The Electrical Blog

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

Data Matters: How to Protect Computers against Power Fluctuations

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Jan 04, 2016

Data-Matters-How-to-Protect-Computers-against-Power-Fluctuations.jpgMost people do not think of power and data at the same time. We have become so used to having computers around, and so used to them storing our information, entertaining us and helping us to connect that we hardly think of them as appliances at all. However, since computers rely on power to operate, electrical supply and electrical problems can have a big effect on them. In this article, we look at the relationship between your commercial power supply and your data, and offer tips to reduce risks.

How Power Affects Computers

It is not only when there is an unexpected power outage and you lose the work that you were busy with that power affects computers. Computers are complex electronic machines, with delicate circuit boards and components. Many of those components can only cope with a particular voltage, which means that power spikes can overload them, resulting in component failure. When components in your computers fail, eventually the whole computer will fail.

Aside from physical damage that can and does occur when power supply is not stable, software can also be corrupted, work lost and even networks disrupted. Worse yet, if your data server is not properly protected, you could lose the hub of your computer network because of power issues.

Protecting Computers Against Power Fluctuations

There are several steps you can take to protect the computers in your commercial building from power related problems, including:

  • Invest in surge protectors. These look like regular power bars, but they have built in fuses. This means that when there is a power surge, the surge protector is fried instead of your computers.
  • Invest in UPSs – Uninterruptible Power Supplies. These are essentially large batteries that are installed between the outlet and your electronics. They charge while the power 

 3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: electrical contractors, commercial electric, power quality

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

6 Electrical Upgrades to Consider During a Commercial Renovation in ColoradoSprings

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Oct 30, 2015

Renovations are a necessary evil most businesses have to go through eventually. If your business is growing, your building and its capabilities have to grow with it. Ideally, you'll include enough innovation in your upgrade to keep from having to repeat the process for a number of years. The best upgrades include innovations aimed toward the future as well as needed improvements for today.

Before you finalize your plans, be sure to discuss these (and any other) changes that you want made in your commercial electric power and lighting.  

Large Kitchen Appliances 

When changing a building's use from commercial sales to food service, wiring for large kitchen appliances is almost certainly necessary. If you're adding a kitchen to any kind of commercial space, you'll probably need three phase power, as well as additional outlets kitchen appliances such as ovens, deep fryers, and even walk-in freezers will use much more power than a typical retail space includes. Wire your kitchen area with more power outlets than you think you'll need. If your business takes off, you don't want to have to spend all that new profit on another upgrade in a couple of years. 

Dedicated Circuits

If your business includes any kind of computer usage or computerized cash registers, your data and power usage is only going to increase as the years go on. Dedicated data circuits ensure that generalized power surges are less likely to damage electronic equipment than if they were all on one circuit with the rest of your equipment. Separate the areas of your business, including areas of high data usage, into a line of dedicated circuits that will help to ensure stable power quality all the time. Your information is your businesses lifeblood, and you can't afford to lose it to something as simple as someone plugging in a coffee maker at the same time as the printer is working.


Heating and air-conditioning are likely a big part of your power usage, and are likely to remain so in the future. The newer thermostats with timers and smart technology can pay for themselves in a surprisingly short amount of time. By changing the time and temperature the furnace and air conditioner work and coordinating it with your workday, you can save a substantial amount of money on your power bill. Have your electrical contractors update the wiring to the systems, as well as leaving space for future smart technology. 

Code Compliance

Building regulations can change as quickly as local governments do, and it's difficult to make sure your business is up to code at all times. A new business renovation is the ideal time to make sure your entire business is up to electrical code. Repair or replace any older wiring you have, older circuit boxes, and any other fixtures that may not be compliant. It may seem like an extra expense to do this upfront, but it can end up being much less expensive than the fines the city can levy on you.

Capacity upgrades

If your business has been growing, or if you're changing the usage of your building, you may need a greater load capacity in the building. Wiring is set up into circuits, and each one is designed to carry a certain amount of power. Once you try to increase that power, you run the risk of overloading the system, creating power surges, are even starting electrical fires. Have your electrical contractor reconfigure your wiring into new circuits designed to hinder larger electrical loads. It's a good idea to have him look at the circuit breaker box at the same time, to determine whether it needs to be replaced, as well.

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Topics: electrical contractors, commercial electric, power quality