Electrical Tips

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Auto vs Manual Transfer Switches

generator transfer switchIt’s that time of year again in California where the sun is hot, and the storms can get nasty. With the potential risk of losing power, many businesses and some homes rely on a backup generator to keep everything running smoothly during a storm. These backup generators all have a transfer switch, a name that is very literal because you flip a switch and it then transfers electricity to all things relying on it. This switch also allows the backup generator to remain isolated from power lines that may be getting repaired at the same time.

There are two types of transfer switches, manual and automatic. The choice of which is right for you depends on what kind of electrical intake goes through your home, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of business/house it is.

For a manual switch, be prepared to walk around in the dark for a little bit. As the name states, this will be a manual process, which means locating the generator in the dark (make sure you have new batteries for that flashlight) and start it manually and connect to the transfer switch. When power has been restored to the occupancy, you will have to manually shut off the generator after switching back over to the original power.

For the automatic switch, there is a lot less footwork to be done. The name implies right away that the backup generator will work automatically. If everything is in working order, it’s very possible not even to realize the power has gone out as the backup generator kicks in. A couple of seconds of flickering lights might be the only indicator you have. Same goes for when the utility power comes back on, it automatically shuts off the generator and reconnects to the utility power with no damage done.

Automatic switches are perfect for businesses that require lots of electricity and have no time for power failures, hospitals being the leading example. Whereas a manual switch would make more sense in a two bedroom home that was reasonably cozy. The cost will make a difference too, so figure out which switch works best for you today!

Update Your Outlets

old outlets replacedA new year has begun, and spring is just around the corner. With spring comes spring cleaning, but cleaning doesn’t need to stop at dusting and mopping. It may be time to clean out your old outlets and upgrade to new ones. But how can you be sure you should replace them? Is it necessary? Is your home at any risk if you don’t? There are a few key signs that determine if it’s time for an upgrade, see if your home is due for one!

  1. If your home was built long ago, it’s time to upgrade! Everyone loves a classic look in a home, but no one wants the inner-workings of a classic home. Old homes tend to have faulty electric if it hasn’t been maintained, this alone should let the owner know the electric, and outlets, need an upgrade.
  2. 3’s never a crowd. 3-prong outlets are a must anymore, 2-prong outlets pose too much of a risk – especially if they’re ungrounded. This goes along with upgrading an older electric system in an older home. Make sure to replace any 2-prong outlets along the way in your electric remodel.
  3. Smell fish? Have you ever walked into a room and smelt an aroma of fish, but no one has cooked any? This could be a sign that you have a bad outlet and is currently melting/burning a plug inside it. This is a huge problem and could cause even bigger ones if not taken care of immediately. Find the source, unplug it with caution, and plan to replace the outlet entirely as well as have the wiring checked as soon as possible.
  4. Water and electric don’t mix! OF course, that’s an obvious statement, but did you know you need specific outlets in areas where water use is heavy? Rooms such as bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms, pool rooms, etc., are required to have GFCI outlets. GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter and the simple definition is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. This specific outlet requirement could save a life one day.

If you feel like your home is due for a major upgrade after reading that, consider this your sign. Take your home into 2018 and beyond and keep your home safe with a full electrical upgrade.

What is the proper etiquette when an electrician does work in a home?

electrician homeIt can be a significant inconvenience anytime you need to call someone to provide maintenance services inside your home. Not only do you have to make sure you were home from work, but you also have the additional task of making sure they do not leave your home dirtier than when they arrived.

Electricians, plumbers, HVAC workers, and others, all sometimes work in dirty environments; such as tromping through the mud, fitting into unused crawl spaces, and many another task that cause their boots and clothes to get dirty. The last thing a homeowner wants when they arrive at their door is for them to be tracking mud and dirt in their home.

We’ve all heard many horror stories of electricians coming in and leaving the homeowner with a huge mess!

So what is the proper etiquette for electricians doing work inside your home?

We can’t speak for other electricians, but at Switched Electric, we make sure we leave our workspace as clean and tidy as we found it. We care for your home as if it were our own. We always set up plastic when needed, use dropcloths, and tarps to make sure dust and debris are not scattered around the home.

