The Electrical Blog

How to Improve Office Lighting in Your Company Premises

Posted by James Rockhill on Wed, Jan 13, 2016


Many people don’t realize the effect that light has on us, but the truth is that humans are enormously photo sensitive. It is light and dark that determines our Circadian rhythms, and sets our body clock. That explains why office lighting quality is proven to affect productivity (not to mention a documented OHS concern in many occupations.) If you suspect that your office lighting is affecting performance, then there are several things you can do to improve the situation.


  • If you don’t already have energy saving lighting installed in your office, make sure that you design new lighting systems to take advantage of CFL, LED and other technologies. They can save you a bundle on energy costs.
  • If your office has flickering fluorescent lighting, be aware that this may trigger epileptic seizures. 
  • Understand that different tasks require different levels of light to ensure alertness and productivity. For instance, the minimum lighting requirement for computer work stations is 50 foot-candles. More complex tasks require more complex lighting, to ensure that work can be carried out safely.
  • Note that age and vision can also affect lighting requirements, and many older people require a minimum of 70 foot-candels to work properly.
  • Good lighting design is a matter of ergonomics, and require a combination of indirect overhead lighting, movable direct task lighting and natural light, in the correct proportions, to ensure safe and comfortable working conditions.
  • The color of your lighting (warm, cold or otherwise) is another factor that contributes to safe and healthy workplace lighting design.

How to Be Sure Your Lighting Works

In many cases, commercial building lighting design was done years or even decades ago, and there’s a good chance that your commercial property is being used differently today than it was then. It’s a good idea to talk to both an electrical contractor and a lighting specialist to devise a lighting and electrical plan, to bring your building back into the light.

A lighting designer will inspect and measure the lighting in your building, and make recommendations to bring it up to standard, while your electrical contractor may need to upgrade electrical, add outlets or fixtures or move them around.

Why You Need to Make These Changes

As mentioned before, lighting is critical to wakefulness and productivity in your office or commercial building. It can even influence customers shopping habits! It’s also a health and safety issue though, and if your commercial lighting is not up to standard, particularly where complex or dangerous tasks are being carried out, you could find yourself in hot water.

If you suspect that your lighting needs a boost, talk to your commercial electrical contractor first. They may be able to work with your existing installation, and improve the quality of lighting that you have, and that can be more budget friendly. If you do need an expert, they should be able to tell you, and very possibly recommend a good one.

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Topics: electrical contractor, LED retrofit, commercial lighting

Undesirable Antiques: When Your Wiring and Electrical Belongs in a Museum

Posted by James Rockhill on Wed, Dec 30, 2015

Undesirable-Antiques-When-Your-Wiring-and-Electrical-Belongs-in-a-Museum.jpgMany people choose the charm of older buildings over the cookie cutter look that some new developments offer. They like the old architectural features, and the quirks. What they probably do not like, or would not if they considered it, is old, potentially dangerous wiring. Let us face it – it is far more interesting to work in a building with a history than something that was slapped together with cinderblocks a handful of years ago.

The problem is, wiring is not something you see unless you open up walls in most cases, and it may not be up to code, which means that most people who buy or rent in a historic commercial building have no idea they’re at risk until something goes wrong. Here is what could go wrong with old wiring, and how to limit the risk:

Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring was a popular type of wiring, often for residential buildings. However, with many of today’s commercial buildings having a history as residences and vice versa, you really never know what you are getting. Most knob and tube wiring out there is about eighty years old, and likely not in the best shape. If you are considering buying a commercial building from a bygone era, make sure that you get an electrical contractor to inspect the wiring, and make sure that you will not be facing the replacement costs.

What Happens to Old Wiring and Electrical?

Many people think that old wiring is bad just because people did not know what they were doing. That is not entirely true, and theoretically, many correctly installed antique electrical systems could hold up against modern electrical perfectly well – if it were not for rust, rot, rodents and wear and tear. All of those things add up, however, and result in numerous problems, including:

  • Poor or missing insulation, which means potential exposure to live wires.
  • Shorts that could potentially be fire hazards.
  • Lack of or poor grounding.

In addition to these general problems, old wiring is sometimes not capable of running modern lighting, appliances, and computer systems. This can lead to overheating and fire hazards. 

What Should You Do Before You Purchase a Historic Commercial Building?

If you are considering buying a historic commercial building, then it is critical that you have a detailed, in depth inspection of the electrical system before you make any decisions. Use a commercial electrical contractor who knows what to look for and where, and who can give you an estimate of the costs to replace old, potentially dangerous electrical and wiring.

Once you know what you are dealing with, there are two options: negotiate a drop in price from the owner, or accept that you will need to pay for the electrical replacement out of pocket. Because if you do decide to buy the building, leaving old wiring in place is just not a viable option.

