Home Lighting Design

Adding or updating your home or office lighting design and fixtures can be an attractive and affordable way to modernize and compliment your living or office space. Lighting can accentuate, a portion of a room or highlight a piece of art. Lighting can be used for security, a work space, or a place to gather and relax.

 

Some affordable and well designed lighting that can add so much to a kitchen is under cabinet lighting. Under cabinet lighting can come in an array of styles and designs, from LED, rope, puck, 120v, battery operated to direct wired.

 

 

 

Grounded Outlets

Homes wired prior to the 1960’s were commonly wired with a two-wired system with non-grounded outlets, unlike today’s modern wiring code which uses a  three wire grounded system. What electrical devises can be plugged into a ungrounded outlet?

Lamps

Coffeepots

Radios

Small kitchen appliance

Devises that do not have a three prong cord

What electrical equipment should not be plugged into non-grounded outlet?

Most high end electronics

Computers

Stereos

TV’s

Surge-protectors

Larger kitchen appliances

Devises having a three pronged cord

Older homes with existing two-wire system generally will have two slot outlets; a dangerous mistake would be to cover a two-wired outlet with a three-slot outlet. Unfortunately, there are many two slotted outlets that have been upgraded to three-slot outlets without providing a ground wire. This has no benefit, and may be misleading when plugging a three-pronged device into an upgraded but ungrounded outlet. This is called an open ground and can be devastating to your high-end electronics, equipment, and personal safety. 

There are a couple of things that can be done if your outlets are not grounded. 

The National Electrical Code (NEC) allows the following methods to update an ungrounded outlet

Replace the 2-wire outlet with a GFCI-type outlet and mark the outlet with the words “No Equipment Ground”

Install a GFI breaker in the panel marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.

Replace the existing three-slot outlet with a two-slot ungrounded outlet

Replace two wired system with updated three wired system

Plugging your high-end electronics into a ungrounded outlet could cause damage to your equipment from static electricity as well as, a sudden spike in voltage such as a lighting strike. Most importantly never, plug an appliance or devise that has a three pronged cord into a ungrounded outlet, as this could cause serious electrocution if you are in contact with the device and a good ground simultaneously.

Finally, if you are unsure about your homes wiring and its safety, it is recommended that you contact a licensed electrician to inspect your homes electrical wiring system. 


 




By Richard Schmitz 

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

Leave Home Theater to the Professionals

Leave Home Theater to the Professionals

Building a home theater system can be a great way to enjoy some television and movies in your own home, while capturing some of that theater experience. However, setting up your own home theater can often be a challenge. Before you make the decision to set up your own or turn to the professionals for installation, consider these common mistakes people make.

Incorrect Viewing Distance and Angle

Viewing in a home theater is supposed to be comfortable. This means there is a delicate balance between being too far from the screen and too close. Sitting too close to the screen can create problems with quality and too far away can cause difficulty in seeing finer details. Another common problem individuals make in setting up a home theater is placing the screen too high so viewers have to look up. Viewers should be able to look straight ahead.

Poorly Routed Foot Traffic

The layout of many living rooms and home theater rooms is such that individuals have to walk in front of the screen to get in and out. Bathroom breaks, snack runs and other distractions can cause issues with people walking in front of the screen, disrupting other people’s experience. It is best to set up a room where individuals can walk behind the seating to get out.

Surround Sound in a Small Space

When choosing the right speaker setup for your home theater, you need to consider the space you have. Most people automatically think a home theater means you need surround sound. However, if you set up this theater in a smaller room, surround sound is a bad choice. These systems take up a lot of space and often require wires, making them a poor option for smaller spaces.

Not Spending Enough

No one wants to overspend on their home theater system. Unfortunately, this often means individuals don’t spend enough money on their system. It is important to first make a list of the components you will need, including television, speakers, cables, surge protector, receiver and more. Make sure everything you buy is compatible and on the same level so it all works well together.

Choosing the Wrong Viewing Choices

Home theaters are meant to showcase movies and television shows to create a new experience. However, simply installing a Blu-ray player and an antenna television set isn’t going to give you the experience you are looking for. It is often best to choose a streaming option for the greatest selection of viewing for every type of viewer. Streaming video gives you access to movies, sports and other shows so everyone can find something they enjoy. Picking up a high quality DVR is a likely one of the most valuable investments you can make.  DirecTV currently offers the best DVR on the market and you can pick up special new subscription rates at www.SaveonTVDirect.com.

Not Listening to Your Gut

When you set up your home theater, you likely had ideas for what you wanted from your set up. However, when you go to the store to buy the components, the salespeople are likely to try to talk you into buying something entirely different. Always go with your gut when you are making purchases. The salespeople at the electronics store are not likely to be experienced with setting up home theaters.

A home theater can be a great addition to any home as long as it is done correctly. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t set it up the way it should be, resulting in a variety of issues. If you aren’t sure about setting up your home theater, it is best to hire the professionals to make sure it is set up the right way.

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

Electrical Terms

Alternating current

Electric current that often reverses direction when a change of voltage occurs


American Wire Gauge (AWG)

The standard measurement of electrical wire


Ampacity

The maximum amount of electrical current a conductor or any device can carry before degeneration occurs

 

Ampere

A unit of electrical current

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI)

A circuit breaker that disconnects the power preventing an arc that can cause a fire

 

Arcing

Current that passes through the air between a gap, using the air like a wire

Ballast

An electrical device that limits the amount of current in an electrical circuit therefore, as to impede a constant voltage power supply to a device that would be destroyed otherwise

 

Branch Circuit

An electrical wiring run that is between the breaker or fuse and the outlet, light-fixture or devise it powers

Busbar

A rigid metal piece in an electrical panel or fuse box that distributes electricity to the circuits

Circuit Breaker

An automatic switch designed to safeguard the electrical circuit from overload and damage

 

Conductor

Anything that can carry electrical current A common electrical conductor is copper used for electrical wiring.

Current

An electric charge carried by a flow of electrons over a conductor such as wire

Dimmer

A device used to adjust the light by increasing or decreasing the voltage. Always follow the wattage recommended for the dimmer as, to high of wattage can cause overheating in the dimmer

Direct Current

An electrical charge that flows in a constant direction

Fuse

An over-current protection devise that interrupts the current to the circuit by melting apart

Ground

A conductor to safely run current between a device or circuit to the earth

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) (GFI)

A device that can be in a receptacle or as a breaker that detects excessive or imbalanced electrical current and stops the flow of electricity preventing electrical shock

Insulation

A material that is used to shield wires and cables, because it is a poor conductor of current

 

Junction Box

A  plastic or metal container for housing electrical connections

National Electric Code (NEC)

United States standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment

Neutral

The wire that returns current to the ground at the service panel

OHM

A unit of electrical resistance equal to that of a conductor in which a current of one ampere is produced by a potential of one volt across its terminals

Outlet or receptacle

A point along the circuit where a light or appliance receives it’s connection to the circuit

Overload

When a circuit has carried more current than was intended and can cause overheating and damage to equipment

Panel

The breaker or fuse box that is the main source receiving the power from the utility company to your home

Power

The electric power that is measured in watts or kilowatts

Resistance

The properties of an object or material to dissipate the flow of electricity in a circuit

Resistor

A device designed to have the properties of resistance

Short circuit

A large unintended path of current on a circuit that is above an acceptable level

Single Pole Switch

A switch that turns a receptacle or device on and off

Terminal

A screw or other component that wires are connected to in order to pass electrical current through

 


Three-way Switch

An electrical switch with three terminals and is used to control a light or device from two locations such as a switch on either end of a hallway

Transformer

An electrical device that converts electricity voltage and current to a different voltage and current

Uninterruptable Power Supply

A device designed to provide a constant voltage in spite of power outages and is used in electronic systems such as a computer

Underwriters Laboratories

An independent not for profit organization that performs safety testing on products

Voltage

A measure of the energy of electricity

 

Wattage

An amount of electric power measured in watts and kilowatts required by an appliance or device Amps x Volts = Watts

 



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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

 

The first thing a consumer should ask is whether a
professional licensed contractor should do the service, they need. This is
especially important for electrical, plumbing, heating, and air. With a
licensed contractor, the work they do is backed by a state agency such as the
ROC Arizona Registrar
of Contractors

 

The second thing a consumer should ask is if the
service professional has reviews. With today’s technology most reputable companies
have an online presence and have had their services reviewed by consumers
online. Thumbtack.com is a perfect
example of where a consumer can go to find a contractor and read their reviews
as well as, write a review.

When it comes to your home, it just makes sense to
hire a Licensed Contractor. 

  



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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

How to Lower Your Energy Consumption and Cost during the Arizona Summer

 

Living in Arizona during the winter months is wonderful, but Arizona is a desert, and with summer just around the corner, it is a good time to think about saving energy, and with any luck lowering your energy cost as well. The first thing to evaluate is how energy efficient is your home currently, and what can be fixed or improved to be more energy efficient. It is after all our responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint for future generations.

Do you have energy star double paned windows, doors appliances?

  • Double paned energy star windows are coated with a sunscreen keeping more of the Suns damaging UV rays out of the home during Arizona’s hot summer
  • Does your hot water heater have a thermostat? Lower it!
  • Have your AC unit checked once a year
  • Install an Evaporated Cooler system, which can be efficient and comfortable until the Dew point reaches 57 degrees or higher
  • Consider replacing older appliances with new energy efficient appliances

Is your home properly insulated?

