appliances should be unplugged when not in use;
o Always use correctly rated fuses in all electrical appliances;
o Never run electrical cables under carpets;
o As much as possible, never run three or more appliances in one plug or socket;
o Do not buy substandard electrical appliances or electrical supplies; and
o Always check up on your indoor electric wirings and plugs and then
extend electric circuit outdoor plugs too.
o Three-prong plugs -- electrical outlets in modern homes may have three-wire receptacles. The third prong provides a path to ground along which the electric current travels. As a tip: Never clip the third prong off a plug to make it fit a two-hole outlet.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

7 Questions for the DIY Home Electrician

An informative true or false video quiz for the enthusiastic DIY home-electrician -- featuring Allison Rhodes, the Safety Mom.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Hidden Dangers of Ungrounded or Improperly Grounded Electrical Outlets

Having a grounded electrical system is something that many of us take for granted on a day-to-day basis. With a short glance at the three-pronged electrical outlets that line our walls, we make an unconscious note that our electrical systems are grounded, safe and ready to go. If you live in an older home, however, you may be surprised to learn that your seemingly grounded three-pronged outlets are not actually grounded. In fact, even some newer homes can have improper grounding as a result of a seemingly small electrical mistake during the wiring process. This can be very hazardous, and deserves your attention regardless of whether you own your own home or rent the dwelling that you are currently in.
An outlet that electricians describe as "open ground" contains a three-pronged outlet that has only been wired with two wires. These outlets have a hot and neutral wire, but no ground wire. These are particularly dangerous because they give the illusion of grounding, but no extra protection. What dangers does this present, and how can you check?
Product Warranties
A little known fact about electrical grounding is the way that it affects your product warranties. Most appliances, such as dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators must be connected to a grounded outlet in order to be eligible for warranty replacement. By plugging them into an outlet that is not grounded, you essentially void the warranty and run the risk of losing your entire appliance in the event of a shock or power surge.
Electrical Shock Dangers
Your main concern when it comes to proper grounding should be electrical shock. Any outlet in your home that is not properly grounded is a hazard to you and your family. If your standard 120v outlet shocks anyone in your home, the result can be severe injury or even death. Because of this, avoid any devices that attempt to circumvent ungrounded outlets.
Is Your Outlet Grounded?
You can check for this yourself by purchasing a low-cost plug-in tester ad nearly any home improvement store. These devices are relatively cheap and reliable. Another method would be to turn off the electricity at your breaker panel and actually take a look at the back of your outlet. This method, however, is not foolproof and should only be attempted by a trained professional. The best way to tell if your outlet is truly grounded is to hire a professional. If you have any doubts about your electrical system, never hesitate to call a local electrician. They can not only tell you whether or not your system is grounded (often for free), but can also quickly and efficiently fix the problem if one exists.
Next Steps
If you are testing your outlets on your own, you should call in a professional if even one outlets presents a negative reading. This could indicate further electrical problems, more ungrounded outlets and other dangers. To be safe, call an electrician to test the integrity and safety of your entire system.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Electrical Repairs And Maintenance: 3 Essential Tips To Choose The Right Electrician

Electrical Repair And Maintenance- Hire The Best Professional
If you are looking for a skilled and experienced electrical contractor for the repair and maintenance of the electrical appliance, it's very important to choose the best professional. Choosing an amateur professional can lead to many problems. Therefore, it's very important to hire an experienced electrician who will complete the work successfully.
Few Tips To Choose A Reliable And Trustworthy Electrician
Unfortunately, there are many bad professionals who take advantage of the consumers. The good news is that there are many good electricians who can offer you with quality services. If you are looking for experienced electricians, here are some excellent tips to keep in mind when looking for the best professional for electrical repair and maintenance services:-
Tip 1
History Is Important
There are so many companies out there in the market who will happily cheat you and offer poor quality services. It's very important to choose a company with an excellent track record and testimonials from happy and satisfied customers. If you choose a local company, you should first speak with the existing customers to know about their services.
Tip 2
Shop Around For The Best Deal
It's very important to shop around to find the best electrician. Speak with your friends and family to get some referral/recommendation as they can give you genuine feedback. Safety is one of the most essential aspects to consider when you are looking for an electrical contractor. Therefore, you should make sure to hire a qualified electrician who can complete the task properly.
If you fail to get any referral/recommendation from your neighbors or friends then you can check the online directories. When you find a good electrician, you should take time to interview them.
Tip 3
Check The License
One of the very first things to consider when you are looking for an electrician is to check the license. You should never ever hire someone who does not have any license. Check the expiry date of the license. If the license has expired, you should look for some other professional.
A little bit of research is very important to find the best electrician in your area. It's advisable to not choose the cheapest option. Never ever hire someone randomly. Hiring the right professional will help you get the highest quality repairs within your budget. Keep all these tips in mind to choose the best professional for the task.

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Electrical Power Surge - Is Your Entire Household Protected Against Them?

Most homeowners are unaware that electrical power surges happen quite frequently on any power grid in the United States. These power surges don't just spike during lightning storms but can happen at any given moment. Read on to discover what electrical power surges are, how to ensure you are protected from them at all times , and the importance of doing so to protect all your household electronics and appliances.
There are many causes for electrical power surges including lightning and thunder storms, Utility contractors working up line on the power grid your home is on, or just a transformer along the line or grid to your home going bad. Most times the spikes are minuscule and don't affect your household electrical system in any way, however there are times that a major spike occurs and major damage is done to electronics and appliances that aren't protected by some sort of surge protection device.
In much the same principle as a computer is normally plugged into a surge suppression strip for surge protection your whole house can be protected as well by having a qualified electrician install what is known as a whole house surge suppression unit. These units are installed at the service entrance (load center) of your home and either clamp the surge or redirect it to ground thus protecting the entire household electrical system and everything connected to it such as air conditioners, furnaces, electronics , and appliances.
In essence a whole house surge suppression unit installed to protect your household and all electrical devices will bring a sense of security in knowing that any unseen power surges are addressed and give you a peace of mind about your home and its' contents. Without a whole house surge suppressor one rogue power surge could instantly do thousands of dollars worth of damage and render a lot of electronics and appliances useless.
In comparison a few hundred dollars spent to protect your investments in the electronics and appliances far outweighs the cost of having to replace them and not to mention all the time and hassle it would take in dealing with insurance company as well as shopping for all new replacements and installation costs of them all.
To summarize it only takes one major spike to do untold damage within your home so having a whole house surge suppression unit can provide great protection, peace of mind, and security in knowing that your entire household is covered and there is not much worry when the occasional thunderstorm rolls through your neck of the woods.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Tribute

