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Archive for July 2010

A Very Smart Purchase

July 26, 2010

OK, so everybody’s trying to “go green” these days. You’ve done pretty well yourself haven’t you? You have re-usable fabric bags for your groceries, you refill your refillable water bottle from your faucet water filter, you have a programmable thermostat installed, and you’ve even screwed in a few of those spiral-twist compact fluorescent bulbs.

Or maybe you haven’t.

Even if going “green” is not high on your priority list, I bet you that saving money is. It’s a proven fact that no matter what type of light bulb is used, one that is off always uses less power!

I don’t know about you, but I get very upset with myself when I forget to turn off the lights when I leave a room, wasting electricity and adding to that month’s electric bill. This problem is easily solved with the simple installation of an occupancy sensor (some brands even call it a vacancy sensor).

When I tell you that there is a solution for every situation, there really is. To make things simpler, the world of occupancy sensors can be boiled down to two types: wall-mount sensors, and ceiling-mount sensors.

An existing wall switch can be replaced with a unit that fits right into the existing switch box. There are many different technologies that exist now to avoid nuisance shut-offs when you still might be in that room. The older sensors of years past, with the technology of their day, might have certainly caused these types of annoying shut-offs. We actually have a sensor installed in our home office that will sense slight hand movement from more than 20 feet away, and it always “knows” when someone is or isn’t in that room. Plus, you can change the timer on the unit to shut off in a few seconds or a few hours. That’s pretty impressive.

The other type of occupancy sensor that is available is mounted in or on the ceiling. This version is decidedly more of a “commercial” application, but of course this technology can be used anywhere. The benefits of a ceiling-mounted sensor is that you can really focus on an area where motion will be detected. For instance, where a wall-mounted unit might not recognize movement because of the location of the existing switch box, the ceiling unit can be put directly in a spot where it will guarantee to pick up motion.

A really cool new product that just came out is the best of both worlds:


No Wires, No Batteries, No Limits

The product shown above is truly an innovation. Basically, it’s a solar-powered ceiling sensor unit which never needs batteries. The ceiling sensor unit “talks” to the corresponding wall switch unit that replaces your existing switch. This allows for ultimate flexibility and control, and saves the possibility of having to cut holes in walls and ceilings to run wires. There are no wires!

In our opinion, an occupancy sensor is one of the smartest purchases you can make. Lighting energy is a major portion of an electric bill – it’s sometimes even the largest portion.

Like I said before – no matter what type of light bulb is used, a light bulb that is off always uses less power!

7 Common Electrical Hazards

July 26, 2010

Many electrical hazards exist, both at home and in the workplace. There are a few easy steps that you can take to significantly decrease your risk of an electrical fire or other hazardous occurrence. Check for these common electrical hazards, and correct them as soon as possible:

1) Check for electrical cords that are pinched behind furniture, such as couches, bureaus, or chairs.

2) Check for overloaded outlets (for example, if there is more than one appliance plugged into an outlet). Be especially careful when plugging in larger-sized appliances, such as hair dryers, space heaters, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and other similar items. You can’t always just plug it in and expect there to be enough power available on that circuit.

3) Check for overloaded power strips. These are only designed to be used for a few low-power items. Also, never plug one power strip into another power strip.

4) Check for lamps and light fixtures that may have bulbs with a higher wattage than recommended. Most lamps and fixtures are designed to use a 60 Watt bulb at most. Bulbs of a higher wattage than what the fixture is designed for using is a leading cause of electrical fires.

5) Check for electrical cords underneath rugs, carpets, and furniture. Relocate the cords if necessary so they are not continually stepped on and worn down, compromising their insulation. Electrical cords should always be protected from physical damage.

6) Check for electrical cords that have frayed wires or cracked insulation. Dispose of them and replace them with a quality cord that bears a certification label of an independent testing laboratory (such as UL).

7) Check the size of your extension cords. Make sure that they are designed to handle the amount power that they are being used for. A tell-tale sign of an under-sized and over-used cord is if the cord is warm to the touch. Never use an extension cord for larger appliances such as your hair dryer, air conditioner, or space heater.

If you have any questions or concerns about any of the items listed above, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here for you 24/7 and electrical hazards should not wait to be addressed fixed. We will be glad to answer any questions you have.

What are some common electrical hazards that you have seen? We welcome your comments!

Preventative Maintenance & Thermal Imaging - An Electrical Safety Tip From McCurdy Electric

July 2, 2010

The MA State Fire Marshal recommends that you have your electrical system inspected every 10 years. The following is taken directly from a press release from earlier this year:

“Electrical wiring, like all other systems, needs maintenance and inspection. Homeowners should have a qualified electrician examine their electrical system every ten years. A licensed electrician who obtains a permit when required should do all electrical work. The permit process protects the homeowner by requiring that an inspector check that work is done correctly.”

The last part of the statement above is very important too. When getting work done of any kind at your home or business, always be sure that the contractor pulls a permit. This is to make sure that the contractor you’re hiring is licensed and has the proper types of insurance. It is really for your protection.

It is proven that when a preventative maintenance program (referred to as a PM program) is in place, it will save you money in the long run. This is true for both homeowners and business owners alike. Basically, when a piece of equipment breaks down because of neglect, it is more costly to fix the problem at that point than it would have been to prevent the problem in the first place. One way of checking for problems is by utilizing a technology known as Thermal Imaging.

A Thermal Image of a Receptacle Outlet

Using Thermal Imaging tools, we can check for problems on a piece of equipment just by “looking” at it. When looking at an electrical panel, If a spot is unusually hot, there’s an excellent chance of either a loose connection or an overloaded circuit. Connections become loose over time, and that is just one of the reasons preventative maintenance is needed (especially on electrical panels).

The thermal image camera is also a useful tool for energy conservationists to check out cold spots in a home and see where you might need some more insulation. Check out this video from Fluke, a leading manufacturer in the Thermal Imaging industry to learn more.

As added value to you our customer, McCurdy Electric offers a free visual safety inspection with a written report with every service call. We are dedicated to safety!

I welcome any comments or questions you have.