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Preventing Damaging Power Surges

March 21st, 2018 No comments

How to Stop Sneaky Power Surges from Damaging Your Electronics


motherboard hit by electrical surge

Power surges from different sources can all cause damage to electronic devices.

“Just had it happen to us,” noted Chris Voglund, owner of Artisan Electric. “We had surge protection on all of our devices, but a recent spike through the electric company’s transformer was so fast, it still knocked out a couple of our more sensitive electronic pieces of equipment.  We are now installing surge protection at the outside electrical panel to prevent this from happening again.”

Causes of Power Surges
Although lightning strikes are the most visible examples of what causes damaging power surges, they are not the most common reason.  Other more common sources are faulty electrical equipment from outside the home, and internal power surges caused by larger appliance motors on refrigerators, A/C units, and microwave ovens.

Smaller, repeated power surges may also slowly damage your electronic equipment. Repetitive, small power surges shorten the life of appliances and electronics. Your electronic devices may continue to function following small surges until the integrity of the electronic components finally degrades and your computers, TV’s and other electronics mysteriously stop working.

Types of surge protectors

How to Prevent Damage from Power Surges
Power surges caused by lightning can enter the home through the cable TV or satellite dish cable, the incoming telephone lines or through the electrical service line.

Knowing that power surges can take several paths and do not always enter through the electrical panel indicates a good surge protection system should include:

  • Protection of the incoming electrical service
  • Some type of protection of phone lines and cable TV lines
  • Point-of-use surge protectors at sensitive and expensive appliances

When deciding on what type of and how much surge protection is needed, each house and its contents should be assessed individually. An electrician knowledgeable about power surge protection systems and the history of problems in your area is a valuable resource.

Lightning storm over city

Lightning is the most visible form of power surge, but not the most common.

The Odds Are Not In Our Favor
Many of us think a power surge won’t happen to our home or business, so we are hesitant to spend the extra money on a complete surge protection system.

There are over 20 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes detected per year in the 48 contiguous states of the U.S.  The 10 year average for Indiana is 425, 478 per year. Odds are that it will happen to you at some point.

When you are a victim of a power surge either by lightning or other cause, the consequences can be expensive.  Replacing TV’s, appliances and computers are all high ticket items.  Unless you have additional coverage on your homeowner’s insurance policy, standard policies typically don’t cover damaged items from a power surge.  Renter’s insurance policies usually don’t provide this kind of coverage either, meaning tenants must get compensation from their landlord.

Power Strips Are Not Surge Protectors
It is also helpful to remember that power strips and surge protectors are different.  Using a power strip as a surge protector will not typically give you adequate protection. Power strips are multi-outlet products that allow you to plug-in additional items into one outlet. They usually have a circuit breaker, but most won’t protect your valuable home electronics completely.

Artisan Electric logoFree Site Assessment
Have questions or concerns about surge protection for your home or business?  Contact us today at Artisan Electric and let our licensed pros do a free site assessment.  We can then discuss the best way to protect your valuable electronic devices.

Outdoor Living Space Electrical Upgrades

February 23rd, 2018 No comments

Looking to Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Space?  We Can Help With Those Warm Weather Electrical Projects.

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Outdoor lighting, hot tub, outdoor kitchen
With a hint of spring in the air, many of us look forward to getting outside and enjoying the nicer weather.  For those who want to upgrade their outdoor living spaces, this is the time to plan and line up the contractors you’ll need to get these jobs done.
 

Even if you are handy and expect to do most of the work yourself, we highly suggest leaving the electrical work to the professionals.

Artisan List of Outdoor Wiring ProjectsIncrease the Enjoyment and Value of Your Home
Improving your outdoor living space with landscape, patio and deck lighting improves the appeal and safety around your home.

Adding electrical capacity for outdoor kitchens, sheds, garages, pools and docks will allow you to use these areas more extensively. For more outdoor wiring ideas go to Enjoy Your Home.

Keep Everyone Safe
The National Electrical Code (NEC) includes many specific requirements for outdoor circuits and equipment. The primary safety concerns outdoors are moisture and corrosion, physical damage, and issues related to underground burial.

