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Light up the Night with Outdoor Lighting Option

Although it’s the dead of winter around the Denver Metro Area, now’s the time to start thinking about outdoor living spaces. Once the seasons change, nights get warmer and stars brighter, you’re destined to begin spending time outside with family and friends. Whether you’re sitting on a deck or patio, or you want to highlight a specific area of your yard, adequate outdoor lighting can make all the difference. If you’re considering enhancements to your outdoor living space or want to upgrade current lighting features, call MZ Electric at 303-933-9220 to start the conversation. MZ Electric offers lighting design sessions with our highly creative and qualified, licensed electricians to discuss options compatible with your space’s layout. Alternatively, if you have a lighting design already in mind, we offer free estimates after reviewing your plan; restrictions do apply. Outdoor lighting design and install is just one of many top-quality services offered by MZ Electric. About MZ Electric MZ Electric is a locally owned and operated, Littleton-based neighborhood electrician, specializing in residential and commercial electrical services. Repairs, remodels and/or design, MZ Electric makes clients’ projects their top priority. The company offers competitive rates for all electrical needs; plus, discounts for teachers, military and seniors. Learn more about MZ Electric.

The Anatomy of an Outlet

Have you ever considered the make-up of your home’s electrical outlets? You know, the places you plug cords into to make your household appliances and favorite devices come to life? Bet you’re giving them some thought now. Take a closer look, does the outlet nearest you have two- or three-prongs? (Made you look!) As you stare at the outlet, if you see two vertical slots, you’re looking at a polarized outlet. On the left is the slightly larger “neutral” slot, and on the right, the “hot” slot. If your outlet has the neutral and hot slots, plus a round “ground” hole smack dab in the middle (also considered “neutral”) you’ve got a three-pronged outlet. Two-pronged outlets are typically found inside older homes. Side note: Outlets are actually called “receptacles.” Grounding is a safety system providing a path for electrical currents to flow to as a safe destination should a circuit encounter a problem. In the case of the three-pronged receptacle, there’s double the safety protection. Without those two neutral openings, the risk for shock or electrocution escalates. Thankfully, the vast majority of home appliances and power tools have three-pronged cords, furthering the reach of grounding safety. In addition to grounding receptacles, there are areas of our homes where an added level of protection against shock and electrocution is necessary. Think kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages and outdoor patios. It’s in these places where ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) circuit breakers are recommended. GFCIs are installed in your home’s electrical service panel and safeguard the entire circuit, as well as the wiring and appliances and devices connected to the circuit. You’ve seen these before, they’re outfitted with test and reset buttons. If you’re staring down a polarized receptacle, you are encouraged to contact a professional to begin the transition from two-prongs to three. The switch from two to three will ground your receptacles, safeguarding your home, appliances and devices. MZ Electric is your go-to for all your home’s electrical needs. Our technicians are fully licensed and have a wide range of experience in the electrical industry. We offer extremely competitive rates; discounts for teachers, military and seniors, and referral coupons.