A tribute to the men and women who fearlessly defend the freedoms we all enjoy. God bless them

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Electrical Panel: A Faulty Electrical Panel Can Be Deadly

Why is the electrical panel board important? This article will soon answer this question. If you have ever experienced a thunderstorm, natural disaster or otherwise large electrical event, then you have probably dealt with a power outage and needed to visit the electrical panel in your home to turn the power back on. The electrical service panel is what distributes currents of electricity to all of the various rooms and components of your home.
If you have not yet familiarized yourself with it (or even found where it is located) then it would be a good idea to do so, particularly in the case of natural disasters. Having the ability to get to the correct circuit breaker (both for turning power off and on) can mean the difference between life and death. The electric panel is usually located in basements, backrooms and other 'tucked away' areas of the house. Once you open the panel's door, you will have access to all of the circuit breakers or fuses in the house. Usually, there will be one panel for the whole house, but if there were additions to the house or remodeling (such as installing a new kitchen); there may be additional sub-panels for those as well. Because all of the circuit breakers are located in this one spot, this panel may also be referred to as the 'breaker box'. Within the breaker box, the circuit breakers are stacked and a lever that is labeled 'on' and 'off' controls each one.
There is a regulated amount of current that can go through each breaker, so if there is a short or an overload (such as when lightning strikes) it causes the breaker to trip and protect the circuit by cutting the power. In addition to all of the breakers for the individual circuits in your home, there is also a main breaker controlling the power entering your home. Like other circuit breakers, it can be either 'on' or 'off.' If it is not located in the breaker panel, it may be located in a separate panel board elsewhere in the house. In certain homes, you may also have a fuse box with screw-in fuses instead of circuit breakers, but the function and the way it works is basically the same. To see the main breaker, which you will need to do if you plan to add a circuit or replace one that goes bad, you need to take the electric panel cover off.
This can normally be easily accomplished with a screw driver as electrical panel covers are usually held in place with 4 screws, one in each corner. You can easily identify the main breaker because it has two thick black wires feeding into it from the electrical meter and is made of two circuit breaker handles put together. The main circuit breaker also identifies the amperage capacity (how many electrically charged particles flow past a given point on the circuit breaker per second) of the electrical panel and will have a number written on it indicating the number of amps. A 100 amp electrical panel board is the lowest allowed by code today, but 200 amp and even 400 amp panels are also available. The most common is 150 amps. Although we all hope to avoid natural disasters, shorts, or any other kind of potentially bad or dangerous situation, that situation can only be made worse, by not being able to get the power back on when you need it. As such, it is always good to take the time to find, and understand your electrical panel and electrical subpanel making sure you replace any faulty breakers as soon as possible.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Careful Electrical Inspections That Help to Stay Safe

Electrical Inspections are a must for any building, irrespective of it being a commercial or residential space. It is for the safety of the residents inside and outside the area. Now, there are a number of things which an inspection brings to the forefront. In this field of electrical inspection, experts have put to use a new device called the IR camera. With the help of this device, you can test the electricity distribution in panel boards, transformers, switch boards. The inspectors can find where the connections are loose, which can cause short-circuiting or catch fire and the circuits which due to overloading can cause blackouts. There are various advantages of using this infrared camera.
1. It makes sure that the entire testing process is safe
2. It gives accurate results and is fast
3. They find problems way before any possibility of serious failure like short circuiting
4. It is a part of preventative maintenance and is vital
5. The device is portable and light
Different kinds of electrical inspections use the following details:
1. The place where the electricians have detected the problem
2. A detailed summary of the problem
3. Images are also provided if you use an IR camera
4. Any extra information against precautionary measures
Thus, when at a later point of time, if you decide to sell off your house, then you will be getting a handsome amount. The only reason being you have kept your house safe. Even if there be problems with electrical devices in your house, early detection can help them to undergo a quick fix. Besides, time to time inspections, you can also have security lighting. They are very vital for your building to stay protected. This will not only protect you but also save your costs in the long run.
Another important aspect that comes to feature along with electrical tests is that of earthing. It prevents any kind of shock or electrocution. This system basically connects a part of electrical connection to the earth. It helps to protect a building against lightning, limits any kind of electromagnetic disturbances and so on. It is a scientific fact that human body is a very good conductor of heat. Hence, if proper earthing is not done in the house, then there are chances that electricity can make the human body a medium to pass through and reach the earth. Hence, you must remember that during an electrical inspection, the earthing system must also be examined.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Electric Panels - Why Your Older Home Needs An Update

Is your home constantly blowing fuses or tripping the breaker? Are the lights flickering more than they should or appliances don't seem to run as well as they could? If so, it's probably about time for an update on your electric panels.
I'm going to guess you love your family and your home, and you want it to be the best it can be. But sometimes homes run at a less-than-the-best capacity.
Now let's say you just bought an older home. Sure, it has charm, but in the renovation process you discover, much to your dismay, the wiring system is ancient and some of the wires are even stripped! If this happens, you can't afford to wait another moment to upgrade. A faulty wiring system can be a tremendous fire hazard and even cause electrocution.
Technological advances in electricity have changed the picture a great deal. Thomas Edison wouldn't believe what can be done with it today! But to keep up with the times, it's vital you keep your electric panels current.
Nowadays we have invested our hard-earned money in appliances, which were never heard of thirty years ago when the original electric panels were installed in most homes. Inventions like computers, surround-sound systems and home theaters are common in most households. Even up-to-date refrigerators and ranges draw a great deal more energy than their former creations.
An upgrade will not only provide the safety your family needs, but it will also be an easy draw on your budget. Why? Simply because state-of-the-art electric panels run appliances more efficiently.
If you decide to "move it on up", who are you going to call? Any professional electrical contractor will be skilled enough to do the job. He's up on all the current codes and specifications. A word of caution - do NOT attempt to upgrade yourself. You will need an electrical expert to do the job right. Besides, wouldn't it be grand just to sit back with your feet propped up while the highly trained expert does the work? Then you will KNOW it's been done right. This is how you get that peace of mind.
And one of the reasons why it's crucial you hire an expert is due to the fact that much of your home's wiring system is hidden within the walls of the house. They're trained to know where to look so the wiring can be correctly replaced or repaired as needed.
Let's talk about what all of this might cost if you upgrade to 100 amps with a new panel. A rough estimate is between $1,500 and $2,500. If you don't get a brand new panel and just upgrade your existing one, the charge will drop to between $800 to $1,200. Keep in mind these figures may fluctuate according to who you hire.
Updated electric panels provide your home and family with not only a greater degree of service, but they also give that wonderful peace of mind that no one can put a price on.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Electrician Explains How To Prepare For Rolling Brownouts or Blackouts