Our electricians pride themselves with a courteous attitude and careful consideration to the homeowner's needs. We always show up with a truckload full of tools to fulfill every aspect of the job.

At Switched Electric we know you only get one chance at a first impression. When we leave, you will be happy with the job well done and the fantastic customer service.

Future of Solar Energy in California

by Nicole Stevens

california solar powerCalifornia has become a front-runner in the use of solar energy. It seems almost too good to be true, a reliable energy source that never runs out, and is free? That’s exactly what solar energy is, and California is taking it into the future as a source of efficient and reliable energy.

Did you know that already this year, California has produced SO MUCH solar energy it had to  pay some states to take the excess energy off their hands? Now you may be wondering, why get rid of all this energy if it’s so resourceful? Well, so much solar power was generated that it could have easily overload California’s own power lines. So rather than have wasted energy, and to prove how great solar energy actually is, it was shared amongst other cities and even paid to try.

Solar energy is a solid source for future energy sources, though achieving a widespread usage of solar power is an issue due to power companies holding the majority of the market in a monopoly.  These companies are still relying on fossil fuels to power their customers and can see solar energy as a huge threat. This comes from a limited supply of fossil fuels vs. the previously mentioned endlessly free supply of solar energy.

In California, there is no main corporation in charge of the energy policy. Unfortunately, this means Californians pay a much higher price for their power and electricity than the rest of the U.S. states. Though, now solar panels have reached an affordable medium and cost virtually the same as purchasing from a power company. This couldn’t come at a better time, seeing as written in California Legislation; one half of the state must be using a renewable source of energy by 2030. As of now, one-fourth of the state falls under that category and with the affordability of solar panels, it could easily skyrocket way before the projected date of 2030.

If that sort of pattern continues, it could make way for widespread solar energy throughout all of California. The future of solar energy in California looks mighty bright, and only getting brighter!


Recessed Outlets

recessed outletsChanging your outlets to recessed outlets doesn't seem like it would be as big deal, but such a simple switch can make a huge visual difference in a home.

Recessed outlets are innies, not outies. These types of outlets go into the wall, allowing for the plug itself to take up space deeper in the wall. This feature alone shows the aesthetic quality of recessed outlets, removing a bulky plug from plain view and allowing it to be hidden behind various furniture. This also means no more awkward forced spaces between furniture and the wall. From TVs on a stand to TVs on the wall, a recessed outlet can fit them all! With these outlets, it allows the TV to be hanged on the wall without the protrusion of a plug sticking the bottom part up in an uneven fashion. Same goes for the use of electronic appliances in the kitchen. Countertop space can be saved with plugs and wires neatly tucked away, making the most of your cooking space.

These outlets benefit the constant evolution of electronics greatly as well. Most homes in this part of California are equipped with the standard two plug outlet, sometimes 4. With a recessed outlet, you get more outlets and more options. Styles come in 2, 4, and six plug outlets and also give the option to add other ports, like a USB port to charge your phone. There are also other ports available for video, audio, and other data. It is not your grandmother’s outlet.

The steps for switching over to recessed outlets are simple, but not for everyone. It is recommended to get the help of a licensed electrician here in Colorado Springs, to install these new outlets in your home if you’re not sure what wires belong to what. Give Switched Electric a call today and switch over to recessed outlets and make life easier in a day.

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Professional and great customer skills. Seth was on time, his quote was accurate and reviewed several possibilities.

Pauline T.
Mountain View, CA

Switched Electric is the greatest. Seth is skilled, professional, and friendly. He shows up when he says he will and he finishes when promised. His quoted prices are reasonable, and he makes useful suggestions to enhance the job and to save you money. I've worked with lots of contractors, and he's the best.

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San Francisco, CA

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Switched Electric services the Monterey area including, but not limited to, the following cities:

Carmel • Marina • Salinas • Seaside • Pacific Grove • Pebble Beach

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(831) 402-4193 • 798 Lighthouse Ave #320 • Monterey, CA 95940 • Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm