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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.

Fusion Power

nuclear fusion worksSources for power have always been a topic of significant discussion. The search for an elite power source has long since eluded scientists, physicists, and researchers. A popular pipe dream among them is the invention of fusion power. Fusion power means limitless power with virtually no adverse reactions, such as emitting greenhouse gases or radioactive waste. Is this sort of miracle of science foreseeable in our lifetime? Or is this something that requires many more years of research?

What exactly is fusion power?

The science correspondent for PBS, Miles O’ Brien, describes it like this; “Fusion is as old as the cosmos. It is the nuclear reaction that takes place in our sun and all the other stars in the universe. In a fusion reaction, hydrogen atoms collide at high speed, fusing together, forming a helium atom, releasing one neutron. Since the mass of the helium atom is less than the combined mass of the two atoms that collided in the first place, energy is released.” Man-made fusion was first introduced to the world in 1952, with the explosion of the hydrogen bomb. Because of the success with the bomb, a much more downsized version was desired in the form of a viable energy source.

Research into fusion power boomed in the remainder of the 50’s and into the 60’s. Research has advanced since then but still has not yet been perfected. The physics behind controlling a power plant size amount of fusion energy still eludes scientists. To say fusion energy will become a reality in the next 30 years would be a bit of a stretch, but not an impossibility. It is continuously being researched and tested to bring a never-ending supply of power with no waste emission to better the planet that we live on.

Zinsco Panels

zinsco panel replacementIf you live in an old home, chances are the electrical units in the home are old as well. This includes the electrical panels themselves. A company from the 30’s, Zinsco, was a popular manufacturer for electric panels in homes. In the present time, if you have these panels in your home, you are in serious need of an upgrade!

Zinsco became a household name with their electrical panels installed in most homes in the 70’s. To tell if this type of panel lurks in your home, it’s very obvious to spot. The Zinsco brand labels the panel, leaving no question who the manufacturer was. Be wary of many GTE-Sylvania or Sylvania panels, as they can be re-branded Zinsco panels and cause the same problems.

What exactly is the issue with these older panels? Besides the fact that they’re outdated and don’t run as efficiently as an updated model, they hold a high danger risk. “The circuit breakers inside many Zinsco panels melt to the main ‘bus bar.' This means the breaker can’t ever trip, even when there’s a short or overloaded circuit” (energytoday.biz). What this means is eventually a surge could cause power wires to melt and catch the entire home on fire. That is one of the biggest risks to take in keeping an old, outdated electrical panel in your home. One spark could be the last.

Ultimately, if you live in an older home (anything built before the 1990’s), it would be a wise decision to have an electrician check the electrical panels in your home. A Zinsco panel is an obsolete model that cannot handle the amount of electricity used in a modern household. The risk of electrical fire and shock are very high if the use of the Zinsco brand panel is continued to be used. An updated electrical panel may cost a bit more now than it did back then but proves to be well worth it in the end.


Why knob and tube wiring should be phased out of every home

SWI knob tube wiring californiaMany home upgrades made to a home are for the sake of convenience, functionality or even personal taste, but there’s one upgrade that has a much greater purpose: Protecting the safety and well-being of your home and family from the dangers of knob and tube wiring.

Between the 1880s and the 1930s, the most common form of home electrical wiring was Knob and Tube. With the advent of modern advances in electrical technology, there are safer and much more efficient methods for electrical wiring. Additionally, there are many benefits to upgrading or phasing out and replacing the knob and tube wiring in every home.

The most common issue with Knob and Tube is that the insulation material that constructs the outer casing consists of rubber, which (over time) breaks down and degrades. What this means for homes with Knob and Tube wiring is that eventually, it becomes dangerous as moisture and air reaches bare, live wires. Modern wiring systems, use durable plastic insulation materials - providing lasting protection.

While the complete conversion from Knob and Tube wiring to standard modern wiring is an investment, the benefits are well worth the costs. Ask your electrician how to gradually phase out your knob and tube wiring over time for cost-effectiveness. The safety this vital replacement provides far outweighs the tragedy and cost associated with a home fire or electrocution. It will also most likely make you eligible for a significant reduction in your home insurance premium.

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(209) 284-5996 • 3848 McHenry Avenue, Suite 135 • Modesto, CA 95356 • Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm