ACI Northwest Blog : Posts Tagged ‘Electrical’

Why You Might Want a Whole House Generator

Monday, April 13th, 2020

A home generator that provides electricity during a power outage. It is connected to a propane gas supply.The clouds seem to be parting a bit more often and allowing the sun to peek through every once in a while. It certainly isn’t time to go sunbathing but you can tell that spring is trying to break through the leftover winter weather. However, this doesn’t mean that we are completely in the clear. April is supposed to be one of our wettest seasons of the year which can create a risk for things like flooding. Likewise, a bad storm could present problems like down power lines.

What we are getting at here is that weather can be unpredictable and disruptive when you least expect it. And, especially with how much extra time most of us are spending at home, it is important to make sure that you will be able to stay comfortable even if something happens, like the power getting cut off. One way to ensure you stay safe and comfortable while at home is to invest in a  whole house generator.

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What Goes Into Electrical Maintenance?

Monday, March 30th, 2020

electrical-components-and-toolsThe systems around your home require maintenance if you want them to run well. Whether this means clearing the dust out of your home desktop computer tower, cleaning out the fridge, or getting AC maintenance services, maintenance is an important part of keeping things working the way you want, and your electrical system is no exception.

Having maintenance done on your electrical system is important not just for the sake of your monthly utility bills but also for the well-being of your appliances. If a part of your system isn’t working right it can damage an essential appliance. Let’s take a moment to look at what goes maintaining all things electrical in Coeur d’Alene, ID and why you should schedule your next check-up sooner than later.

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Why You Should Consider a Surge Protector

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

outlet-on-wall-with-cord-plugged-inWas that thunder you just heard? You know that thunder and lightning go hand-in-hand so you are a little worried about your electrical appliances. Or maybe the wind has been particularly strong today and you are sweating over how strong that wooden pole is that is holding up the powerlines. Worrying about the factors that could cause a power surge that shuts down your home functions is something we all have done.

If you have a surge protector, however, you don’t have to worry.

Surge protectors are great additions to your home that offer some great protections from strong power surges that could otherwise cause damage to appliances around your home or even cause your home to lose power entirely. If you are considering surge protectors for your home and wondering if they are the right fit for you, we can help you make that decision with the information you need and the electricians in Spokane Valley, WA who can get the job done.

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Check Your Electrical System Before Plugging in Holiday Lights!

Monday, December 9th, 2019

holiday-lights-cozy-settingIt’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Goodwill is in the chilly air, gifts are being purchased, and evenings are being spent in comfort by the fire (or simply enjoying the modern marvel of central heating). If you are like us, chances are you are already in the process of decorating your home for the holidays. Multiple strings of lights and decorations will bedeck your home inside and out.

Before you dive in too deep on plugging in all those light, we want to give you a quick warning that you may want to check your electrical panel. The reason why we are offering this word of caution is that the wrong string of lights could overload your electrical panel and cause a decent amount of trouble.

If you aren’t in the mood to deal with electrical trouble this holiday season, our advice to be to find out what you need to be cautious of and what you can do to keep this month free of unwanted sparks.

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5 Easy Ways to Save Electricity Around the Home

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Looking for ways to save money on your energy bills without sacrificing your home comfort? Follow these 5 simply tips that can help you to cut down your bills. Contact our friendly helpful technicians for more information!

  • Replace your lightbulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Check the labels at the store and make sure you’ve chosen efficient CFL bulbs that are the right size for the fixture you are using. They may be more costly than other bulbs at first, but they can last decades and will use much less electricity over the years.
  • Wash with cold water. Cold water can get your laundry and dishes clean just as well as hot water, and you can save money on your water heating bills—up to 40 cents per load of laundry.
  • Use a power strip. Plug in your electronics to a power strip, and shut off the power button on the power strip when you are done using them.
  • Learn to use your programmable thermostat. Many homeowners are unsure of how to use their homes’ programmable thermostats for maximum energy savings. Locate the manual for your thermostat (try searching online!), or call a technician for help understanding the settings. In the summer, find the warmest temperature that is the most comfortable for everyone in your family—experts recommend 78° F—and keep it at this setting most of the time. Program the thermostat 10° higher for when you are away or asleep. Keep it at 68° F in the winter.
  • Change or clean your air filter. The air filter in your heating and air conditioning system helps to keep your air clean and stops debris from interfering with system operation. When it’s too dirty, air may be unable to flow into the system, which means it will have to use a lot of energy in an attempt to cool or heat your home. Change or clean the filter (if it is reusable) once a month for better efficiency.

