How to Install USB Outlets

Your family is probably like most of us and has a large amount of today’s electronics at their fingertips. But your home may be plagued by not having enough outlets to keep them all charged and ready. One answer for some is to switch a few of their current outlets to USB combo outlets.

We always suggest using the services of a licensed electrician for any electrical project in your home, but if you are feeling especially “handy” we have put together some advice we hope will help.

Changing a wall outlet is one of the more straight forward home electrical projects, but always be prepared for something to be different than expected. And when working with electricity, always make safety your first concern.

Options

When choosing your new outlets you will need to decide a few things, including what type of USB ports you need. USB-A are the large ports you usually see on laptops with a rectangular shape. USB-C are smaller, shaped more oval and and are more often seen on newer smartphones. Which size does your family need? Both?

You may also want to consider spending a few more dollars to purchase combo outlets that have chips. Your devices are expensive. You will want to make sure they charge at the safest speed and a chip will help detect and regulate that.

Another option to consider to protect those devices is whole house surge protection. Combo outlets may be a welcome convenience to your family, but don’t forget about protecting those devices from unwanted surges. Douthit Electrical is an expert at helping to protect homes from electrical dangers.

Installation

Switching one wall outlet for another could be a simple project, but always, as with any project, unplanned things can happen. Make sure that an accidental shock is not one of them! Before starting, make sure to turn off and test that no power is going to the outlet you are working on.

Click here for our blog on how to replace an electrical outlet. The new combo outlet may be slightly larger than the old one. If it does not fit in your current electrical box, you will need to swap that out as well. If that happens, you may want to rethink your project or call Douthit Electrical for professional installation.

Location

USB combo outlets are not meant for rooms where water is used. We hope you already have GFCI outlets installed in those rooms. Call us if you have doubts about what type of outlet should be installed at locations around your home.

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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Free Home Electrical Inspection

I’m about tired of it. I get about a dozen “free” offers a week that do little more than waste my time or build up false hope. But every now and then, something comes along that is
really, truly valuable. And if it’s “free”, that’s even better.

I honestly believe this to be the case here, but I’ll let you decide…

You and I live with risks every day. They’re usually not pleasant to talk about, but some are so serious, it’s best to face them head on. Like now –

The electrical components in your household wear down over time. And unlike, say a sink that starts to drip, or an air conditioner that puts out warm air, when electrical components wear, they usually do one of three things:

1. They just “quit” once and for all. You hope it’s this one, instead of –
2. They send an electrical shock right into you or a family member, or –
3. They send a spark right into a place it doesn’t belong.

The first one is inconvenient. The next two can be life-threatening. I’m not trying to be scary here, but there’s typically little or no warning to get a homeowner’s attention.

Many electricians have walked through charred scenes with Fire Marshalls, insurance adjusters, and grief-stricken homeowners who say something like,

“We had no idea.”

Yet, some hints emerge when they say…

“You know, my lights did dim when I turned on something else” or “We’d used an extension cord for years; I never knew they built up such heat.” Or even “Do you think this had anything to do with that ‘clicking’ sound?”

Statements like those brought you an offer like this. As a service to our existing and future customers, Douthit Electrical is offering a free Home Electrical Inspection for a limited time.(Only two small conditions apply.)

Almost any electrical contractor would tell you “call me in case of emergency.” While we’re glad to hear from you, we really, really want to talk to you before an emergency. So, give us a call and let us arrange a time to visit your home.

We’ll check for obvious and hidden ones…

Look at all your completely free inspection includes:

That alone would run you $289 if you just called up for it. But this one’s on me. Plus, I want you to take even more advantage of this offer …

If you’d like the gentle breeze of a ceiling fan, or another outlet “right there” or any other electrical need, it would be a very good idea to point that out to us since normally there would be a service charge to come out and consult with you. Even more money saved right there.

So, use this free inspection to your full advantage. I mean, we’re already there, so why not?

