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Electrician Serving Pleasant Hill, Concord, Walnut Creek, LafayetteOrinda, Moraga & the Surrounding Areas

Is LED outlet covers really a thing?

led outlet coverThere was a time when outlet covers were just flat pieces of plastic used to hid the metal housing and wiring to your outlets. Sometimes you could even find some stylish wooden covers or maybe even one with your favorite sports team's logo on it.

But one thing electrical outlet covers have never been known for was providing any useful function. With advancements in electrical technology, all that is changing! A simple thing like an outlet cover now has a purpose.

Whether you want to call it a nightlight, accent light or guidelight…tiny LEDs have made it possible to put the lights directly into the covers. Even better still, they are controlled by how dark or light the room is. And since the light is built into the underside of the cover, both your outlets remain open for you to have access. There’s almost no reason at all why every outlet in every bathroom, hallway, kitchen or foyer shouldn’t have the soft glow of illumination coming from the outlets.

Is LED outlet covers really a thing?

led outlet coverThere was a time when outlet covers were just flat pieces of plastic used to hid the metal housing and wiring to your outlets. Sometimes you could even find some stylish wooden covers or maybe even one with your favorite sports team's logo on it.

But one thing electrical outlet covers have never been known for was providing any useful function. With advancements in electrical technology, all that is changing! A simple thing like an outlet cover now has a purpose.

Whether you want to call it a nightlight, accent light or guidelight…tiny LEDs have made it possible to put the lights directly into the covers. Even better still, they are controlled by how dark or light the room is. And since the light is built into the underside of the cover, both your outlets remain open for you to have access. There’s almost no reason at all why every outlet in every bathroom, hallway, kitchen or foyer shouldn’t have the soft glow of illumination coming from the outlets.

How does a GFCI work and why do I need them?

GFCI outletsOne of the most deadly electricity-related dangers is those that occur by electric shock - primarily by a shock from a ground fault. When electricity escapes the usual confines of the wiring of an electrically powered appliance, power tools, or even light fixtures, the electricity takes a shortcut to the ground the result is what's called a ground fault.

When the electricity’s shortcut to the ground goes through a human body, the result is death or severe injury. According to This Old House Magazine, “About 200 people in the U.S. alone die of ground faults each year, accounting for two-thirds of all electrocutions occurring in homes.”

In 1961, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California, Charles Daziel invented the GFCI - which stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. While on an average day, his invention does nothing but monitor the current flowing into and out of an appliance, it's in the most critical instance when the difference in the in and outflow exceeds five milliamps (a significant sign that a ground fault may be beginning to occur) that the GFCI saves lives. In as little as .025 seconds (about the same time it takes to blink your eyes), the GFCI shuts off the flow of electricity and saves you from electric shock, electric fire, or severe electrical burns.

The National Electric Code requires GFCIs in all new kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and most outdoor receptacles. Owners of older houses can retrofit $10 GFCI receptacles at those locations or have GFCI breaker switches (which run as much as $108 for 50-amp models) mounted in the main breaker panel. Portable GFCI adapters, which plug into regular wall receptacles, are available for about $40. 

“The great thing about GFCIs is that they protect you whether or not your wiring is grounded,” says Bill Grande, manager for safety products at Leviton, a manufacturer of GFCIs. Because lightning and other power surges can damage a GFCIs delicate circuitry at any time, Grande recommends the following monthly test: Plug in a light fixture and turn it on. Then push the device's test button. If the light stays on, the GFCI needs to be replaced. (source)

GFCI protection should be provided anywhere there is a receptacle installed in an area subject to moisture, as the presence of humidity significantly increases the danger of accidental shock. The National Electric Code specifies many such regions in residential dwelling units, such as, but not limited to: Bathrooms; Garages and accessory buildings; All exterior receptacles; Crawl spaces; Unfinished basements; Kitchens; Laundry, Utility, Wet Bar Sink Areas; and Boathouses. Local building authorities may have additional requirements. The list of areas requiring GFCI protection has increased with every code revision. They were initially only required around pool areas in the '70s. Now they seem to be nearly needed everywhere. (source)

At Got Watts Electric, we are entirely committed to the safety of your home and family when it comes to electricity. These facts and more are reasons to contact us today to schedule an electrical inspection of your home to be sure you and your family are safe from the dangers of ground faults. Contact us today to schedule a routine inspection.

Electrical Upgrades for EV Cars.

Electrical upgrade for EV cars.

Upgrading to an electric car is a big step in saving you money and helping the environment along the way.  But what kind of upgrading will electric vehicles need and what is the purpose of the upgrade? Arguably the best part about an electric vehicle is its reliance on electricity to run, so a proper charge is vital to the motor of the electric car. The charging station for your EV purchase should be able to give it the best and longest charge possible. Plugging into a standard 120-volt electrical outlet can work, but if lights start to flicker and surge - you're in need of an upgraded system.

AC Level 1 - 120V/15A. Generally takes 8-12 hours for a full charge of the EV, or additional 2-5 miles driving range for each hour charged. Uses a typical 3-prong household plug but does require a dedicated branch circuit to keep other items in the home that are plugged in, safe.

AC Level 2 - 240V-30-70A. It takes 3-6 hours to reach a full charge, or additional 10-60 miles driving range for each hour charged. This type of system requires the installation of a specific home charging device with dedicated circuitry. It is not compatible with a typical 3-prong household outlet. This type of system upgrade can also come with a very beneficial offer incentive or rebate depending on your local government. This setup is also fully customizable.

DC Fast Charging. This type of charging is rapid speed, a full charge in just 20 to 40 minutes! But this is a setup that requires a lot of specialized equipment and electrical upgrades to handle the output of all that power. That is why these types of charging systems are usually found in public areas such as apartment complexes, downtown areas, workplaces, retail hubs, etc.

Keep it green and make sure you're not wasting power with the right upgrade for your system. A faster charge with a newly upgraded system for your EV means more people can see just how much more practical it is to charge your ride rather than fill up.

Got Watts Electric can help you with your EV car needs, contact us today.

Does switching to solar power really save money in the long run?

gwe solar power moneyFor years you may have been told that switching to solar panels to run your electricity will save you money in the long run. Sure it helps protect the planet but is making the switch an excellent investment to help save you from skyrocketing energy cost? 

Right now you pay your electric company forever kilowatt (kWh) of electricity you use. The price varies depending on where you live. In some places, you may only pay around 8 cents per kWh, and in other areas, you could be paying as much as 20 cents or more on your electric bill. 

When you invest in solar energy, you are installing your mini power plant right on the roof of your own home. You will get your electricity from your mini power plant instead of paying hundreds of dollars to your power company. If you are a homeowner who pays more for per (kWh), you will save a significant amount of money overall. 

While you may be tempted to purchase a cheaper solar panel system, you will reap greater rewards in investing in higher quality equipment that will not need replacement and expensive patience to maintain. It is always good to research your options thoroughly before deciding on new solar panels. 

Just like every innovative technology, the price of solar panels has dropped over the years as more people adopt this sustainable way of life. As time goes on solar energy will become an affordable option for many families from all walks of life across the globe.