Fanfare & Fireworks

Fanfare & Fireworks

It will soon be the Fourth of July, and that means the Gainesville Community Band gets to participate in one of my favorite events of the year – Fanfare & Fireworks. That also means your favorite electrician gets to become your favorite trumpet player for at least a few hours.

I enjoy Fanfare & Fireworks so much for two reasons – it’s more than a concert and it is a great celebration of our country.

As always, Fanfare & Fireworks takes place on July 3 (that’s Wednesday night this year) at the UF band shell at Flavet Field. It will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. I will be playing the trumpet with the band as part of an hour-long concert that will coincide with the beautiful fireworks scheduled to start around 9:40 p.m.

I suppose another reason this Gainesville Community Band event creates a special feeling for me is that it serves as a reminder of my days as an undergraduate music major at UF in the early 1970s.

And I’m one of many people who enjoys Fanfare & Fireworks, as it generally attracts as many as 20,000 people each year.

The event is presented by WUFT-TV, WUFT-FM and WUFT Classic supported by title sponsor VyStar Credit Union, the city of Gainesville, Gatorland Toyota and GRU.  Glenn Richards, WUFT-FM morning edition host, will be emceeing the event and other musical groups that will perform include Bears and Lions, Wax Wings  and Billy Buchanan and his Rock ’n Soul Revue.

I invite you to come to celebrate our independence and to support your favorite electrician when he and his trumpet help deliver great music while you enjoy the fireworks show.

Four Reasons Outlets Spark

Four Reasons Outlets Spark

You have probably seen a spark fly when plugging something into an outlet. Sometimes these sparks are normal, however it could also be something more serious. Understanding the reasoning behind the different sparks will help you feel assured that it is harmless.

  1. Loose Connections – Sometimes a loose wire at the outlet can cause overheating of the wire and the outlet. This overheating sometimes shows up as discoloration on the face of the outlet or even melting plastic on the end of the cord. An outlet with this damage should be replaced by a licensed electrician.
  2. Water Damage – This reason certainly makes sense. Water and electricity do not pair well together. Water can cause several electrical issues not limited to sparking. Additionally, a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) will cut the power supply if it detects water and may be a good addition to avoid water damage issues such as a potential fire.
  3. Faulty or Negligent Repairs – Making repairs yourself instead of using a professional is a risky job. It can potentially lead to sparking or worse. Be sure to use a licensed electrician like Eaton Electric for all repairs to avoid further damage.
  4. Appliance “On” Spark – Plugging in or unplugging an appliance or lamp when the appliance is on can create a spark at the outlet. This is because the electricity is trying to jump across the contact between the receptacle and the blades on the cord. To eliminate this occurrence, turn the appliance (vacuum cleaner, iron or lamp) off before plugging in or unplugging it.

Be sure to consider all the potential reasons behind sparking. Also remember that age can be an issue. Outlets wear out over the years and become looser. If this is the case, be sure to replace old appliances. If you are at all concerned about the sparks, contact us to check it out. Electricity is extremely powerful and should not be taken lightly.

Gainesville Community Band Mother’s Day Concert

Gainesville Community Band Mother’s Day Concert

It is time to celebrate our mothers again which means that we get to host one of our favorite events — the annual Mother’s Day concert. Join your family and friends for musical enjoyment during the beautiful springtime. There is no better way to honor mothers than to come to United Trinity Methodist on May 12 at 3:00 p.m. for entertainment.

You will get to see your favorite electrician put down his tools once again to carry his trumpet and wear the title, musician. While this is my seventh year being involved in the event, my music background stems back to childhood. I even brought this passion with me to the University of Florida as a music major. While my career took a different path, I still get to share my love of music.

The Gainesville Community Band began 45 years ago in 1974 with only 11 musicians. Over the years it has grown to 80 people. The members range from electricians to professors to scientists and more. It is a wonderful way to include members of the community to share their passion for music.

We also play at the Charles Dean trumpet Memorial Concert, the James B. Kings Veterans Day Concert and Fanfare Fireworks at the University of Florida for Independence Day. Additionally, our band extended its performances to the Heart of Florida airshow and even Walt Disney World’s Fantasy Land stage as the first nonprofessional adult concert band.

For more information regarding the concert, go to

I love getting to have the opportunity perform. We hope to see you there!

Pros and Cons of a Portable Generator

Pros and Cons of a Portable Generator

We know it’s early, but you may want to start thinking about hurricane season, which is just a little more than two months away. And one thing to consider is whether this is the year you’re going to buy a generator.

Generators are sometimes the fastest way to bring back power after a storm. Their cost upfront is less than standby power, and they are easy to store in your garage. The initial fee for a portable generator is between $500 and $2,000 depending on the wattage. A portable generator consists of an internal combustion engine, alternator, starter, fuel tank and outlets.

Portable generators can be moved from place to place and are not permanently installed. However, they must be manually started which means that you need to be home during the power outage, and they need to be placed outside in order to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

These generators are easy to start, powerful, reliable and durable. You will have to put up with some exhaust fumes, heat and noise that they produce.  Don’t expect to use the power it produces for luxuries, but rather use it for essentials.