Getting Acquainted with Your Home’s Electrical Panel: Safety and Dependability

As the brains to our homes, its surprising (and alarming) so many homeowners fall short when it comes to a clear understanding of the inner-workings of a home’s electrical service panel. The sheet-metal enclosure is located in a basement, dark closet or an outdoor location; and is outfitted with switches or fuses, numbers and labels, and a cobweb of wires. ‘Same, but different’ applies to electrical service panels spanning the ages. While panels are tasked with similar responsibilities – bringing electricity into the home, there’s little in common when it comes to old vs. new, safety and dependability. Continue reading for a clear understanding of your home’s electrical service panel. Dated Electrical Service Panels Fuse Box A central location for circuit fuses, a fuse box was the first of its kind in the electrical industry. Boxes were installed in homes through the 1950s, and contained 12 or fewer fuses. Despite an increase in the amount of electricity the box could take on, as the number of appliances and devices people depended on within their homes multiplied, fuse boxes were increasingly taxed with carrying a heavier load than designed for, resulting in blown fuses and shorts. Once a fuse was blown, it had to be replaced; and since all fuses fit in the same socket, there was the danger of replacing the fuse with a higher amperage than what was considered safe, causing it to overheat and potentially catch fire. Split-bus Installed in homes built between 1950 and 1980, split-bus panels featured two main breakers; each breaker responsible for the circuits beneath it, including disconnection of the individual circuits. As with fuse boxes, advances in home appliances and devices exceedingly pushed the electricity limitations of these panels, leading to excessive overheating of the internal components. Ultimately, this increased the risk of fire as circuit breakers did not trip as they were designed to. Present-Day Electrical Service Panel Today, electrical service panels are known as breaker boxes or circuit breaker panels. Each has a main breaker (present day electrical codes no longer allow for multiple disconnects within a single panel) and two rows of circuit breakers. Electricity travels into the panel, passes through the main breaker and onto the circuits for power to the home. If a single circuit is overloaded, instead of blowing a fuse, the main breaker shuts off the flow of power to that circuit as a precaution. Resetting the circuit is done by flipping the now “off” circuit into the “on” position. In the event the home’s entire electrical system is maxed with demand, or there is another serious problem, the main breaker shuts off all power, automatically turning all circuits to the “off” position. For more information about dated and potentially unsafe electrical service panels, read ‘Electrical Panel Brands: Not All Are Created Equal’ (link to blog). If you suspect your home’s electrical service panel is more than 10-years-old, or you’re considering a new home or remodel involving significant electrical work, MZ Electric is your go-to for inspections and electrical work. Our technicians are fully licensed and have a wide range of experience in the electrical industry. We offer extremely competitive rates; discounts for teachers, military and seniors, and referral coupons.

Toasted Bread, Not Household Electronics

If you live in a home built more than a decade ago and you’re considering the addition of a newly purchased air conditioner or furnace; maybe a hot tub or sauna, then this installment of our MZ Electric Blog is for you. These home accessories, along with all newer devices, including TVs and computers, have built-in sensitive electrics. If your home was to suddenly experience a power surge – or a temporary spike in voltage within an electrical circuit – from lightening, downed power lines or another unavoidable cause, your gadgets and more-common appliances are toast. To avoid exposing these items to radiant heat, like the bread you had for breakfast, we suggest you first arm your home with a whole-house suppressor. Hard-wired to your home’s electric panel, think of a whole-house suppressor as a gate-keeper. If your home experiences a surge in electricity, the suppressor will instantly redirect the excess voltage to the ground wire (aka Earth). As soon as electricity levels return to normal, the suppressor allows the flow of electricity to resume throughout your home. For your best defense against power surges, pair a whole-house suppressor – installed by an electrical professional – with power strips, surge stations or uninterruptable power supplies. The latter are items you can purchase at your local home improvement store. Reach out to MZ Electric at 303-933-9220, if you have questions about upgrading your home’s electric panel. We’ll let you know if you need a new panel, or if you should think about whole-house surge protection.

Signs You Should Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

At MZ Electric, we often get asked if there are signs that it is time to upgrade your electrical panel. It is true that your home may be signaling you that it is time to think about making the investment in a new panel.
  1. You live in an older property: While this one may be fairly obvious, it is worth stating, simply because you want to make sure your home is completely safe for your family. When most older properties were built, a 60-amp panel was sufficient. However, with today’s technology and appliances, you most likely want to upgrade to a 200-amp panel.
  2. Your lights are flickering and your appliances are underperforming: These are definite signs that your panel is overloading, and likely needs an upgrade. It’s also a sign that the panel isn’t as safe as it could be.
  3. You are considering a remodel or significant upgrade to your home: If you are thinking of upgrading your appliances in the near future, or adding an air conditioner to your home, this is also a good time to consider an upgrade. A remodel is also a good time to upgrade your panel, as you may be adding lighting that your current panel won’t support.
  4. You have fuses, not circuit breakers: If your home was built before the 1970s, it may have a fuse-based system rather than a circuit breaker. Though fuses perform the same function as circuit breakers, they are outdated, and don’t trip when they are overloaded.
  5. Your breakers are frequently tripping: While breakers are designed to trip as a safety feature, if you are continuously visiting your breaker box, it’s a definite sign that your current panel isn’t supporting the amount of electricity your home needs.
If you have more questions about upgrading your panel, and if your home currently needs an upgrade, don’t hesitate to give MZ Electric a call today at 303.933.9220. We provide free estimates for panel upgrades and would be glad to discuss any questions you may have.