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Light Bulbs 101: Bringing You Out of the Dark

At MZ Electric, we know navigating the luminous world of light bulbs can be…well, blinding. So, we’re taking it upon ourselves to spell out the differences between the modern-day variations of Thomas Edison’s invention created more than 150 years ago. Incandescent Incandescent bulbs are often considered the least energy-efficient type of electric lighting, despite being inexpensive, available in an array of sizes and shapes, and their ability to cast a warm and inviting ambiance. Emphasizing the bulb’s energy-efficiency downfalls, governments around the world in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives have passed measures to phase out these lights. Halogen Used in both commercial and residential settings, halogen bulbs are commonly found in automotive headlamps, under-cabinet lighting and work lights. There are not many situations in which halogen lamps cannot be used, but one potential downside is the heat generated by halogen lamps, particularly in areas where HVAC costs are a concern. Fluorescent The fluorescent bulb is a jack of many trades. You’ll find these bulbs inside in table lamps, ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, decorative lighting options – where the bulb is visible (think bathrooms and ceilings) and in commercial buildings. In outdoor settings, fluorescent bulbs are used in floodlights, task lighting in garages and under-cabinet fixtures. These bulbs contain small traces of mercury to light the way, so disposal of the bulb requires specific steps to avoid contact with the element. Light Emitting Diode (LED) Today, the most common light bulb you’ll find on store shelves is the LED variety. This bulb is more efficient than other contenders, has a longer lifespan and can be dimmed. Better still, these bulbs shine bright when it comes to energy-efficiency and durability as they’re made of plastic, not breakable glass. With every bright side there comes a silver lining – these bulbs are priced slightly higher than the competition and can last for a decade or even longer. If you’re still in the dark about your lighting options or want to upgrade your 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. Lighting design and installation is just one of many top-quality services offered by MZ Electric.

Sharing Our Rolodex of Referrals

92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from other people, even if they don’t know them personally.1 At MZ Electric, we like to think we’ve got a pretty solid rolodex of reputable, trustworthy and reasonable HVAC technicians and other contractors. If you’re looking for recommendations, hesitate no more. Call us at 303-933-9220 with your referral/recommendation inquiry today. We might be electricians, but we work closely and frequently with commercial and residential heating and cooling professionals, plumbers, dry wall crews, the list goes on. 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’s make 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. Resources: 1 www.insightpool.com

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.