If you are looking for something that is cost-effective and low maintenance, a portable generator is a great way to go. In addition, it won’t take up space in your yard. However, it can be heavy and will not power the entire home. A standby generator, while expensive, will power the whole house. Additionally, it turns on and off automatically and increases the resale value of a home.

To learn more about traditional generators, check out our article from last July about how to hook up a generator.


6 Factors That Affect Electricity Costs

6 Factors That Affect Electricity Costs

Your electricity bill may seem unpredictable at times. However, there are many factors that influence the price of electricity. Check out these factors below.

  1. Cost of Fuel– Electricity operates on fuel. It needs to be generated and delivered. Fuel prices change which in turn changes electricity prices.
  2. Supply and Demand– Supply of energy sources like coal, nuclear, gas and oil can change on an hourly basis and contribute to price fluctuations. The demand for heating, cooling and light is directly influenced by the technological and economic measures. Warmer places tend to use less natural gas oil for heating and more electricity for air conditioning.
  3. Weather– While this seems obvious, the weather impacts short-term prices. During extreme weather, your system works harder than usual. However, it won’t affect long-term prices as heavily. Electricity prices tend to be higher during the summer months as more people use their air conditioning.
  4. Regulations– Government regulations vary from state to state. Some implement controlled prices while others are uncontrolled. Federal and state regulations also impact supply and demand.
  5. Type of Consumer– Industrial consumers tend to pay less than commercial and residential consumers because they are supplied a larger amount of electricity at one time. It takes more effort to get power to consumers that use less energy, therefore more money.
  6. Location– Where you live in reference to an energy source naturally influences the price of your energy. Power plant availability and local fuel costs vary in different locations. In addition, climates within different locations vary which can drive up or lower your electricity bill.

Why do the lights in my house flicker or blink?

Repeated flickering lights can be a sign of a home safety issue.

An occasional light flicker in your home is normal, but if you’ve noticed flickering that didn’t occur before, and is happening regularly, you need to check into it thoroughly and contact an electrician. The constant light flickering can eventually signal problems in the wiring or light fixtures in your home and depending on the cause of the problem, it could lead to serious safety issues.

It can also be caused by a connection failure at the main panel, outdoor meter socket or even at the utility point of service.

All lights actually flicker to some extent. This can be annoying and can be a distraction. The blinking of lights is based on the amount of power that is coming into the lines in your home, it is caused when the power provided to a light source changes or when the power line voltage itself fluctuates.

The usual flickering that we can find in our homes can include problems with bulbs; either if they’re not tight enough or it’s not the right type of bulb. For example, fluorescent lights have a tendency to flicker occasionally, and it shouldn’t be a worry. On the other hand, LED bulbs are the most common cause of flickering due to its dimmer switches. These dimmers sometimes do not do well with lower-voltage LEDs.

Other light flickering can occur with only one lamp. This happens when there are loose light plugs which means that there is a loose connection between the plug and the outlet. Try unplugging and plugging it back in because most of the time it is loose and not properly connected.

Many problems with light switches are usually drawn to some issue that is interrupting the flow of electricity from the wall switch to the light fixture. If your light is already flickering try adjusting the switch on or off and see if it fixes the problem. In other occasions, your lights are blinking or dim when your AC or washing machine is running. This problem may occur due to an overloaded circuit, which means that these appliances are pulling more electrical current than the circuit can handle.

If the flickering happens consistently and becomes a severe issue, there is a problem. Whether you’re concerned about serious issues, or just annoyed by these random flickers, call an electrician ASAP because these are high capacity wires and could result in a fire hazard.

It is important to make sure that the LED or compact fluorescent lamps you buy are dimmable, and the dimmers you choose are compatible with your lamp types. This information is always listed on the packaging and usually on the lamps or dimmers themselves.

This is a complicated and serious safety issue. If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to help.

Energy Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips

When it comes to installing and repairing certain electrical systems or features, everyone wants lower energy costs. These costs can certainly impact your family budget. Here are some tips to help you save money, reduce the impact to the environment and increase efficiency.


  • Lighting used to be a common cause of undesirable heat, but nowadays with LED lighting, there’s no need to sit in the dark.
  • LED lighting lasts up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs and uses even less energy compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).
  • Replacing your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs with LED lights can compact the amount of power your house consumes.

Heating and Air Conditioning:

  • You should consider upgrading to the latest thermostats. These can be controlled from anywhere with your smartphone, making it easy for you to control your house temperature when you’re away from home.
  • Smart thermostats let you easily regulate heating and cooling settings from your smartphone or tablet and can automatically optimize settings based on your location.
  • If you have air-conditioning in your home it helps to also use fans to cool your home; if you’re using a ceiling fan, it will allow you to raise the thermostat by 4° and your home will feel as comfortable as before, but you’ll be saving money.

