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


I have an electrical panel in a closet! Do I have to move it if I need to upgrade it?

electrical panel closetThe short, safest and most efficient answer to this question is yes. According to the national code, with relation to electrical panels in closets: NEC 240.24D Overcurrent devices shall not be located in the vicinity of easily ignitable materials, such as a clothes closet. However, there are a few issues to consider a bout the language of this code and how it applies to your specific situation.

A quick Google search on the issue brings up a widespread debate among the Electrician Community about what can be properly defined as the “vicinity” or what constitutes a “closet." Some electricians might suggest that a panel located on the opposite wall of a clothes closet is still within the “vicinity." Some electricians argue that the definition of a “clothes closet” (as described specifically in the code) can easily be changed by removing the clothing rod and making the closet a space that doesn’t store easily ignitable material.

The bottom line is your family’s safety. An experienced and professional electrician wants to give you an honest assessment of your situation. If you have an electrical panel in a closet used to store clothes, you’re already taking an enormous risk. If a loose connection occurs in your existing electrical panel, sparks, those simple sparks can easily ignite the clothes hanging in your closet, and in a matter of seconds, set fire to your entire home. 

Cutting corners to save money when it comes to electricity could easily be the worst decision you’ve ever made - electrical accidents are responsible for more home fires than almost any other cause. Upgraded and properly located electrical panels bring you peace of mind about your family’s safety, lower your electric bill costs, and increase your home’s energy efficiency. 

The benefits of making proper electrical decisions will always outweigh the convenience of taking the easy way out. 


Why a Home Battery Solution is Heads Above the Rest

solar home batteriesRegardless of our station in life, we are all looking for ways to increase our savings and decrease our stress when it comes to the daily running of our home.

More often than not, electricity bills are one of the largest bills we pay each month and even after cutting corners, we find that we cannot seem to get it small enough. The home battery solution is a newer and more convenient alternative. These home batteries are quickly becoming a solution that fits every home’s need for lower utility bills. Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Home Storage Batteries maximize consumption of your power
    In a traditional solar panel power setup, the solar panels on your roof, and your home are backed up to the grid - this means that if you are not producing enough energy from your solar panels, you will still have power fed to your home from the grid. Typically, if you make more power than you consume, you can sell the excess back to the grid for discounts or credits on your electric bill. However, sell-back fees have changed quite substantially over the years and continue to be subject to change. Residential battery storage lets you control and store all of your excess power. If you have a solar panel system that’s giving you more power than what you use, these batteries store the power for you instead of selling it back to the grid. The power from these batteries is then availed for inclement weather or low sun conditions.
  2. Home Storage Batteries keep your home’s electricity resilient
    If you have solar panels, survival is possible until your solar power runs out and the grid takes over. However if the entire grid is down, you and your neighbors are left with no power at all. The home battery solution means as long as there is power left in your batteries you can continue using your home’s electricity at no cost.
  3. Home Storage Batteries reduce your carbon footprint
    Removing your home from the grid and making it self-sufficient is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. In the past, ‘going green’ was not a reliable way of living each day comfortably, especially concerning energy sources. Newer technologies like the battery backup system are both earth-friendly and dependable.
  4. Home Storage Batteries dramatically save on your electricity costs
    A home battery system installed into your home’s solar power system means your electricity bills will either be non-existent or so much more affordable than they were, you will barely notice them. The cost savings you will discover in your utility bill will more than pay for the home battery system quite quickly, and you will save hundreds, even thousands of dollars every year on your electricity bills.
  5. Home Storage Batteries are affordable to install
    Believe it or not, solar systems and home battery solutions are affordable to have installed in your home. There are government incentives to install a solar system, and the costs involved is outweighed by the amount of savings each year on your utility bills.

I want to install 3-prong receptacles in a 2-prong receptacles home... what do I do?

two prong outletsTwo-prong outlets are not just inconvenient; they also pose a real safety hazard. The third prong on a plug is designed to give a fault path in the event of a short in the wire or device that is connected shorts out. Without a ground path, electrical shock or fire could occur. A metal light fixture, for example, could become energized on its exterior, making it dangerous to touch, and because there is no grounding, the breaker will not trip - a potentially deadly scenario.

