At Oliver, we want you and your family to stay safe. This means scheduling a regular electrical inspection with our experts and doing all you can to prevent home fires. Electrical fires are one of the most common causes of home fires and can lead to injuries and damages.
Have you always wanted more control over your home? At Oliver, we offer Lutron Caséta Wireless, a state-of-the-art home technology installation that can make your everyday life easier in a variety of ways. Here’s why our home electrical service experts recommend Lutron Caséta:
Everyone wants to save money on their electric bills – and you can do it simply by replacing your light bulbs! Energy-efficient light bulbs have been around for years, but it wasn’t until the last decade or so that households began using them in place of their traditional incandescent light bulbs. Here are some of the best options for your home:
Halogen Light Bulbs
In an incandescent light bulb, the electric current runs through a wire tungsten filament and heats it up until it glows. Halogen bulbs work the same way, however, the halogen gas triggers a chemical reaction with the tungsten and causes the light to be redeposited back onto the filament. This makes them last longer. They are also able to illuminate instantly, like incandescent bulbs, and can be turned off and on frequently (unlike CFLs, which need to run about 15 minutes at a time).
Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
Halogen lifespan: about 2,500 hours
Average Halogen power use: 40 watts
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
CFL light bulbs (like the one above) have the most intricate illumination process among energy-efficient light bulbs. The electric current runs through a tube that contains argon and mercury vapor. The tube generates an ultraviolet energy, which then illuminates a fluorescent coating. Because of the process, CFLs take longer to fully illuminate than incandescent bulbs, but after they’re lit, they consume around 75% less energy. Just make sure you use them in open fixtures indoors (because of their sensitivity to extreme temperatures).
Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
CFL lifespan: about 10,000 hours
Average CFL power usage: 13-15 watts
LED Light Bulbs
LED light bulbs are bulbs that are made up of a series of small light-emitting diodes (or LEDs). Their illumination process is much simpler than a CFL’s: an electric current runs through a semiconductor material, which then illuminates the LEDs. These light bulbs are available in many different colors and don’t burn out like many light bulbs – instead, their light depreciates over time. LED light bulbs also remain cool to the touch and don’t emit heat like incandescent light bulbs or halogen light bulbs.
Incandescent lifespan: about 1,200 hours
Average incandescent power usage: 60 watts
LED light bulb lifespan: about 40,000 hours
Average LED power usage: 6-8 watts
If you’re interested in switching your light bulbs to more energy-efficient type, talk to our electrical service experts. We can help!
One of the best parts of Christmas (in our opinion, at least) is the glow of Christmas lights on front porches, roofs, trees, and more. If you plan on hanging Christmas lights on or around your home this year, just remember these safety tips from our heating and cooling company:
Do: Inspect your extension cords to make sure there is no damage.
Do: Use extension cords that are approved for outdoor use (if hanging your lights outside).
Don’t: Use extension cords that show signs of extreme wear such as frayed wires, split casing, or loose prongs.
Don’t: Use extension cords that are too short for your project. Buy one that’s the appropriate length.
Do: Plug your Christmas lights into outlets that are grounded (ones that have three holes instead of just two).
Do: Use outlets that have GFCI receptacles. These are the outlets that have black and red “Reset” and “Test” buttons on them.
Don’t: Overload your breakers. Instead, use surge protectors if plugging in several strands of lights.
Do: Call Oliver if you experience any electrical issue that you can’t resolve yourself.
Do: Opt for LED light bulbs. They’re a little more expensive, but they use less energy and can save you more than 75% on your holiday energy bill.
Do: Make sure that if you’re hanging your lights outside that they’re labeled safe for outdoor use.
Don’t: Hang your lights without first checking that they’re working correctly and that they’re free from damage. Inspect them and plug them in first to make sure they’re good to go.
Do: Consider using electrical tape or insulated clips to hang your outdoor lights instead of nails and a hammer (which can damage your home).
Don’t: Hang outdoor lights in high places without supervision.
Do: Measure how many feet you want to cover with lights, then buy an extra strand of bulbs – it’s better to have too many than not enough.
Whether you’re starting fresh with a new room design or you’re updating an old one, lighting plays a big role in your decor and your style. Here are some suggestions from our electrical experts about the best types of lighting for each room:
Nothing says classic kitchen lighting like a chandelier and these days, there are a variety of styles to complement any type of decor. Some of the most popular include contemporary, rustic, traditional, and transitional.
