National Electrical Safety Month


According to a recent NFPA report, during 2011-2015 electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in the ignition of 34,000 reported home structure fires, on average, per year. These result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries and $1.4 billion in property damage. The fires involved equipment such as wiring, lighting, cords and plugs. This report also states that electrical distribution or lighting equipment ranked first in direct property damage and third among the major fire causes in the number of home fires.

The NFPA ask residents to adhere to the following safety tips:

  • Check all electrical cords to make sure they are not running accross doorways or under carpets where they can get damaged.
  • Have a qualified electrician add more receptacle outlets in your home to reduce use of extension cords.
  • Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage in a lamp or other light fixture. Check the sticker on the fixture to determine the wattage.

You should always have all electrical work done by a qualified electrician, including scheduling electrical inspections when buying or remodeling a home.

Please contact an electrician if you are encountering any of these signs in your home:

  • Frequent problems with blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers
  • A tingling feeling when touching an electrical appliance
  • Discolored or warm wall outlets
  • A burning, rubbery smell coming from an appliance
  • Flickering or dimming lights
  • Sparks from an outlet
  • Crackling or sizzling from outlets

Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances. All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Only plug one heat-producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time. A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets for your needs.  Remember, power strips only add additional outlets; they do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet.



Carbon Monoxide Safety

Protecting Families from the “Silent Killer”

In May 2010, an important public safety measure was signed in to a law requiring all California homes to be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms. Note; CO alarms are required IN ADDITION to smoke alarms and are not intended to replace them. Carbon Monoxide is known as the “Silent Killer” because it is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas that can catch it’s victims completely unaware. Detection of CO in a home is nearly impossible by humans. Symptoms of poisoning are similar to the flu. Nausea, vomiting, confusion, sore muscles, headache, dizziness and loss of balance.

The CDC reports that an average of 439 people died annually between 1999-2004 from non-fire related CO poisoning. Many more are hospitalized due to symptoms of CO exposure.

Types of detectors

Electromechanical – This is a dominant technology used in the United States. A sensor that creates an electric charge which varies with the amount of CO present. They use little power and operate at room temperature.

Biometric – These detectors have a sensor which changes color in the presense of CO. Just like blood, the sensor gets darker with higher concentrations of CO. An optical sensor reacts to the changing color. These detectors are very accurate and are used in higher-end facilities such as hospitals, where the cost of a false alarm can be high.

Residential ( CA residential code 2010 )
All newly constructed detached one and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories in height that contain fuel burning appliances or an attached garage. Also, when such an existing dwelling requires a permit for alterations, repairs or additions exceeding $1,000.

EXISTING HOMES: May be battery operated, plug-in with battery backup, or hardwired with battery backup/

INSTALLATION: CO alarms must be installed outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity and on every level.

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Panel Upgrade : Do I need one?

What is the electrical panel?

The electrical panel is the core of your electrical system. This is where your home receives electricity from the utility company. The power is then distributed throughout your entire home until every outlet and light has the power that it needs.

When there is too much current flowing through your electrical system, overheating, melting and fire could occur. Overloaded wires can lead to deadly electrical shock. In order to help prevent this from happening, electrical panels are designed to tell whenever there is a problem with  your electricity and cut off power to that circuit. Older electrical panels did this uses fuses, while newer panels rely on circuit breakers.

It is neccessary that the circuit breakers in your panel be fully operational, at all times. This panel should be able to handle the amount of electricity that your family needs. Whenever you make expansions, such as new Air conditioning units or other appliances, you may need to expand your panel by adding more circuits. This is often referred to as a “Service Upgrade” or “Panel Upgrade.”

How do I know if I need a panel upgrade?

Although it is a very important device, your electrical panel is not designed to automatically change the amount of power flowing to your home whenever you add new large appliances such as  refrigerators or air conditioners. if you find yourself frequently replacing fuses or flipping breakers, there is a good chance that you need a panel upgrade.