  • Your attic should have at least 10 – 14 inches of insulation
  • Seal duct work
  • A properly installed attic fan can assist in lowering the attic temperature in the summer

Saving energy as well as money, can take a little personal effort and sacrifice, and a lot of common sense.

  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Hang laundry out to dry
  • Don’t use heat-dry cycle on dishwasher
  • Don’t have running refrigerators or freezers outdoors or in garages
  • Install programmable thermostats
  • Turn thermostat to 78 degrees or above
  • Change all incandescent bulbs to Compact florescent bulbs CFL
  • Change air filters regularly
  • Cover all direct sun lit windows with drapes or energy efficient shades
  • Turn off and unplug all electronics and small appliances when not in use
  • Grill outdoors, or use a slow cooker, avoid using your oven
  • Turn the bathroom exhaust fan on while taking a shower
  • Install and use ceiling fans

With a little planning and some personal sacrificing, you just might reduce your carbon footprint and maybe while doing so, you may even save a buck or two.

 Most of these energy saving tips will also reduce your heating cost as well, during the long beautiful Arizona winters.

Remember summer’s heat in Arizona is often referred to as “a dry heat”, which is another way of saying it’s as hot as sticking your head in a 130-degree oven, oh, it’s a dry heat all right. 

 

 



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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY

Support your favorite small business.
This November 24th is Small Business Saturday®, a day to celebrate and support the local small businesses that boost the economy and invigorate neighborhoods across the country.
Ricks Advanced Electric is proud to take part in Small Business Saturday, and we’re encouraging everyone to Shop Small® here on November 24th. Plus, we’re having a special Small Business Saturday offer! 
Schedule an estimate or service call on
November 24th and you’ll get $25.00 off any service.
Most importantly, get out there, Shop Small, and let’s make this November 24th the biggest day of the year for small business.
To learn more, visit ShopSmall.com

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

What to Look for When Choosing an Electrician

What to look for when choosing an Electrician.
With new homebuilding in a current major slump and lost jobs especially in the construction and  contracting fields, many homeowners are turning to do-it -yourself home projects and repairs. While I my self have had to do many of my own home improvements and repairs, there are a few things I know better to leave to the professionals. For me Plumbing is something better left for a licensed Plumber, and most would agree Electrical repairs, up-grades, design and installation is a job better left for a Licensed Electrician. For most of us the thought of  installing and wiring a new circuit for a new appliance, or replacing an old ceiling fan, is probably unlikely, if not for any reason other then proper safety and code issues. So, how can you find and choose a reputable, affordable and knowledgeable electrician.
Most people today will search online for an electrician, and there is no shortage of electrical contractors, and companies to choose from. However, as tempting as it might be to choose the first company on your Google  search page, there are some additional things to look for when choosing the right electrician:
  • Is your Electrician  Licensed, Bonded, Insured
  • Does the Electrical Contractor current or unresolved  complaints with the Registrar of Contractors or the BBB
  • Is the  Electrician accredited with the BBB
  • Is the Electricians website informative and easy to navagate
  • Does the Electricians website have customer reviews, and contact information readily available 
  • Can you speak with the Electrician personally when contacting the company
One final thought, remember this rule: Most people will tell one or two people if they had a good experience with a company, however; if that same person has a bad experience with a company theywill tell 25 people.  

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

Our Favorite Mobile Apps for Field Service by Software Advice

by

CRM Market Analyst, Software Advice

Field service work is highly reliant on mobile efficiency. From HVAC to mobile repair and plumbing, any business that manages technicians in the field requires advanced tools for mobile service.

To meet this need, app developers have come up with all sorts of mobile solutions to get the job done. But, not all apps are created equal. I culled through hundreds to identify our favorite Android and Apple iOS options available for field service. I compared ratings, reviews, social shares, downloads and functionality. I then eliminated any applications with fewer than three stars (or no ratings at all), those that were too industry-specific, and those not available in the United States. Please let me know if I left your favorite app off the list.

eWO Plus! Work Order Generator

eWork Plus

Operating System: Android

Ratings: 4 stars with 3 ratings (Android)

Why we like it: eWO Plus! Work Order produces professional work slips for HVAC, telecom, aviation inspection and other field service workers. We liked the ease of use and instant export to PDF function. Instead of waiting until the technician is back at the office, your field worker can use this app to instantly send a PDF of their work slip to the customer. Users can easily customize the work slip with their own logos, address and contact information. Also, a signature tool allows the client to sign right on the phone or tablet screen.

A sample PDF created by eWO Plus! Work Order Generator, viewed on a PC screen.