Any electrician will be familiar with rolling brownouts or blackouts. He or she can help prepare your home or business for them. It is important to know the difference between the two and how each one can affect you.
Rolling Brownouts
A rolling brownout happens when the electric power is temporarily reduced instead of being cut completely. Many people experience brownouts without realizing it. Lights may flicker and dim during a brownout. Brownouts can occur when the electrical grid becomes overloaded. They can last to from a few seconds to hours. Rolling brownouts happen when a utility company temporarily cuts voltage to some customers to keep the power grid from overloading.
Rolling Blackouts
Rolling blackouts are often associated with California during the hottest part of the summer. However, an electrician knows rolling blackouts are possible during the summer. This is especially true when the temperature climbs over 100 degrees.
Rolling blackouts are a deliberate cut of power by the utility. It is used as a last resort to keep the high demand from overtaking supply. Utilities try to avoid rolling blackouts by asking the public to reduce their power consumption during peak times. If consumption does not decrease, rolling blackouts are initiated.
While rolling brownouts and blackouts are not too common, they can happen. An electrician can help people to prepare to limit any problems.
Tips To Prepare for Rolling Brownouts or Blackouts
- Know where your fuse/circuit breakers are in your home. Make sure you know how to check for any problems. Call any electrician if you need help or are unfamiliar with fuse/circuit breakers.
- Ask an electrician if he or she can recommend the type of surge protection you need for your home or business. You will need to protect against the effects of a rolling brownout or blackout. This is especially important for any computers you may have because the damage irregular power surges can cause.
- Turn off and unplug appliances during brownouts or blackouts.
- Have a supply of flashlights, batteries and candles available in case a brownout or blackout occurs during the evening.
- Be aware of any announcements from the local utility company about the possibility of brownouts or blackouts.
By preparing for any rolling brownouts or blackouts, you are also preparing for any unexpected power outages. Having a plan to combat any electrical outage problem is important and will help in any planning for emergencies.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Replacing Electrical Wiring - Home Repair That Matters

The time of replacing electrical wiring has come. Your electric wiring has timed out, as it only has a limited lifespan. For the record, electric wiring PVC cables have an estimated lifespan of twenty years. By the time twenty years have passed, homeowners are advised to replace their electrical wiring as precautionary measures for the purpose of maintaining a safe home.
The condition of cables and wires deteriorates over time. If they are used continuously, lives are being recklessly exposed and properties endangered. This is why regular replacement schedules should be followed. Naturally, a licensed electrical technician or electrical engineer can perfectly replace the electrical wiring at home. A licensed electrical technician can determine whether the wirings are no longer safe to use and if so, he can make the necessary replacements.
Electric wirings are not only to be replaced at the end of their expected lifespans. When electric problems occur, electrical wiring should be replaced right away. To better identify electric problems, one should know first what a consumer unit is and the switches that go along with it. Basically, the consumer unit is responsible for electrical distribution in the panels installed at home. The panels are put together and enclosed. The miniature circuit breakers, or MCBs, are utilized to protect home appliances from electric fault and overheating of cables. When MCBs are switched off or tipped off, the electric supply to the affected circuit is cut off. This usually happens as the result of short circuit, earth-fault, or overload. If electric fault causes too much damage, the replacement of electrical wiring is necessary.
Fixing the air conditioner is another issue that may require replacing electrical wiring. There are two kinds of air conditioning systems. There is the window-type and there is the split-type. The window-type requires an electric plug for the power source. And, in order to mount it, a boxy rectangular hole-in-the-wall is necessary. On the other hand, the split-type is more complicated to install since its features are more sophisticated. The main two units of split-type units are the internal unit, where the cold air is blown, and the external unit, where the compressor is located. The two units are linked through the pipes to make the air conditioner cold, but the two units need two corresponding power sources. Frequent check-ups and cleaning of the plastic filters are the two simple ways of preventing the problem. If this is done, there is a small chance of experiencing electric failures.
Replacing electrical wiring is a serious and risky task. If you know the principles of wire replacement, you can save yourself from electric burns and other fatal injuries. This is a situation where being careful is of vital importance. Replacing electric wiring requires that you turn off the power to the circuits and then double check whether it is really switched off. And if you managed to successfully replace everything, such as the electrical receptacles, you need to use testers to know whether the receptacle is already working. Simple steps like these will help keep you and those who visit your home safe. Replacing electrical wiring can be a manageable task if done carefully. And if you are still in doubt of your own capabilities, it is a smart decision to hire a professional electrical technician.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Seven Reasons To Hire A Licensed Electrician

Looking to save money when you are making home improvements or repairs? To assure your home is safe, don't skimp when it comes to electrical work. Hiring a licensed electrician is usually more costly than doing a job yourself or having a handyman do it, but here are a few reasons why it's worth the extra cost.
Seven Reasons Why It's Worth It to Hire A Licensed Electrician
  1. You are paying for general knowledge. When you buy the services of a licensed electrician, you are gaining access to a thorough base of knowledge. Every licensed electrician has studied the National Electrical Code (NEC), a set of standards published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). During his training and apprenticeship, he learned about local building codes. He is bound to follow these codes as a professional.

  2. You are paying for an accurate assessment of your home wiring. A licensed professional knows how even a simple job can impact your home wiring and will be able to tell you what is needed to make your system safe before making additions or modifications. If he finds that your outlets are not properly grounded or that you do not have the proper amperage of electrical service coming into your home, he will be able to make things right before performing the job at hand.

  3. You know he is qualified. If you want to verify that a licensed electrician has the training and experience to do electrical work in your home, you can check his credentials on file with the city or the state. Electricians have to pass rigorous tests to become licensed. With an unlicensed contractor or handyman, you have to depend on claims he makes about his ability to do the work and on references from clients, who are not always the best judge of whether he was qualified to do the job.

  4. You are paying for up-to-code work. Many DIYers and even handymen who do electrical work often think that some provisions in the electrical codes are "overkill" and unnecessarily rigid, so they take dangerous shortcuts. A licensed electrician is bound to follow current acceptable practices.

  5. You have a permit to verify that the job was done right. When a licensed electrician does a big job, he will pull a permit from the city, another step that less qualified people often skip. While this costs money and makes you subject to inspections, you have more assurance that the job will meet code.

  6. You are protecting yourself and your home. While a repair by an unqualified person can work out in the short run, the long-term consequences could result in a fire. If the causes were due to wiring, your insurance company might refuse to pay for damages when an unlicensed person made them. If a handyman had no business insurance to cover his work, you might be left in a serious bind. A licensed electrician is required to have insurance to protect you from the results of poor workmanship.

  7. You are better ready to sell your home. When you go to sell your home, you can give additional assurance to buyers that the work was done right. The work will pass inspections from the city (if this is required in your area) and private home inspectors, and save you from having to lay out money to have the work redone before closing.
Regardless of how small a repair you need, you can't go wrong hiring a licensed electrician. He (or she) has the know-how to do the job safely and in a way that passes current electrical codes.
Jillynn Stevens, Ph.D. is a writer with a vast array of subject matter expertise. Along with publishing articles for large and small businesses, she researches, writes and publishes reports on various public policy issues.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Benefits of Professionally Installed Landscape Lighting

With properly installed landscape lighting, you can greatly change the look and atmosphere of your outdoor spaces. This is a great way to increase the safety, function and look of your entire yard. Many people choose to start with just one flowerbed, tree or outdoor living area. Regardless of the size of your lighting project, there are many options and lighting packages available. While it may be tempting to do it all yourself with a DIY lighting kit, you should also consider having your landscape lighting professionally installed by a licensed electrician. Professionally installed landscape lighting often looks better and lasts longer than its DIY counterparts.
Using DIY Lighting Kits
You can find DIY landscape lighting kits at nearly every store in town. They are available in a range of styles, sizes and levels of quality. In general, this route is much cheaper than having your lighting installed by an electrician. The tradeoffs, however, can be greater than you think. Unless you go with a very high-end lighting kit, most DIY kits will be nowhere near the quality of the lights that an electrician will use. As a result, your lights will wear quicker, leading to a shorter lifespan and diminished aesthetic value. Furthermore, many DIY kits leave you with unsightly wires, converter boxes and other items that will not exist in a professional installation.
Professionally Installed Landscape Lighting
Landscape lighting is not typically the first thing that you think of when you think about the services that are provided by the typical electrician. Many electricians, however, specialize in the installation of great-looking, long-lasting landscape lighting. Utilizing the services of an electrician means that you will have the utmost ability to customize exactly how you want your landscape lighting to look and function. This means that you can reach all of the hard-to-reach places, light all of your trees and ensure that your lighting will not disturb any cars that are passing by. Most electricians use very high quality, metal fixtures that can use higher-output bulbs than their plastic counterparts. This means that your lighting will function more efficiently than if you had gone with a plastic DIY kit. Furthermore, metal fixtures are sealed from the elements, giving them a much longer lifespan.
In addition to accenting trees and showing off flowerbeds, landscape lighting also has a very functional purpose. If you have outdoor walkways, decks or other living spaces, well-placed lighting can turn them into great places to be both day and night. Rather than stumbling around in your backyard at night, you can safely walk any paths, and enjoy company on your deck at all hours of the day. Because every home is different, a custom application can be very important to the overall look and function of your finished exterior lighting project. Consider working with your electrician to make sure that everything works just the way you want it to.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Electrical Panel Repairs and Replacement - Vacaville Electric

Tom talks about the dangers of not servicing your electrical panel. Give them a call for a free inspection at 707-448-8222 or see more at

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Hidden Dangers of Ungrounded or Improperly Grounded Electrical Outlets

Having a grounded electrical system is something that many of us take for granted on a day-to-day basis. With a short glance at the three-pronged electrical outlets that line our walls, we make an unconscious note that our electrical systems are grounded, safe and ready to go. If you live in an older home, however, you may be surprised to learn that your seemingly grounded three-pronged outlets are not actually grounded. In fact, even some newer homes can have improper grounding as a result of a seemingly small electrical mistake during the wiring process. This can be very hazardous, and deserves your attention regardless of whether you own your own home or rent the dwelling that you are currently in.
An outlet that electricians describe as "open ground" contains a three-pronged outlet that has only been wired with two wires. These outlets have a hot and neutral wire, but no ground wire. These are particularly dangerous because they give the illusion of grounding, but no extra protection. What dangers does this present, and how can you check?
Product Warranties
A little known fact about electrical grounding is the way that it affects your product warranties. Most appliances, such as dishwashers, dryers and refrigerators must be connected to a grounded outlet in order to be eligible for warranty replacement. By plugging them into an outlet that is not grounded, you essentially void the warranty and run the risk of losing your entire appliance in the event of a shock or power surge.
Electrical Shock Dangers
Your main concern when it comes to proper grounding should be electrical shock. Any outlet in your home that is not properly grounded is a hazard to you and your family. If your standard 120v outlet shocks anyone in your home, the result can be severe injury or even death. Because of this, avoid any devices that attempt to circumvent ungrounded outlets.
Is Your Outlet Grounded?
You can check for this yourself by purchasing a low-cost plug-in tester ad nearly any home improvement store. These devices are relatively cheap and reliable. Another method would be to turn off the electricity at your breaker panel and actually take a look at the back of your outlet. This method, however, is not foolproof and should only be attempted by a trained professional. The best way to tell if your outlet is truly grounded is to hire a professional. If you have any doubts about your electrical system, never hesitate to call a local electrician. They can not only tell you whether or not your system is grounded (often for free), but can also quickly and efficiently fix the problem if one exists.
Next Steps
If you are testing your outlets on your own, you should call in a professional if even one outlets presents a negative reading. This could indicate further electrical problems, more ungrounded outlets and other dangers. To be safe, call an electrician to test the integrity and safety of your entire system.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Electrical Contractor Vs Electricians - The Difference Between The Two

Not a lot of people know about the difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor. While they are working in similar industries, they have varying roles. Most of the time, electrical contractors are companies or business negotiators who provide electrical services. In these cases, they are responsible for hiring electricians to do the job. They are in charge for any task that requires construction with regard to certain designs, as well as the maintenance of different systems.
In Europe and the Americas, this industry reaps a lot of profit and they are provided licenses and insurances, which allows them to run their business in operation for a certain period of time. Acquiring such, they must able to secure their clients from the liabilities of the insurance. The requirements vary depending on the locality or state where they are working.
There are three major categories of working electrical contractors. There are those who are in charge of high power transmissions with high-voltage distribution lines. They are known as the line or outside service providers, which duties are particularly in line with construction and maintenance of infrastructure which are essential to bear electricity coming from the plant via few high-voltage lines and substations prior to employing its supply power to residential, commercial and industrial spaces.
The inside contractors are the ones who are most of the time interchanged with electricians as they are the primary people who work for commercial, residential and institutions hands on. They are the ones who manage the installation, maintenance and electrical designs, which are necessary for the building to operate well. They deal with outdoor lighting and substations with electricity inside the boundary lines of the property as given by inside service providers.
The IBS and VDV contractors are the ones who handle low-voltage installations. Some of these comprise climate controls, security systems, reserve power, telecommunications and fiber optics. Their main goals are energy-efficient lightings and wireless networking systems. They offer various services for a wide array of demands.
While electrical contractors base their hiring on experience in the degree of training one has achieved, those who are hired as apprentice electricians are the ones who are trained to the job. They are skilled and trained to manually handle the wirings and fix, repair and install main power systems.
In the end, both are still vital parts of a construction team. So, if you are planning to build a house, an electrical contractor is necessary to find you electricians to work effectively and efficiently for the safety and security of your home. Electricity poses dangers and risks so these things need to be handled appropriately.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

adorne: A Recipe for Kitchen Magic

Transform your kitchen with the adorne Under-Cabinet Lighting System. The system's modular tracks and flexible components let you hide outlets and switches under the cabinets, letting your beautiful backsplash shine.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Leave Electrical Work To The Professionals

From make-do-and-mend to do-it-yourself, the practice of repairing and reusing has seen a huge revival in recent years. DIY has crept from the darkness of garden sheds and is now being showcased on every TV channel, with presenters demonstrating just how easy it is to get something done yourself.
Unfortunately, it's a different story when it comes to electrical repairs. Unlike standard DIY projects, attempting electrical projects is not recommended. Without competent training and industry knowledge there is a risk that even the smallest mistake can have a devastating effect not only your property, but on your life.
The Shocking Facts
According to the Electrical Safety Council (ESC), 70 people are killed and 350,000 are seriously injured every year in the UK due to electrical accidents in the home. Many of these accident are due to DIY projects - the most common accidents are electric shocks and burns from contact with live parts and fires caused by faulty appliances.
With wiring hidden away behind walls and beneath floors, it's not surprising that many people are unaware of the dangers posed by electricity. The ESC also claim that aging and faulty wiring is a leading cause of electrical fires, but checking for wear and tear on wiring which is tucked away is frequently overlooked.
Electrical Repairs - Leave it to the Professionals
Qualified electricians are equipped to tackle electrical repairs and installations - leaving it to them is always the safer, sensible option. Reputable electricians are able to provide thorough inspection and test services and can check the wear and tear of your wiring, identifying defects before they become hazardous. Up to date industry knowledge is of huge importance in this field and being unaware of changes to industry standards could have serious consequences.
While it may seem cheaper to do it yourself, the cost of correcting a mistake could be expensive and sadly some mistakes cannot be reversed. There are also legalities such as Part P Compliance which requires all new electrical installations to be undertaken by qualified electricians. Also, new circuit installations must be reported to the local authorities - professional contractors will do this on your behalf.
Avoiding DIY electrical repairs will save you hassle, time and money in the long run. Most importantly, it could save you and your family's health. A certified electrician will offer a warranty on their work and will have their own insurance, giving you peace of mind and alleviating liability.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Dangers Of Electricity

Electricity is a vital part of modern life. It not only provides the power for endless sources of amusement but also makes a huge number of the modern conveniences, like air conditioning and cell phones, possible at all. Light is far more dependable with electricity than it was with oil, candles, and whatever else was used. While electricity has many benefits, it can also be extremely dangerous.
One of the first dangers of electricity is its unpredictability. This argument is particularly true when dealing with lightning. Lightning storms and thunderstorms, which require lightning, are capable of popping up at a moment's notice. The electricity contained in a single bolt of lightning can due huge amounts of damage to a structure. It also contains a lot of heat capable of starting fires in buildings, forests, and anywhere else.
Another danger of electricity occurs when there are problems with the power lines that carry the electricity we rely upon from the power plants to the individual homes. When these lines and their poles are not adequately maintained, they can be taken down in a wind storm, by ice, or other occasions. When the lines come down, they can injure passersby, land on cars and damage them, or injure other items in the area.
Electricity is also a danger in the home itself. Many of the most commonly used items in any home require electricity. If there are flaws in the electrical system, the item can short circuit and start a fire. Interaction between the electrical item and other things in the home can cause huge problems in terms of shocks. Careless use of a hair dryer by a bathtub or near a puddle can result in huge shocks to the person drying hair.
A further risk for electricity is in the wiring of a home completely. Many of the older homes in the country have old electrical wiring. Like all things, wires are capable of wearing out and becoming less trustworthy with age. The age of the wires themselves combined with modern electricity usage requirements means that it is very possible for an older home with older wiring to be incapable of handling the electrical requirements. This can lead to shorts in the system and result in fires.
Overall, electricity has many hazards and requires that individuals always take it very serious. Downed power lines should be avoided and the threat of thunder or lightning should be taken seriously. Overall, maintaining a home's electrical system can have the greatest benefits.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

