Smart Plugs For Home Automation

A smart plug is a plug that you insert into your typical wall outlet and is controlled with a smart phone or app. The device that is plugged into the smart plug (that is plugged into the wall) can be controlled remotely from your phone, even when you’re not home. Through the app, you’ll be able to turn off your living room TV – even from another location. You can turn on a coffee maker when you’re on the way home, or turn on a slow cooker while you’re still at work.

You can also program or create schedules for devices to turn on and off at certain times. So you can set your coffee to start every morning right on the dot. You can also program the lights to turn on and off periodically with an “Away” mode to make it appear that you’re home. Most plugs are compatible with Amazon Alexa and other voice assistants to turn on your device with just your voice.

 

While most plugs are for indoor use only, there are some that are specifically designed for outdoors. These weather-resistant outdoor plugs can withstand the elements but keep your Christmas holidays displays list. Some plugs are designed with multiple outlets so that you can plug in more than one device at a time.

Smart for Your Jacksonville Home

One of the biggest benefits of using a smart plug is that it will help lower your electricity bill. These devices can help save money by automatically shutting off devices when you leave the house, which helps to lower your bill. Some devices will even take it a step further by telling you how much energy you are consuming and which devices are using more energy than others. This can also help you determine which lamps should have energy-saving lightbulbs, and which appliances aren’t worth the amount of electricity they need.

Overall, smart plugs have many specific benefits and great ways to use it:

1. They can help determine which appliances are energy efficient
2. They can help control appliances and set up schedules to help cut down on energy usage
3. They can be programmed to turn on and off, and help you appear to be Jacksonville home, which can ward off intruders
4. You can help make your morning routine more efficient by turning on multiple appliances at one time.
5. You can save time and program devices to turn on sooner (such as a slow cooker, coffee)
6. Turn your lights on at a certain time every morning to help you wake up
7. Save money by turning on the AC or fans at certain times

Contact our Jacksonville office to schedule our electricians to come out and help you set up Smart Plugs and other automation electrical equipment for your home or office.

While flickering lights can be cool for aesthetics or creating a spooky atmosphere for Halloween, lights in your home should not be flickering consistently. It is normal for your home to have a little bit of light fluctuation, but if it becomes constant, it may be time to contact an electrician. Below are some possible reasons why your lights may be flickering and if you can identify an issue, definitely call our our Jacksonville office so we can get a certified electrician out to your home or office quickly.

Loose bulb

If you notice that your light bulb is flickering it may simply be that it’s too loose in the socket and needs to be screwed in. Before you check to see if that’s the problem, make sure you turn off the light. If you turn the light back on (using a glove incase it’s hot) and it’s still flickering, then the issue is probably something related to the hardware.

Faulty light switch

A faulty light switch could be the source of why your light bulb is flickering because your light switch may not be connecting to the bulb properly. Try turning your switch on and off a few times, or turning off the lights for a a few minutes to see if that fixes the problem. If that doesn’t work, then you may need to contact one of our electricians to come change out your light switch. We

Appliance Overload

Depending on how many bulky appliances you have in your home, it could be pulling large amounts of currents away from other areas of your home. If you notice that your lights dim whenever you turn on your washing machine or air conditioner, the issue may be a circuit overload. This means that the appliances are pulling more electrical current than the circuit can handle and an electrician should come by to assess your home or office to make the best recommendations.

If the flickering is minor and only happens for a few moments when the large appliance turns on, it may not be much of a concern. However, if the flickering is consistent and severe, it may be the appliance itself or a sensory overload. If it’s very severe and continues, it might be time to call the electrician to find the source of the problem.

Voltage fluctuation

Your home could be putting off some high voltage fluctuations which is causing your lights to flicker. If you notice that lights in your home will randomly dim or you’re constantly replacing light bulbs due to a fast burn out, your home is probably emitting high voltage.

You can find out how much voltage your house is emitting by using a voltmeter. Electricity usually flows through your house at 120 volts.  Although some voltage fluctuation is ok, it’s best to check and make sure it’s not too high.

Loose electrical wiring

Loose electrical wiring is the most technical reason for a flickering light bulb. This problem can cause a high resistance connection that can become very hot, which can cause a house fire. If you suspect that is the reason, you should turn off the lights and turn off your circuit breaker, then contact your electrician right away.

It’s never a good idea to leave your lights flickering. If it’s not a simple light bulb screw in, you should always contact your Jacksonville electrical resource and have someone certified come take a look.

