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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Indoor Energy Saving Tips

Saving our hard-earned money on energy costs is a constant battle for most of us. Allowing even small amounts of our cash to be wasted is something that none of us should want to accept.

Here’s a few energy saving tips to help win the battle.

1. Warmer weather is upon us, and as A/C units get turned on, be sure to keep windows and shades closed to keep that cool air indoors.

2. “Shut that door!” Your parents were always warning you to stop heating or cooling the outdoors. Now that you are responsible for the utility bills, you understand why they yelled that so much.

3. Ceiling fans use less energy and that breeze they create will allow you to raise your thermostat in the summer by up to 4 degrees, without losing your home’s comfort. Douthit Electrical provides ceiling fan installation all year long. Give us a call!

4. How often have you forgotten to change the thermostat when going to bed or leaving for the day? A programmable thermostat is not only convenient, it also will save you money caused by those forgetful moments.

5. Wash your clothes in cold water as much as possible. Up to 90% of the energy used on that task is in heating the hot water.

6. Most home owners now understand the energy saving capability of CFLs (compact fluorescent light). Those curly bulbs are now saving families energy dollars all over Charlotte. If you still have a few of the halogen incandescent bulbs left in your home, consider changing them.

7. “Turn off that light!” I’m sure you also heard that growing up as a child. Did you know that our home’s lighting accounts for up to 15% of our electric bill?

8. Low on supplies? Keeping your refrigerator and freezer full will not only give you more choices for dinner, it will also help those appliances run more efficiently.

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 Safely Plug in an Air Conditioner

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been waiting what seems like a very long time for winter to end. You may be beginning to think about preparing for your summer air conditioning options. If a wall unit is in your future, we hope you plan for its location safely.

Most home owners that use wall units have defined spots where they can go. Because of that, don’t overlook the need to make those areas a safe choice for the electrical power an air conditioning unit requires.

Air conditioner units run on more electric power than the average home appliance. That is why they have a fatter (typically shorter) cord. When plugged directly into a home outlet, that cord is expected to be the correct size to do the job.

Extension Cords

Never ever use an extension cord for your air conditioner or any other major appliance that has not been rated for the use of a major appliance. They are not made to withstand that much power and can put your family in jeopardy.

If you are purchasing an extension cord for temporary use, we suggest at least a 12 gauge cord. An air conditioner uses an excess of power when it is first turned on, and we prefer to land on the side of safety for you and your family.

Always remember to keep extension cords away from main walkways that could cause tripping, and make sure to never cover them up with carpet or taped to walls. Extension cords can get hot, and we only recommend using them on a temporary basis.

Permanent Outlet

Douthit Electrical can upgrade your current outlet(s) to be a safe source of power for your air conditioning needs. You may find that your new AC unit is drawing too much power from the circuit, and the breaker keeps tripping. We can help take care of that problem. Give us a call to discuss your options.

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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Why does my breaker keep tripping?

Indoor Home Open Electrical Breaker PanelIf you continually need to go down to the basement or to the garage to your electrical panel box, your breaker is trying to tell you something.

The most common reason a breaker keeps tripping is because you are constantly overloading the same circuit. The breaker is trying to keep you and your family safe, by warning you the only way it can … by interrupting the power usage on a circuit that has reached its safe limit.

Before resetting the tripped circuit breaker, unplug the items that are on that circuit. Once you’ve reset the breaker, consider allocating the energy usage over different circuits. If that is not a practical solution, Douthit Electrical can help you decide if an upgrade is the next step.

If this is the first time you’ve been left in charge of resetting the breaker, here are a few helpful hints on how to reset a circuit breaker.

A short circuit or ground fault is another reason a breaker might be tripping. There is usually a physical sign when this happens. It could be as obvious as a blackened area around an outlet or even the smell of burnt wires.

Has a new appliance entered your home? Appliances come and go, but our electrical system tends to stay the same. New appliances can sometimes mean it is time to update the electrical system.

Now that summer is approaching, air conditioners can take a heavy strain on our electrical circuits. Make sure that your home can handle the extra power needed to keep your home cool.

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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Why aren’t the outlets in my bathroom working?

It’s happened to most of us. We’ve just taken our morning shower … switch on the hair dryer and nothing happens. We turn it off and on and off and on until we finally give up. Now it’s time to find out what is to blame for this inconvenience.

The most obvious next step is to try the hair dryer somewhere else. Find another outlet that you know is currently working and plug in the hair dryer. Does it work now? If it does then you’re on your way to discovering the problem.

Go back to the bathroom and see if that is the only outlet not working in the room. All the outlets in your bathroom should be updated to GFCI. Check the button in the center to see if it needs to be reset. In some cases, outlets in the bathroom and kitchen are updated by installing a GFCI circuit breaker in the main electrical panel. If you are not sure what the importance of GFCI outlets in your bathroom is click here.

The next step is to see if you have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Locate your main electrical panel. Check to see if a circuit breaker needs to be reset or a fuse replaced. If that’s the culprit of your hair dryer misery, reset or replace and check on the outlet. If that has resolved the problem, good job! If this becomes a common occurrence, you will want to find out the reason for it. Douthit Electrical can help!

If that did not restore the power to the outlet, then we suggest giving us a call to do more troubleshooting of the problem.

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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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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