Everything You Need to Know About Light Bulbs

light bulbsLight bulbs are a necessity in any home or business, in part because we use so many of them on a daily basis. These are items that, although important, we rarely think about. However, since they are so important to our daily lives, it is no wonder some people want to know more about them. How do bulbs work? How many types of bulbs are there? For the person that is curious about everything, including bulbs for our lamps and other devices, the answers to these questions and more are pretty simple.

How Do Bulbs Work?

Bulbs have only a few basic parts, and if you purchase the clear ones, you can actually see the parts inside. The main components are two stiff wires that start at the base of the bulb and are usually made of alloy. The alloy is a combination of iron and nickel, and the two wires are called the leads. Near the center of the bulb, stretched between the leads, is a smaller wire called the filament, usually made of tungsten. This is the working part of the bulb, and when a lamp or another device is turned on, the filament gets hot and creates a glow. When making a bulb, the air is taken out and replaced with nitrogen and argon, which prevent the filament from burning up and causing damage. Regardless of the size of the bulb or the voltage used, most light bulbs work this way.

Types of Bulbs

Bulbs come in many sizes and shapes, depending on the device or appliance they are meant to fit in, and this includes the following types:

* LED bulbs, which come in a variety of shapes

* Edison bulbs, which have a more vintage, classic look

* Candle bulbs, shaped like a candle light

* Halogen bulbs, used mostly for portable lighting devices

* Parabolic aluminized reflector (PAR) bulbs, usually used for floodlights

* Standard household, incandescent bulbs

* R-bulbs, used for recessed areas

* Fluorescent bulbs, which save energy and last a long time

* Globe bulbs, which are round and used in bathrooms or dressing rooms

* Appliance bulbs that are used for refrigerators, stoves, and appliances

* CFL bulbs, another energy-saving option

Within each of these categories, there are also sub-types of bulbs, as well as bulbs of various sizes and shapes. The first thing necessary for purchasing the perfect bulb is to determine which type will work best in your appliance or another device, which can usually be determined by reading the manufacturer’s instructions. Always follow their guidelines exactly, and your light bulb should work fine.

Over two billion light bulbs are sold every year, resulting in roughly $1 billion in sales, and approximately one-fourth of our electricity bill each month comes from lighting our homes with them. Most bulbs last roughly 10,000 hours, which is another reason to get the type and design you like. Bulbs of all types last a long time, serve an important function, and these days, come in a variety of sizes that are long-lasting, save energy, and can be fun to buy.

Electrical Concerns for Home Owners

8848686_sIf you own a home, you know how important it is to have at least a basic understanding of the home’s infrastructure, as all homes inevitably require troubleshooting at some point. There are some problems that you can fix yourself and others that require a professional. Electrical problems tend to be tricky, and if you aren’t sure that you can take care of a problem yourself, it is best to call an electrician.

By it’s very nature, your home’s electrical system is dangerous because it involves currents and electricity. You must be very careful diagnosing issues, and even more careful when you are troubleshooting. When in doubt, the safest choice is always to call an electrician. Here are some common household issues, along with a brief explanation of the cause and possible remedies.

Spikes and Surges

If you notice voltage surges or spikes in your home it could be the result of an outside factor, such as a severe storm. Voltage spikes can also be caused by internal appliances that place a large draw on the system. Common culprits are microwave ovens and power tools. Power surges can be dangerous and can drastically decrease the lifespan of electronics, especially “delicate” electronics such as computers. The easiest way to protect against such a problem is to install surge protectors. Plugging your devices into a surge protector helps keep them safe from voltage spikes. If power surges happen frequently with no visible cause, it could be the sign of a serious problem in your home’s electrical system. If you are unsure, it’s best to call an electrician to check your wiring and make sure it is safe.

Breakers Tripping

Circuit breakers can trip during severe storms, similar to power surges. Another common cause is high powered devices overloading the circuit. Hair dryers and other heating appliances are notorious for this. The fix is usually simple: go to your breaker box and reset the circuit that has tripped. If this happens often with a specific appliance, you may want to try moving the appliance so it’s on a circuit with fewer electrical draws. If this isn’t possible, you may want to look into wiring a new circuit. If you are unable to reset a breaker after it trips, there may be another problem elsewhere in the circuit, or your breaker could be faulty. In either case, you will want to call an electrician to be sure.

Frequent Bulb Burnouts

Another common electrical problem in homes is lightbulbs that frequently burn out. The cause could be as simple as using the wrong type of light bulb for the light fixture in question. However, if this is a common occurrence in several places in your home, it may be the sign of a larger issue. Flickering bulbs may be an indication of a poor connection somewhere along the electrical circuit. If you have bulbs that are exceedingly bright in some areas of the home and unusually dim in other areas, this may be a sign of a bad neutral connection somewhere. Another indication of this issue is if bulbs tend to pop too frequently or appliances stop working for no reason. A bad neutral connection can be dangerous and can cause serious damage to your home, so it is important to have it checked by a professional electrician.

What Electricians Look for While Troubleshooting Homes in West Chester

What Electricians Look for While Troubleshooting Homes in West Chester

What do electricians look for while troubleshooting homes in West Chester? When you consider the sheer number of electrical devices that we use every day in our homes, it’s no wonder that professionals in the electrical trade – known colloquially as “sparkies” – are in such high demand. For electricians, minor repairs and safety preparations (for example, if you’re expecting children) are a small matter of easy and convenient work, but larger jobs such as rewiring and routing can take far longer. In order to ascertain the amount of work that a home requires, and what they can do for your home, sparkies check your wiring, panel box and various switches in a process known as troubleshooting.

Why You Should Work with an Electrician

Although many homes feature extensive and intricate electrical wiring, very few of us possess the required know-how and experience necessary to tamper with any of it. Attempting to work on your electrical wiring and the circuit around your home can damage the wiring and various outlets, and can even have disastrous consequences for your health. Working on electrical projects without the proper training, experience and equipment put you at risk of a high-voltage electrical shock. These shocks cause severe burns and have been known to induce stroke and even death in victims. Electricians, on the other hand, with all the proper training and expertise imbued by their profession, can handle the electrical equipment around your house safely and professionally. This means that the risk of damage to your home, the electrical grid and any people in the home is drastically reduced. It’s not worth the risk to attempt working on electrical equipment yourself: when you’re troubleshooting your home, always call an electrician to get the job done properly.

The Process of Troubleshooting

When electricians head out to homes in West Chester, their first port of call is to have a look at the same problem areas that you’ve identified. These could be areas of poor wiring, power points prone to surging or blacking out, or a switch in your fuse box that keeps causing the house to black out. The electrician will then have a look at malfunctioning appliances and tripped circuit breakers before ensuring correspondence between the various electrical components of your home circuit.

Once your electrician has had a look at everything in your home, they’ll make sure everything is working properly and at maximum energy efficiency. When your electrical circuit isn’t working properly, it can send your electricity bill skyrocketing, as your home’s appliances consume more electricity than necessary due to the inefficiency of the power circuit. Like all machines, your home appliances will wear out over the years thanks to continuous use, as will your power points and fuses. Homes in West Chester and similar areas can lower their electricity bills and the wear and tear imposed on their power circuits by turning off appliances and power points when they aren’t in use. This way, you reduce the amount of wear endured by your appliances and circuits, minimizing your power bill and protecting you against the need for professional electrical intervention.

Top Five Trends in Energy-Efficient Home Lighting for 2016

energy efficient lightingIn mid-January 2016, a law passed by Congress went into effect that changes the way most people will be purchasing their lighting fixtures for their homes or businesses. The more energy-efficient home lighting standards mean that 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs will be phased out in upcoming years, to make room for light bulbs that are more “green” and use less energy. This has resulted in an increased use of LED lighting, particularly for commercial facilities such as businesses and stores. It also resulted in certain trends in the lighting industry, which include the following:

1. Lights Will Get Smarter

There is likely to be a huge increase in the purchase of “intelligent” lighting controls such as photosensors, occupancy sensors, and the wireless networks that connect them. Lighting controls will save money in the long run because they can be coordinated with cooling and heating profiles, particularly in commercial developments. It is also easier to manage energy consumption with these devices.

2. Fluorescent Tubes Will Be Replaced with More Efficient Lighting Types

Since fluorescent bulbs emit a lot of energy, people will be replacing them with more efficient types of bulbs, namely LED bulbs. Substituting regular bulbs with LED ones could save more than $50 billion in electric costs, which is the equivalent to the energy generated by more than 200 mid-sized power plants.

3. There Will Be an Increase in Solar-Powered Street Lights

Existing street lights are too expensive to replace, but when installing new street lights, more and more of them will be solar-powered. For example, the city of Richmond, Virginia recently saved more than $600,000 when installing 20 street lights in a housing project. In addition, solar-powered lighting has a life expectancy of roughly 30 years, and most have backup batteries that last up to five days.

4. The Use of Smart Glass Will Increase

When “smart glass” is used in the windows of a residential or commercial facility, it regulates the amount of glare and heat that come into the room so the occupants can take better advantage of natural outdoor lighting. Therefore, there is a decrease in the amount of electricity needed. Sales of these “smart glass,” or electro-chromatic, windows are expected to reach approximately $2.1 billion by the year 2017.

5. The Use of LED Lights Will Produce Other Benefits 

Research has shown that increased usage of LED lighting can increase morale and health, and make a home or office’s inhabitants more productive. LED lighting is not nearly as distracting as regular or fluorescent lighting, so it produces a more comforting environment. Whether in a home or commercial location, LED lighting saves money and produces

welcoming results. For example, some companies, such as hospitals, are trying to change LED lighting’s colors to produce more calming effects in their patients and employees.

The use of energy-efficient home lighting and commercial lighting is the wave of the future. It saves money, is better for the environment, and is less expensive in the long run. It is simply a smart thing to do, both practically and economically.

Ten Ways to Reduce the Average Home Electricity Bill

Efficient Use of Electricity Saves Money

It’s important for occupants of homes to see the “bigger picture” to reduce the cost of their electricity. In Cincinnati, there are ten ways the average home electricity bill can be reduced by at least 15%. These include:

  • More efficient use of home appliancesEfficient Use of Electricity Saves Money
  • Use of electrical timers for HVAC systems and appliances
  • Coordinating use of home entertainment units and computers
  • Reducing wattage for lighting
  • Upgrading the electrical amp service
  • Replace outdated appliances
  • Monitor electricity use by manually reading the meter
  • Track changes on electricity bills to note highs and lows
  • Replace filters on furnaces and A/C units
  • Reduce water heater temperature

Learn How to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Use these ten ways to reduce the cost of electricity for the home. Learn how to reduce your electric bill by paying more attention to the efficiency ratings of home appliances at time of purchase. This is particularly important for larger appliances like freezers and refrigerators, but may also include today’s higher capacity washers and dryers. More efficient use of home appliances may require a little planning. For example, opening and closing refrigerator and freezer doors reduces the temperature and requires more electricity to restore the manufactured temperature rating. For laundry appliances, coordinate the use of washers and dryers so that they are operating for shorter periods of time. Make use of energy efficient settings on washers and dryers. Generally, these settings apply to types of fabrics that require less time to complete laundry cycles.

Use of Electrical Timers for HVAC systems and Appliances

Most electrical thermostats for HVAC systems have the ability to program the temperatures for heating and cooling according to personal needs. For example, program the thermostat so that it reduces the temperature when the home is unoccupied. Small appliances like coffee makers can be programmed. Coordinate the use of home entertainment units and computers by turning them off when not in use. Note that a small amount of electricity is generated to these units when they are plugged in to an electrical socket.

Use electrical timers to turn lighting on and off inside and outside the home. This is a safety feature as well as a way to reduce the cost of electric bills. Reduce the wattage of light bulbs. There are several different brands of light bulbs that are energy efficient and offer longer life.

Upgrade the electrical amp service for optimal efficiency. Many older homes have outdated amp service that increases the cost of electricity when new appliances and other electrical devices are added. Consult with a licensed electrician to upgrade the existing amp service.

Replace outdated appliances like toasters, mixers and blenders that don’t offer energy efficiency. Keep a close eye on the electric meter readings and monitor and track changes like highs and lows.

Keep dryer vents free of lint and replace furnace and A/C unit filters. Don’t forget to reduce the temperature on your water heater. A slightly lower temperature reduces the cost of electricity.

Following these simple strategies will help to Efficiently Use Electricity and Save Money.

What to Do About a Frayed Refrigerator Cord

9594759_sYour Westchester home needs regular maintenance and checks to make sure everything is in order, and so do your appliances! It’s easy to look after small kitchen appliances, but looking after the larger ones, especially your refrigerator, can be a challenge!

Cords are often the weak spot in any device that runs on electricity — think of how easily your phone charger cord can be damaged! Your refrigerator is also susceptible to a frayed or otherwise damaged cord, and it poses a significant risk to your home for a lot of reasons. Just some of the potential risks include:

Power Flickers or Outages:

You may find that a frayed cord or a damaged cord can’t carry electricity as effectively, and so it draws more power than it should, which can then result in the power flickering — or worse, an outage.

Overloading and Burn Outs:

A damaged plug might overload, which causes overheating and could even burn out your refrigerator entirely.

Electrical Arcing and Fires:

The exposed wires inside the cord can interact with other wires nearby by arcing, which can lead to more wiring damage, or worse, an electrical fire.

Don’t Wait for a Fix if Your Refrigerator Cord is Frayed

Fraying can happen as part of normal wear and tear, especially in older models of refrigerator. You may find that the cord is damaged while moving, or while being dragged across a surface. Smashing or crushing the cord, or catching it on a sharp object, can also cause damage. It’s generally not advised to trap your cord under a rug, or hang it from a nail.

The cord can fray and wear away at any point along its length, and even crack open. So check the full length of the cord! It might also separate from the plug itself, revealing the wires at this weak point.

As a homeowner, you should be checking on the condition of all your appliances regularly. If you find it’s damaged, don’t wait to see if it gets worse — contact an experienced, licensed electrician right away! Generally it is important to cut the power to the device to prevent a burnout or worse, a fire. This can be as simple as unplugging the fridge, but in severe cases it is safe to cut power from the circuit breaker.

In many cases, you do not need to replace the entire appliance! It is possible to repair or replace the cord. Repairs are often the least expensive option, especially with older models of refrigerator, which might not have replacement parts readily available.

Do not attempt DIY repairs where electricity is involved! Instead, you are better off calling us and setting up an appointment with one of our experienced and knowledgeable electricians! We can get your refrigerator back to a safe, working condition and ensure your kitchen remains the lifeblood of your home.

Double Tapped Breakers: What They Are And How To Correct It

41122782_sDo You Have a Double Tapper Breaker? Ask any home inspector and they will tell you how prevalent the problem is. But what is a double tapped breaker?

A double tapped breaker is classified as a circuit breaker that has two circuits connected to it when it is only designed for one. Not only is this a potential fire hazard, it screams that there was electrical work done by someone who is inexperienced. This leaves a bad taste in a potential buyer’s mouth, or in the current homeowners mouths if they paid to have the work completed by what they thought was a qualified electrician. The good news is that there are fixes for this particularly common problem.