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Electricity is something we often take for granted. Power is so integrated into our lives, we tend to not notice how much we rely on it. There’s almost no time point during the day that electricity isn’t being used. Let’s take a moment to go through what a day without electricity would be like, and when you eventually get to a time when you have lost power – give us a call at our Jacksonville office to get a certified, professional electrician out to your home and office, and we’ll get you back up and running.

How would your usual morning rituals be altered?

Most people don’t rely on a traditional alarm clock anymore, since the majority of people use their smartphone to set an alarm. And some even set a few alarms throughout the morning just to drag themselves out of bed and make it into work on time (including some of our staff). Without power, there’s no sound to wake you up and you’ll be late getting ready and late to work.

Lights

If you get up before the sun rises, you typically turn on your lights to shower, get dressed, maybe shave or apply make up, and some of the other morning routines to get you ready for the day. Without electricity, some of those todos will be impossible to do and you may end up with patches of hair on your face and missed matched clothes. We also discussed the benefits of good lighting in our most recent blog.

 

Showers

Your plumbing isn’t the issue in situations where you lose power, you don’t lose water when the power goes out. But without power, there’s no heat – which means there’s no hot shower to start the day, or hot water to wash your hands. You get to have an ice cold shower instead, and this is probably one of the things you’ll never take for granted after you’ve had to suffer through a cold shower in the morning.

Breakfast

Are you addicted to coffee and have to have it every morning to put you in a better mood? Well, you’re going to be a bit irritable because your coffee maker won’t be brewing anything. And if you thought about toasting a bagel or taking cream cheese from the fridge – well that’s out of the question. You can’t even make a bowl of cereal because the milk has spoiled from a warm fridge. Looks like your breakfast is going to be coffee grounds with a side of un-toasted bagel – yum!

Noon

You managed to get to work, and now you’re trying to prepare for a big meeting that you have today with your team. Let’s see what your work day would look like without power.

Laptop

Your laptop is on 8% (you forgot to charge it). It dies pretty much right away. You reach for the charger and plug it into the outlet. You won’t be able to charge your laptop without electricity, which means you’re going to be behind on all of your projects for the day. Why’d you even come to work? That’s a different blog post altogether, but this is a good time to think about what you’d do if you lost power at your office. What would you do? Hint: you’d probably call our Jacksonville office to help get things back up and running.

Lunchtime

Similar to breakfast, you’re going to have a little more difficulty in choosing what to eat for lunch, since you can’t have a hot meal. Without electricity, you can’t even have a sandwich – unless it’s PB&J (new jar) – or heat up your dinner from last night. I’m sure a can of cold corn sounds real good right about now.

Meetings

You have an important meeting today in your office. Your laptop is dead and even if it wasn’t dead, there would be no way to project your PowerPoint presentation for the whole group to see on the big screen TV. You’ll have to reschedule the meeting for a time that you have power – but you can’t even reschedule the calendar invite because your laptop is dead. Might as well go home and call it a day.

Evening

You’ve clearly had a rough day without electricity. The power is still out in your home. You really should have called a Jacksonville electrician about this problem, but your phone is dead. Next time, stop by our office during business hours – but this time, you’re already home.

Oven and fridge

You can’t open your fridge or you’ll help speed up the defrosting of your frozen foods, and the decay of your refrigerated foods. Which means that roasted chicken you were dying to make won’t be made tonight, because your oven also uses electricity. Looks like you’re having more peanut butter sandwiches and canned corn.

TV

At this point, you really just want to unwind and relax because your day was a total mess. You grab your remote to turn on the TV to watch your favorite primetime show, but the screen stays black. Your TV needs an outlet with power, which you still don’t have. I guess you can read a book by candle light, like back in the day – just be safe about it. Don’t hold the candle next to paper, or have it in a position where it could start a fire. You’ll have a lot more problems than no power.

Laundry

You’re on your last pair of underwear and need to wash your clothes for work tomorrow. You head over to your washing machine to put a load in, stumble over more clothes because you can’t see in the dark and hit your head on the broom that was sticking out from behind the washer. You’ll have to wash your clothes the old fashion way, with a wash board and some good old fashion laundry soap, then hang your clothes on a clothes line to dry in your backyard. The only saving grace you have is that the nights are beautiful in Jacksonville, and there’s enough light pollution from the surrounding area that you can see what you’re doing in the backyard.

With all of that said, having electricity is such a key part to maintaining your daily routine. Without electricity there are so many simple tasks we couldn’t do without it. We take it for granted, there’s no doubt. So to keep life running smoothly, to keep you on schedule, fed, cleaned up for work, etc. – you need to reach out to our office the second you have an issue. We’re right here in Jacksonville and ready to get you back up and running when you need us most.

 

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Do you know the difference between a circuit breaker and a safety switch? Most people don’t know the differences, or think they do the same thing. While these devices are very important for your home, they both handle different aspects of safety. Today’s blog is written to help educate consumers on what they’re getting into when making changes, but please always keep in mind – electrical work should be completed by a licensed, professional and certified electrician.

 

What is a circuit breaker?

A circuit breaker – also known as a “fuse” – provides electrical protection for the circuits in your home. The circuit breaker will cut off power when it detects a high amount of current flow, which can happen when too many appliances are wired or plugged into one power point. Each circuit breaker is designed to shut off or trip at a certain amperage load to protect your home from an electrical fire.

The circuit breaker is located in your main switchboard and comes in different sized breaker boxes depending on how much of an electric current it can take. While circuit breakers look very similar to safety switches, they do not protect someone from an electrocution. They provide over current and short circuit protection to your home.

What is a safety switch?

A safety switch or residual current device (RCD) overlooks the flow of electricity from the circuit and detects any irregularities in the neutral or live wires. The safety switch is activated when there is a potential risk of electric shock. Once activated, it helps reduce the risk of the electric shock by turning off the circuit within 0.03 of a seconds.

Having one safety switch may not be enough to protect you from an electrical shock. A safety switch will only protect you if it’s on that specific circuit. You should consider putting safety switches on all important circuits in your home for the best home safety practices, and they should be installed by a certified electrician.

What’s the difference?

Safety switches are there to protect you and ensure you won’t get a serious electrical shock. Circuit breakers turn off a certain electrical supply and will trip if the flow of electricity is too high at one power point. All certified electricians know the difference and can help you with your Jacksonville residential or commercial property.

An easy way to distinguish between a switch and a breaker is to check and see if there is a test button. If there’s not a test button – then you’re looking at the circuit breaker. Knowing the difference between these two important parts of your electrical panel is just one more way to practice electrical safety. Give us a call at our Jacksonville location to help service your home or office and make sure your up-to-code with our certified electricians.

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As hard as it may be to believe, lighting has a big effect on us. Since the majority of people spend the bulk of their day inside an office, it makes sense that the quality of lighting in the office is important. The right lighting is determined by many factors including natural light and variations of dim lighting. Besides the visual asthetics of good office lighting, it is also important for employee’s health and productivity! Here are a few reasons good office lighting is crucial in your Jacksonville office space:

 

Safety

If you’re in an office space with poor lighting, it can become a safety hazard. Tripping over objects and dropping work materials can cause damage to your workers and your office environment. Our electricians make sure that all office stairwells and common areas are well lit to prevent workers from falling, but we won’t over do it with flood lights or unnecessary wattage. And keep in mind, with good lighting your staff will be able to see better and avoid any accidents which will end up costing you far more than the electric bill.

 

Health

Poor lighting can cause some health issues like eye strains and headaches from not being able to see, as well as some of the safety concerns noted above. Back, neck and shoulder aches can occur from feeling tense and straining your eyes all day and that leads to poor morale and work productivity.

Poor lighting may also cause forms of depression. Research has been done to show that poor lighting can cause some psychiatric conditions, which can include mood disorders. Jacksonville is the sunshine state, so hopefully you have windows but we can ensure a steady stream of healthy light in places that don’t have access. We also highly recommend fixing any flickering lights as these can cause migraines, as well as seizures.

Productivity

Different types of lighting can help with productivity. Natural light is a good if you want a more productive office – but it’s not always possible, and therefore we can install lighting that has a similar spectrum as natural light, keeping our circadian rhythm in sync despite not having the windows to support a natural enviornment.

Lighting can bring positive attitudes into the workspace which results in a healthier mindset, more productivity and hopefully more success for your First Coast business. If you don’t have windows in the office space, consider encouraging staff to take regular breaks outside.

Having the proper lighting in your office space can make a huge impact on your staff, their efficiency, and the work they are creating. Consider different lighting options in the office to maximize safety and productivity and reach out to your local, Jacksonville electrician at Thompson Electric Co to help make the most of your space.

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With concerns for the environment and a growing population, technological advancements in trying to find alternative ways to power the world is powering up. Learn about new technology, and the future of the modern utility that powers the world.

Flexible Thermoelectric Generators

A flexible thermoelectric generator is a small device that can convert heat into electricity without having any moving parts. This break through in electrical engineering will help high-performance devices function without a battery or cool down.

Generators could be used to power light sources, or power health devices for patients.

Recycling Radio Waves

Researchers have developed an electromagnetic energy harvester that can collect energy from radio frequencies.

Instead of the radio waves being emitted, the energy that is created will be collected and reused to keep devices charged.

This energy source will be able to operate small devices like Apple Watches and other wearable devices.

Since the unveiling of this research, researchers have been able to broaden the capabilities to collect energy from tv channels, WiFi and cellular devices.

Triboelectricity

Triboelectricity allows an electrical charge to occur from friction by two different materials coming into contact with each other.

Even though this method has been known for centuries, it has been excluded from further research because it can be unpredictable.

With the help of research, triboelectirc nano-generators have been created and can power small electronic devices.

Rectenna

Rectenna’s are part antenna and part rectifier. This technological development will help convert electromagnetic energy into electrical currents. The key point to this technology is that the antenna’s will be small enough to get the wavelength of light.

This energy source will be more efficient and less expensive than today’s solar cells. Instead of converting particles of light like solar cells do, rectenna’s will be collecting waves of light.

With all of these technological advancements in energy, we’ll be able to power the world cleaner and efficiently.

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Our Jacksonville-based commercial and residential electrical company is weathered in hurricane preparedness and ready to help you prep for the storm, or clean up after it. The past few years, we have been sacked by large, devastating storms – knocking out power to large swaths of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beaches, Yulee and St. Augustine.

Thompson Electric staff worked to prep our customers before Matthew and Irma, and came out in full force to get our customers back up and running after the flood waters subsided. Typical flood work includes pulling everything out that has been touched by water, however there are many things you can do to be better prepared and minimize the damage from storms in the future:

1. Stay up to code.

Having old electrical systems, out-of-date and worn down plugs and breakers, can lead to even more serious issues when a storm blows in. The best preparation you can do for a storm, is make sure your electrical systems are up-to-date and up-to-code. Building codes, although some times more expensive and more antiquated than you’d like them to be, are put into place to protect you.

As a licensed, professional, and experienced residential and commercial electrical company for almost 30 years, we follow everything by the book. Our team ensure that our work is up-to-code and sometimes beyond what is required, in order to mkae sure you have the best quality work that’s reliable and safe for years to come.

2. Shut the power off before it gets worse.

Shutting the power off at your home or office can help prevent additional damage from happening from a storm. Water, whether from heavy rains on the roof or flooding from the ground up to your sockets or breaker box, can get into your walls, clump up electrical insulation and cause fires. Most people think that water brings mold, rot, mildew and can sometimes push sewage into properties, but it can also wreck havoc on electrical systems and cause a fire when you’re in the middle of dealing with Hurricane force winds and rains.

Water can ruin your electrical wiring, corrode the metals, and water can actually cause a fire. Electrical fires are a far harder to control than a typical fire, and water does not put it out – it makes it worse. People trying to put out an electrical fire with water are typically shocked and end up spreading the fire because they don’t recognize that the fire is caused by electricity. If the power were turned off, this would not be an issue. Electrical fires are caused by simple things and can be prevented with a quick call to Thompson Electric to have our certified and professional team to have a hurricane preparedness assessment.

3. Call the professionals to repair electrical systems after a storm.

Although it may seem easy to change out a light socket, or a switch, that has been damaged from water after a storm – you may be doing more harm then good. DIY electrical home repairs are a risky decision and could result in shock, death or fire. Especially if water has come into your breaker boxes, into your sockets or touched exposed wires.

That’s where the professionals come in. We will shut your power off, assess all of your electrical systems from the entry point all the way through your breakers and walls, and out of your sockets, switches, lights and appliances. We can meter all of the circuits to make sure nothing was damaged in the walls, that you may not be able to see with the naked eye.

And our electrical professionals come prepared to jobs to switch out breakers, sockets, and wires to make sure your safe, and back up and running after a storm. Check out our project portfolio to see some of our post-storm electrical work in Jacksonville and North Florida.

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Every trade has it’s tools to get the job done. Electricians are no different. They even have special tools specifically invented to help with safety and tight spaces they can’t even see.

Whether you’ve though about it or not here are some tools you can find in an electricians tool belt.

Linemen  Pliers

Wires need to be cut and have a good set of pliers will do the job. Linemen or side cutting pliers can cut, pull, twist and bend are important to help get the cutting done.

Needle Nose Pliers

For the very small to reach areas needle noose pliers can help save the day. Electricians can cut, grip of bend tiny wires that hands and bigger tools can’t get to.

