Category Archives: Info Articles

What Causes Power Surges and How Can I Protect Myself?

When you hear the phrase “power surge”, most of us instantly think of storm clouds sending lightning bolts down toward our home. Or perhaps you think of power lines being zapped by millions of volts coming down from the heavens. Believe it or not, lightning is one of the least causes of power surges, even though its damage can be massive.

What is more likely to cause power surge damage inside our homes, is the use of devices that use a lot of power. Appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators, for example, can cause our home’s power to fluctuate. Faulty wiring, that does not do its job of monitoring power, can cause this and other threats by allowing too much power to travel through our home’s electrical system.

Last blog we discussed what a surge protector is and the types available in stores. To better understand Surge Protector Ratings here is what they mean.

Clamping Voltage – typically 330V, 400V and 500V – this is the amount of volts that will pass through before directed to the ground. Lower is better.

Energy absorption/dissipation – 200/400/600 joules – states how many energy the surge protector can absorb before it fails. Higher is better.

Response time – how quickly will it work – look for less than one nanosecond.

Douthit Electrical is an expert at installing surge protection for your entire home. A whole house surge protector will protect your family from unwelcome surges from outside sources such as lightning. We can also discuss with you protection from smaller surges created inside your home with Point of Use Surge Protection.

We can counsel you on the right kind of protection, from not only the high voltage that can happen from destructive lightning and power line damage, but fluctuations that can occur because of faulty or outdated wiring to insure it can handle your appliance power needs.

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 are Surge Protectors?

You see it advertised, you are told you need it, but have you wondered exactly what are Surge Protectors?

The average home expects to have 120 volts flowing through its system to deliver energy to its many outlets. If a surge of unwanted power is delivered, our wiring is not prepared for it, and neither are the many devices that we have plugged in.

When that surge of power is pushed onto appliances and delicate electronic devices, the result can be catastrophic. A surge protector power strip monitors that amount of voltage.

Types of Surge Protection

MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) and Gas Tube (gas discharge arrestor). These are the most common types. If too much voltage travels into the power strip it diverts the excess amount to the ground wire, while allowing the correct amount to travel to items under its care. Under most circumstances, this will protect our plugged in items.

Built-in fuse – Some surge protectors have a built-in fuse. This acts as a second line of defense in case the extra voltage is not diverted in time. If the fuse is burned out, it eliminates the circuit and the flow of power is stopped.

You may have assumed that the power strips you see in your home are offering you surge protection. That may be not be the case. If you inspect them closely they should have a Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rating. If you do not see that, they are probably not offering you any protection, and are simply power strips. The minimum rating for surge protection is UL 1449.

Next time we will be discussing what causes power surges to endanger our homes and the option of whole home surge protection.

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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Should I buy LED or Incandescent Christmas Lights?

If you’ve been decorating for the holidays as long as we have, you might still be wondering if it is worth the money to update to LED lights. The initial cost can be a bit daunting on the budget, and change comes slowly for most.

While a beautiful display of Christmas lights can be created at anyone’s home with either type of lights, here’s a few things to consider.

What do you get for the higher LED price tag?

LED lights are more durable. They are plastic which makes them easier for storage … and it will seem like they never burn out! They may get dimmer with age, but as we know, nothing lasts forever without losing a step here and there. LED will last up to 50,000 hours compared to incandescent’s approx. 1000 hours of light.

LED lights are cool to the touch. That makes them, not only safer to use to decorate with, but Flourescent lights use up to 90% of their expended energy on heat that is both wasted and unwanted near our home’s holiday cheer. LED lights are going to save you up to 80% on your energy cost by not creating heat … only beautiful holiday brilliance.

LED light options are constantly changing and expanding. New styles come out every year to constantly awe and amaze us. While LED lights will have a higher price tag than their less expensive fluorescent counterparts, they will prove their worthiness over time. If you plan on decorating year after year, LED will be worth the investment.

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 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.

Photoelectric

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.

Ionization

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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