Monday, August 24, 2009

Save Electricity With Dimmers!

Dimmer switch's are a great and easy way to generate ambient light, and they can instantly start saving you money on your electricity consumption and bill. A low cost dimmer switch generally runs in between $18 and $35. DO NOT BUY ANYTHING CHEAPER! And, as a rule, I only purchase name brand devices such as Lutron, Hubbell, Leviton, Legrand or Watt Stopper. I have actually seen a $10 dimmer switch installed in the wall, catch on fire. It was at a friends home, who ordered it online.... We were both fortunate enough to be there to both witness and save the event from a catastrophe. The UL listing on every device you buy should also be apparent on the packaging.
Dimmer switch's come with an awesome variety of functions, including pre-programmed functions and remote dimming. There are "green" type dimmers now from Lutron that have an indicator light that shows you when you are saving at least 15% as compared to a "full on" setting. Most all dimmer types are available in 3 way, 4 way and so on, so you can install them in hallways or larger rooms with more than one entry. Remote dimmers, and IR ( Infrared )are becoming more popular because of their mobile capability's.
A typical residential single-location 600W dimmer ranges from
$18 for standard dimmers to $65 for advanced dimmers. This investment can be easily recouped by substantial energy savings that result from using the dimmer. Here’s how:

1. Average residential dimmer load = 300 watts
2. Average energy savings while dimmer is in use = 20%
3. Average daily residential dimmer use = 3 hours
4. Total electricity savings = decrease in load (300 watts x 20%) x hours used (3
hrs/day x 365 days) = 65.7kWh / year
5. Average cost of residential electricity = $0.112 per kWh
6. Average annual cost savings = 65.7 kWh/year x $0.112/kWh= $7.36/ year, per dimmer installed.

Dimmers are generally designed to last about 10 years. With that in mind, you can potentially save $73.60 in the 10 years of use X each dimmer in your home. The more you dim, the more you save
Dimmers operated for longer periods of time, at dimming levels greater than 20%, save
even more electricity and money. For example, here’s what happens when you dim a
light by 50% for 5 hours/day:
1. Annual electricity savings = decrease in load (300 watts x 50%) x hours used (5
hs/day x 365 days) = 270kWh/yr
2. Annual cost savings = 270kWh/yr x $0.112/kWh = $30.24/ a year. In this case, a single residential dimmer saves $30.24/year. This would reduce this
payback period for an average dimmer (at $16) to less than seven months. These calculations are available on Lutron's website at

Thanks for reading! Talk next time,
Ask Doug the electrician!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ask Douglas Doherty Electric! Logo

Work Completed!

Changing cover plates in your house

Hi ! Its Doug... Does anyone have dirty yucky cover plates on their switch's or outlet's? It happens! Generally you can spray a cloth or paper towel with an antibacterial 409 type of cleaner, then wipe away the gunft and grime! If the plates are an older type or painted, chipped, cracked, wallpapered,etc. then changing them an is easy task. You only need one small flathead screwdriver, thin and tight (examination type) rubber gloves, and the new plates! Be sure to try to use a smaller flathead screwdriver because the cover plate screws have a small slot on them. You don't want to strip the screw, they are sometimes easy to do that with a larger screwdriver.
So here's your first step in replacing the cover plates in your home :

1. Put on your rubber gloves. If you don't, you will get the grime from touching the old plates on your wall. It always happens. So, now take one switch plate completely off, generally two small screws on top and bottom. Then take one outlet plate completely off, which is generally one screw in the middle. Take off your gloves, you definitely don't want to go to the store wearing them.
2. Take those plates to the supply store that your new plates await, and be sure to match the switch and outlet types with the new. This way you will avoid any unnecessary trips back and forth.
3. Once you are ready to install the new plates, lay them out at each of their new locations on the floor below. Be sure to open each cover plate package individually, at each switch or outlet. This way, if you drop the small screws out of the package, you can retrieve them because you are PAYING ATTENTION. Easy, huh?
4. Place the new plate on the wall with one hand, and set in the first small screw with the other. I usually have my screwdriver in my tool bags, but a close pocket works great for quick reaching! So, grab your driver and set/screw in the screw just until it gets slightly snug. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN! The plate could break, so be easy. I usually set the screw/screws to face straight up and down, so it gives a professional look!
5. If the plate is not exactly straight, you can sometimes gently place the screwdriver at either top or bottom of the edge of the plate, and give a slight bump on the end of the driver to move the plate. Sometimes you need to bump a little tougher to move it into a straight position, but don't try too hard. If it does not move at all, then leave it alone. Your electrician will need to take a look at it and probably straighten up the circuitry behind the device. No worries, at least you have a nice new plate!
THATS IT! If you are not too certain about touching the switch's or outlets because of the electricity, you can always ask a friend to help. YOU KNOW HOW NOW THOUGH, so thats cool.

Thanks for reading, and please stay tuned for more electrical fun!

Doug the electrician!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Troubleshooting today - Friday August 7, 2009

Happy Friday! This week I completed a full kitchen remodel, which included all new circuitry and LED recessed lighting. We also are installing electronic ballast under cabinet lighting, which will be on a separate switch. This project is unique because we are installing plug molding made by TASK lighting. The Customer is installing a full backsplash with glass and tile, so they did not want to see the outlets and cover plates. Awesome idea, and it turns out really well. I will review the fixtures once I install them next week. We passed our city inspection and there are no code issues, so the Customer has a crew of sheet rockers to button up the walls, and tape and texture!
Our project today involved a existing junction box in the kitchen that was buried behind the sheet rock. We discovered it while working this week. The Customer did not want it there, so we had to figure a way to eliminate it. So.... We cut a bit more sheet rock open to trace our circuits and take off the stapling. Lucky! The buried junction box was an older switch box for the front entry lighting, and we were able to redirect our circuitry into the entry lighting box. Which is where the circuits belonged in the first place. NEVER bury circuitry in the walls. There in always a solution!
Doug the electrician!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Welcome to Ask Doug The ELectrician's Blog!

Hello to all! Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, but not new to electrical talk! Most of my jobs involve informing the Customer of the work done at their home or business. That way They feel comfortable about my work, and I do as well. Please feel free to ask me any questions about your electrical system or its components in your home or business. I have been in the construction industry for over 12 years, and I have been lucky to have learned a great deal about the different construction trades and their practices. I have been in the electrical industry since 2000, and I almost wonder what would have happened if I would have got into it much sooner... Wow! I like that thought! Anyway, please feel free to ask any question you may have and If I do not know the answer right off, I WILL FIND IT! I always tell my Customers to please feel free to ask me any question about anything electrical, because I'll get them an answer.
Doug The Electrician!