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Topics: power quality, commercial lighting, electrical repair

15 Christmas Light Safety Tips

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Dec 18, 2015

15-Christmas-Light-Safety-Tips.jpgMost of the year, we focus on being a commercial electrical company. However, when the holidays roll around, we all go home, and decorate our own homes with lights, lights and more lights, and because we know that all those twinkly lights can come with some hidden risks, we decided to share our top Christmas light safety tips. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Do not overload circuits. If you need to plug many strands of lights into an outlet, use a power bar.
  2. NEVER run power cables, including those for lights, under carpets or anything else. People may unknowingly damage the cables with chairs or otherwise, and that can cause fires or shocks.
  3. Space your lights evenly. Bunching them together not only ruins the look, it can also make the lights overheat, with potentially dangerous consequences.
  4. If you are putting lights on your Christmas tree, try to keep them a little separate from ornaments, again to prevent overheating.
  5. Only ever use lights and cords designed for exterior use outside. Interior lights and cords cannot be used outdoors!
  6. Make sure that you check all light strands and cords for fraying, cracks, cuts or signs of damage, and if you are in any doubt, do not use them.
  7. Never leave a Christmas tree lit while you are out or asleep. It only takes a few minutes for faulty lights to start a fire that can burn your house down or worse. Do not just turn them off either. Unplug your tree lights when you are not in the room.
  8. If cords start feeling warm after a period of use, stop using them. Do not coil cords up while lights or other items are turned on either – this can cause the cord to overheat dangerously.
  9. NEVER modify electrical plugs to remove the ground pin. Buy an adapter if your plug does not fit the outlet.
  10. Consider buying mini LED lights. They burn cooler and use much less power.
  11. Never use angel hair and spray on snow together, as this can be a flammable combination.
  12. Avoid metallic ornaments with lights. If there is a wiring fault, those ornaments could become live conductors.
  13. Only use hangers designed for lights when installing. Nails, tacks and staples can all damage insulation, and that can be potentially hazardous.
  14. Only use stable ladders to install lights on roofs, maintain three points of contact, and have someone help you by holding the ladder for you.
  15. If you have a real tree, dispose of it soon after Christmas, in a safe manner. Christmas trees tend to contain a lot of tree sap, and sap, dried needles and flaky bark are all ideal fire starters!

That is it for our Christmas light safety tips, but we would like to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and your staff a happy holiday season, and we hope to keep servicing your Commercial, DataComm, and Residential electrical needs in 2016!

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Topics: electrical contractors, commercial lighting, home safety

A Quick Guide to Choosing Light bulbs

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

When Thomas Edison perfected the first commercially viable electric lightbulb in 1879, he probably had no idea that a couple of hundred years later, there would be so many variations on his idea. However, there have been many leaps and bounds in electric lighting since then, and there are hundreds of different types of lightbulb on the market today. Here is a brief outline of the most common types.


Incandescent bulbs are the closest to Edison’s original design, and they are the classic lightbulb that we all know. This bulb uses a tiny filament of the metal tungsten, super-heated until it glows, to create a soft, yellowish light. These lightbulbs are the cheapest to purchase, and offer between 700 and 1000 hours of light. They are not very energy efficient however, and in most cases, there are other options that are a better choice.


Fluorescent lightbulbs have been around for a long time too, and most people are probably familiar with their bright, ever so slightly greenish light, and the annoying flicker they make when they are not working properly! They provide what is known as daylight equivalent light, and they are cheap to purchase and run, which makes them a great choice for lighting large areas like offices and basements. 


Halogen bulbs offer the closest to natural white light, and they can be incredibly bright. Which is why they are often used in floodlights, work lights and film studio lighting! They burn incredibly hot, and are not cheap to purchase, but offer better energy efficiency than incandescent lightbulbs.


CFL’s, or Compact Fluorescent bulbs, are one of the newer types of lightbulbs, and are known for their energy efficiency. They last up to ten times longer than incandescent, and can cut lighting power bills down greatly. These bulbs are available in a variety of strengths, colors and other options, and are great for residential or commercial applications where energy efficiency is important. They do, however, contain trace amounts of mercury, which means they need to be treated with care. They also need to be recycled carefully when they do eventually burn out.


LED lightbulbs are the new kids on the block, and they have come a long way over the past few years. These bulbs use a technology called “light emitting diodes” to create lighting that is extremely energy efficient with less heat build-up and much longer overall lamp life - up to 10 times longer than fluorescents and far longer than incandescents. LED light bulbs are initially more expensive, yet the cost is recovered over time by lowering your electrical and air conditioning costs.

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Topics: commercial electric, commercial lighting