ACI Northwest is here to help with your home comfort needs or concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact us for helpful advice or service in Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding areas.

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How to Reset Your Electrical Panel

Monday, September 28th, 2015

When there is a power outage in your neighborhood, the only way to restore power to your home is to have a generator installed as a backup. But when the power goes out in your home only or in a specific part of your home, there is usually an easy fix. Resetting the electrical panel or a specific breaker therein allows you to resume daily tasks as usual.

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Electrical Considerations for a New Security System

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Homeowners have a natural desire to keep their family and possessions safe. A reliable security system is an excellent way of doing so. Here in Spokane, electrical services can help you plan for and install a new security system. Because so many security systems rely on electricity to work, you should consult with an expert before deciding which system is right for you. Here are some electrical considerations for a new security system that you should keep in mind.

Security systems typically rely on sensors to work. Contacts on your doors and windows will alert you if someone tries to break in, while motion detectors in key areas of the homes (usually centralized rooms and “choke points” such as stairways or halls). Depending upon your home, you may want to have motion-activated security lights installed as well, to activate in the event of movement in your yard.

All of these things require wiring to function as they should. That means you need to chart a path from their location to the central security box and/or the circuit breaker box in your home. The electrician will need to run wiring to all those locations, which may involve moving around plumbing, other electrical wires and even load-bearing woodwork depending on the specifics of your home. (Alternately, you could just run the wiring along the outside of the walls, but that can ruin the aesthetics of your home as well as leaving the wires vulnerable to damage.) The electrician also needs to calculate the load for each component and ensure that the new wiring can handle it without triggering the circuit breakers. It’s not usually a problem – security systems don’t require much electricity to work – but professional evaluation can ensure that no issues arise.

Any electrical considerations for a new security system need to take your safety in mind. The system needs to work at all times, or else it may as well not be working at all.

If you live in Spokane, WA or Coeur d’Alene, ID, electrical services like those at ACI Northwest can make that process a lot easier. Give us a call today and we’ll help you set your system up right!

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Not Just Lightning: The Causes of Power Surges

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

When people think of power surges and trying to protect their home’s appliances from them, the first image that comes to mind is something catastrophic like a lightning strike or power lines downed during a storm. Although those are definitely cause for concern and reason to find ways to keep your electrical system safe, there are more frequent reasons for power surges that can go on continually and add up to tremendous damage.

Power strips along the outlets are a layer of protection that works when it comes to power surges. However, they do not do well against most of the more insidious and frequent causes for surges. In addition to those power strips, you need to have a whole-house surge protector. Installation requires the work of professional electricians. For the necessary electrical services that will install a whole-house surge protector, contact the expert electricians at ACI Northwest today.

Causes of Power Surges

  • Lightning: Yes, this is a serious problem even if it isn’t as common as the others. A lightning strike on power lines can result in a massive surge that no home’s electrical system can bear. The power that comes through the lines is enough to ruin systems such as computers and home entertainment centers. A power strip is some defense against this, but not always. In any case involving expensive equipment, you need the best protection possible, and a whole-house surge protector offers a level above power strips.
  • High-Powered Appliances: This is the reason for most surges in a home: whenever an appliance comes on that demands large amount of power—such as the compressors of air conditioners and refrigerators—it put strain on system that can unbalance the flow of voltage. This may not necessarily cause a power outage, but the low-level will start to gradually damage other components connected to the system. Flickering lights are a common warning sign that this is happening and you should have a whole-house surge protector. Power strips do not help with this.
  • Bad Wiring: If you live in an older home, aging wiring can lead to uneven voltage that will cause similar damage to when powerful appliances turn on. For pre-1970 homes, you should have an electrician not only install whole-house surge protection, but also investigate if the wiring needs replacement.
  • Utility company problems: Surges can sometimes come from the power company itself if they experience equipment malfunction. These surges can range from small to “power line downed” level, so make sure you electrical system is prepared for anything.