Common situations requiring an upgrade include:

  • Installing central air
  • Moving to an older house, that has an undersized panel
  • Putting in a new oven, hot tub, spa or other high-powered device
  • Room Additions
  • Bathroom and Kitchen renovations

Upgrades for Safety

Modern Breaker panels are designed with a high level of safety in mind. Many earlier installed panels, however, can present high fire and shock dangers today. Although they could have been very safe when first installed, the boxes listed below have been proven unsafe and should be replaced immediately.

  • Fuse Boxes
  • Federal Pacific Electric Company Electrical Panels
  • Zinsco and Sylvania Electrical Panels
  • Pushmatic Electrical Panels
  • Challenger Electrical Panels
  • Crouse Hinds

Fuse Boxes 

Many older systems utilized fuses rather than circuit breakers. When these were installed, the amount of electricity used by an average home was much less. These boxes were built to handle around 30-60 amps of power. Today’s home, however, will easily use 100-200 amps of power or even more. This causes older fuse boxes to overload frequently, which will blow fuses and shut off power to those circuits.

Many homeowners are inconvenienced that they are tempted to place over sized fuses so that their system will not stop providing power as often. This can be very dangerous, however, leading to overheating, overloading and possible fire. In more extreme cases, some people replace fuses with pennies. This can be even more dangerous because the penny will virtually never fail, allowing a very dangerous amount of electricity to flow through your system.

Federal Pacific Electric Company Panels

Stab-Lok electrical panels made by the Federal Pacific Electric Company were commonly installed between the 1950s and 1980s. These boxes have serious design flaws that can lead to shocks and fire.

In a statement from the Consumer Product Safety Comission, Dr. Jesse Aronstein said “The presence of a Federal Pacific  panel in a home should be classified as a “Safety Defect”…There is not question that the FPE Stab-Lok panels should be replaced. There is no practical or safe alternative.”

If you have an FPE Stab-Lok panel, or believe you might, call us for a consultation.

Zinsco Electrical Panels

New Zinsco panels have not been made since the mid-1970s and have had serious manufacturing flaws that can allow your circuit breakers to melt and malfunction. Furthermore, these panels will often have circuit breakers that look as if they are in the off position, when in fact they actually are providing power to your circuit. These panels are a serious safety risk and should be replaced immediately.

Pushmatic Electrical Panels

Pushmatic Panels are unsafe because their circuit breakers become progressively more difficult to reset. As a result, they will also flip themselves off because they have weakened. These panels also have no main breaker. The purpose of a main breaker is to allow you to stop the flow of electricity to the entire panel in the case of too much electricity or an electrical problem. Modern panels all have this feature but Pushmatic Panels do not.

Benefits of LED Lighting


As solid-state light sources, LEDs have very long lifetimes and are generally very robust. While incandescent bulbs may have an expected lifetime of 1000 hours, LEDS are often quoted of having a lifetime of up to 100,000 hours – more than 11 years. However, this figure is misleading; like all other light sources, the performance of LEDs degrades over time, and this degradation is strongly affected by factors such as operating current and temperature. At present, there is no standard definition of lifetime for LEDs, although various parties have suggested that lifetime should be the time taken for the LED’s output to fall to some percentage ( Such as 70% or 50% ) of its original value.


The general lack of standardization in the LED field is an ongoing issue. Various standards relating to LEDs exist in areas such as automotive lighting and traffic signals. Other efforts are being conducted by bodies such as CIE, NEMA and IES.

Low Maintenance

The long lifetime of LEDs reduces the need to replace failed lamps, this can lead to significant savings, particularly in the cost of sending out maintenance crews. This also makes LED fixtures useful for installation in relatively inaccessible locations. However, if tasks like cleaning the fixture or performing electrical checks need to be carried out regularly, then the light sources could be replaced at the same time, negating the “Low maintenance” advantage.


LEDs are high-efficiency light sources. White LEDs with efficacies of 25 lm/W and up are commercially available, exceeding the performance of incandescent and some fluorescent sources. The directional nature of light produced by LEDs allows the design of luminaires with higher overall efficiency. The directional nature of light produced by LEDs allows the design of luminaires with higher overall efficiency.

Low Power Consumption

The low power consumption of LEDs leads to a significant energy savings that can often drive the installation of LED-based systems, for example traffic signals. National programs to develop effective solid-state lighting industries in the US and Japan have been driven by the potential energy savings associated with using LEDs


Although LEDs have high efficiency and consume a small amount of power, the devices produce a small total number of lumens. For example, a 60 W incandescent bulb with an efficiency of 20 lm/W produces 1200 lumens. A one-watt LED with an efficiency of 30 lm/W produces only 30 lumens i.e 40 such LEDs are required to produce the same amount of light as the incandescent bulb.


In many applications, LEDs are expensive compared to any other light source, when measured by metrics such as “dollars per-lumen” LED manufacturers continue to work towards reducing their production costs while at the same time increasing the light output of their devices. However, the high initial cost of LED-based systems is offset by lower energy consumption, lower maintenance costs and other factors.

Instantaneous switch-on

LEDs switch on rapidly, even when cold, and this is a particular advantage for certain applications such as vehicle brake lights.


LEDs do not contain mercury and in many cases steps are being taken to replace lead-containing solders (used mainly to fix LEDs to circuit boards) with lead-free material, in line with European directives. The energy efficient nature of LEDs also makes them enviromentally friendly.


The Dangers of Aluminum Wiring

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated two million homes in the United States are built or renovated using electrical circuits with aluminum wiring. The specialists state that unless certain safety procedures are undertaken, every outlet, light switch, and junction box connected to such circuits is a fire waiting to happen.

 How do I know if I have aluminum wiring in my home?

If your house was built between 1965 and 1973, you most likely have aluminum wiring in your home. If your house is in the time range, please contact a licensed electrician to do a full evaluation for you.

My house has aluminum wiring – what now?

It is important to know that having aluminum wiring in your house is not banned or illegal. Aluminum wiring is more likely to cause a fire than copper wire for many reasons:

  • Aluminum expands more than copper when there is an electrical current running through it, making it easier for aluminum to creep out from under terminal screws and cause loose connections that over heat.
  • The oxide that forms over aluminum wiring can cause overheating, whereas the oxide that forms on copper does not cause this same problem.
  • Aluminum is softer than copper, causing easy breaks in the wire that creates hot spots.

Aluminum wiring is known to be a fire starter. Typical homes can have 200+ connections, which means that each individual connection is a fire hazard. If you have aluminum wiring in your home you should watch for these signs:

  • A light switch or outlet that is hot to the touch.
  • Strange odor or smell of burning plastic by light switch or outlet.
  • Flickering of lights not associated with obvious external cause.
  • Static occurs in electronic equipment like radios, TVs and computers
  • Constant tripping of your breakers

How can I keep my home safe?

Once you are aware that your home has aluminum wiring and you are aware of the dangers, it is time to take action. There are several potential fixes that can keep your house safe. You must keep in mind that all of these services MUST be performed by a licensed electrician.

  • First option is to re wire the house. This is the most permanent option. Rewiring your home requires that all of the aluminum wiring is replaced by copper wiring, lowering your chance of an electrical fire. This option require no upkeep.
  • Another option is to use a copalum crimp. This requires the copper to be crimped into a pigtail connection with the existing aluminum wiring. If every connection is fixed this way, it can be considered a permanent repair.
  • If there is no clear sign of trouble, you may feel that you do not need to do repairs immediately. Doing nothing only borrows time and should not be the final place of action for aluminum wiring in your home.




QuietCool Whole House Fan

What is a whole house fan?

A whole house fan is an exhaust system  venting into a home or building’s attic, designed to circulate air. A whole house fan pulls air out of a building and forces it into an attic space, or in a case of homes without attics, through an opening in the roof or an outside wall. This causes a positive pressure differential in the attic forcing air our through the gable or soffit vents, while at the same time producing a negative pressure differential inside the living areas which draws air in through open windows.

Benefits from using a QuietCool Whole House Fan:

  • Saves up to 90% off your AC bill – We offer the most energy efficient whole house fan systems on the market. This allows our consumers to recapture their investment quicker than any other “green energy” product on the market with the ability to cut AC costs by up to 90% and reduce AC wear and tear.
  • Cools Your Entire Home – The QuietCool whole house fan system cools the entire house by up to 30 degrees and the attic by up to 50 degrees. The system will make you feel 10 degrees cooler INSTANTLY.
  • Ventilate Your Entire Home– The QuietCool Whole house fan system exchanges the entire volume of air inside your home 15-20 times per hour. This will allow you to breath fresh air continually; control mold and mildew; reduce airborne sickness.
  • Exhaust Your Home Of Foul Odors– With QuietCool. exhaust your home of cooking, pet, and other odors. This will allow you to enjoy a healthier, odor free enviroment.
  • Quietest Whole House Fan On The Market Today– The QuietCool whole house fan operates at the sound of a whisper. You will be able to sleep, talk or watch TV without noise disruption. QuietCool whole house fans average at 45 dB while a traditional whole house fan averages at 85 dB
  • Made in America – The QuietCool whole house fans are manufactured in sunny Southern California, USA in our 43,000 square foot manufacturing plant.
  • Standard 10 Year Warranty – The Quiet Cool Stealth and Trident whole house fans are backed by a standard 10 year manufacturers’s warranty.
  • Industry Leading 15 Year Warranty – The QuietCool Stealth and Trident whole house fans are backed by an industry-leading 15 year manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Patented Whole House Fan System – The QuietCool is a patented whole house fan system that is suspended in the attic and ducted down to your ceiling to allow whisper quiet operation. This unique design has changed the industry. Look no further than QuietCool; the quietest and most energy efficient whole house fans on the market.



What causes electrical fires?

Three elements must be present in order for a fire to  start; oxygen, fuel and heat. Not only do these elements have to be present at the same time, but the fuel must be conditioned in a way that the heat source can initiate an exothermic oxidation reaction. Electricity plays it’s role by providing  the heat source.


There are two types of short circuits that exist; a dead short and a limited short.

A dead short occurs when a live wire comes in contact with a common or ground wire and the circuit is subsequently energized. In properly fused circuits this will cause the use to blow and the circuit to de-energize. This type of situation  does not create sufficient heat to ignite combustibles. However, it is possible that the circuit is not fused properly. If  this does occur, the current can then continue to pass through the wires, causing them to overheat. This type of situation can ignite surrounding combustibles causing a fire.


The other type of short circuit is a limited short circuit. Wires come in contact such that the volume of material through which the current flows is smaller than the fusible link. This will create a spark or flash and result in melting of the copper of the wiring. Characteristic beading of the copper wire is normally observed. A situation like this can also cause ignition of combustibles provided by the mass of combustibles contacting the heat source is small enough that the heat source can cause it to reach ignition temperatures and initiate a self-sustaining exothermic oxidation reaction to fire. It is difficult to ignite concentrated, solid combustibles such as wood, plastic and paper with this type of heat source. Cotton products, sawdust, wood chips and combustible gases can be ignited.


Another heat source can be created when a circuit is over fused. Over fusing of a circuit can result in high current flow through the wires that are overloading the circuit. Electrical wiring is designed to carry current much higher than it’s rated capacity, increasing current above this rated capacity causes the wire to generate excess heat. As long as heat can be dissipated from the wire, this is not a problem. However, if the wire is enclosed within a small insulated space, the heat in these areas may not be able to dissipate as quickly as it is being generated. The result is the surrounding combustibles can expand and eventually ignite, causing a fire.


Fires can be caused electrically through what is called leakage current. Leakage current occurs when water is in the presence of electricity. Exposed wiring, which exists primarily at connectors and switches, can come in contact with water. Since water conducts electricity, a current will flow through the water between contacts or from the live to ground or common. The water will accumulate salts over time, which increases its ability to conduct a current. This current can eventually develop to a point where it generates a significant quantity of heat which begins to expand and carbonize the combustibles in the area. This can result in a situation where a carbon bridge is formed, creating a continuous arc or significant generation of heat. Ignition of surrounding combustibles can then result in a fire. Fires have been known to initiate this way in electrical boxes which become damp or wet.


A simple spark can initiate a fire or devastating explosion if a combustible gas/air mixture is located at the position of the spark .  A spark is usually created whenever a contact is open or closed. For this reason, specially designed switches and contacts are required for installation in an environment in which you can reasonably expect combustible gasous mixtures to be present.


The investigators job does not end when they determine that the fire was caused electrically. The mechanism of the causes must also be determined to assess liability. The investigation shifts to a failure assessment. An example is, an overload situation can be created when a wire is damaged or pulled loose from a connector. A damaged wire can result in a loss of mass at a specific point where a hot spot can be formed. This type of damage is is related to misuse, however, if the manufacturer did not provide sufficient strength to withstand normal expected use, which caused the damage, it can be argued that the design was insufficient for the products intended use. A wire can also be pulled partially free from connector such as that which exists within a plug. This can also result in a loss of mass through which the current is passed between the wire and the plug connector created a hot spot. This situation can be created through misuse, insufficient design and/or manufacturing defects. History of fire related problems, recalls and examination of other similar units may enable the investigator to determine the mechanism of the cause of the failure and thus assess liability.

When assessing a possible electrical cause, the investigator must only determine that the electrical malfunction caused the fire., but also complete an assessment of the mechanism of the cause. Research and testing can provide the information required to answer these questions and permit a full assessment of liability.


The Importance of Surge Protection

What is surge? What is transient voltage surge?

Surge and Transient Voltage Surge are temporary rise in voltage and current on an electrical circuit. Their voltage ranges are greater than 2000 volt and current ranges are greater than 100 amperes. Typical rise time is in the 1 to 10 microsecond range. Transient or surge is the most common power problems and its compacts are caused by significant damages such as electronic equipment failure, frequent downtime, lost data, lost time and lost business downtime.

Where do surges come from?

The major of electronics damage is from lightning strikes. The most damages are not caused by direct lightning strikes, but is the result of transient voltage and current surges induced on power, telecommunications or RF transmission lines by the strong electromagnetic fields created by during a lightning strike. More common causes of power surge are the operation of high power electrical  devices, such as elevators, Air conditioners and refrigerators by switching on-off compressors and motor. Other sources of power surge include faulty wiring, utility power supply failure and electrical noise.

What is surge protector?

Surge Protector also known as Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor ( TVSS ), Surge Protection Devices ( SPD ) or Surge Supression Equipment           ( SSE ) is the equipment designed to protect electrical and electronic equipment from power surges and voltage spikes. Surge Protector diverts the excess voltage and current from transient or surge into grounding wire.

How surge protector works

Surge Protector diverts the excess voltage and current from transient or surge into grounding wire and prevents it from flowing through the electrical and electronic equipment’s while at the same time allowing the normal voltage to continue along its path. This excess energy can cause damages in electrical and electronic equipment’s, process control instruments-equipment’s.

Two main functions of the surge protector are:

  1. Provides low impedance path for conducting a lot of current to eliminate the extra voltage.
  2. Absorbs and diverts the extra current to ground for protecting the effects of transient or surge.

Why do you need surge protection?

These days a lot of electronic components in modern electrical devices are much smaller, delicate and more sensitive to current increases. Microprocessor which is an integral part of all computers and many modern electrical equipment, are particularly sensitive to surge. Your electrical equipment can be exposed to damaging surges from AC power line or telephone lines.

Surge Protector is suitable to use in every application that connect to electricity ( the utility power supplies or the locally generated ), telephone lines ( modem, fax etc ), computer data lines and communication lines, etc as follows:

  • Computers and peripherals such as a printer, monitor, speaker or fax machine
  • PABX and communication equipment, ETC
  • Entertainment Components
  • Medical equipment, surgical equipment and scientific equipment, ETC
  • Weighting bridges and measuring equipment, ETC
  • Electrical equipment
  • Security Systems



Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting can make your home and yard a beautiful, and attractive inspiration that enhances your property, but it is also an important safety feature that makes your property lit during times when you would like to be able to come and go from your home, late in the evening, or early in the morning knowing that your path and well illuminated from your car, the curb to your door or garage.