Holiday Lights

Let us check the light and outlets before you start the festivities.

We just celebrated Thanksgiving, so that must mean it is time for the next in the series of holiday traditions between the end of November and the beginning of January – decorating our homes for the holidays. And for most people those decorations include colorful indoor and outdoor lighting. With that comes electric and safety issues.

Holiday lighting must always be installed with an abundance of caution and care. The first concern must deal with old lighting. If you are getting old lights out of the box in in the garage, you need to be careful. Check the strands for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections. And if you’re buying new lights this year, you still need to be careful. New doesn’t necessarily mean there are no problems.

So, as part of our tradition at Eaton Electric, here is our annual list of lighting safety 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.

If you have any concerns about your holiday lights, please call us. We’d be happy to come out and make sure your holiday season is both safe and happy.

 

Safety tips for electric fireplaces

Safety tips for electric fireplaces

During the holidays do you find yourself wanting to be up north, so you plug in your electric fireplace to create an illusion. In Florida, this is something that happens a lot, and while it may take away some of your holiday jealousy of northerners who get to play in the snow, it might not always be the safest practice.

Here are some tips for safely using your electric fireplace:

  1. Keep your electric fireplace at a safe distance away from other objects
    • It is best to keep your electric fireplace at least three feet away from other objects, especially things like blankets, furniture and electronics.
  2. Never use your unit outside
    • This machine is designed for indoor use only and can be very dangerous if taken outside
  3. Unplug the electric fireplace when not in use
    • For safe practice, unplug the fireplace in case of an electrical accident
  4. Never modify the unit
    • Electric fireplaces are very dangerous. If your unit needs repair, immediately call Eaton Electric and we are happy to fix the issue for you

One other very important note of caution is that while decorative, electric fireplaces operate the same as space heaters. So, remember to check the wiring and make sure the fireplace is clear of dust. The last thing you want is a real fire.

If you follow these safety tips and call Eaton Electric if you have any questions or issues, you are sure to have a holiday season akin to being up north.

Exterior Office Lighting in the Fall and Winter

Exterior Office Lighting in the Fall and Winter

In just a few weeks we will fall back – turn our clocks back one hour. But we are already seeing the changes in lighting in the morning and evening.

These changes mean that most of us will get up and go to work in the dark and return home after sundown.

If you work in a place with poor exterior lighting, you may want to remind your employer that there are simple things that can be done to increase the lighting around their place of business. And as an employer 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. As an employer, you certainly want your staff to feel safe coming and going from your place of business.

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, Eaton Electric will be glad to come out and examine your exterior and upgrade your system if needed.

 

Upgrading the Lighting in Your Home

Upgrading the Lighting in Your Home

Do you look at the electric bill every month and get very stressed by the large amount that you must pay each time? Without even inspecting the situation, we can almost assume that part of the problem is that you forget to turn off the lights when you leave the room. This not only wastes energy, but it also wastes money.

If you think this is issue applies to you, then we at Eaton Electric have the perfect solution. Installing motion-sensor lights in your home exterior will provide increased security, save you money and protect the environment all at the same time. While these lights are slightly more expensive than the traditional wall lights or flood lights to install, they will definitely save you money in the long run.

For inside your home, the best solution is to use occupancy sensor switches to replace the standard wall switches. When you walk into a room with the occupancy sensor, it senses the movement and automatically turns the lights on and when it no longer senses movement in the room it automatically turns lights off. The amount of electricity you will end up saving by switching to these energy saving devices will finally result in the cheaper bill that you’ve always wanted.

The professionals at Eaton Electric are trained to do this sort of job. Call us today to learn more about how you can make this change in your home and say goodbye to the days of forgetting to turn off the lights and wasting your hard-earned money forever.

How to Protect Your Home’s Electricity During Hurricane Season

How to Protect Your Home’s Electricity During Hurricane Season

While we are almost halfway through hurricane season on a calendar, we are only now starting to get to the active part of the season, and that increases the possibility of a potential electrical surge that could ruin our beloved electronics.

So here are some ideas for you that can help prevent that electrical surge and disrupt your everyday life.

The first of these is to get portable relocatable power taps (plug strips) that have a surge protective component built into them. These are extremely beneficial in providing point-of-use protection for individual electrical outlets.

Our second tip for softening the devastation caused by hurricane season is to have surge-protected devices installed. These are receptacles that have built-in surge suppressors designed to protect your sensitive electronic  equipment against the damaging effects of transients caused by lightning, utility switching, internal load switching and other things.

Our final tip is for you is to call us at Eaton Electric. We can inspect your electronics to make sure  your wiring is as safe and protected as it possibly can be to fight off the dangers of hurricane season in Florida.

Hot Light Switches

If a light switch feels any warmer than room temperature, something is wrong electrically. This problem could start a fire, so it needs to be tended to immediately. A few indicators can help determine the problem and if it requires a trained electrician.

Overloaded Switch

Light switches can only handle a certain amount of electricity. Too many things connected can overload the switch. The switch has to draw more current than it’s capable to hold, which causes the switch to get hot. Lighten the load by choosing bulbs that are lower wattage. If you cannot move anything connected to the switch, go with a higher capacity option. Another choice is to have an electrician rewire the lighting to add another switch. This will split the load between multiple switches.

 Insulation

Insulation can become compromised over time through many on-off cycles of use or chronic overloading. Overloading can cause overheating at connection points on a switch or light. Feeling warmth at a switch handle or switch plate may indicate a problem that should be investigated.

A hot light switch is a problem that shouldn’t be ignored. They have the ability to damage the wiring, and even worse, possibly start a fire. Light switches that have been hot for a long period of time will overheat the wiring, which can burn or damage the insulation. This causes both the wiring and insulation to need replacement. For your safety, call us to put your mind at ease and solve the problem for good.

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 https://gnvband.org/

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.