Under/Above Cabinet Lights
If you want to not only highlight your kitchen backsplash, but also add a touch of accentuation, under cabinet lights are a great way to go. You can also even out the ambiance by adding above cabinet lighting.
Pendant lights are a popular alternative to chandeliers, as they also hang from the ceiling and are often centered above an island or kitchen table. Pendant lights can come in many different styles and with just one bulb or several.
A chandelier in your bedroom is a great way to add light but also add focus. Chandeliers can be hung in the center of the room, above the bed, or even on either side of the bed to make a design statement.
For years, drum lights have been a favorite lighting choice for a bedroom. With styles like contemporary, traditional, rustic, crystal, and more, you can add a sleek lighting concept to your personal space.
If ceiling lights aren’t your style, consider making standing and/or table lamps your lighting source. Both types of lights come in lots of different styles (and many times you can find a set with the same design) so you can add a bit of luxury, country, modernity, and more.
Because track lights can be angled in different directions, this type of lighting gives you an easy way to highlight specific parts of your living room. It also provides a minimalist, modern look that you can use in small areas or throughout your whole room.
Wall sconces are a popular pick for living rooms because most styles emit light at both the top and bottom of the fixture. This gives you a large amount of light from a small design that also adds a richness to the decor.
While ceiling lights or wall lights are often used as the primary lighting source in a living room, standing lamps can be used to give you extra light in areas that need it, such as corners or above reading chairs.
If lighting fixtures as a focus aren’t your style, recessed lights give you a way to illuminate your entire room without seeing lamp shades, light bulbs, canopies, stems, and more. These lights sit up in your ceiling to give your room a simple look.
Bathrooms tend to be the smaller rooms in your home, which means they don’t need a lot of lighting. One simple ceiling light is usually enough for your bathroom and you can find styles in ovals, circles, squares, domes, and more to complement any decor.
Mini Pendant Lights
While the most popular type of bathroom light is an over-the-mirror wall sconce, mini pendant lights can add a different kind of design element. Hang these lights on either side of your mirror for a touch of elegance.
Many of today’s bathroom use wall sconces to illuminate the area around the mirror. Whether your fixtures are above the mirror or on either side, sconces are a way to achieve lots of light while taking up minimal space.
*Photos courtesy of:
At Oliver, we love learning new things about the world of electricity. Our electrical repair experts did some research and found some interesting facts you may not know. Check them out:
1. Electricity travels at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second.
2. Before electricity was a way of life, ancient Egyptians were aware that lightning and shocks from electric fish were very powerful. They used to refer to these fish as the “Thunderers of the Nile.”
3. Electricity can be created using water, wind, the sun, and even animal waste.
4. When lightning strikes, it flows from the cloud to the ground, but the part we see is actually the charge going from the ground back up into the cloud.
5. Electricity is sometimes used as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), where patients are given electrically induced seizures in order to treat psychiatric illnesses.
6. In the 1880’s, there was a “war of currents” between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Tesla helped invent AC current and Edison helped invent DC current, and both wanted their currents to be popularized. AC won the battle because it’s safer and can be used over longer distances.
7. Iceland is the country that uses the most electricity annually. Their consumption is about 23% more than the U.S.
8. Static electricity occurs when the electrons from one object jump to another object.
9. The world’s biggest light bulb is located in Edison, New Jersey. It’s 14 feet tall, weighs eight tons, and sits on top of the Thomas Edison Memorial Tower.
10. The average U.S. home uses 11,000 kWh of electricity every year.
11. The first central power plant in the U.S. was Pearl Station, in Manhattan. It was built in 1882 and served 85 customers.
12. Electricity travels in closed loops called “circuits.” It must have a complete path before the electrons can move. If a circuit is open, electrons can’t flow.
13. Electricity is present in our bodies – our nerve cells use it to pass signals to our muscles.
If you’re in need of electrical repair or installation, give us a call. We’d love to help!
Did you know that licensed electricians have been part of the Oliver team since 2012 It’s ok if you say no, we know you’re busy and can’t keep up with everything! It’s true though, and we sat down with Oliver Electrical Manager Rodney Ciafre, a Master Electrician licensed in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland to give us a little insight into what really happens when an electrician performs a safety inspection.
Question 1 – If my home electrical system was inspected when I purchased my house, do I really need to have that done again?
In a word, yes. Many things may have changed since you purchased your home, including:
- Updated codes that could affect your home insurance coverage.
- Cables and outdoor components may be affected by the weather, creating a safety hazard.
- Updated electronics alter your usage patterns within the home.
- Equipment may have expired since your last home inspection.
Question 2 – That sounds like you’re going to come in here and scare me into a lot of big, expensive repairs. Shouldn’t I just leave well enough alone?
First of all, we aren’t here to scare you or pressure you into anything you don’t need. There’s no obligation to act on any recommendations you receive, and the electrician who performs the inspection will prioritize them so you know what’s most important to address and what can wait until a more convenient time.
Next, the most common problems we find are easily addressed. The top 5 concerns that come up most frequently during an electrical inspection are:
- An inadequate number of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets in areas with the potential for high moisture like kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and basements.
- Smoke detectors that have reached the end of their life span (approximately 10 years).
- Weathering of outdoor cables and components.
- Moisture or signs of moisture in and around the electrical panel and meter socket.
- A homeowner’s specific concerns, especially regarding upcoming renovations or preparing the home for sale.
Question 3 – I have knob and tube wiring in my house, and my insurance agent warned me that I’m not eligible for coverage on the full value of my home. Will I have to replace my entire electrical system in order to keep my policy?
We can’t speak for any insurance policies, so please be sure to go over the requirements with your agent. In our experience, many homeowners are able to replace the knob and tube system in the basement, which represents the greatest hazard, and replace wiring within the walls during any future renovation project(s).
Question 4 – How do I know when it’s time to schedule an electrical inspection? Is there a good rule of thumb for knowing when to have an electrician come look at it?
Some of our customers request an inspection every year for their own peace of mind. We’re happy to accommodate, but if you’re comfortable with going longer between inspections here are some good indicators that it may be time to get one on the calendar:
- If you haven’t had one in the last three years. We’ve had a lot of severe weather with ice, wind, and frigid temperatures. All of these can damage the cables and components outside of your home and create a situation where water is able to reach your main panel.
- If you are planning to sell your house within the next couple of years. You’ll have many other things to take care of as the time gets closer, and taking care of potential safety hazards now adds safety for your family while you are still in the home.
- If you’re planning a major renovation to your home. Having a prioritized list of electrical considerations will help you budget and plan your project effectively.
- If you rarely need to access your electrical panel. Most homeowners will call us if their breakers trip frequently, but the other end of the spectrum can be a hazard as well. If you rarely have occasion to open your panel box, you may miss early warning signs of a problem such as rust or other signs of moisture.
- Last but not least, if you’re diligent about changing your smoke detector batteries in the spring and fall but can’t remember when they were installed. Try a “napkin test” – smoke detectors start out white, and some get increasingly off white with a yellow tinge with age and environmental factors. The more discolored your detectors look, the more likely it is that they should be replaced.
An electrical inspection is about safety, plain and simple. Having your home’s electrical system meet code and function properly is an excellent way to maintain peace of mind. Scheduling this service with a licensed electrician that’s part of the Oliver team you know and trust is even better.
We’re always committed to excellent customer service, and to providing our customers with options that work best for their unique situation. Let us earn your trust with an electrical inspection – just click on “Contact” in the lower right hand corner of this page to select an appointment date and time that works for you.
Don’t forget to grab your free copy of the Oliver Products & Services Guide before you leave! It includes tips for saving energy, improving your home’s indoor air quality, and more! You’ll also find money saving coupons for Oliver’s full suite of home maintenance and improvement services. Get your copy here:
At Oliver, we specialize in HVAC and plumbing services, but we also provide virtually any home electrical service as well. Whether it’s a specialty lighting project, television wiring issue, landscape lighting project, a need for surge protection, or some other type of electrical situation, we can have it done for you quickly and sufficiently.
The electrical world is full of questions; here are some common ones we’ve encountered:
Q: What’s the difference between a three-pronged plug and a two-pronged plug?
A: The third prong on a plug is a grounding prong. Two-prong receptacles do not have the same level of grounding as a three-prong device. The third grounding prong provides additional protection to the electrical system, the item plugged in, and you from electrical shock.
Q: What should I do if an appliance continuously blows a fuse?
A: First, make sure there are not too many appliances plugged into one circuit, as this can overload it. If it’s just one appliance, unplug it and either replace it or call us to repair it. You could also try connecting another appliance to the problematic receptacle. If it still shows signs of trouble, have the receptacle and or the circuit checked by our home electrical service experts.
Q: What’s the benefit of whole-house surge protection?
A: When you protect your whole house from power surges, you’ll protect all of the equipment in it instead of just one piece that’s plugged into a surge protector. This can come in especially handy if you use a lot of electronics or appliances.
Q: What’s the difference between a blown fuse and a blown circuit breaker?
A: When the electrical current that passes through a fuse exceeds the limit, it burns a hole in the thin strip of metal. This stops the flow of current and it means you have a blown a fuse. Fuses need to be replaced (not reset).
When the electrical current exceeds the limit through a circuit breaker, however, the breaker trip setting opens to stop the flow of current. Breakers are re-settable by flipping the handle on the face of the breaker.
Q: Are LED lights better than incandescent?
A: LED lights are more expensive to purchase than incandescent lights, but they’re more efficient (they’ll last 50,000 hours instead of 1,200 hours). They also have a lower annual operating cost, which is great for people trying to “go green.”
Q: Do I need a special electrical box to install a ceiling fan?
A: Yes. Because a ceiling fan is an active load that is heavier than most light fixtures, you need a special mounting box designed for this application. Saddle boxes are usually good for fans up to 35 pounds.
Q: What are low-voltage fixtures?
A: Low-voltage fixtures include a transformer to reduce voltage (say from 120 volts to 12 volts). The downside to low-voltage fixtures, however, can be higher installation costs. Also, transformers tend to create heat and mounting locations can be tricky.
Q: What does “grounding” mean?
A: When you use an electrical appliance, the current flows from your service panel to the device. A grounded wire gives the unused electrical current a safe way back to the service panel so there’s no danger in the event of a short circuit.
Q: What is a GFCI?
A: You may have seen an electrical outlet with a “test” and “reset” button in the middle – this is a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). It automatically shuts off an electrical circuit when it detects that the current isn’t flowing correctly. It’s also used to reduce the risk of electrical shock from a receptacle located in damp locations and/or counter top areas.
Q: What does a fishy smell coming from my outlet mean?
A: If you notice a smell coming from your outlet or switch, there’s a good chance your receptacle could be damaged. Turn off the power immediately and call our home electrical service experts.
u ever lost power during a storm? If so, you know how frustrating it can be, between not being able to use your lights, worrying about food spoiling in the refrigerator, running out of hot water, and more. That’s why many homeowners opt to invest in a home generator. If you don’t already have one and are considering one, there are two main kinds: portable generators and standby generators. Here are some of their differences:
The main difference between a standby generator and a portable generator is their ability to be moved. Standby generators are installed permanently outside your home and hook up directly to it. Portable generators, on the other hand, are smaller and can be moved from location to location.
Portable generators often run off of gasoline, which means you’ll have to manually fill the generator tank and refill it, if needed. Standby generators, on the other hand, often hook up to existing gas lines and run off of natural gas or propane.
Since a standby generator is hooked up to your home, it has a transfer switch that monitors your electrical power. Once you lose power, it will automatically click on in order to return power to your home. A portable generator, on the other hand, must be turned on and off manually.
Size & Noise
Because standby generators need to power your entire home, they’re much larger than portable generators (and therefore, cost more). However, they’re also quieter because they’re fully enclosed. Portable generators have exposed areas and are a little louder. Their sizes range between 1,000 watts and 15,000 watts while standby generators range between 8,000 watts and 45,000 watts. Usually, the larger the generator, the more expensive.
What They Power
Standby generators are also called “whole house” generators because when you lose electricity, they can power everything electrical in your home. This can come in handy for elderly individuals, those on oxygen respirators, or if you’re away from your home and can’t turn on a portable generator for backup electricity. Portable generators can power nearly anything electrical (including larger appliances like refrigerators), however, you’ll need to plug them directly into the generator.
Which One Is Right for You?
Which generator you choose depends on your budget, your need for electricity, and your location. If you’re in an area that experiences frequent power outages, you may want to consider installing a standby generator. However, if you’re not too worried about backup electricity, a portable generator should be fine.