Voltage Tester

A voltage safety is an important safety tool that indicates whether a wire is live, and does this without making contact with the wire. It is very important to know if a line still has electricity flowing through it. Failure in knowing if a wire does can have some serious consequences.

Electrician Leveler

Electricians have to make sure that they’re putting things on the wall straight. An Electrician Leveler can help in that situation. If an electrician needs to place an electrical cabinet on the wall a leveler will definitely come in handy.

Some levelers even come with magnets, so electricians can have both hands free.

Fish Tape

You will definitely find this in an electricians tool belt. Fish tape is used to route new wires  through the walls and  conduits using a leader. With help from the fish tape, wires can be guided through tight spaces like wall cavities.

Screw Drivers

Screw drivers are a must in an electricians tool belt. Electricians need to be able to unscrew outlets and see what’s going on inside the wall. Most electricians have screw divers that come in all different shapes and sizes and each has a specific purpose.

Next time you need an electrician, see if some of these tools are in their tool belt.

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FPE panels were America’s go-to circuit panels during the 1980s and many can still be found today. However, the dangers surrounding these panels may not be as well known. At Thompson Electric we specialize in electrical work and identifying circuit panels that pose a risk to households and businesses.

A Fire Hazard

Millions of Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) panels have been installed across the country and work perfectly fine until they don’t… If these panels short circuit or experience any kind of overcurrent, they quickly become a fire hazard that could put you or your family at significant risk.

After realizing the numerous issues involving the FPE panel, a New Jersey State court ruled that the Federal Pacific Electric Company “violated the Consumer Fraud Act” due to the company having previous knowledge of the dangers that the circuit panels posed.

What Causes These Problems?

The root of the problem with the FPE panel is that they are more likely to fail to trip than the average circuit panel. When a panel fails to trip, an excessive amount of power surges to the home’s or building’s circuit breaker and increases the likelihood of the panel overheating and catching fire.

If you, or someone you know, own an FPE panel or an outdated panel, contact Thompson Electric to have an electrician conduct an inspection of the panel.

Living in Jacksonville Florida, it’s important to know what to do in case of emergencies – especially when it has to do with electrical. Do you need a generator? Which generator is best for you in times of power outages or damage from severe weather vs camping or tailgating?

There’s a lot of decisions that need to be made prior, and you should weigh out all the pros / cons – or consult a licensed, certified and professional Jacksonville electrician if you have any questions or doubts. Depending on which portable generator you choose to use, the methods of connecting to a power source may vary. At Thompson Electric, Inc. we provide a range of electrical services to accommodate your electrical needs, including setting up portable generators before or after a hurricane or storm.

Cords vs. Transfer Systems

There are two methods of safely hooking up a generator to your house. The first and easiest method is to use an extension or generator cord to connect appliances to the generator. The second and more complicated method involves the use of a power transfer system from the generator to an entire house.

Extension or generator cords are for a small-scale emergency and are used to power individual appliances only. Power transfer systems are for large-scale emergencies such as power failure from a hurricane, which can power entire rooms.

DIY Generator Setup

To determine the best way to connect your portable generator, first reference the owner’s manual and assess the severity of your situation. You may want to call in assistance, or you just might be able to set it up yourself with a little bit of guidance from a local, professional electrical company.

Connecting with a generator cord:

  1. Consult the generator checklist.
  2. Place the generator outside and approximately 10 feet from any windows or doors.
  3. To connect the generator to an appliance you can either:
    1. Run one generator cord to connect several appliances or…
    2. Run many extension cords to connect the appliances
  4. Start the generator.

*Never plug the generator directly into a wall socket. This could cause an issue called backfeeding*.

Generator and Extension Cords

Using extension cords can be dangerous and hinder maximum power from the generator to run your appliance efficiently. Before using extension cords with your portable generator, make sure you are using the proper gauge for your generator power output. Extension cords are really only effective for a few appliances and are best used with an inverter (small) generator.

Generator cords are best for a medium-sized generator and should be plugged into the amp on your generator. This provides several outlets for the appliances located at the opposing end of the cord.  

Connecting with a transfer system:

  1. Connect the transfer switch to the generator using the generator cord.
  2. Start the generator.
  3. Flip the switch on the transfer system from “line” to “generator.”
  4. On the circuit breaker, you can choose which appliances you would like to run power.

Power transfer systems are the most powerful and efficient option for a large generator as they can run power to circuits rather than individual appliances. When running power to a circuit breaker you are able to power hard-wired appliances such as air conditioning units and ceiling fans.  

If you have any questions about which portable generator is best for your home and how to properly install it contact one of our local, certified and insured electricians at Thompson Electric.

 

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