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How do Home Generators Work?

Most of us have experienced power outages at our home, and they always seem to happen at the most inconvenient time. It may happen on the coldest day of the year, on our favorite holiday with all our family present, or when we are home sick with the flu … it happens.

Generators come in different sizes, manual/automatic, different power sources, and of course different price tags. Only you can decide what is appropriate for you and your home.

Generators don’t create electricity. They convert other energy sources, such as gasoline, natural gas, or propane into electricity. This energy runs through the generator’s alternator, which converts the mechanical energy to electrical energy.

A manual portable generator is similar to the ones seen being used by power crews doing cleanup after a storm. It is stored away in the garage until it needs to be brought out for emergency use. It produces a limited amount of electricity at any one time. Power cords for only the most essential items are plugged into this power source.

An automatic generator is hooked into the home’s circuit breaker system, so that it can monitor when an emergency happens and can automatically report for duty. When electricity is restored, it senses that its job is done and shuts itself off.

Don’t assume this automatic system is out of your financial reach. There are many options available when purchasing an automatic generator. You may only want to keep your vital appliances running and limit usage to most of your home during an emergency.

Douthit Electrical can discuss the many options available to you when considering the purchase of a generator for your home. From a small manual gas-powered generator … to a system that can seamlessly power your home for weeks, with no constant attention from you … we can discuss them all with you.

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

 


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How to Replace a Light Switch

In our last blog, we discussed how to replace an electrical outlet. The need to replace a light switch is less common, but the process is very similar. Here are tips on how to replace a single pole light switch that controls only 1 light from one location. Just as before, we always suggest never taking on an electrical project unless you are completely confident in your abilities.

We recommend having the following tools available before starting:

  • Replacement light switch, of course
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire Stripper
  • Needlenose pliers.
  • Voltage detector, not required but suggested.

First, turn off your power to the light switch at the breaker box. Then double check that the existing light switch is not getting any power. It is extremely important when working with electricity, to always put safety first.

Take off the faceplate and then remove the screws that fasten the switch to the wall. Gently pull the switch out from the wall and take a look at the wires connected to it.

The wires should be connected to the older switch either by looping around the terminal screws or through holes in the back. Before unhooking those wires, take notes or even a photo to remind yourself about the original setup. Once you’ve done that, unhook the wires and remove.

The red or black wire attaches either to the brass screw or connects through the hole on the same side as the brass screw. The white wire connects to the silver screw or through the hole on that side. If the ground is attached to the switch (and not the box itself) unscrew that as well.

Now it’s time to install your new light switch. Attach the live (black or red) wire to the brass screw (or through the hole on that side) first. Next attach the neutral white wire, and finally the ground (if it is not already attached to the box.)

Take a moment to look over your work. If the wires are firmly attached to the correct screws/openings, carefully push the switch back into the wall and secure. Reattach the face plate.

Turn the breaker back on and restore power to the light switch. We hope you have successfully replaced your switch and light has been restored to your room.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Any electrical project in your home should be taken seriously. But replacing an existing outlet is one of the most common projects a homeowner will take on by themselves. Here’s basic instructions on how to replace an 110V electrical outlet with 2 wires and 1 ground.

1. Turn off the power at the main circuit panel.

2. Unscrew the outlet cover and remove it.

3. Use a voltage tester to confirm that the circuit is receiving no electricity.

4. Unscrew the outlet and gently pull it and its wires away from the wall.

5. Locate the terminals and remove both the black and white wires. The black wire (live) is usually connected with a gold or brass screw. The white wire (neutral) is usually connected with a silver screw.

6. Remove the ground wire (typically green or copper).

At this point, you should be able to remove the old outlet and replace it with the new one.

Connect the ground wire, then the black & white wires to the same screws as were attached before. Fit the new outlet into the wall and rescrew into the electrical box. Reattach the outlet cover.

Remember, you want to attach everything exactly as it was before. If you fear a faulty memory, take notes or even a photo of what the wires look like attached.