Switches, plugs and strips

  • New switches and power strips can also help lower your electricity costs with a button or app, or through a timer.
  • Some power strips, for example, shut off power to what’s plugged into it either with a flip of a switch or after a certain period of time.
  • An alternative to this is to unplug your appliances from the wall when you’re not using them.

Block out the sun

  • If you have windows without window coverings, they’re going to let a lot of heat in.
  • You should consider window coverings in order to reduce this heat.
  • Keeping the shades or blinds drawn on sun-facing windows is crucial to keeping your home cool.
  • To increase your energy savings, select window treatments that are energy efficient.

One last tip, don’t forget to schedule regular maintenance for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). When you maintain your heating and cooling system properly, you’re not only increasing energy and savings, but you’re extending the lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment! An HVAC tune up can save on energy costs. Your HVAC technician will clean the system and perform preventive maintenance in order to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Be Careful with Space Heaters

Using space heaters safely

For us in Florida, most of the year is spent blasting the air conditioning to stay cool.  But during those few short months of the year we’re in now when we do get cold, it is certainly something we’re not used to – unlike our northern friends.

And for many of us the temptation is there to use a space heater instead of the heat cycle on your air conditioner. With the little bit of chill we’ve experience of late, that temptation is rising.

With a space heater, we can efficiently heat individual rooms quickly and not impact the rest of our home.  Instead of heating the entire household, using a space heater can provide the convenience of heating whatever room(s) you want at a much lower cost. For example, a 1500-watt space heater operating four hours a day for 30 days would use about 180 kilowatt hours of electricity.  It would cost about $11 to operate the space heater for the month.

While space heaters can be useful, it is also important to use them properly to keep your family and home safe. As many as 45 percent of heating fires resulting in a fatality involved portable heaters, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Make sure that if you choose to heat your home with a space heater this winter, you keep these tips in mind to stay safe:

  • Always check that the space heater, plug and cord are clean and in good condition before use.
  • Keep space heaters out of high traffic areas and away from any combustible liquids or flammable items.
  • Place space heaters on a level, hard, nonflammable surface and never in enclosed areas like below a desk.
  • Never leave a space heater operating while unattended, even if you are sleeping.
  • Do not use an extension cord or power strip with your space heater, and never run the heater’s cords underneath a rug or carpet.
  • Make sure the space heater doesn’t overload your circuit breaker by ensuring that the amps are compatible. A typical circuit is on a 15-amp breaker, so a single heater that draws 12-15 amps might trip the circuit.

Exterior Office Lighting After the Time Change

Exterior Office Lighting After the Time Change

It was about a month ago that we fell back – turning our clocks back one hour.

For many of us that means getting up and going to work in daylight – something that may not have been happening only days before. But it may also mean that at the end of your work day, you’re leaving your place of business in the dark.

There are many reasons for having good lighting in the evening when you or your employees are headed to the parking lot in the dark – not the least of which is safety. If you’re an employer, you certainly want your staff to feel safe coming and going from your place of business.

The time change serves as a great reminder to think about your business outdoor security lighting.

If your office outdoor lighting is controlled by an on/off switch in your office, it may be time to think about an upgrade to an automatic system.

This could be as simple as a timer that you adjust manually on a seasonal basis. And there are more advanced options that can allow you to set the outdoor lighting based on how light or dark it is. You can set your outdoor security light so it’s on only when you want it to be, and the brightness can even be adjusted to be brighter when someone steps in front of it. The same controls will keep the lights off during daylight.

If you’re not sure what your exterior lights can do, we will be happy to examine them and upgrade your system if needed.

Safety with Holiday Lights

Safety with Holiday Lights

Thanksgiving has just passed. That means it is time for many of us to decorate our homes for the holidays. This decoration often includes colorful lighting and that means electricity. So that means safety needs to be considered.

Holiday lighting must always be placed with caution and care. That starts with old lighting. If you’re using lights from previous years, you need to check the strands for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections. And if you’re using new lights, inspect them carefully as well. Even though they are new, there may be problems with them.

So as we do here every year, we are offering some lighting tips to help make sure you have a safe holiday season.

#1 Inspect Light Strings

Discard any that are damaged because they may be a fire hazard.

#2 Replace Burned-Out Bulbs

Empty sockets may cause the entire string to overheat so replace them as soon as possible.

#3 Make Sure Outdoor Lighting is Weather Resistant

It is extremely important to make sure you are buying the correct lighting for the conditions you are using it in. The same goes for extension cords.

#4 Don’t Attach Light Strings with Nails or Staples

They can cut through the wire insulation and create a fire hazard. Instead use outdoor-approved hangers.

#5 Take Exterior Lights Down Within 90 Days

Sometimes we get lazy and leave lights up for months after the holiday season. The longer they stay up, the more likely they are to suffer damage, so remove them as soon as possible.

#6 Store Lights Safely

Tangled lights can lead to damaged cords and empty sockets. After the holidays, wrap each string loosely around a piece of cardboard, fold fabric over it to protect the bulbs, and store it in a container until next year.

As always, if you have any concerns with your holiday lights, call us at Eaton Electric. We will be glad to help.