Sunday, 24 June 2012

home automation is available now!

Remember the Jetsons? That cartoon family who lived in a home where the house itself served their every need and desire? We're not quite there yet as a society, but we are getting surprisingly close. Advances in automation for home residences have made it possible to automate everything from brewing your morning coffee to feeding the pets. Once you get it set up, all you've got to do is sit back and let the house take over for you.
Almost Anything Is Possible
Literally the sky is the limit when it comes to what's possible with these units. Of course, your budget might also play a factor, but let's assume it's not an option for the time being. Take a look at what these technological wonders can do.

  • Lighting: Automation of your lighting means you'll have access to different light settings for different activities. Imagine having the perfect lighting for watching television, sitting down to a romantic dinner, or tackling the bills, all at the touch of a single button. Lighting automation also means your hall light can be programmed to turn on when it senses you making a midnight trip to the bathroom, your porch and driveway lighting will turn on when you pull up to the house, and your kitchen lighting will turn itself on in the morning when you venture in for your morning bowl of cereal.
  • Home Audio: Imagine soothing jazz music turning on in your bedroom every night at bedtime. Or how about the morning news kicking on in the kitchen, along with the coffee pot, to get your morning off to the right start? Automation of your audio system can even transfer whatever you're listening to from room to room as you make your way from the kitchen to the bathroom to relaxing on the porch over the course of an afternoon. It's all at your fingertips with a home automation system.

  • Security: Another huge draw of home automation is heightened security. Home security systems can be wired into your home automation system so all their features are at your disposal. You can check wireless feed from security cameras on your television while you're watching the big game. You can program your lights to alternate off and on from room to room while you're away, and they can also be programmed to brightly light up your house and grounds instantly in case of an unwanted intruder. And of course, your home automation system will always be in touch with your security provider, so you can be sure help is on the way in case the unthinkable happens.
  • Everything Else and More: While the above mentioned features might seem impressive, they really only scratch the surface what the automation of your home can entail. You can start your oven cooking dinner from across town, program the system to feed your pets on a set schedule, water your plants, open and close shades at certain times of the day, and even regulate the temperature of your home to save you money when you're not in. The truth is the Jetsons' aren't nearly as far off as we might think.

  • of course, you should always use the services of a qualified langford electrical contractor, or a victoria electrician. Visit us at:
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    home electrical safety checklist

    Electrical Safety Tips

    home-safety-checklistSummary: This list of home electrical safety tips will help to safeguard your family against potential hazards.

    Home Electrical Safety Checklist for to help Prevent Hazards

    This Home Electrical Safety Checklist includes the following Electrical Items:

    Smoke Detectors




    Light Bulbs

    and other areas of the home.

    This is not an all inclusive list.

    • Test every Smoke Detector and replace the batteries as needed.
      Install Smoke Detectors in required areas. Smoke Detector and Smoke Alarm Safety Tips
    • GFI or Ground Fault devices or circuits should be installed where required for electrical outlets in these areas: Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage, Basement, Outdoor and any other location specified by local and national codes.
    • AFCI or Arc Fault circuit protection should be installed in bedroom areas following the specified codes by your local code enforcement authority.
    • Examine extension cords every year. Throw away any strands that show signs of wear.
    • Fixtures should have bulbs securely and point the sockets down to avoid moisture build up.
    • Follow the directions that come with lighting decorations.
    • Avoid overloading wall outlets and extension cords. Use a UL-Listed Plug Strip that has Overload Circuit Protection. Cold winter weather brings with it the need for space heating equipment. Make sure these devices are UL-Listed.
    • Unplug light strands before replacing any bulbs. Review the original package to verify proper wattage and voltage.
    • Replace light strand fuses with the same exact rated fuse. Consult the specifications. Do not exceed the allowed number of connected strands.
    • Never use electric lights or decorative ornaments on a metallic tree. Consider using colored spotlights instead.
    • Consider the kitchen table as a location when using a candle. Use a sturdy, heatproof container away from anything combustible including flower arrangements. Never leave a candle burning alone and never leave children alone with candles or matches. Candles can start fires and the hot wax can burn skin. If you ever get a burn use Aloe Vera gel, it works wonders! * Adult Note: Be extra careful when mixing romance and candles, I’ve rewired a home that was totally destroyed due to an unstable candle on a nightstand. Have fun but be Safe!
    • Dispose of fireplace ashes into a metal container with a lid until cold and place the container on bricks or on a heatproof surface. It could take several hours for coals to go out. Christmas vacations have been ruined when guests put ashes in a grocery bag and placed the bag on a wood deck which caught the deck on fire and the burned the home.
    • After parties, check around and under sofa and chair cushions for smoldering cigarettes. (Provide lots of good size ash trays for those who need a smoke.)
      Carbon Monoxide Detectors will help alert you and your family and are recommended for your home.
      [link to page]
    • Have at least one operable Fire Extinguisher readily available.