Now for the conditions, which I feel are small, but that’s up to you…

1. Since we really do have to make a living, I can only schedule your free inspection on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. (Call any day you want, but your appointment will be on the above days.)
2. We can only perform about 4-6 free inspections per day (we have a limited number of technicians assigned to these inspections). This means the later you respond, the later the appointment date will be. My advice is to call as soon as you read this. We’ll work with you.

Okay, that’s my offer and I hope you agree it’s a good one. Just call Douthit Electrical at (704) 726-3329 and say you want to schedule your free inspection. This is a limited time offer, so don’t wait too long to take advantage of it. That’s it.

We look very forward to hearing from you!

 


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What is the difference between a surge arrester and a surge suppressor?

If you are confused by the uses of a Surge Suppressor, a Surge Arrester and a Lightning Arrester, you are definitely not alone. The differences between the 3 of them are similar but different at the same time.

All three of these have the same purpose, to keep unwanted electrical power from damaging your home and its systems. Whatever protects your home is definitely something that should be understood.

Surge Arrester
A surge arrester “arrests” unwanted power that enters your home from outside sources such as lightning, or surges from your power company. It sends that excess power directly into an installed grounding application.

Lightning Arrester
A lightning arrester “arrests” unwanted power from a lightning strike before it reaches your door and sends the power into the ground outside.

Surge Protector
A Surge Protector “protects” your home’s electrical system from power surges created inside your home. It is often intalled into the network in a whole home protection system.

Now you may be wondering if you need 1, 2 or all 3 of these. The best answer is to give Douthit Electrical a call. Everyone’s home and needs are different. We can discuss your options and recommend what we believe to be the right course of action for the safety of your home and its electrical system.

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 microwave keep tripping the breaker?

A microwave has become as essential in our kitchens as our stove top and oven. But because of its small convenient size, we often forget just how much power it takes to reheat those leftovers or cook those quick meals.

It’s because of this power that our microwave uses that it should be on its own dedicated circuit. This allows it to draw the essential energy it needs, without being hindered by other devices on the same circuit.

Microwave ovens have come a long way since 1970, and they now are available in all types of sizes and strengths. It is always a good idea to install a breaker that can handle a slightly higher amperage than your microwave lists it uses. Giving the appliance room for a bit of fluctuation is always a good idea for safety and future peace of mind, especially if your breakers are older.

Step One – Test Microwave
First, let’s be sure the microwave is functioning properly. Use the microwave in an area of the house that is guaranteed to not be on the same circuit, a garage or workshop perhaps. If it works then go on to step 2. If it does not, then the microwave is faulty.

Step Two – Check the Circuit
Locate your circuit breaker box and look to see if it is on its own dedicated circuit. Hopefully your box is sufficiently labeled to make this an easy chore. If the circuit is shared with other items, then a dedicated circuit for the microwave is what is needed. If it appears to already have its own dedicated circuit, then a higher amperage may be required. Douthit Electrical can examine the circuit and recommend a course of action with your family’s safety in mind.

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 causing my light bulbs to blow out so fast?

Are you still in the process of updating to CFL or LED lights in your home? Are you concerned that your older type of bulbs are suddenly blowing out faster than ever before? Even though you are updating, it is a good idea to investigate the reason for the sudden change.

Bulbs
Have you started using a different brand or batch of bulbs where you see the sudden change? The durability of the filament in these type of bulbs was already fragile. If the quality of these different bulbs is even a small amount less, that could result in them blowing out faster.

Light socket
Anything using electrical current requires a strong connection in order to work correctly. Light bulbs are no different. If the bulb is not able to make that connection effectively, it can result in arcing electricity that can lead to the fast blowouts.

Remove the bulb and look into the light bulb socket. Inside you should find a small brass tab that is slightly raised. If it has been flattened by over tightening bulbs in the past, that could be causing arcing electricity.

Turn off the power to the affected light socket. Once you have confirmed it is safe to work on, use your fingers or a pair of small pliers to bend that tab slightly upwards. Not sure how much? Take a look at another light socket and see the position of the tab to compare.

High Voltage & Vibration
Two less common causes can be excess voltage and vibration. Excess voltage can be caused by your home’s electrical system. If you have concerns that this may be happening, give us a call to diagnose the problem.

Vibration from appliances nearby or other mechanical devices can be causing the filament in these bulbs to snap prematurely. In these instances, once you switch to CFL or LED your problem should be satisfied.

If you would like help diagnosing and correcting any of these potential electrical problems in your home, Douthit Electrical can help! 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 to choose a location for circuit breaker panels

IA Circuit Breaker Panel is an important part of your home’s electrical system. It’s location should be chosen carefully and must always observe The National Electrical Codes (NEC) handed down by the National Fire Protection Association.

NEC Guidelines
In order the assure that the circuit breaker panel can always be accessed easily and safely, the NEC has designated a certain amount area to be left available at all times as a “working space”. This space around the breaker panel must be at least 6′ 6” high and 3 feet square away from the wall, with 30” width.

The center of the handle on the panel should not be more than 6′ 7” from the floor.

Resist the urge to hide your panel away in a closet or pantry. They should be installed in a larger exposed area such as a basement or garage. This should be a place that is out of the way and out of sight, but still convenient.

It should go without saying, that a light must be nearby to make sure your panel can be seen at all necessary times. Don’t store things near the panel that would limit easy access to it.

Are You Ready?
If you are considering taking on this project, consider visiting NEC (National Electrical code) at www.nfpa.org/NEC. It’s important that before you start you are armed with all the necessary information so that you do not have to redo your work.

If you’ve chosen the location for your new circuit breaker panel and would like it installed by a professional electrician, Douthit Electrical can help! 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 to do when motion lights won’t turn off

Motion lights are a great addition to a home. They not only add safety and security, they add convenience. No longer do you need to remember to leave lights on outside (and waste power), you can be confident that they will turn on when they are needed most.
But what if they don’t turn on as expected? We tend to take them for granted, and when they don’t function correctly, it can be frustrating.

COMMON CAUSES

Sensitivity Settings
Quality motion detectors usually have settings that will allow you to choose how sensitive they should be to stimuli and how far away we want that stimuli to set off the detector. Be sure these settings are still accurate.

Time Setting
That same motion detector will probably also have the option of choosing how long the light can stay on. Make sure to check that the time duration is what you think it is. It may have accidentally been lengthened.

Reset
Just like our cable TV box and our computers … when in doubt, reset. After you’ve checked the settings above, cut the power to the motion detector completely for at least 10 seconds. Restore power and then see if the lights are now working correctly. Sometimes the simplest solution can be the correct one.

If these steps didn’t resolve your problem, Douthit Electrical can help! 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 Many Outlets can be on a 20 Amp Circuit?

The question you probably meant to ask is how many things can be plugged into and used on a 20 Amp Circuit. The typical home has countless outlets for convenience, most of which are not used at any given time.

The National Electrical Code requires that the circuit breakers in our home warn us when more than 80% of the acceptable power usage in any given circuit be used by “tripping” the circuit breaker. You can read more about circuit breakers here.

Using only 80% of our 20 amp circuit gives us 16 amps to safely work with. Those 16 watts give us at most 1920 watts on a typical 120 volt circuit. These numbers are based on safe usage. Who wants to worry about their circuit breaker tripping by exceeding that?

So you are probably still wondering how many things can be run on a single circuit? That is going to depend on the types of things you are plugging in. A typical electrical heater may require 1500 watts when in use, while lights and electronics have very small usage. A safe bet would be to allocate 1.5 amps per item such as these on your circuit.

Common sense should tell you that running appliances and power hungry devices should be delegated to separate circuits. But remember, just because they are plugged into separate outlets, does not mean they are not all sharing the same circuit.

If you need to update your home to more safely handle your power usage, Douthit Electrical can help! 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 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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