Once you’ve surveyed your work and believe you are ready to be tested, turn the power back on at the main circuit panel. Hopefully your nice new electrical outlet is working properly, and you can pat yourself on the back.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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What is a Short Circuit?

Going on a long trip? You are probably going to use your GPS or perhaps google map it to find the shortest distance you need to travel in order to arrive at your destination. Well, that is what electricity does!

Electricity must travel along its own roadway of circuits. If it finds a quicker way, just like us, it changes its normal route and detours. When that happens, a “short circuit” occurs.

A short circuit can be caused by many things. It can happen from destructive household pests, loose connections, or even insulation that has become damaged over time. There are many unseen home issues that can cause this.

When that happens, bare wires that should never have touched become instant short cuts for our electricity. This means too much power is moving across too short of a distance.  This causes more heat to be produced then was intended for our circuits and can lead to shocks, burns and/or fire.

Oftentimes a short circuit will lead to a circuit breaker constantly needing to be reset . Click here for our blog “Why does my breaker keep tripping.” A visual inspection of our home’s outlets, appliances and extension cords can sometimes offer information for a quick diagnosis.

Remember, a short circuit in your home can easily lead to fire. If you suspect a short circuit, give us a call to diagnose and remedy the problem. Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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Teach Your Child About Electrical Circuits

an ideaWe love everything about electrical current here at Douthit Electrical! We love studying it, teaching it, using, fixing it, repairing, and installing the circuits for it. If it has anything to do with electricity we are interested.

The owner of Douthit Electrical, Chuck Douthit, began his career in 1985 as an apprentice and never looked back. He studied hard and along with a strong work ethic has been able to grow Douthit Electrical into a business that Charlotte has known and trusted for quality electrical service since 1990.

We believe that a basic understanding of how electric works, can only enrich our children’s knowledge and we encourage simple projects like this one.

Circuit Tester Items
A battery and a small bulb (such as from an flashlight or spare auto bulb).
Aluminum foil rolled up lengthwise to provide you a working conductor
Small items to test
Circuit Project Time

Have your child roll up the aluminum foil lengthwise. Place the foil between the battery and the bulb. Did it light up? They have created their first circuit!

Now use small household items instead of the aluminum foil to see what will conduct electricity and what will not. A few ideas would be a key, nail, button, eraser, chalk … you get the idea. Test the objects by placing them, one by one, between the battery and the bulb. Then touch the foil to the base of the bulb. Have them guess which ones will conduct the electricity and which ones will not.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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What is Causing My Electric to Hum?

Have you ever had such a great day that when you are alone you begin humming or whistling a song you recently heard? That’s when you know that you are having a great day! But, unfortunately, hearing a hum coming from one of your electrical systems or outlets can ruin all that. Don’t let it!

Dimmer Lights
Did you know that when you use a dimmer switch, you are not actually dimming the energy. Instead it is being turned off and on so fast (many times per second) that our eyes don’t notice it. The hum from your switch could be caused by the constant switching of power on and off.

Outlets
If you tracked that hum down to one of your outlets, don’t ignore it! It could mean that a wire is no longer properly grounded or that too many volts are being carried over those wires. Give us a call to repair it!

Circuit Breakers
If you hear an electrical hum coming out of your circuit breaker box please contact us immediately. That could mean that your box is being overloaded with current, but is not shutting off properly the way it was intended.

If you wish to investigate the problem yourself, try shutting off the power entirely and then turning the breakers back on one at a time. This could narrow down the cause. We always recommend contacting a licensed electrician when dealing with the electrical safety in your home.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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How to Understand Light Bulb Wattage

Most of us grew up when shopping for light bulbs was simple and straight forward. If we wanted a brighter bulb, we bought one with more watts. That time passed several years ago when more energy efficient ways came upon the scene and were quickly adopted as the future.

Watts = power. For example, a 40W incandescent bulb uses 40 watts of power per hour. That is 40 watts of power that will be charged on your electric bill.

Lumens = light emitted. This measures the light that is actually produced by different types of bulbs.

Consider this….

An incandescent bulb uses 40W to produce 400 lumens of light. It will last about 1000 hours.