The solution, however, is not just a quick replacement from a two-prong to a three prong receptacle. First off, if the wiring system is not properly grounded, then this “fix” is an illegal one. The simplest way to figure out if your wiring is properly grounded is to purchase a three-prong plug tester that will show "open ground."  

In some cases, a home's wiring is grounded, yet three prong receptacles were not installed during construction because it was cheaper to install two-pronged receptacles. In other cases, there is no wire or proper grounding path. Improperly grounded wiring is not uncommon in houses built more than 50 or 60 years ago.

Most likely, your old two prong receptacle is so loose that plugs fall out of it, or it is brittle discolored and cracking - if any of these situations exist, the time to replace them is now. If you have discovered that you do not have the properly required grounding, GFI’s are the solution to protect the circuit.  GFI’s can be used with breakers or receptacles. It is possible for a single GFI outlet to protect an entire circuit, but it is crucial that you hire an electrician to determine your exact circuit paths.

The reason GFI receptacles are both legal and advised is that they can detect trace levels of leakage current, and open the circuit even faster than the breaker. This reason is why GFI’s are required near sources of water (like the bathroom and kitchen), or outdoors.

An electrician will determine for you whether you can install standard plugs, or if you need a GFI. If you do need a GFI, your electrician will know how to wire it correctly, and in the right location.


Is Going Solar in the San Francisco Bay Area a Good Idea?

solar power californiaNot only is solar power as an alternative energy source rapidly becoming the most popular way to power a home, but San Francisco Bay homeowners are also in one of the most prime locations to take the most advantage of it. California holds the record for the most solar power usage over every other state in the nation. Because of the area’s fantastic access to sun exposure, many solar energy customers enjoy the benefits of relying solely on solar rather than the traditional power grid.

In addition to location, there are many benefits to going solar in the San Francisco Bay area. These advantages include:

  • A relatively short payback period for solar investments.
  • Solar investments provide an Investment Rate Return of 10-20% that is more secure than the stock market and better than a savings investment.
  • After your solar energy pays for itself, it becomes practically free.
  • Not only does solar power save you significant money on your electric bill, but it could also eliminate it!
  • Solar energy fixes your costs of electricity; thus you’re shielded from ever increasing electricity rates that sometimes go up an average of 6.7% per year.
  • Solar energy is renewable, clean and sustainable, which makes it an environmentally friendly energy. Installing home and commercial solar panels help to protect our environment.
  • Solar energy does not generate pollutants that contribute to climate change and global warming, smog or acid rain.
  • Solar energy contributes to the local economy and job growth.
  • Solar power systems are expandable and adjustable - they can be added to or reduced when the need for more or less energy arises.

Although the upfront costs of a new solar power system are somewhat high, even with finance charges, your solar power system begins to save you money on your electricity bills on day one. Solar energy is a fantastic solution and environmentally friendly alternative energy that's an excellent idea for residents of San Francisco Bay and all Californians.


Top 5 Winter Energy Savings Tips of 2016

winter energy tipsEnergy Saver is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) consumer resource on saving energy and using renewable energy technologies at home. This year, they have compiled a list of the most useful winter energy savings tips of 2016. Here are the top five:

  1. Take Advantage of the Sun’s Natural Heat
    When you open the blinds or curtains on your south-facing windows during the day, you allow sunlight to heat your home naturally.  Close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
  2. Keep Drafty Windows Covered  
    Avoid being exposed to the chill brought in through drafty windows by purchasing and applying a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  3. Adjust your Thermostat
    Remember to wear layers so that while you’re home and awake, your heater’s temperature stays as low as is comfortable. Turn your thermostat back up ten to fifteen degrees while you’re asleep or away. This method alone can save you around ten percent on your heating bill. Programmable thermostats make it easier to set back your temperature at appropriate times.
  4. Locate and Seal Leaks or Gaps
    Seal air leaks around utility cut-throughs for plumbing pipes, gaps around chimneys. Seal gaps around recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
  5. Service and Maintain Your Heating Systems
    Schedule regular service and maintenance appointments for your heating system.Find out what maintenance is required by you to keep your heating system operating efficiently. Replace your furnace filter once a month or as needed. Find out what maintenance is required to keep your furnace or boiler running properly. Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently.

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