With most residential outdoor wiring projects, the relevant code requirements pertain to installing outdoor receptacles and fixtures and running wiring above and below ground.

Where requirements call for “listed” equipment, products must be listed for the application by an approved testing agency, such as UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories).

Artisan Electric logoContact Us With Your Questions
We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction to get your next warm weather project up and running. Contact us today at Artisan Electric or give us a call at 765-414-3913.

Scheduling Your Next Project

January 19th, 2018 No comments

It’s Time to Line Up Your Spring & Summer Projects


NOW
is the time to start planning for upcoming 2018 construction projects, large or small.  Getting a head start saves money, reduces stress levels, and most importantly, ensures the end result will be more to your satisfaction.

By not rushing through the early stages of a project, there is more time to evaluate different options and avoid project delays, cost overruns, and frustration from all those involved.

Now Motivation Message

The Ideal Time to Get Started

This is the time of year where contractor’s work can slow down due to poor weather and the inability to do a lot outside.

This makes it the ideal time to plan your upcoming spring or summer project and to begin lining up contractors to do the work.

Planning your project early has a number of advantages:

  • Good planning makes for a good results.  “Winging it” at the last minute is never a pleasant experience and often results in mistakes and low satisfaction with the end results.
  • The local construction economy is very strong. The area’s best contractors are already booking well into spring and summer; some are even booking into fall!
  • For larger projects that require architectural plans and permitting, selecting a good General Contractor to help with the process is essential to success. This takes time.
    • Having some extra time allows you to consider different choices of contractors, not just having to take the first one that is available.
electrical meter on print

Work with a qualified contractor “early” for the best results.

  • Staying on budget is always a challenge with any project, so having time to evaluate alternative approaches can minimize cost overruns and schedule delays.
  • You will save money by getting bids now, rather than when everyone is booked solid during the height of the construction season – often as much as 25%.
  • Arranging dates and schedules early will give you the greatest flexibility and allow time for some contingencies to handle unforeseen problems and delays.
  • You gain the advantage of having time to plan and refine ideas.  Working on your spring and summer projects now allows all parties the necessary time to plan those essential details that turn a good project into a great project.

Artisan Electric logoContact Us With Your Questions
We’ll be happy to point you in the right direction to get your next project up and running … the sooner the better.

Contact us today at Artisan Electric or give us a call at 765-414-3913.

Space Heater Safety Tips

November 17th, 2017 No comments

Space Heater Safety Tips

Staying Safe When Using a Portable Space Heater

As the winter chill settles in portable space heaters can be a quick way to heat up a room. However, they can be as dangerous as they are convenient if used improperly. Space heaters cause 25,000 home fires a year, and 6,000 emergency room visits, according to the Harvard University Environmental Health & Safety group.

The National Fire Protection Association states that approximately one-third of all house fires nationwide occur between December and February and space heaters are the leading cause of these fires.

space heatersPortable Space Heater Home Safety Tips
To keep your family and home safe follow these recommendations when using portable heaters of any type.

  • Purchase only space heaters that are safety tested and UL approved. Make sure it is equipped with an emergency tip-over shut-off feature and heating element guards.Read and follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions for operation and care.
  • Before using a space heater, make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition.
  • Don’t place heaters in high-traffic areas.  Set them on a level, hard, non-flammable floor surface—not on carpets, furniture or countertops.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from combustible liquids like fuel, spray cans and paint, as well as flammable items such as draperies, blankets and sofas.
  • Space Heaters Need SpaceNever allow pets or children near an electric heater. Accidental contact could result in serious shock or burns.
  • Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. If you must – use a grounded #12 gauge cord that is just long enough to do the job.
  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Never leave space heaters unattended. Turn off your space heater and unplug it before leaving the room or going to bed. Do not leave your heater running overnight while you sleep.
  • Do not use space heaters in homes with wiring systems that have not been upgraded to 3 wire grounded circuits and modern toggle style breakers.  We find these in older homes whose old electrical systems were not designed for these kinds of loads.
  • Ideally space heaters should be used on 20 amp circuits that do not share power with the lighting system or other electrical loads.
  • If the heater keeps tripping the circuit, then don’t “force” the breaker back into reset.  It is tripping for a reason indicating a potentially larger problem.

Artisan Electric logoNeed Some Advice
If you have any questions on how to safely use space heaters in your home or office, give us a call at 765-414-3913 – we would be happy to discuss your electrical requirements.

Electrical Tip of the Day – 5 things to consider when buying a back-up generator

September 19th, 2011 No comments

5 things to consider when shopping for a back-up / emergency generator:

 

1) Warranty on the product – who is standing behind that warranty when the snow is flying?

2) Who is supplying and installing it –  is it a reliable trade’s professional with training and education (AND TIME) to do the job right?

3) Fuel supply – there is way more to sizing gas lines and fuel delivery then some pipe fittings and tapping the closest fuel source.  Who is doing this work and are they qualified to do so?

4) Emergency Service – if your generator fails to start or function when you need it most who makes it right for you (and how long will it take)?

5) Maintenance – like anything else generators require routine maintenance by a factory qualified service tech, something you can’t usually get from the home store!

 

 

Artisan Electric is a authorized Kohler Generator Dealer.  We work with our partners at Buckeye Power Sales (who own the Indiana franchise for Kohler) to provide the very best level of quality and service!

Electrical Tip of the Day: Portable Window AC Units – 5 things you should know

July 21st, 2011 No comments

The heat is on… which has us all looking for ways to stay cool.  For many people and many applications a portable window air conditioner is the only option for a good nights sleep.  While these appliances do provide some much needed cooling relief, they also present some significant electrical safety concerns.

Here are 5 things your should know when using or installing a portable window AC unit.

 

1) In an ideal install they should not be ran on extension cords – if you must use an extension cord make sure it is a larger gauge wire then the cord on the unit.

2) Many window AC units are designed to be ran on a general use 15 or 20 amp circuit – but some need dedicated lines just for the use of the AC.  Make sure you check the amp draw on the unit and the manufactures guidelines for safety before using.  Be careful plugging these things in to *just any old outlet* to avoid overloading a branch circuit.  It is never recommended to run more then one unit on the same circuit.

3) Check the cord and outlet – if they are getting warm then you are at risk of an overload, if they feel HOT to the touch then you are overloading some part of the circuit or the conductors. Also look for dimming lights and power outages related to the AC kicking off and on.

4) Old homes that still have ungrounded knob and tube wiring present a significant safety hazard. These old circuits were never designed to have high demand appliance loads on them. It is never a good idea to use a window AC on a knob and tube circuit.

5) Plug adapters… you know the little two prong “cheaters” that let you plug in a grounded cord into an ungrounded outlet. When it comes to window AC’s just don’t do this. There is a very good reason why these units have a ground prong on the cord.

 

Electrical Tip of the Day – don’t use the “stab in the back” connections!

February 24th, 2011 No comments

Ask any well trained journeyman electrician who has done service work about “stab in the back” outlets and switches and you will be in for an ear full.  We jokingly call them back stabbers or service call generators, because that is exactly what they do. We get a least a call a week one these from someone, usually in one of the newer track homes built in the last 20 years, that has lights flickering or an outlet that seems to have quit working.  On the more dangerous end of the spectrum we get those frantic calls about how an outlet or switch just seemed to MELT in the wall.

Let me introduce you to  “stab in the back” switches and outlets – one of the most dangerous installs methods we find used in the electrical trades:

stab in the back switch

These devices rely on small metal pinchers recessed in holes in the back of the plastic case to hold the wire contentions in place.  They are very poor quality connections and make even worse junctions for feed thru wiring methods (daisy chaining from outlet to outlet to outlet).  Most reliable companies will not even allow the use of this method and require their employees to use the proven method of pig tail wiring:  Wire nuts for pig tailing multiple wires together, and the biding screws on the devices for the final mechanical connection of conductors to the devices.

Here is a picture of properly secured wire on an outlet by use of the binding screws to get an idea of what the difference looks like:

side wired outlet

Next time you have a screw driver handy go take a cover plate off any device location in your home, might need a flash light to look in the box, but you will be able see  right away of the installer used the binding screws or not.  If they did not consider giving us a call to talk about some options on replacement or re-termination of the existing devices.

Remember – don’t get stabbed in the back!

Electrical Tip of the Day: Electronic data back-up with ioSafe

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

What’s on your hard drive?

When was the last time you made a backup copy?

As a small business owner it’s important to keep my customer records, financials and projects that sit on my computer backed up. More and more we rely on our digital communications and trust our precious data to our computer hard drives every single day. What most people fail to realize is that computer hard drives are mechanical, eventually they will fail. That said; the majority of small business owners and consumers never realize how important it is to backup until it’s too late.

At Artisan Electric we trust our data on ioSafe hard drives. We backup vital business information, family photos and even videos as do many other local businesses here in town. The experts agree and everyone from PCWorld  to MacWorld has great things to say too. As such, we have compiled a list of some of the best reviews so you can be the judge and draw your own conclusions.

VideoMaker Magazine
We included the VideoMaker review because one of our close friends and Small Business of the Month winners is JP Video Productions in Downtown Lafayette, Indiana. Jay and his team help us with our web videos and tv commercials.

VideoMaker was founded in 1985 and according to their website has 50,000 subscribers to their newstand magazine every month. Known as the authority on all things digital video and HD video, thousands of people look to VideoMaker for the latest news, reviews and technology related to production and digital storage.  Recently the magazine and website did a review of the SoloPRO that takes a look at rugged protection and performance of the ioSafe fire proof hard drive.

Read the Full Review Here:
http://www.videomaker.com/article/15147/

EverythingUSB  Review
Since 2002, the folks at EverythingUSB has been reviewing technology products and gear.  Very well respected in their industry, this website is full of great information on most things digital.  If you are  a gear geek like we are you’ll appreciate all of the technical details and benchmark performance tests in this review of the SoloPRO fireproof hard drive It’s one of the most comprehensive we could find.

You can read the entire review here:
http://www.everythingusb.com/iosafe-solopro-external-usb-3.0-hard-drive-20023.html

TechRepublic
A renowned online community coupled with IT resources, reviews from enterprise management to home user tips and guides – the TechRepublic is a very comprehensive resource and research tool for anyone that craves quality content and expert knowledge. The TechRepublic writer does a nice job of conveying how important it is to keep active electronics cool in a fire safe as he compares traditional fireproof safes to the ioSafe fire proof hard drive

Read the full review here:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/security/iosafe-solo-could-i-interest-you-in-a-fire-proof-hard-drive/1719

Video Reviews

Sometimes you need to see it to believe it and that’s why YouTube was created J

Categories: Tip of the Day Tags:

What Is Your Commercial Lighting Telling Your Clients?

December 1st, 2010 No comments

Days are short right now, it’s dark A LOT.  Its dark during the morning commute to work, and for most people dark on their way home.  Combine that with the crazy number of commercial business spaces that are closed up and sitting empty these days and you have a golden opportunity to make your place of business really stand out.

 

So what does your current lighting say about your business?  Does it say “take a look at us, we are in it to win it”?  or are you projecting another image, one that makes people ask “is that place even still open”?

So here are a few points to consider:

  1. Signage – do you have lighted signs that are clearly visible at night and working properly.  Nothing says “we don’t care” quicker then a place of business that does not keep their own company singe in good repair (or working at all)
  2. Parking lot lights – do you have pole mounted parking lot lights that are sufficient and functional?  Do they flicker or come off and on at random intervals?  Maybe they hum really bad…
  3. Building Lights – does your building or space have wall pack lighting, soffit lighting, or specialty feature lighting – is it working?  Are there lamps out all over the place and a general state of disrepair, or are things squared away?
  4. Lighting Controls – how do your lights come on?  Is the photo eye or automated controller working correctly and set to the correct time?  The seasonal time on / time off settings change by as much as 4 hours over the course of the year.
  5. Store front lights – do you have adequate store front lighting that is showing off the features of your building as well as your products and / or services.  The need(s) and type(s) of store front lighting can be a petty wide range, you don’t light an industrial building the same way as an art gallery – but in either case you are sending a message.  What does your message say?
  6. Display Window Lighting – this is typically that first impression you give at night… even more important if you have a destination business that is open late or located in an areas with high visibility and high foot traffic.  Are you making your potential clients take a glance or a long hard look?
  7. Safety – are you providing adequate lighting for your clients and staff to safely get to and from your place of business on those dark winter days?  This can tell your team a lot about how you are dong business.  Are  you telling them you “really care” or “good luck in the dark”?
  8. Fun and Unique – what does your lighting tell people.  Are you in a type of business that fun, unique, and interesting lighting might make a significant impact on your image and the overall “feeling”?   Do you need to project an industrial or “squared away” no frills image – is that what you are getting from your lightning plan?

empty sign faceSigns and lighting say a lot about you and your business.  If your not happy about that image let us help!

Electrical Tip of the Day – HD TV 101 (how to get the best picture quality).

November 8th, 2010 No comments

With the cost of HD TV’s coming down by the week, and a great many new services being offered by providers more and more people are making the switch or are upgrading to better units.  We are seeing a major influx of TV related cable and electrical issues.  Let’s take a look at a few things you should know, first a basic list of  symptoms:

  • Pixelation or “fuzzy” picture
  • Pictures and images that just don’t seem to look as good as it “did in the store”
  • Audio drop outs (called digital drop) or loss of sync between audio and the picture
  • Frame skip or jump
  • TV’s and equipment that seem to “go bad” prematurely
  • Internet and voice over Internet (VOIP) services that are unreliable and not stable
  • Unidentified noise in the audio (Example – you can here the sound of the furnace kicking on or the refrigerate in your audio system)
  • And of course install issues by providers (cable stapled or strapped around the exterior the home and drilled thru the walls)

cable

Now, lets talk about some of these in detail and the related fixes

1)  OLD CABLE – There is “old’ cable and “new” cable.  In this case we are specifically talking about the cable wire.  Old cable (RG59) typically does not like to support the newer higher Meg-Hz cable signals.  If you have a large home and the cable is original or has not been upgraded in the last 15 years or so chances are you have the older RG59 type – which typically seems slightly smaller in diameter and slightly more flexible.  Probably need to look at getting some of the runs upgraded

2)  SPLITTERS AND TERMINATIONS – If you go down in your basement (or maybe your garage or crawl space) and there is an area that looks like a 3 year old went crazy with wire and splitters then some improvements are in order – this is typically one of the first places we start in a clean up project.  Every split and every fitting causes signal loss – and again if some of this work is older the splitters and cable end fittings used may not support HD signal well.  It is always best to make every run count, use the least amount of cable possible, only install the best HD rated splitters, and only split what is in use.

3)  GROUNDING – like most things of an electrical / electronic nature grounding is  huge in the audio and video world – sadly most homeowners and install techs pay it little attention to it.  Here is a quick run down on how to REALLY ground your cable.  First, at the point of entry the first cable fitting should have a ground connection that bounds by #10 gauge or better copper wire from the cable fighting to the main grounding bar in the electrical panel, it may also be grounded directly to the ground rod (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).  Second, all the splitters in the systems should be grounded back to the same location or at least bounded to the homes ground wire system.  Why, well there are a lot of reasons, but the easiest explanation we like to call the “Ghost in the Machine”  effect – if cables are not grounded they have a no way to dissipate things that shouldn’t be there unless they do so at the connection points at your TV, computer, or audio system – the exact places we are trying to improve signal quality.

4)  Install methods – this is always a sticking point for me… do these service providers really feel like stapling cables on the outside of your home or business is doing a god job?  I once watched a SAT TV installer drill a hole thru a pocket door in a historic home, stick on a cable box, and proceed to install they equipment and leave… no really – THIS HAPPENED, they installed it in a door!  We just finished up a job this week were cable TV tech ran the cables to the different rooms of the home by laying them in the gutters, not kidding.   Fit and finish of any system effects the outcome and the install quality, as well as the ability to work on the system in the future  Cables should be ran INSIDE of the dwelling unit and concealed in wall spaces where ever possible.

So, if you have been frustrated or not satisfied with your HD TV we can help!  We can do full set up and installation of almost any gear, while provide a proper install and a warranty on the work.

Categories: Tip of the Day Tags: