Outdoor Lighting Tips for a Fabulous Fall Patio

The Triple Play
Make sure to incorporate these three basic types of lighting for an amazing look: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient lighting can be achieved through hanging lights, post lights, and wall lights. Task lighting includes things like pathway lighting and security lighting. And you can get accent outdoor lighting with landscape kits and spotlights that really make an outdoor space unique!

Do the Math
First, figure out exactly how much lighting you need. To determine how much light a space requires, try this quick calculation: multiply the square footage of the area you want to light by 1.5 to get a rough estimate of the total wattage required. For example, 100 square feet of space would require 150 watts. Or call the pros at Mister Sparky and we will make sure that your home’s system can handle it.

Use LED lighting
LED lights use far less energy than halogen or incandescent bulbs. Plus, they are almost maintenance-free, so you won’t have to change bulbs very often!

Go subtle
Make sure you go with lighting that gives off a soft glow. Outdoor rooms, especially dining areas, benefit from subtle, indirect lighting that helps create a nice mood.

Size it Right
You want to make sure you don’t choose fixtures that are too large-scale. You should check the size and position of a fixture by using a paper template to determine exact placement before buying. For either the front porch or the back patio, the size of an outdoor wall light should be approximately one-third the height of the door. Also make sure you’re choosing sturdy lighting that’s weather resistant.

Inside perspective
Take a look at your outdoor space from inside your home. This can help you decide on which lighting to choose and how to place it around your yard or outdoor area.

Security matters
Outdoor lighting not only provides ambience, but it can also add a great deal of security to your home. Make sure all entry points around your home are well lit including garage doors. For added security, illuminate any sides of the house that might have shadows by using spotlights installed on your eaves or use wall lanterns at side doors and windows.

Remember, electricity is not something you should mess with yourself! If you need help with planning or installing your lighting, call on the professional electricians at Mister Sparky. Make an appointment today!

Saving on your summer electric bill

With the heat wave that’s been gripping most of the country lately, it’s tough to control your electric bill. In fact, it seems like your air conditioner just runs and runs. But there are a few things you can do that can have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Did you know that your home’s electrical system is a great place to start first? In fact, your home’s lights and electronics account for approximately 12 percent of your home’s energy usage.

Exchange your light bulbs for high-efficiency bulbs: you can save about $75 per year by swapping out the bulbs in your most used light fixtures with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs that bear the Energy Star label.

Install dimmer switches: dimmers let you set the brightness in a room to suit your needs, setting the mood and saving electricity at the same time!

Use smart power strips: some electronic gadgets never truly power off; instead, they sit in standby mode using a trickle of power that can add up over time. These are usually — but not exclusively — items with a remote control, because the remote sensor needs power while waiting for your input. Plug these electronics into a smart power strip, which cuts off the current when the devices aren’t in use.

Conduct a home energy audit: a home energy audit can identify additional ways to reduce your energy usage. Contact the professionals at Mister Sparky for advice on a home energy audit that can save you some serious cash!

Make an appointment here. For tips on a new energy-efficient air conditioner or heat pump, call the pros at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning.

Electrical Safety Tips for Backyard Summertime Fun

It’s the middle of summer and you probably have been spending nearly as much time outside in your yard as you have inside the house. If so, it’s always important to think about how to maintain a safe and fun summertime experience… especially in your backyard.

Here are a few tips to help keep your summer safe and fun:
1. GFCI outlets are designed to shut off power automatically when the outlet detects an electricity “leak,” most often due to contact with water. GFCI outlets are a required safety device for all outdoor outlets. Test GFCI outlets outdoors before any party or family gathering and once every 30 days.
2. When purchasing your outdoor extension cords, always make sure they are marked “for outdoor us.” These devices may be more expensive, but they are thicker, weather-resistant, and designed to withstand more wear and tear.
3. When working near electrical wiring, do NOT use metal ladders. Opt for wooden or fiberglass ladders instead.
4. Although it may seem obvious, do NOT use electric grills when raining or drizzling outside. As with every other outdoor electrical device, make sure it is plugged into a GFCI-protected outlet.
5. If for any reason you need to dig a hole in your backyard, always call your utility before you dig. They will let you know if there are any underground utility services in the way or if you are safe to dig in a particular area.
6. Do NOT attempt to remove or trim trees near power lines. Your local municipality or utility company will take care of this for you.
7. Always store electrical equipment indoors and never use corded power tools in wet or damp conditions. If you notice any frayed wires, exposed cords, or any other electrical damage, make the repair or replacement as soon as you can. It’s always a good idea to choose power tools with insulated grips.
8. Make sure all electrical equipment used for swimming pools, including the cleaning equipment, is properly and professionally grounded.
9. Of course, if you hear thunder or see lighting, seek shelter in a building or vehicle.

If you have any questions or think you may need to add GFCI outlets or even get an opinion on how to set up that outdoor lighting system, or landscape lighting system, give the well-trained professionals at Mister Sparky a call. We’ll help make sure you have a safe and sound background summer adventure! Make an appointment today!

June is National Homeownership Month… Make it a Safe One!

National Homeownership Month in June shines a spotlight on supporting the American Dream of homeownership. For homeowners in Bel Air, Aberdeen and the surrounding counties, it’s the perfect time to think about making safe and smart decisions when it comes to your home’s electrical system.

All too often disaster strikes in your home’s electrical system via power surges. These can come from a variety of sources… including a lightning strike. The damage from a power surge can include loss of expensive electronics in the home, such as computers or home entertainment systems, including that large-screen TV.

While a power surge may not seem like something that happens often enough to be top of mind, most households will experience one eventually, and so you don’t want to take them lightly.

What Is a Power Surge?

A power surge can be caused by an overloaded outlet or circuit, damaged wiring, lightning strikes, or plugging in a high-powered electrical device that can cause an energy spike.

In any of these cases, short but powerful surges of electrical voltage can travel throughout the home and affect any room or any appliance that’s plugged into an outlet.

Protecting your Home from a Power Surge

So, how do you protect yourself from a power surge? Typically, the larger your appliance, the stronger the surge protector needs to be. Overall, the minimal expense of buying a surge protector pales in comparison to that of replacing an electronic appliance or device that is damaged by a surge.

Whole House Power Surge Protection

For those who want to protect their entire homes, call the pros at Mister Sparky and learn about the benefits of installing whole house surge protectors that will safeguard everything in your home that’s plugged into any outlet. We can explain the best option for your home based on what you are seeking to protect.

So this June, stay safe in your home and protect your family and your belongings.

Light up your life… by adding lighting to your home in Aberdeen and surrounding areas

Let’s face it. A brighter outlook starts with a brighter environment. By lighting up the space around us, we feel more secure, safer, and more positive.

That brighter outlook can begin at home, literally, by adding lighting to spaces in your house that will modernize your living space, save energy, and enhance the value of your home.

Here are a few types of lighting that may be just the ticket to brighten things up a bit around the house:

Under-Cabinet Lights
Brighten up your kitchen or living room the subtle, mood-setting power of under-cabinet lighting. These lights help to illuminate any work space and are fully functional – as well as stylish. Depending on your needs, or room layout, these lights are typically easy to install.

Pendant Lights
These lights are typically used in areas such as the dining room or kitchen where you are looking to add direct lighting. But pendant lights can be used in any part of your home if they are positioned correctly.

Recessed Lighting
For a bit of a modern touch to your home the answer may be recessed lighting. Recessed lighting is ideal for entertainment rooms, dining rooms and great rooms – any space that might benefit from subtle, indirect lighting. In today’s homes, recessed lighting has become the fixture of choice for a variety of rooms.

Chandeliers
Chandeliers are back in style and let you add add a bit of opulence to your foyer or entryway or great room. These light fixtures are ideal for high ceilings and large spaces. Modern chandeliers come in a variety of classic and contemporary designs and finishes like bright brass, rubbed bronze, or copper-colored styles.

Smart Lights
You control everything else with your smart phone… why not the lights in your home! This is a great choice when it comes to providing a safe solution if you need to enter a room or climb stairs and the switch is at the other end of the room or at the bottom of the steps. Some work with smart phones or with devices such as Siri or Alexa. Imagine being able to turn off lights in a room without having to go upstairs or holler at the kids to turn off the hall light!

Find out more about how you can brighten things up around your home with a call to Mister Sparky. We’ll help recommend the ideal lighting for your home and offer a safe and proper installation.

Electric tips to add value to your home

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, you have a lot of options for how you can improve its value. A new bathroom, kitchen or roof are great investments but another important aspect is your electrical system.

Make sure you home can be sold faster with these electrical tips:

Is Your Electrical System Up to Date?

Your electrical system should have everything expected of a modern home. Do you have enough outlets? Do areas of moisture like kitchens and laundry rooms have GFCI outlets? Are they conveniently located and easy to find?

Have You Tested Your Electrical Switches and Outlets?

Check and test every outlet in your home. Are they all working correctly? If you detect that any no longer work or do but make an odd noise, you should call an electrician for servicing. Faulty wiring not only costs you more on electrical bills but also poses a significant safety concern. Plugs that tend to spark or make an odd noise when activated may have faulty wiring which can pose a severe safety hazard. A qualified electrician can spot these trouble areas and fix them prior to a home inspection.

How Much Power Can Your Electrical System Handle?

You should have a clear idea of how much power your electrical system can handle. Potential buyers will want to know this as they may be planning to use appliances that draw a lot of power. Too much demand on the power system can lead to blowouts or tripped fuses. This is why it’s good to have GFCI outlets installed. These outlets are designed to shut off automatically the moment they detect a power surge.

How Old Is Your Wiring?

When was your electrical wiring first installed? In homes older then 30 years, there’s a chance the wiring could be outdated. Outdated wiring poses a safety risk which could potentially cause a fire. Along with that, older wiring can’t handle the electrical demands of modern appliances. The amount of electricity needed in a home has more than doubled in the last 40 years, so any house with old wiring may be in need of a complete rewire.

All these electrical tips can add value to your home but the sooner you start on them, the better. A qualified electrician such as your experts at Mister Sparky can help you get the most from your home whether selling it or planning on living there for many years to come.

 

Electric safety tips for kids at home

We all have worries about our kids from the day they are born… and we may think we are safest when at home. But did you know that the home and yard where they play may actually present more hazards when it comes to electricity than you think?

Here are some things you can do about it:

  • Store electrical appliances and gadgets out of reach of children.
  • Never keep any appliance near a bathtub, sink or any other water source.
  • Make sure all the electrical wires and cords are away from the gas or any other source of heat.
  • Avoid having any appliance switched on and then leaving it as it is in the presence of your kid.
  • Make sure you unplug the appliance before cleaning it.
  • Keep small objects out of reach- children tend to plug them into the sockets.
  • Cover open sockets that are within a kid’s reach. Most kids tend to stick fingers into the outlet, which may be risky.
  • Remove unused wall outlets.
  • Apply tape over unused electric plug holes or cord holders.
  • Do not allow your little one to go near the vicinity of power lines.
  • Keep your kids away from electrical substations and transformers.
  • Ensure your kids are not climbing any trees that may be close to power lines as these lines conduct electricity through the branches.
  • Strings of flying kites or helium filled balloons can act as conductors of electricity. Watch out for your kids when they are playing with kites in a storm or anywhere around electric cables.
  • Watch out for fences, which may conduct electricity.
  • Always encourage your children to play out in the open area where there are no power lines
  • It is preferable that you supervise your kids when they play with a remote control or any other electrical devices.
  • Ensure your children get dry quickly when they come out of the pool.
  • Avoid usage of electrical appliances when close to swimming pools.
  • Make sure they are away from utility boxes as they have various electric connections inside
  • Watch out for electrical lines that may be hanging low or may be cut.
  • When playing ball or when playing with pets make sure your kids are not near any electric substations.
  • As an adult do watch out for electric lines when using a ladder, chainsaw or other outdoor equipment.

Of course, a great way to make sure you and your family are safe is to leave the electric in the hands of professionals. Call the experts at Mister Sparky and ask about our home safety inspection. If might just save a life!

How are Your Grill Skills When It Comes to Summer Safety?

fire

According to fire department experts, the most common mistake people make when grilling is turning on the gas, leaving the cover down, then hitting the igniter switch. BOOOMMMM!!!!! They create an explosion from a buildup of gas.

The solution, of course, is to keep the lid open before you light the grill. You should make sure you turn it on and light it right away. If you wait, even with the grill lid open, you may inadvertently be causing a buildup of gas, which, when lit, can explode in a ball of fire.

If you keep hitting the igniter switch and your barbecue doesn’t light right away, don’t keep hitting it: Shut off the gas completely, and wait three to five minutes before trying to light it again. If gas has built up, that’ll give it time to dissipate.

To test for possible leaks, conduct what is called the soapy water test. Spray all your hoses and connections with soapy water. If you see the soapy water bubbling, that means you have a gas leak there. If you cannot tighten the connection anymore or if it is in the hose itself, you will need to get a new hose and/or connector.

A few final tips: Keep your grill at least three feet away from your house. That way, if there is a fire, it doesn’t spread quite so easily.

Make sure your smoke detectors are working properly inside your home. If they are neglected, they can put your family at great risk. Should you have any concerns over the age or condition of your smoke detectors, let the experts at Mister Sparky assess them for you as part of our Home Safety Electrical Inspection. Find out more here.

Here’s to a safe and fun-filled summer! Are those burgers done yet?

Edison Bulbs Save Energy and Look Great

Whether you’re remodeling or simply updating any room, the type of lighting you choose is key to setting the right mood. If you’re ready to adopt a contemporary-retro look, consider Edison light bulbs and fixtures. Inspired by the look of Thomas Edison’s original invention, these bulbs create a unique ambient glow that brings century-old charm into even the most modern residences. Use them in rubbed bronze fixtures for a nostalgic feel, and hang in globes above stone countertops to add an elegant touch. The possibilities are endless when you combine yesterday’s style with today’s designs.

Want to add this timeless look to your home? Let Mister Sparky install your new fixtures safely and beautifully.