Whole-house surge protectors are an easy installation for professional electricians: they connect them at the electrical control panel and test to make sure they work properly. To arrange for the work, call ACI Northwest today. We provide many types of electrical service in Spokane, WA.

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What Are GFCI Outlets and Why Should I Have Them Installed?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Electrical outlets continue to improve with each decade. Old two-prong outlets gave way to grounded three-prong outlets. And now GFCI outlets are overtaking the standard three-prong model.

You have already encounter GFCI outlets before, although you perhaps did not know that is what they are called or what they do. GFCI outlets have two buttons, usually color-coded red and yellow, between their two sockets. A small difference, but an important one.

If your home still has standard three-prong outlets (or archaic two-prong ones), you should make installation of new GFCI outlets a priority. ACI Northwest specializes in this installation work. We have served Couer d’Alene with electrical services for many years. Call us today to schedule an appointment to improve your home’s electrical safety.

GFCI outlets: protecting people from electrical shocks

GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. It performs a function similar to a fuse. But where a fuse is designed to protect your electrical system from an overload and prevent fires, a ground-fault circuit interrupter is designed to protect you from a direct electrical shock.

A GFCI outlet can detect a subtle change between the flow from the “neutral” and the “hot” slots in an outlet. (The hot slot is the smaller of the two slots.) Power flows from the hot slot through an appliance and to the neutral slot during regular operation. The ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet monitors the amount of current moving from hot to neutral, and should it detect a change in the balance—as small as 4 or 5 milliamps—it will immediately trip an internal circuit breaker that cuts off power to the outlet. An imbalance like this means that the power from the hot side is going into something other than the appliance, and that usually means it is going into a person. With a correctly working GFCI outlet, the power will shut off before you can even notice the shock. You can then reset the circuit by pressing the “reset” button on the outlet.

Although modern homes have sturdier electrical systems capable of handling large electrical loads, this doesn’t lessen the danger from electrical shocks due to malfunctioning appliances or from accidents. Installing GFCI outlets will greatly reduce the potential for electrical injury in your home.

Call ACI Northwest for all your Couer d’Alene, WA electrical needs. We can perform fast and effective installation of new outlets that will keep you and your family safe.

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How Does Electricity Work?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

When you need any kind of electrical services in Spokane, make sure that you call the professionals electricians at ACI Northwest. We often hear about customers attempting to do it themselves and either injuring themselves or damaging their home’s electrical system. We wanted to explain, very briefly, about how electricity works to that our customers can understand it better and also understand why it is so dangerous to work with. Call our Spokane electrical technicians if you need any kind of services for your home’s electrical system.

What Is Electricity?

Electricity is the flow of electrons. If you remember seeing a picture of an atom in your science classes you may recall that there was a ball at the center comprised of protons and neutrons, and there were a bunch of swirling spheres around the outside: these are electrons.

Different materials easily give up these electrons: these are called conductors. In order to generate a flow of electrons you need a material that easily absorbs and then passes on electrons. Water and various metals like copper and gold are very good conductors. If you had a copper wire and you sent an electron from one end to the other it would get there very quick because copper atoms are very good at giving up electrons.

Obviously, we need more than one electron in order to power things like our computers, our homes and our cars. We need a constant current of electrons. This current of electrons is measured in Amperes. A typical home wall outlet is rated for 15 amps while a 9 volt battery can have .5 amps.  The speed or force at which electrons travel on a current is described by its Voltage.

How is Electricity Generated?

There are a couple different ways to generate electricity. The first is through chemical reactions. The interaction of certain chemicals and metals will generate an electric current which is how car batteries work.

Another way to generate electricity is with magnets and wire. If you pass a magnet by a coil of wire you can induce an electrical current. This is how power plants work. Nuclear power plants use nuclear energy to generate heat which turns water into steam that powers giant generators that contain magnets and wires.

If you have any questions about electricity or if you need any kind of electrical services, just call the Spokane electrical technicians at ACI Northwest.

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