    of course, you should always use the services of a qualified langford electrical contractor, or a victoria electrician. Visit us at:
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    Electrical safety in the home

    Home Electrical Safety should be a Priority in Every Household

    Help Prevent Child Injury in Your Home

    U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data show that approximately 2,400 children are injured in incidents related to electrical receptacles each year. This equates to about seven children every day. Injuries range from electric shock to first-, second and third degree burns, with some rare cases proving fatal.
    In response to these statistics the National Electrical Code® (NEC) has been revised (with the 2008 edition)—including a requirement for all receptacles in newly constructed residential units to be tamper-resistant.
    It’s ‘Now’ In Many Places!
    Most states and municipalities adopt new code editions within two years, and leading manufacturers of electrical wiring devices for the home have a Tamper Proof and Tamper Resistant receptacle outlets available with a variety of types and styles to choose from.

    The adoption of tamper-resistant devices indicate that about 50% of the state have begun adopting these devices starting in 2008.Some major manufacturers have produced tamper-resistant products for years and are well prepared for the Code requirements.

    GFI Features and Benefits

    GFCI protection is required in areas of the home to help protect against electrical shock in areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, garage and outdoor.

    Considerations for GFCI Devices

    • Periodic testing will ensure that GFCI outlets are working correctly.

      Even though a GFCI outlet is supplying electricity the GFCI protection may not be functioning properly. Using the Test and Reset buttons will reveal weather the GFCI outlet is functioning properly or need to be replaced with another GFCI outlet.
    • Proper wiring of GFCI receptacle outlets is essential for proper protection and functionality. The LINE and LOAD connections to the GFCI device must be made correctly otherwise ground fault protection may work.
    Tamper Resistant Outlet Receptacles

    • A recent study conducted for the CPSC showed 86% of reported electrical injuries
    involved children age one to four.

    Mealtime was the usual time at which these injuries occurred.

    • Most frequently, the children injured inserted foreign objects into electrical outlets—including keys and hairpins.

    100% of 2- and 4-year-olds could remove protectors with a 1/16th-inch-thick oval face and a flat side.

    47% of 4-year-olds and 31% of 2-year-olds could remove protectors with a round, flat face and two prongs.

    47% of 4-year-olds and 18% of 2-yearolds were able to remove protectors with a 3/16-inch-thick oval face and a tapered side. What The NEC Now Says The revision, taking effect with the 2008 NEC, says: “406.11 Tamper-Resistant Receptacles in Dwelling Units. In all areas specified in 210. 52. all 125-volt. 15- and 20-ampere receptacles shall be listed tamper-resistant receptacles. Also in 1997 (according to the State Farm write-up), the Bio kinetics Research Laboratory (at Tampa University) put 37 children to work at playing with plastic outlet protectors.

    Here’s what was found:
    “Substantiation: 210.52 specifies the areas in dwelling units where receptacles shall be installed. This proposal references those areas.”
    Several manufacturers provide an outstanding line of tamper resistant products that use a patented, UL-listed shutter system to protect children from injury. However, the shutters don’t impair normal plug insertion, removal, or function.

    Safety features include Tamper-Resistant Hallway Light/ Receptacle Combination Devices and Decorator Receptacles, and the Tamper-Resistant GFCI. In addition to these features tamper-resistant versions of all receptacles may be used in residential installations.

    of course, you should always use the services of a qualified langford electrical contractor, or a victoria electrician. Visit us at:
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    Monday, 18 June 2012

    What is a main breaker?

    Main Breaker
    Main Breaker

    So, what is a main breaker anyway? You'd think that it is something special having a name like that. Actually, the main breaker is the breaker that the feeder wire connects to. This breaker is a two-pole breaker that is connected to 240 volts to power your home. The main breaker acts as the disconnecting means to the entire power load of your breaker box. With it off, there is no power being fed to the buss bar that feeds the branch circuit breakers.
    The main breaker is usually located atop the rest of the breakers in a panel, but sometimes the breaker panel is installed upside down. In this case, the main would be at the bottom. Some main breakers are bolted in place and others are snapped into place just like the branch circuit breakers.
    Main breakers come in different sizes, but 100 and 200-amp breakers are generally used in residential installations. In older homes, you may still have a 60-amp service and I personally have seen a 30-amp, 120-volt main service. If you think you are short on power, think about that installation!
    Main breakers are designed to trip if the amperage rating exceeds the value labeled on the breaker. For instance, if you have a 100-amp main breaker in place, if the amperage exceeds 100 amps, the breaker will trip.
    There are a number of reasons why breakers trip. It may be lightning strikes, power surges from the utility company, or you may have overloaded your electrical panel.
    If your electrical panel's main breaker does trip, turn off the branch circuit breakers before resetting the main breaker. Then, one at a time, start turning on breakers again. The idea here is not to dump the entire power load on the main breaker all at once. If the breaker trips again, you may be well advised to call in a professional.

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    how to determine cicruit load capacity

    Question: How do I Calculate Circuit Load Capacity?
    In order to decide how big of an electrical service is needed in your home, one has to do a little math homework. Calculating how much power both you and your electrical appliances use is necessary to calculate this number. I'm often asked how to figure this load. It really is pretty simple if you know what to look for and how to add up the loads.
    Answer: The first thing to know is that circuits should only be loaded at 80% of the total circuit load. To help you understand the concept, if you have a 15-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 12 amps. The total wattage would be 1,800 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 1,440 watts.
    If you have a 20-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 16 amps. The total wattage would be 2,400 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 1,920 watts.
    On a 30-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 24 amps. The total wattage would be 3,600 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 2,880 watts.
    To determine the wattage, you take the voltage times the amperage. Check the tags on all of your appliances for the required amperage rating. Add all of the lighting load by adding the total wattage of the light bulbs in your home. Look at the light bulbs and read the wattage that is printed on them.
    Your home will likely also have 240-volt appliances like water heaters, air conditioners, electric dryers and electric ranges. These too will have an amperage rating label and the wattage can be calculated. The voltage, 240 volts, times the amperage, say 30 amps, will equal the wattage requirements.
    Once you've determined the total load for your home, you'll know what size electrical service that you need.

    of course, you should always use the services of a qualified langford electrical contractor, or a victoria electrician. Visit us at:
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    how to get an electrical apprenticeship

    How to find an electrical apprenticeship

    If you want to be an electrician, you have to complete an apprenticeship. There are many perks to apprenticeship—it’s cost-effective (no high tuition fees), offers hands-on experience, and allows you to earn while you learn—but it’s just like a job search in that you have to be professional and prepared. Here’s how to get started.
    Meet the minimum requirements
    Before applying for electrical apprenticeships, make sure you have the necessary education and/or training. These are different in each province/territory, so check with your provincial/territorial authority to confirm what the minimum requirements are where you live. In general, aspiring electricians should attend high school until at least the 10th grade, but many employers prefer them to have a high school diploma. This is especially true for unionized positions and can drastically improve your chances of future advancement.
    Think about what you want to do
    Electricians can work in many different environments (residential, industrial, and power systems) and have various specialities (for example, retrofitting old systems to make them more energy efficient, or designing brand new electrical setups for large buildings). When you’re starting out you’ll want to apply just about everywhere you can, but having an idea of the work you’d like to do can help direct your apprenticeship search and highlight skills you’ll want to learn.
    Spruce up your resume
    Having a well-edited and designed resume is key to making a good impression, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. Include details on your education, mentioning any classes you’ve taken that relate to electrical work, as well as your current skill set. Really set on being an electrician but feel like you need some related work experience? Consider applying for non-electrician jobs with electrical companies or contractors, such as office management, reception, or whatever positions need filling. You’ll become familiar with the business environment and make valuable contacts that can lead to being hired as an apprentice.
    Start applying
    Once you’ve done all this, it’s search time. Don’t just browse online and newspaper listings though, many jobs are found by going to businesses in person. Apply even if companies have no advertised openings. You never know what might come up.
    For more information on apprenticeships, visit the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

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    what do electricians do?

    What do electricians do?

    Electricians are tradespeople who design, install, and maintain electrical systems. Depending on the job they’re on, electricians have many duties, such as: planning projects; installing new or upgrading old systems, wiring, receptacles, and lighting fixtures; troubleshooting and repairing issues; and supervising apprentices. Responsibilities also vary depending on what kind of electrician one is:
    Construction electricians
    Sometimes referred to as construction and maintenance electricians, these electricians plan, install, repair, inspect, and maintain electrical systems in new structures. Because they create brand new systems, they tend to do more design and planning than other electricians. They usually work in industrial, commercial, and institutional environments and can be employed by maintenance departments or electrical contractors.
    Rural/domestic/low-rise residential electricians
    These electricians plan, install and repair electrical systems in houses and other structures. Electrical contractors can employ them, but some work for themselves.
    Industrial electricians
    Employed by contractors and maintenance departments, these electricians work in mines, factories, plants, shipyards, and other industrial environments. They often work on much larger and more complicated electrical systems, and handle motors, generators, pumps, and lighting systems.
    Power systems electricians (a.k.a. powerline technicians)
    People working in this sector install, maintain, and repair overhead and underground electrical power generation, distribution, and power equipment and systems. They work for electric power and distribution companies, as well as electrical contractors and public utility commissions.
    Other specialties
    Electricians can specialize in what kind of work they do. Some choose to focus on building and designing new systems, while others specialize in maintenance of existing systems. The trend toward energy conservation has inspired many electricians to specialize in retrofitting old systems

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    Sunday, 10 June 2012

    Hot water tanks

    Domestic hot water

    In many multi-family buildings, hot water comes from common

    hot-water boilers, rather than from individual water heaters as

    in single-family homes. These large tanks are typically set to

    60°C (140°F), but this can be dropped by a few degrees to a

    lower safe level, such as 55°C (131°F), to save on energy. CMHC

    estimates the savings in fuel consumption at 1% per degree

    Fast Fact

    LED exit signs can last about 25 years,

    but do have a higher initial cost. Using

    CFL bulbs in an exit sign would typically

    last between two and four years, and

    incandescent bulbs would require

    replacing several times a year.


    Celsius (or 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the Canada Safety

    Council recommends that the water temperature be set to at

    least 54°C (129°F) to prevent water-borne diseases.

    In addition, buildings equipped with domestic hot water

    recirculation pumps can further benefit from a timer that shuts

    off the pump during periods when there is little demand for hot


    2. A 24-hour mechanical time clock allows the user to set

    different on- and off-times during the day, such as in the middle

    of the night or for part of the afternoon. Should a resident want

    hot water during shutdown, she or he must simply run the water

    long enough for the hot water to make its way to the tap. A

    seven-day time clock adds the possibility to accommodate for a

    different shut-off period for weekends.

    Also, the hot-water boiler should be flushed annually by an expert

    to remove residues and deposits that have accumulated inside.

    This will help keep heating costs down and will significantly

    for more information, visit us at: 

    Automated lighting controls

    Automatic lighting


    Automatic lighting controls are an effective and low-cost means

    to save energy. For the most part, they’re very quick and simple

    to install.


    Timers are affordable and easy to operate. Depending on the

    model, they can be programmed to turn lights and appliances on

    and off over a 24-hour period or seven-day period.

    Motion / occupancy sensors

    Motion sensors are commonly found in outdoor areas such as

    decks or courtyards. When motion is detected, the light goes on,

    and remains on until movement stops. Motion sensors can also

    be installed in common areas such as a building’s ‘party room,’

    storage rooms, laundry room, hallways and landings.


    Photocells control lighting based on the amount of ambient

    light, and are a good choice for outdoor security lights, which

    turn on as daylight dims, and turn off when the sun comes up.

    Photocells can be paired with a timer, so lights go on as evening

    sets in, but then turn off automatically after a pre-set amount of

    time if it is not necessary for the lights to stay on all night.

    Exit signs

    Because exit signs are always on, they should definitely be on

    your list of projects to reduce energy consumption. Old-style exit

    signs are lit with incandescent bulbs; you’ll know them because

    they feel hot to the touch. One option is to retrofit the sign with

    CFL bulbs. Other options include installing LED lights using a

    retrofit kit, or replacing the sign altogether with an LED one,

    which can save 90% in operating costs. BC Hydro estimates that

    each changed sign can save over $25 of electricity per year. You

    can learn more at

     for more information, visit us at: 

    Energy efficient light bulbs

    We need lighting for convenience and safety, but it’s responsible

    for about 16% of a home’s electricity consumption

    There are

    many ways to conserve energy use, such as installing timers and

    motion detectors where appropriate, using low-energy bulbs or

    retrofitting older fixtures. Some of the best options are discussed

    below. See for links to more information on


    Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)

    Changing the light bulbs from the conventional incandescent kind

    (that produce heat) to low-energy, CFL bulbs is one of the easiest

    steps to take both in a condo/apartment, and in common and

    public areas. CFL bulbs consume approximately ¼ of the energy,

    and last 10 times longer. It’s a low-cost investment that quickly

    reduces electricity consumption. They’re widely available and now
    cost little more than traditional bulbs.

    CFLs are best installed in fixtures that are used frequently and

    left on for at least 15 minutes at a time (switching CFLs on and

    off frequently can shorten their lifespan), so buildings’ common

    areas, including outdoor patios and spaces, garbage rooms,

    lounges and foyers – as well as in individual apartments and

    condos – are all ideal locations for CFLs. Note that only certain

    CFLs can be used in dimmable fixtures. Some people remain

    sensitive to the bluer light given off by CFL bulbs, even though

    their tone has improved greatly since they were first introduced.

    Low wattage traditional bulbs (e.g., 40 watts) may be a practical


    CFLs do contain trace amounts of mercury — about 1/5 of what

    you would find in an average watch battery — so used bulbs

    should be recycled appropriately. See for a list of

    Lower Mainland retailers who take them back for recycling, and

    for more information. Do note that, in many jurisdictions, more

    mercury would be released by burning the coal needed to light an

    ordinary incandescent bulb.

    Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

    An alternative to CFLs are LEDs, which consume even less

    energy. LEDs are found everywhere from computers, to ambient

    street lights, to flashlights. Screw-in LED bulbs that can replace

    conventional light bulbs do exist, but are still difficult to find in

    the Metro Vancouver region, and can be expensive. They can be

    purchased online from a number of manufacturers.

    Fluorescent lights

    Fluorescent lights are the most common lights in schools and

    in office buildings, and can be found in homes too. Newer ‘T8’

    fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts are now the norm,

    replacing the older T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts.

    Pulse-start metal halide lights

    Despite their sci-fi name, pulse-start metal halides are about

    three times as efficient as incandescent bulbs. They offer high

    light output per unit of energy, and a long lamp life. They’re ideal

    for permanently lit areas such as underground parking areas, or

    for lights that go on at night outside a building. More information

    can be found at

    High-pressure sodium lights

    Primarily used for outdoor and garage lighting, high-pressure

    sodium lights are an effective energy-saving alternative to

    incandescent bulbs.