5 Tips For Choosing An Electrician

It's rare that we care about few of the important things while choosing an electrician for our electrical fitting, repair or maintenance services that sometimes leads to continuous engagement of different electricians & overall expenses. Here we will discuss about the top 5 things to look for when choosing an electrician.
1. Certifications, Qualification & Experience: There is a difference between an Engineer and a person who earned knowledge through various of assignments. A person specialized & skilled in his/her field is much more aware about the pros & cons, whereas an inexperienced, unqualified can only make assumptions that may or may not result into expected results.Not all electricians are the same, many will have extra qualifications or experience in different areas of electrical work, and some may even have accreditation. Choosing a Master Electrician gives a guarantee that the electrician has at least 3 years experience and must offer a 12 month warranty on workmanship. Using a Master Electrician will ensure you receive the highest standard of workmanship and electrical safety.
2. Licence and Insurance: An electrician with proper licence are well-trained, aware about that job safety, restriction of their jobs & most important they have got in-depth knowledge of their expertise. There are electricians who are licenced to do electrical works in residential apartment & they are not supposed to carry out any electrical work in commercial or Industrial buildings. Before hiring an electrician we must also check with them about their insurance policies.
3. Value for Money: It's better to make a proper checklist of the work desired, materials we need to accomplished the job & what's the best deal the electrician is offering. Making a selection based on some preliminary task & quotes may result into several more improvements in the quoted job & will also increase the budget. So get a quote from the electrician first based on "affordability, quantity & quality of the task".
4. Behaviour & Attitude: A fair communication, behaviour & attitude between both, the service seeker & the service provider also ends up with good results. But we are humans, we are unexpected & unpredictable, It may be possible the person we are hiring for our services may or may not be of good behaviour & attitude. There are few of the things which can help us to understand them better. Are they committed to their quotes? Did they inform about changes in schedules or delays if occur? Are they comfortable in understanding you & your desired work? You need to be confident that you understand each other so that there are no miscommunications during the project. A professional appearance and attitude is usually reflected in the quality of the workmanship provided.
5. References:A recommendation from someone whose opinion you trust can be invaluable when choosing any type of tradesman or service. Knowing that they have had a positive experience with an electrician, and been happy with the level of service and workmanship is a good endorsement. If you cannot get a recommendation then ask the electrician if they have any references. If possible, call and speak to the referee to make sure that they are legitimate.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Electrician - When Do You Need to Hire One?

So you've decided to do some home improvements. You want to repaint one room, add a ceiling fan to another and possibly replace that broken light switch while you're at it. You've already had electrical experience; you did change out the garbage disposal last year not to mention the countless bulbs that you've had to exchange throughout the years. While most of these things are simple for the do-it-yourself type, there are times when a professional touch is needed and time to call in the electrician.
For the simple things, like changing out a light bulb, you don't have to have an experienced hand, but when do you know that your problem needs a professional's care? You certainly didn't need an electrician to wire in that new disposal did you? So how do you know when it is really necessary?
The first rule of thumb is if the project is simply something that is outside your comfort zone then it's time to call in the professionals. Improper electrical installations are serious fire hazards. For something as complicated as that, you want to be sure to call a certified electrician to take care of the problem. These highly qualified workers have taken extra classes and tests to gain their specialized skill. They can ensure that your home is up to code, a must assure this if you ever wish to sell your home and have it pass inspections.
If you are planning to replace a light fixture you might not have to have someone come in. If you are planning on putting in an entirely new light fixture in a spot that has never had a light fixture, then you might want to consider professional help. An electrician can make sure the correct grade of wire is used so that you don't have to worry about the fixture. He can also ensure that it's wired into the breaker correctly and that the switch works appropriately.
Of course if you are planning on adding an addition to your home, a professional electrician is a must to ensure that the job is done correctly. You don't want to worry about things not meeting code when the building inspector comes out to ensure that the addition is livable.
Hiring a professional electrician might not seem like a must for the small things around the house, but should be considered for the bigger projects you are taking on.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to Choose a Company for GFCI Replacements and Other Electrical Work?

Whether you are looking for ground fault circuit interrupter/ GFCI replacements or new construction and remodeling work, it's essential to hire professional contractors. With a number of companies offering electrical services in your region, it may be tough to pick one that can serve your needs properly with experience and expertise. For making things easy to understand, here is a small list of the most important things that you should check, regardless of the company or independent service provider.
• Check the authenticity: One of the main aspects of undertaking electrical work like GFCI replacements or electrical Panel Upgrades is a matter for seasoned professionals. Even the smallest of electrical repairs can actually cause issues of security and safety, something that you wouldn't want to risk. One of the best things to do is to see how authentic the service provider is. You can check their website to see how long the company has been in business and ensure their good standing with the Better Business Bureau. This should give an idea of the quality of work they do. Always read customer reviews if provided.
• Licensed electricians: Among the other things, you have to ensure that the electrician is insured and licensed. Insisting on a licensed electrician is the simplest way to know whether the electrician or the team member sent for the work is experienced and properly trained for the job. To obtain a license, electricians need to pass national electrical code testing and criteria, which give an insight as to the actual professional knowledge he possesses. Most municipalities require licensed electricians to work on any electrical project large or small and this is enforced by local governments.
• Experience in the field: Electrical work is often highly technical, and if you need a special kind of service, you have to ensure that the company offering services is experienced. It makes much more sense to choose a company or a team of electricians, who know the job and can offer the right kind of solutions that can save you time, money, and avoid costly mistakes. Every company may claim that they can do it all, but in reality, there are only a few that can provide outstanding service. By talking with the contractor make sure to ask probing questions so they can give professional evaluations of your particular project. Make sure that they are familiar with your local codes. The right contractor should be able to identify possible obstacles and clearly explain their expectations for your project.
• Communication and support: If you are hiring a licensed electrical contractor, you are making a wise decision for peace of mind and professional service. Rather than having a company that doesn't offer any help or support on the job, it is better to look for a professional one that offers more support both on and off the job. Only a few companies would offer you the right kind of emergency services and would communicate properly to get the job done on time.
At the end of the day, when you are undertaking electrical work, you have to consider the various aspects of the company. More than the price, it is the quality of the service and level of expertise that matters the most because safety is something that you wouldn't want to compromise on!