A CFL bulb (compact fluorescent) uses 9W to produce 320 lumens of light. It will last about 6000 hours.

An LED bulb uses 6W to produce 300 lumens of light, and will last a whopping 50,000 hours.

It is easy to see why incandescent bulbs have become phased out in our homes, and why LED lights are now competing with the CFL sales.

The important thing to remember is that the more watts you use, the higher the electric bill.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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How to Choose the Right Outdoor Extension Cord

Extension cords … how we do love thee! But most Charlotte residents have not taken the time to truly understand our extension cords. Are they all made the same? Does the length matter, except for convenience? What makes one outdoor extension cord better then another?

Last blog we discussed “Outdoor Extension Cord Safety”. This time we’re going to explain how to choose the right extension cord for the job on hand.

IMPORTANT NOTES

UL symbol – These means that the cord has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories.
W – Marked “For Outdoor Use” and their coatings have been designed to prevent moisture entry.
Gauge/Wires – The packaging on the extension cord should have a numerical rating. For example, 14/3 means It is 14 gauge and has 3 wires inside.

WHAT SIZE?

The smaller the gauge number, the thicker the wire is, and the more electricity it can handle. But at the same time, keep in mind that the longer distance the current will need to travel, the thicker the wire (gauge) will need to be. Which is why buying only the correct length that is needed for the job is a more safety cautious rule of thumb.

This may seem confusing, but choosing the right outdoor extension cord is important for your family’s safety. Especially if you will be using it to run an outdoor appliance that requires a lot of juice.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you find yourself relying on multiple extension cords, that could signal that it is time to increase the number of outlets in your outdoor area. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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Outdoor Extension Cord Safety

Outdoor extension cords can be a blessing or our demise. So many Charlotte residents do not have enough outdoor outlets and rely on extension cords to bring the power outside with them during the summer months.

I’m sure you’ve seen them lying in a pile on driveways or garage floors, waiting to be stored away. Or perhaps they are dragged across yards to provide energy to power our outdoor tools or toys.

Extension cords can be a blessing, but only if we take the extra precautions of observing proper safety and common sense. If you find yourself relying on multiple extension cords, that could signal that it is time to increase the number of outlets in your outdoor area.

If you’ve ever compared an indoor to an outdoor extension cord, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the differences. The most obvious difference is the insulation that protects the outdoor cord from the elements. But most importantly, never use an indoor extension cord outside!

You may think that purchasing an extension cord is as simple as measuring the length you need, getting in the car, and finding one on sale. But just like anything else that poses a safety risk in our homes, there are specifications you’ll want to consider.

The most important information you’ll want to gather in advance is the length of cord you’ll need, and how much power you want it to safely be used for. We’ll be discussing how to understand the ratings of extension cords and tips on how to choose the “right cord” for the job you have in mind in our next blog “How to Choose the Right Outdoor Extension Cord.”

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!


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Outdoor energy saving tips

Last blog we suggested several “Indoor Energy Saving Tips.” Now that the weather is luring us out of our homes to enjoy the outdoors, let’s discuss way to save a few of our dollars outside as well.

* Go Outside – Save Inside

Spending more time outdoors, means using less energy indoors. Be sure all the lights and electronic devices are turned off. And don’t forget to turn down the thermostat!  If your family is enjoying life outside, turning the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer only makes sense.

*Energy Efficient

Make sure you have updated your bulbs away from incandescent. Not only are they less efficient, but they produce more heat. Click here to read about the advantages of updating to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, if you have not already done so.

*Pool Time

Pools are much more than a simple round container of cool water to be enjoyed on a hot summer day. Today’s pools need water circulated to mix chemicals in thoroughly, and filtration to keep water clean. Plus many of us have water heaters to keep the pool at a desired pool temperature.

All of these use energy, and none of these need to be running 24/7. Consider using a timer whenever possible to help lower those costs. Also realize that just like the thermostat in your home, why continually heat your pool to your desired optimum temperature if you are not going to always be using it?

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

 


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