DispatchTrack Field Operations

DispatchTrack

Operating Systems: Android

Ratings: 5 stars with 39 ratings

Why we like it: This easy-to-use mobile tool feeds work status updates into the software so it can be managed and tracked from the office. Instead of manually plotting routes, the dispatcher uses a GPS-enabled drag and drop map to deliver optimal driving directions based on the technician’s location.

 

A screen shot of the dispatcher’s Web console view. The pinpoints and routes are based on location information sent from the mobile app.

DispatchTrack comes with a credit card swiper and two survey options. Plus, users can capture positive feedback in a widget that can be promoted on the website, Facebook or another Internet channel.

vWorkApp

vWork

Operating Systems: Android, iOS

Ratings: 4.5 stars with 19 ratings (Android) and 3 stars with 11 ratings (iOS)

Why we like it: The Web-based vWorkApp (available for Android and iOS) software syncs instantly with technician mobile apps for streamlined dispatching and work tracking. We liked the GPS tracker that helps dispatchers assign jobs based on technician location. Each smartphone or tablet that downloads the mobile app shows up on the Web software map as a blue dot that moves in real-time with the worker’s location.

The dispatcher can then drag and drop jobs from a “not assigned” list onto the schedule. Instantly, the corresponding technician receives an alert to their mobile app that they have a new job. Once the worker hits the “accept” button, the job will change status in the Web software. The mobile app also records the time and location stamp as the technician moves through the different job milestones: accept job, arrived at customer location, rendered service, payment received.

GeoOP

geoop

Operating System: Android, iOS

Ratings: 4 stars with 14 ratings (Android), 3.5 of 20 (iOS)

Why we like it: GeoOP (Available for Android and iOS) is perfect for smaller dispatchers with two to 100 workers in the field. The GeoOP mobile application works in concert with the company’s cloud solution for managing jobs, quoting, tracking time and materials, invoicing and inventory control.  We liked how the home screen mimics the Facebook mobile app, providing immediately familiar navigation. The technician can scroll through jobs by location, or by recently viewed or completed jobs. The user can also hit “all” and scan through all their activities, similar to the Facebook news feed.

    

Users can add notes to each job in a variety of formats, including audio, photos, texts and attached files. The data is instantly backed up to the software and can be compiled in reports and exported.

FieldOne Mobile

FieldOne

Operating Systems: Android, iOS

Ratings: 3.5 stars with 16 ratings (Android), 3 stars with 9 ratings (iOS), 5 stars with 7 Software Advice ratings

Why we like it: The mobile application (Available for Android and iOS) can accommodate hundreds of field workers and includes all of the standard service functions such as work order management, invoicing and schedules. The welcome screen for the app looks and feels like common smartphone homescreens, so usability is highly intuitive.

We particularly liked the integrated time clock feature. Workers can “punch” in and out from their mobile phones, so you can better track hourly-paid workers. Technicians can also search part inventory and record materials for better inventory management. Each technician only sees the information that is relevant to the job, including step-by-step prompts for completing the work.

Synchroteam

Synchronteam

Operating Systems: Android, iOS

Ratings: 4 stars with 3 ratings

Why we like it: We liked Synchroteam’s (Available for Android or iOS) clean user interface. Mobile app users can easily scan through the day’s activities at a glance with jobs distinguished by color code and simple text indicators. Once the technician clicks on a job, they are taken to another easily scannable screen with address, description and contact information. The app is backed by Web-based software that dispatches, schedules, maps and compiles reports from job notes collected in the field.

Android on left, iPhone on right.

doForms

doforms

Operating Systems: Android, iOS

Ratings: 3.5 stars with 94 ratings (Android), 5 stars with 25 ratings (iOS)

Why we like it: doForms’ (Available for Android and iOS) biggest advantage is customization. Users can easily create unique forms for dispatching, work orders, inventory, workflow or expenses with no programming required. Technicians can also attach video, audio and images to forms. We really liked the ability to scan inventory barcodes and sketch notes on top of photos. The worker could, for example, call out something in the image by drawing a circle or an arrow.

  

TeleNav Track

TeleNav

Operating System: Android, iOS

Rating: 3.7 stars with 112 ratings (Android), 3.5 with 80 (iOS)

Why we like it: TeleNav (Available for Android or iOS) marries dispatch and mobile workforce management with cost-saving features. For example, the mobile GPS function not only monitors location, but also driving behaviors. Users can monitor whether the technician speeds, idles excessively or follows an inefficient route. This information helps dispatchers identify waste, correct the problem and reduce fuel costs. The worker also sees their driving behavior from the mobile app. The route summary shows their average speed by street and identify possible delays. We liked the clean navigation screen that flags new activities with red indicators, so technician immediately sees jobs that require immediate action. 

iPhone route summary on left, Android home screen on right.

Software Advice published the original version of this article Our Favorite Mobile Apps for Field Service

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

Electrical Contractor

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