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

RAB ENTRA - LED Doorway Light

Cut energy costs by 80 percent and save more than 700 dollars over the life of the fixture. An optional photocell is available for even more efficient operation and energy cost savings.

Designed with flow-through ventilation, the ENTRA provides excellent thermal management and superior heat dissipation that maximizes performance and extends the life of the LED.

Featuring a super slim profile that extends less than 4 inches from the wall, ENTRA is appropriate for use in applications that require ADA compliance. Plus, with its vandal-resistant polycarbonate housing, the ENTRA can stand up to the toughest environments.

ENTRA comes in bronze and white finishes and is available in three color temperatures: cool,neutral and warm.

Like all RAB LEDs, ENTRA boasts 100,000 hour LED lifespan based on IES LM-80 results and TM-21 calculations. This dramatically reduces maintenance and re-lamping costs. At 10 hours average daily use, RAB LEDs are rated to last 27 years.

ENTRA also comes with RAB's industry leading "No Compromise Five-year Warranty" that covers light output, color stability, driver performance and paint finish. Simple, comprehensive and valuable, the RAB LED warranty ensures your investment is protected.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Protect Your Electronics From Electrical Surge Events

In this modern world, we have become very dependent upon our electronic gadgets. We use personal computers to work, communicate with friends, family members or business associates.
We often times store valuable files (such as financial documents, memos, reports, *.mp3 files, and now we also store important personal pictures) onto the Hard Drives of our Computers.
We use the following electronic systems to entertain, educate, enlighten and comfort us. 
  • DVD Players
  • HDTVs (e.g., LCD and Plasma)
  • Video Recording Equipment (for those of you upload your videos on to YouTube)
  • Gaming Systems (e.g., Nintendo, Wii, X-Box, etc.)
  • Central Air Conditioning System, Heat Pumps
  • Microwave Ovens
These and other electronics gadgets require a significant investment to obtain in the first place; and are very expensive to repair and/or replace.
And yet, amazingly, we do very little to protect our electronics from damage or attempt to make them last (and serve us) longer.
This article is one of a series of three (3) articles that discusses how to protect your electronics against the following destructive mechanisms that shorten its operating life.
Electrical Surge/Spike Events, and
Electrical Noise
In this particular article, we are going to talk about "Electrical Surge/Spike Events".
In particular, we are going to discuss the following topics associated with "Electrical Surge/Spike Events".
What are Electrical Surge/Spike Events and How are they generated?
How do you protect your electronics from Electrical Surge/Spike Events?
What are some guidelines that you should use when selecting a Surge Protector?
Electrical Surge/Spike events are typically defined as a "large current/voltage transients that occurs in an electrical signal or the power-line".
Surge events typically last for a few microseconds and are then gone. Similarly, spike events will typically last for a few nanoseconds and are then gone.
a. 1 microsecond = 1 millionth of a second, and
b. 1 nanosecond = 1 billionth of a second.
Both electrical surge and spike events can cause considerable damage to any electronic systems that are electrically connected to these power-line or signal-lines that are carrying this transient current and voltage.
For a typical person that lives in a home and own some consumer electronics, electrical surge/spike events can fall into one of two categories.
External Surge/Spike Events, and
Internal Surge/Spike Events
I will briefly define each of these types of Surge/Spike events below.
External Surge/Spike events are called "External" because they occur "External" to (or outside of) your home.
External Surge/Spike events typically originate from one of two sources.
Lightning Strikes (during an Electrical/Thunderstorm), and
Switching events within the Electrical Grid
External Surge/Spike events tend to be very large and damaging (especially if they originate from lightning strikes).
If these external surge/spike events were to enter your home (via the main power line and through the circuit breaker panel), they will destroy pretty much any piece of electronics that is connected to an electrical outlet in your home.
NOTE: These pieces of electronics do not need to be powered on to be destroyed.
They only need to be plugged into an outlet in your home at the time when this catastrophic electrical surge/spike event occurs.
Fortunately, the External Electrical Surge/Spike events do not occur very often (e.g., a few times a year depending upon what part of the world you live in).
Internal Surge/Spike Events (as the name implies) are generated "internal" (or within your home).
Internal Surges/Spike events typically occur whenever the motor or an appliance (such as an Air Conditioner or the Refrigerator turns ON or OFF).
Internal Surge/Spike events tend to be much smaller than External Surge/Spike events.
However, Internal Surge/Spike events occur much more often than do External Surge/Spike events (several times a day).
Over time, these smaller (though more frequent) internal surge/spike events will do damage to your electronics as well.
Each time a motor of an appliance (such as an Air Conditioner or a Refrigerator) requires surge current (for it to turn on), or anytime the magnetic field (within the motor of an appliance collapses) whenever it is turned OFF, a damaging surge or spike is generated and can propagate throughout some of the power supply lines in your home.
Internal surge events will shorten the operating life of any electronic gadget that is plugged into an electrical outlet in your home.
NOTE: The electronics gadget does not need to be powered ON for it to sustain some damage from these internal surge/spike events.
One of the most common ways of protecting many of your electronics from damage (due to electrical surge/spike events) is through the use of "power strips" that contain "surge protection" circuitry within them.
Many power strips have surge protection built in, and in most cases, these types of power strips are clearly marked to reflect this.
There are some power strips that do not provide surge protection for your electronics.
Often times, people will still (incorrectly) refer to these products as "surge protectors".
If you are looking to purchase a Power strip that contains "Surge Protection" circuitry, make sure that the labeling (on the box that you have in your hands) clearly indicates "Surge protection" or something like that.
If you cannot quickly find those words on the box, then I recommend that you put that Power-Strip box back on the shelf and go find a Power-Strip that has "Surge Protection" clearly marked on it.
Surge Protector circuitry typically works by having devices (like an MOV - Metal Oxide Varistor) that "sits" between the "power-line" path and electrical ground within the power strip.
Many Surge Protectors will have several of these MOV devices in order to make them more robust.
Under normal operation, these MOV devices will do nothing at all and do not affect the operation of your appliances or electronic systems.
For you electrical engineers out there, I will tell you that these MOV devices presents a very high impedance between the "power-line" and "electrical ground".
If a surge event occurs such that the "power-line voltage" exceeds a certain "threshold" voltage level, then the MOV devices will start to conduct current (and will then present a very low impedance path) between the "power-line" and "electrical ground".
At this point, all of this excessive energy (from the electrical surge event) will be "routed" through the MOV devices (to electrical ground) and will be diverted away from your valuable electronics.
Once the "power-line voltage" returns to a normal level, the MOV devices will then return to their "high-impedance" state and will cease to conduct current between the power-line and electrical ground.
In general, you should use surge protectors on all sensitive electronics that you would like to keep and use for some period of time.
If you have Surge Protectors for each of your sensitive electronics, then they will do a very good job protecting your electronics, for the duration that they (the Surge Protectors) function.
In general, you should look for the following parameters/metrics whenever you are shopping around for Surge Protectors.
Clamping/Let-Through Voltage
Joules Rating
Response Time (if available)
I will explain each of these items below.
3.3.1 Clamping Voltage:
The "Clamping Voltage" level is also (often times) referred to as the "Let-Through Voltage" level.
Basically, this is the voltage level that will cause the MOVs (inside the Surge Protect system/Power-Strip) to conduct electrical current between the "power-line" and Electrical Ground.
At this voltage level, the Surge Protector will start to shunt the destructive electrical energy (from an incoming surge event) to Electrical Ground and will divert it away from your valuable electronics.
As I mentioned before, the MOVs will continue to shunt electrical current (from the power line) to Ground for the duration that the "Power-Line Voltage exceeds this "Clamping" or "Let-Through" Voltage level.
In general, the lower the "Clamping" or "Let Through" Voltage level the better the protection for your electronics.
Typical values for "Clamping" or "Let Through" voltage level are 330V, 400V, or 500V.
For 120V AC applications, I recommend that you use a Surge Protector with a Clamping Voltage level of 330V.
3.3.2 The Joules Rating
The "Joules" Rating for a Surge Protector will typically define the cumulative amount of energy that it (the Surge Protector) can absorb (throughout its operating life-time) without failing.
In general, the higher the number, the longer the Surge Protector will last and continue to protect your electronics.
Good Surge Protectors are ones that have a "Joules Rating" of 1000J or better.
NOTE: The "Joule" Rating does not reflect the total amount of electrical energy that the Surge Protector will shunt (to Electrical Ground) before failing.
The "Joule" Rating reflects the amount of energy that the components (mostly the MOVs) within the Surge Protector can absorb without failing.
In most cases, whenever an MOV shunts excessive voltage and current to ground (during a Surge Event), it (the MOV) is only absorbing a fraction of this energy.
Most of this energy is "being dumped" to Electrical Ground.
If your Surge Protector is properly installed, then for every joule absorbed by the components (inside the Surge Protector) another 4 to 30 joules was harmlessly shunted from the Power-line to Electrical Ground.
However, each time your Surge Protector responds to a surge event, the MOV devices do absorb some energy, and the cumulative amount of energy that these devices have absorbed moves closer and closer to the "Joules Rating" number and "failure".
3.3.3 Response Time
Surge Protectors do not respond immediately to Surge Events.
There is a slight delay (or response time) before they respond.
The longer this response time, the longer your electronics sits exposed to the incoming surge event. Fortunately, most surge events do not happen immediately either. Most surge events take several microseconds before they reach their peak voltage.
By that time, most Surge Protection schemes (especially those using MOVs) will "kick in" within nanoseconds after the voltage level has exceeded the "Let Through" Voltage.
Just like the smell of a brand new car, Surge Protectors do not last forever.
As these MOVs respond to Surge Events and "shunt electrical energy to ground" over time, they absorb some of that energy.
This process causes "degradation" and "wear and tear" on the MOV devices (and in-turn) on the Surge Protectors as a whole.
Eventually these MOVs will fail in one of two ways.
a. The MOVs will fail to the point that they will no longer shunt excessive electrical energy to ground. In this case, the MOVs (are said to fail in an "Open" state).
Whenever this occurs, all of your precious electronics that is "downstream" from your Surge Protector are now "officially" un-protected and are now vulnerable to the next surge event that comes around.
b. At least one MOV device will fail into a "Short Circuited" Mode. In this case, the MOVs may (though rarely) fail in the "Short Circuit" state.
Whenever this happens, the "failed" MOV device would continue to conduct high currents (from the Power-line to Electrical Ground) even when the power-line voltage is less than the "Let Through" voltage.
This type of failure mode could be very dangerous.
Fortunately, most Surge Protectors will typically have a fuse that will "blow" and will turn OFF the Surge Protector entirely, rather than risk catching on fire.
The main message here is this. Internal Surge Events occur many times throughout the day.
As these events occur, and as your Surge Protectors continue to function and shunt the excessive electrical energy to ground, these Surge Protectors eventually wear out and will need to be replaced.
You should replace your Surge Protectors under the following conditions.
1. Whenever the Green "Protected" Light (on the Surge Protector itself) goes OUT.
2. If you've owned your Surge Protector for more than 3 years.
NOTE: Having the Green Light ON is encouraging but is not a guarantee of adequate protection for the next surge events.
Replacing your Surge Protectors every three years is a good practice to keep your electronics protected.
In this article we have discussed one of the three main enemies of electronics and how they shorten the operating life of electronics and cost you money.
Other articles in this series are listed below.
How to Protect Your Electronics from Heat, and
How to Protect Your Electronics from Electrical Noise
In this particular article, we discussed Electrical Surge/Spike Events. As we discussed this "enemy of your electronics", we covered the following topics.
What are the Electrical Surge/Spike Events? What are their causes? How can we protect our electronics from the affects of Electrical Surge/Spike Events?
In this article we concluded the following.
  • That using Surge Protectors is a necessity to keeping your electronics running and serving you.
  • That many people think that Power Strips are Surge Protectors - This is NOT True.
  • People should read the labels and make sure that the Power Strips that they have in their hands also (and clearly) states "Surge Protection".
  • That Surge Protectors wear out with use and (over time) will lose their ability to protect your electronics from damage due to Electrical Surge/Spike events.

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