Category Archives: Info Articles

How Does a Smoke Detector Work?

Protecting our family and home with smoke detectors started as early as 1901. The importance of an early warning system from fire and smoke continues to be a priority across the United States.

Today the 2 most common types of smoke detectors are photoelectric and ionization. The power source for these detectors can be as simple as a 9-volt battery or as dependable as our home’s electrical current.

As I’m sure you can guess, they each work in completely different ways, but have the same goal in mind. They each want to do their part in helping to keep us safe and save us from disaster. Here’s a brief description of them both.


You guessed it! Photoelectric uses light to sense smoke. A photo beam is used inside the detector in conjunction with a sensor. When smoke enters the detector, it scatters that light. So when that same internal light hits the sensor, it triggers a loud piercing siren we’ve all come to know.

This type of detector is best at detecting fires that produce a lot of smoke, such as a mattress or piece of furniture for example.


Perhaps the most common and affordable detector is the Ionization type. It may be hard to believe, but inside these detectors is an extremely small amount of a radioactive element called americium-241. This material is used in an ionization chamber (similar to an aluminum can) that is a source of ionizing radiation which helps to detect smoke.

Sound confusing? Here’s how it works. The chamber consists of 2 plates along with a power source that produces the voltage and the americium-241 produces the ionizing radiation. This combination produces a small amount of electrical current that the interior electronics recognize.

When smoke enters the ionization chamber, it interferes with the current. This drop in current is what lets the sensor know that a fire could be nearby and sounds the alarm.

Douthit Electrical can discuss any changes or upgrades of your smoke detectors that you may want to consider for your home. We have 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 are Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)?

In order to understand what an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) is, let’s first remind you what a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is. GFCIs monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. These are typically the type of outlets found in rooms that have access to water, such as a bathroom or kitchen. If the flow of electricity through a circuit becomes unstable, a GFCI outlet will automatically cut the power.

This type of protection attempts to protect us from life threatening shocks that could be caused by household accidents, such as a hair dryer falling into the sink. Electricity always follows the path of least resistance, and water is one of its favorite conductors.

An Arc Fault occurs when electricity jumps the gap between 2 loose connections. It will likely cause sparks and an increased amount of heat. This heat can easily cause fires under the right circumstances. AFCIs reside in our circuit breaker box. From there they can then sense unusual heat amounts and interrupt the flow of electricity to the circuit.

Newer homes are typically equipped with both GFCIs and AFCIs, and are required by safety regulations in many areas. Unfortunately older Charlotte homes are not always fully protected and there is a need to investigate the presence of these safety features on our own.

Douthit Electrical can inspect your home for these essential safety upgrades and advise you on a course of action to help protect you and your family from electrical dangers.

Remember, both GFCIs and AFCIs can help save your home from fire and your family from injury. 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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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 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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Basic Electrical Tools for Your Home

Douthit Electrical is here to help you with any electrical project you have planned for your home. But if you’d like to try to take on a small project or two on your own, we’ve prepared a basic list of both general use and electrical tools you should have on hand in your toolbox.

  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Flashlight
  • Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Level
  • Utility Knife

Determined to take on an electrical project or two around the house? Here’s a list of tools that should be in your toolbox that are particular to electrical work.

1. Voltage Detector – used for a quick safety check in order to see if a circuit is “live”
2. Multimeter- checks for multiple electrical facets with one tool
3. Fish Tape – used to steer new wiring through walls and electrical conduit in confined spaces
4. Wire Strippers – used to cut the insulation away from wire
5. Diagonal Pliers – also called wire cutters
6. Needle Nosed pliers – to reach into those small spaces
7. Electrical tape – covers and insulate wire
8. Allen Wrench Set – electrical Panels often use allen screws
9. Channel Lock Pliers – used primarily when working with electrical boxes

Just remember, if you decide to do even a small electrical project—turn off the current!

If you decide to reach out to us for help on a future electrical project, Chuck Douthit and his team are the ones to call. With an A+ rating at the BBB, you can rest assured in the knowledge that you will be pleased with the outcome.

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

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How to Size Your Chandelier

So, you are considering adding a chandelier to your home. Perhaps you are redecorating or just want to find a way to add more light to a room. If you’ve always been intrigued by the change a chandelier can make, now is a great time to take on the project.

We applaud your adventurous spirit, and one of the most important tips we can give you is to measure and then measure again. A chandelier can add your own personal touch to a room if done properly. But if not chosen properly, it can also be a disaster.

No worries. Here’s a few simple instructions on determining how to size your chandelier. And, Douthit Electrical is always available to help you with installation, should you need assistance.

Room Formula
Add the length and width of the room in feet to find the diameter size of the room, use that same number in inches and that should be the approx. diameter of your future fixture. For example, a 10′x12′ room = 22′, so a 22″ chandelier should be the approximate size to purchase. A 12′x14′ room=26′, so a 26″ chandelier. Keep in mind these are only approximations. A couple inches more or less can still be the perfect accent.

Now as you might guess, just knowing the room size is not the only information you should take into consideration when choosing that perfect fixture. Where you are placing the chandelier is also a determining factor, and a very important one.

Dining Room Chandelier
If you are placing your new fixture above the dining room table, then you will need to take that into consideration as well. One suggestion is to keep the size 1/2 to 2/3 the width of the table. Another tactic is to make sure it is 1 foot less than the width of the table (to keep it from hanging over a guest’s head.)

We can discuss with you the many varieties available and provide expert installation at your convenience.

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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What is the Difference between AC and DC power?

electric polesIn today’s inventory of power choices of AC, DC, car phone chargers, rechargeable batteries, wireless chargers, solar cells … the list keeps growing. No longer is it only a choice between plugging it into the wall or going to the corner store to buy a few AA batteries. Have you often wondered what makes AC and DC power so different from each other?

AC = Alternating Current, DC = Direct Current.

Direct Current is the tried and true way to receive power. It can always be available, as long as you remember to have enough of them available. It is safe to use with no accidental surprises or storm delays.

Alternating Current allows us to enjoy the modern convenience of electrical outlets in our home and anywhere that we can plug into along the way. It requires no work in advance. It is available when we need it.

While the power of DC is a set amount that always flows in one direction, AC (alternating current) is constantly changing the direction of the flow of energy. This is what allows vast amounts of electric to travel from power stations, through transformers and finally into our homes.

Magic of Electricity

I hope we all know the perils of a downed power line. It is a prime example of the possible dangers of electricity. It is with the use of alternating current that we are able to harness that power.

High voltages of power are delivered from power plants to a transformer. That “transforms” that huge amount of voltage into reasonable voltages that can be used in our homes with the use of alternating current. That is why, when a transformer blows, the electricity can destroy the appliances in your home—they received too much electricity.

Outlets in U.S. homes are 120-volt and 60-cycle. 60-cycle means the current alternates direction 60 times per second. This enables the AC to be able to then distribute that power into small manageable amounts.

While electricity is truly a wonder of science, it can also be a home nightmare when not treated with respect. 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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Why is electrical wire in different colors?

Electrician Connecting WiresWe’ve all seen those shows. The bomb is ticking and the hero has to decide which wire to cut to stop the timer. Did the bad guy change the colors to make it confusing? Luckily in our homes, the wires have been color coded and installed to make things as easy as possible to make changes to our electrical system.

Types of Wire
Hot — The job of a “hot” wire is to deliver power to a destination.
Neutral – A “neutral” wire completes the electrical circuit.
Ground – A “ground” wire is a safety measure. Put simply, an electrical spike sends the extra power through the ground where it can cause a circuit breaker to trip.

Common Wire Colors Used by Certified Electricians
Black Wire is always hot.
White Wire is neutral (but can change to live if marked accordingly).
Green Wire is always a ground wire.
Red Wire is always hot and used more in switch wiring.
Yellow and Blue Wire is less common, but if used are hot wires.

Never guess or assume! Always shut off the power when working with electricity. All electrical home projects should be done carefully to ensure the safety of your home.

Always connect wires of the same color, and as an added precaution use insulated tools when working with or even around electrical wires. Remember to err on the side of caution when dealing with electricity.

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

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It’s Time to be Thankful for Electricity.

What time do you put the turkey in the oven? For many dedicated cooks it will be still be dark outside when they begin their Thanksgiving ritual.

Can you imagine trying to get that holiday dinner started by candlelight?

As children we learned from our history books all about Benjamin Franklin’s famous 1752 kite experiment that began the road to harnessing electric power. But it wasn’t until the 1870s that Thomas Edison was able to produce the first incandescent light bulb. While the world had been existing quite nicely by candle and gas lights, or so it thought, the electric light bulb was destined to become the future!

In today’s electronic age, electricity has become even more relied on. Think back to the last time you had a power outage at your home, remember what it was like? If you were lucky it was not on a cold dark evening with a house of wide awake young family members.

Now that we’ve come to depend on all that electricity can offer us in our homes, there is no looking back. Electricity truly is a wonder that has added comfort and safety to our lives.

We at Douthit Electric would like to thank everyone for their confidence in us as you have helped our business grow since 1990. We would like to wish you and your families a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving Holiday!

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How to Avoid Electrical Service and Utility Reading Scams This Summer in Charlotte

Technician reading the electricity meter to check consumptionYour home’s electrical system works hard during the summer, but fake electricians and utility readers are also hard at work trying to take advantage of trusting homeowners. In the past, you may have received sales calls about energy savings or reducing your electrical bill that were easy to dismiss, but scammers have since gotten smarter and can be hard to ignore if you don’t know what to look out for.

When it comes to electrical safety and energy savings, don’t trust just anyone! Rely on us, the professionals at Douthit Electrical and our variety of highly reviewed electrical services in Charlotte. As a licensed, insured, and professional electrical service with an A+ BBB rating and decades of experience, you can always trust our experts to put your family’s safety and satisfaction first!

Here’s how you can avoid fake electricians and utility scammers in Charlotte this summer and year round.

  • Always ask for identification. Any person that attempts to access your home or property should present identification without hesitating. Ask for an official photo ID and ensure it has an electrical contractor’s or utility company’s logo on it, as well as an ID number. You should also ask for their professional license and insurance. If in doubt, call your utility company immediately.
  • Check out their uniform and company vehicle. Are they wearing a uniform with the company’s official logo? Are they driving a company vehicle emblazoned with the same logo? Everything should match, including their ID!
  • Never give out personal information. A professional electrician or utility company representative would never call you out of the blue or come over unannounced and ask for your sensitive and personal billing information for services they’re trying to sell you. For example, many scammers will claim your service is about to be shut off for lack of payment or that you need an emergency electrical inspection in an attempt to get your money and information upfront. Don’t do it!
  • Do you know where your meters are located? Most utility readers are located on the outside of homes, so there’s no reason for someone that claims to be a utility reader to enter your home. If someone insists on coming to read your meters although they’re outside, close the door and call the police!
  • Go with your gut. True electricians and utility company meter readers are well trained professionals and should never be aggressive or make you feel uncomfortable. Always err on the side of caution if you suspect a scam. Share this information with your entire family, as seniors, children, and teens are especially vulnerable.

For top notch electrical services in Charlotte that you can count on, always trust the professoinals at Douthit Electrical!

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