The first thing you need to do is examine the breaker closely. Most breakers have diagrams showing the proper way of connecting the circuits. Do You Have a Double Tapped Breaker? If yes, you then need to decide what the best repair is for your situation.

The most obvious fix would be to simply add another breaker. This way, you are ensured that the circuits have their own dedicated breaker that fits properly and holds the wires tightly, decreasing any potential for a fire or short. But what happens if you have no room left on your breaker box for a new breaker?

Another solution is to pig tail the circuits. This is not something you should attempt on your own. This is the quickest and most economical way of repairing a double tapped breaker.

If your breaker box is designed to hold tandem breakers, this would be another option to correct your double tapped breaker. A tandem breaker is designed to hold two circuits, as opposed to one. These can often fit into the same space that a single breaker would fit, if your breaker box allows.

Regardless of which option you think fits your needs best, it is always recommended and often required that you contact a licensed, qualified and experienced electrician to ensure that things are done safely and correctly. Go and check your breaker box. Do You Have a Double Tapped Breaker?

What is Knob and Tube Wiring

via Wikipedia

When homes were first set up for electricity in the late 1800s and mid-1900s, the common technique used was knob and tube (also called K&T). Electrical technology has outdated this system, although it is still found in older homes and buildings. There are some safety concerns that need to be addressed if someone still has this obsolete system at home or in a business.

K&T wiring used conductors made of copper and ran them through holes in the beams and studs of the building’s framework. The holes were protected by tubes that were made of porcelain. The copper lines were supported by knobs that were also made of porcelain. Rubber or cloth looms protected the wires that were hooked up to electrical devices, such as wall switches.

Inherently, it was a decent electrical system for the times. The porcelain parts used can last indefinitely, so it was a good choice. Homeowners were less likely to hit a wire while putting a nail in the wall, because the K&T wiring is held inside protective holes in the frame. The wiring used for the old system was actually more complex than our modern wiring. It required highly-skilled electricians to install it. The wiring was also easy to access when maintenance was needed.

One of the main reasons K&T wiring can present hazards is because of its age. Often times, the first generation systems used inferior insulation around the copper wires. It was possible for moisture to oxidize the wiring and make them brittle; thus creating a major fire hazard. Since the system was easy to access, a lot of inexperienced people modified them improperly instead of allowing the whole thing to be replaced.

Most of our modern appliances have three prongs that connect to a safety ground wire. This safety feature reduces possible fires and equipment damage. Since K&T wiring does not have this feature, three-pronged appliances cannot be used. Some people will opt for a safety adapter for this problem. Other people make the dangerous decision to clip off the ground wire prong. The development of ground fault circuit interrupters have saved many people from accidental electrocution. These GFCIs are required in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms in any modern construction. There are no such precautions in the K&T systems.

Old, sagging wiring is problematic for K&T system. Older homes depended on heat from wood and coal and were not insulated. When furnaces and insulation were developed, contractors just stuffed the insulation around the wiring in the walls. The K&T system concept allowed for any heat generated from the electricity to just dissipate into the air between the walls or ceilings. It was not meant to be wrapped by insulation. Fires often occur because old frayed wiring ignites the insulation material.

For obvious reasons, this outdated system is not permitted in new construction. Some local ordinances mandate that homes and businesses with the knob and tube electric be completely replaced. Others provide for safety modifications made by licensed, qualified electricians. More often than not, inspectors recommend that the system be replaced to minimize fire hazards.

Unsure about your homes wiring contact us for a safety inspection.

Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners

While most people understand the dangers with electricity, it is easy to forget or simply take it Electrical Safety Tips for Homeownersfor granted. Many power accidents are avoidable, and the following electrical safety tips for homeowners will keep everyone safe.

  • Check that power tools have an undamaged cord and are plugged into a proper grounded source. In addition, ensure that appliances, such as toasters and microwave ovens, are unplugged before beginning repair work. In many cases, it is better to have an expert perform the repair work.
  • Do not overload power strips. While useful, power strips are not meant to provide electricity to an entire household of appliances and devices. It is safer to place one to two strips in each room of the house to distribute load evenly.
  • Investigate flickering lights. When lights flicker or turn off and on randomly, it can be a sign of loose wiring or the need to replace switches. Lighting terminations should be tight and grounded.
  • Check outlets regularly. Power outlets can become a fire hazard if they are overloaded. Using a space heater also brings the risk of fire. A standard 120v outlet should never power more than two devices.
  • Have appliances professionally inspected. Many cases of electrical shock or fire occur when homeowners attempt to repair appliances or related power issues without help. A professional electrician should be consulted.
  • Do not attempt to move a fallen power line. Electrical lines can fall due to weather events and are often still live when they reach the ground. Under no circumstances should a homeowner approach a fallen line. Always call the power company or an electrician.
  • Older homes require inspection. If a home was built more than 40 years ago like many in West Chester and surrounding areas, it may have an outdated electrical panel, and the wiring may be brittle or cracked. A home is a very large investment, and an electrical inspection is one way to protect it.
  • Take a course on home electrical safety. This is a great way for homeowners to get educated on home improvement and safety and make the proper decisions when it comes to electricity.

One of the best electrical safety tips for homeowners is to call an electrician for advice and to schedule a home appointment when problems arise.

You may also want to check our “Keeping Family Safe” ™ checklist for additional tips on keeping your home safe.

Purchasing a Home in Cincinnati-Electrical Concerns

Purchasing an existing home? be aware of electrical concernsWhen purchasing a home, no matter where in the country it is located, the new or potential homeowner needs to be aware of any safety issues in the house. In parts of the country where the homes tend to be older, like the Northeast, this is particularly important. Many fires and other emergencies can be avoided by making certain that there are no electrical concerns in the home and that it is up-to-date.

Although Cincinnati is in the Midwest, where homes can be newer, over 1 million older homes that pre-date 1939 still exist in Ohio, according to a 2009 housing census. The electrical wiring should be checked therefore, especially if the home is older to make certain that it is up to code and will not cause any problems down the road. Performing an electrical home inspection is one way to deal with electrical concerns. When an inspection is done, a licensed electrician reviews the electrical appliances that are built into the home, like a refrigerator or oven and conducts research to see if there have been any recalls on those products. He or she can also check the electrical systems in the home using a device to determine the level of current in the outlets. In addition, the electrician can look at the attic, basement and various other parts of the home to check for loose or exposed wiring-the latter being very dangerous, especially if the wires are live (i.e. still carrying electrical current). Homes can also be checked for dangerous types of wiring including aluminum or knob and tube wiring, if such wiring is exposed. Knob and tube wiring was commonly used from approximately 1915 through 1930 and, like aluminum wiring, can cause fires.

Another one of the electrical concerns that a new homeowner might have may include the breaker box. An electrician should look at the this box to see if it contains fuses which should be replaced with a breaker panel, a more modern and safer feature. Furthermore, the breaker panel that is installed should be the right size for the home, so that it can provide adequate electricity safely.

Besides checking wiring inside the home, the electrical features outside

of a home, like outlets and central air conditioning units should also be inspected. The outlets should be three-pronged, rather than two-pronged which may be seen in older homes. The third prong is a grounding part of the outlet and permits the electrical circuit to be completed. It also makes the outlet safer to use. Additionally, outlets near water like those located outside or in kitchens, bathrooms or garages should have GFCI, ground fault circuit interrupters. These outlets, which prevent electric shock, are easy to spot since they have two buttons, including a reset button.

When checking the air conditioning unit, the electrician should check the unit’s overall appearance and all electrical connections the air conditioner has with the home, to ensure they are in good repair and up to code. Any other outside wiring should be checked as well.