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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

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

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

Holiday Decorating and Electrical Safety

It is the holiday season and most will be decorating their homes and businesses with holiday lights and decorations. Before decorating inside and out there are some safety checks to complete to avoid fires and other hazards. 

All holiday lights and decorations should be visually checked for damaged wiring, loose or broken sockets as well as, if they are simply aged. If your holiday decorations are old or damaged, they should be discarded and replaced.

Do not overload your electrical outlets, overloading an outlet can cause overheating and potentially cause a fire. No more then three light strings or extension cords on any outlet is a good rule to decorate by.

All outdoor decorations and extension cords used should be rated for outdoor use. Outdoor outlets should be equipped with Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).

Never leave your holiday lights or decorations on over-night and keep all decorations away from any heat source such as space heaters and fireplaces.

Consider using LED lights, as they are durable and longer lasting.

If using a real tree for the holidays remember to choose one that is not dried out. In addition, keep you real tree thoroughly hydrated through the holidays to avoid any possible fire hazards.

Please keep young children and your pets away from all holiday decorations especially electrical holiday lights and trees.

Have a safe and happy holiday from our family to yours!

Ricks Advanced Electric

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC

Why only Hire a Licensed Electrician

Owning a home brings on many responsibilities to the home owner, and many times we try to handle the maintenance and repairs that go along with owning our home, ourselves. Electrical issues in your home are often best handled by an experienced licensed, insured and bonded electrician.

Often our homes are more then a place to live, it can be one of our biggest investments, and to protect our home, its contents and its residents, is as important as any of your investments, and using a licensed electrician to handle your homes electrical system is critical.

When your home and its electrical system experiences problems it is always a good idea to consult an expert. Now many people claim to have the ability to perform electrical troubleshooting, repair, installation, and upgrading of your homes electrical system, but do they.

A licensed electrician in Arizona has many years of electrical apprenticeship under his electrical belt; he has at least 4 years of verifiable trade experience. In addition, he has passed a Business Management and Trade Exam, and has comprehensive knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

On any given day while skimming your local newspapers classifieds, you will come across Handyman adds promoting small home improvements from landscaping to electrical work. Although there are many jobs around our homes that a competent handyman can complete, your homes electrical wiring should always be installed, repaired and maintained by a licensed electrician. A standard wiring code followed by licensed electricians is what enables most licensed electricians to troubleshoot your homes wiring problems. If your home was wired or repaired by an incompetent electrician or handyman, this can make troubleshooting electrical problems much more difficult for any licensed electrician. Furthermore, the safety of your family and home depend on your electrical wiring to be up to code and maintained properly.

Finally, a licensed electrician will have a warranty on his work for at least two years and this is as valuable as the money you think you might save by hiring a handyman to rewire that outlet.

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Copyright 2010 Rick Advanced Electric LLC