The Electrical Blog

6 Ways Your Old Wiring Could be a Commercial Fire Hazard

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Jan 11, 2016


Even when your business is housed in an historic building, or one that was built more than 25 years ago, chances are you don’t think about the wiring and electrical in your building. It’s hidden behind the drywall and plaster, after all. That may be one of the reasons why so many fires in older buildings are caused by their aging electrical. Here are some of the hazards of having old electrical systems in your business:

  1. Knob and Tube Wiring

Older buildings tend to have what is known as “knob and tube” wiring. This in itself is not an issue, until it’s altered, chewed by rodents or otherwise compromised. Then it becomes one of the leading causes of electrical fires, according to insurance companies.

  1. Low Amp Wiring

Another major electrical fire risk factor is that old wiring can sometimes be rated for lower amps than is required by modern appliances and business equipment. This can result in the overloading of circuits, which can also cause electrical fires. Replacing breakers with arc faulty circuit interrupters can be one solution to wiring problems like this in older premises.

  1. Poorly Modified Wiring

In older buildings, particularly those from the early twentieth century, it’s not uncommon for wiring to have been tinkered with over the years—often by people who had no electrical training. This can mean that there are loose live wires, badly executed connections and other problems lurking behind the walls of your commercial building.

  1. Old Insulation on Wire

Insulation on older wiring tends to be less than perfect. Over the years, it may have been chewed by animals, damaged by screws or nails being placed in walls, or simply become brittle or disintegrated from age. This leaves the wire at the core of your wiring exposed, and that can lead to sparks and fire.

  1. Faulty Breakers

It’s not only the wiring that is a fire risk in older buildings. If your commercial panel hasn’t been upgraded recently, then it’s entirely possible that the switches and breakers that make up the circuits might be faulty too. If they’re not working correctly, your electrical system won’t do what it is supposed to do, and it may be downright dangerous.  

  1. Poor Electrical Design

Poor design is another major problem for older electrical systems. Depending on the age of your building, your electrical system may have been designed to meet codes that were in force 50 or even 80 years ago. Codes and standards have changed a lot since then, and there’s a good chance that your electrical wiring would not pass an inspection—if you had to have one.

The truth is, your building doesn’t need to be very old to have outdated electrical work. If it was built in the 70s or earlier, there could be some electrical concerns hiding in your walls. If you’re not sure, then the best idea is to have a qualified commercial electric company take a look, and make sure there aren’t any major fire risks.

 New Call-to-action

Topics: electrical contractor, commercial electric, electric company

Alternative Energy in Brief: Power Generation Today

Posted by James Rockhill on Wed, Jan 06, 2016

Alternative-Energy-in-Brief-Power-Generation-Today.jpgVery often these days, we are caught up in how we use power, and what it costs. However, while those things are important, there are also some new, fascinating ways that countries around the world are generating power. Here are some of the green ways that electricity is being produced around the world:

Wave Farms

Wave farms use equipment installed off or near shore, on the ocean, to capture the energy of waves, and turn that energy into power. It may sound like something out of a sci fi novel, but it is already being used in the UK, Portugal, Russia and the USA!

Geothermal Power

Geothermal power plants use tunnels drilled deep into the earth to heat water and create steam. That steam is used to power turbines, which then generate power. That might sound strange, but there are twenty-four countries that generate power from geothermal sources, with several (including Iceland!) generating more than fifteen percent of their power this way!

Parabolic Trough Solar Farms

Parabolic trough solar farms use curved sections of metal, bent into a “parabola” to collect solar heat, and reflect it onto a pipe filled with fluid which then flows to the power plant, where it is used to heat water and create steam, and the steam generates electrical power. Parabolic trough plants are widely accepted including in the US, and the world’s biggest one, generating 354 MW, is in California!

Photo Voltaic

Photovoltaic power, also known as PV technology, is the type of solar power we are all most familiar with. These are the solar panels that we are all used to seeing. However, with improvements like thin film technology, PV solar power is becoming more accessible and affordable, and is likely to increase in popularity.

Wind Farms

Wind farms are another one of the more common alternative power generation sources, and it is a common sight to drive past dozens of turbines silently generating power along the highway in many parts of the world. Did you know that many countries, including the UK, have many of their wind farms on the ocean? Rather than take up a little land, they have opted to take up none!

Power from Sewage

In India and elsewhere in the world, plants have been constructed that capture methane gas from sewage travelling to treatment plants. That gas is used to power generators, which create electrical power!

Going off Grid

With green building being such an important consideration these days, more and more building owners are considering taking their commercial buildings fully or partially off the grid. While you may not be able to use wave or geothermal generation in a commercial building setting, you can definitely use solar and wind technologies to power some or all of your building systems in a more cost effective, more environmentally friendly way.

A commercial electrical company can certainly advise you what you need to install to meet your needs, and how to integrate your alternative power sources with the power you get from the grid.

 3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: commercial electric, power quality, electric company

When it is Your Build, Electrical Contractor Choice is YOUR Call

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Dec 21, 2015

When-it-is-Your-Build-Electrical-Contractor-Choice-is-YOUR-Call.jpgMany residential (and some commercial) customers don’t realize that when they hire a general contractor to build their home or commercial property, they are essentially assuming the role of procurement and overall project manager, and that they have a say in hiring and firing sub trades on their project. Here is what you need to know.

Your General Contractor Is Your Employee

Whether you are working with a small homebuilder or a larger commercial general, the contractor you hire to build your home or commercial building is in a very real sense your employee for the duration of the project. They might take care of the details for you, but in the end, you will always have veto rights on decisions related to your project, if you choose to exercise them.

Not All General Contractors Act in Your Best Interests

Many general contractors are entirely fair, ethical and above board, and provide great service and a superior end product. However, every once in a while, you will find one who allows personal relationships or politics to cloud their judgement, and that may affect the advice and service they can offer. Sometimes it is because they are doing a favor for a friend or a family member, or sometimes it is a personality clash that causes it, but these kinds of politics should never be allowed to influence your building project.

Your General Contractor Has a Duty

Your general contractor has a duty to honor your wishes as the client, as well as to provide the very best clear, unbiased advice and assistance. That may mean that they can make recommendations, but again, if you decide to choose a different supplier, sub trade or service provider, and you are paying the bill, then they have a duty to accommodate your wishes.

When You Have a Relationship with an Electrical Company

One of the most common issues we hear about in our business is when a general contractor ignores their client’s wishes to use or consider a particular electrical contractor. Essentially, they force their clients to use their own sub trades, including electrical contractors, plumbers and other service providers. In many cases that works out, but in some, the client ends up with subpar work that is delivered late or is not to specification. You should never be forced to use any service provider if you are not completely comfortable.

What You Can Do

Whether you choose to use the electrical contractor recommended by your general or not, you have a right to make informed choices, and, since you are paying the bills, you are entitled to hire any sub trades you choose.

Consider approaching contractors you are considering using directly for estimates or comparison quotes, and discuss them with your contractor. If you want to use a contractor other than the one they have recommended, insist on it. After all, as long as you are writing the checks, and it is your name on the blueprints as the client, it is your decision - and you are entitled to request to see subcontractors competitive quotes too.

Make sure that you do not sign any contracts with any general contractor where they have stipulated that they have the right to choose sub trades, or you may find that you are stuck with their decision.

Finally, if you do know and trust a great electrical company, and you are planning a build, why not flip the script and ask them which general contractors they recommend? After all, they have insider knowledge!

New Call-to-action  

Topics: electrical contractor, commercial electric, electric company