After the warmest Christmas ever (it didn’t even feel like Christmas!!) the temperature has quickly dropped and I find myself ‘de-icing’ the car every two minutes.

But…

There’s something more important than scraping ice that I wanted to tell you.

You see, I’ve been installing lots of fire places recently. Not your normal fireplace, as that’s not really my bag, but an electric fireplace. And before you disregard this idea as an 80’s thing to do, there are some really nice ones to be installed.

They come with many advantages. They’re cheap to run. They kick out a lot heat. No chopping wood, no mess, they’re safe for children (they don’t get as hot as a real fire) and they’re also very small. You won’t need to connect it to a chimney and we can install them so that they look like the real thing.

Here’s one that we fitted just up the road from us in Eastwood.

If you need one fitting, just let me know and I’ll pop round to have a look!

Talk soon,

Carl

How are things? I hope you’re well and you haven’t had any trouble with your electricity recently, as that’s always the best way to be!

I have a couple of tidbits here that are going to reduce the amount you swear because a lightbulb has just blown. Because they always blow after you’ve installed a new one, don’t they! (There’s actually no scientific reason for this. I think they call it sod’s law…)

Now, there’s a golden rule that I abide by every time it comes to investing in a new lightbulb, and it’s this…

The more money you spend on a lightbulb, the longer it will last.

(I’ve inserted a cheeky little comparison chart at the bottom of this email, so that you can see how the stats stack up.)

That’s true in most cases, but not always. Occasionally you’ll get unlucky and you’ll get stuck with a dud one from the factory. Not much you can do about that, but as time goes by, that scenario gets less and less likely. Also, different types of bulbs have different lifetimes, so here’s quick run-down of what to look out for…

CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp)

A CFL looks a bit like this…

It’s a fluorescent tube that is great for energy saving and won’t break the bank. You can pick a descent one of these up for £5 and they’ll typically last between 8000 to 12000 hours.

This bulb is exactly the same as a big fluorescent tube, except a little smaller and curled round to save space.

Incandescent Bulbs

You’ll probably recognise these ones. They’re pretty good and the most common to have in the home, but on the downside, they’re also very liable to breaking as they’re so cheap. You can buy slightly more expensive ones that will provide a happy medium, but they’re also let down in the energy department, too. These bulbs will provide you with between 750 and 1000 hours of light on average.

LEDs

When it comes to sticking around a bit, you can’t beat LEDs. They have a great light output, are cheap to run as they don’t use much energy, have a very small heat output and last, typically, 25000 hours. That’s around 20 times longer than a CFL bulb and that translates to around 20 years if you’re using it for three hours every day.

So, as I promised, here’s that handy comparison chart. All these bulbs are at the same brightness but use varying amounts of energy (watts), have differing running costs and lifetimes. Interesting!

So there you have it, a little information on buying bulbs. I hope it helps for the next time you’re on the lightbulb isle at Tesco!

Talk soon,

Carl.

My friend got robbed blind the other day.

When I say ‘blind’, I actually mean that he got robbed right in front of his face. I’ll tell you how…

He bought an oven about a year ago. It was just a cheap one and he didn’t expect miracles from it. Sure enough, after a year had past the oven and grill stopped working. As I would always recommend, he spoke to a specialist and put a date in the diary for said ‘specialist’ to go round and have a look.

Now, the specialist took a five-minute look at the oven and decided it needed a new switch. After paying a £55 call out charge, my friend was told that the part would be ordered in.

1387088173-48956100

After two weeks of leaving answer phone messages for the oven guy, he jumped online to check him out. Turn out it’s not the first time that the guy has said he ‘needs to order a part’ and never been heard from.

The big lesson here is that not all specialists and experts are created equal, so always do your research.

Online reviews are good to have a look at. Check out sites like Which? Trusted Traders, Facebook reviews, Google reviews and more. We’ve got reviews on all of those sites.

Just a thought that might make it easier next time you hire in a tradesperson!

Talk soon,

Carl

Right, take a look at your computer.

It has a couple of leads going into the back of the screen, and one of the leads probably has something that looks a little like this picture…

ferrite-bead

Looks pretty normal, right? Well, ask someone what the black cylindrical object is for and the answer will always be ‘I have no idea’. Well, I’m about to tell you exactly what it’s for. Make sure you remember for the next pub quiz you go to…

This little piece of plastic is called a Ferrite Bead. Inside the plastic coating is a magnet with a wire running through it. It looks a little like this…

ferrite-bead-2

Something else you might not have known is that any long wire is essentially an antenna. It naturally acts as a receiver and transmitter for radio waves, and this is bad news for two reasons.

 

  1. The device or power source that is connected to the wire may cause variations in the electrical flow of the wire. These variations could cause the wire to transmit radio waves and these waves could in turn interfere with nearby devices.

 

  1. Conversely, nearby devices could produce radio signals (intentional or otherwise) that get picked up by the wire. These signals could vary the electrical current in the wire which could in turn interfere with the connected devices.

 

The small Ferrite Bead acts as an inductor and prevents the wire transmitting anything it shouldn’t, and in turn making sure there are no surges of power.

 

I hope that helps next time someone asks!

 

Carl

I know I’m an electrician by trade, but I see it as my mission to bring you useful and relevant information on using electricity at home. So here are 6 ways to save your phone’s battery power…

 

I’m forever having to charge my phone so I’ve been looking for some ways to save a little battery life here and there – I’ve got some great strategies that I use regularly and I thought I’d share them with you…

 

  1. Brightness

This is one of the biggest drains on your battery – make sure you turn the brightness down a little.

 

  1. Airplane mode

Now this is usually a last resort, but turning your phone to airplane mode will save A LOT of battery. It will however disable all communication to your phone, although you’ll still be able to connect to Wifi.

 

HOT TIP: Put your phone in airplane mode when charging – it’ll charge much quicker.

 

  1. Bluetooth

Bluetooth rinses battery. Turn it off when not in use.

 

  1. Turn Wifi off

When wifi is turned on its constantly looking for a connection, which uses lots of power in itself so switch it off when you’re out and about – especially when out shopping, as there are SO many different connections that your phone will try to latch on to.

 

  1. Set email fetch to manual

Apps are always working in the background, trying to pull through data to refresh and update themselves. You should be able to turn this off in your settings somewhere. Your email app works similarly and ‘fetches’ new data every now and again. You can set this to manual in your email settings menu.

 

6. Usage

Some people are addicted to their phones, and I’m guilty of it sometimes! But seriously, just using your phone less will increase your power no-end. The touch-screen technology itself takes a lot of power to run, so simply using your phone will kill your battery life.

 

I hope that helps! And don’t forget to drop me a reply if you have a chance.

 

Carl

You’ve probably already noticed, but it’s getting dark outside!

And it’s getting colder – boooo!

But I’ve spoken to a LARGE group of people recently that have all made these early winter nights a little more bearable…

You see, they’ve all completed a small investment that means they no longer have to struggle to get the key in the door, take the shopping out of the car, find the bins, or avoid the trip hazards on the drive.

Yep, you’ve guessed it. They’ve all had a super-bright LED security light fitted.

It illuminates the whole of the area you need to use in the dark evenings for the couple of minutes you need light. It works on a sensor, so anything that moves in front of it will awaken it’s glow, meaning you won’t have to put your car keys down to turn it on – we’re talking hands free!

Security lights have also been proven to deter burglars, who often strike in the festive period.

The lights are fairly cheap to install, use very small amounts of energy and are discreet, meaning there are no downsides to installing one.

You’ll only need a drill, the actual light, the fitting and a bit of ‘jiggery-pokery’ with the electrics to connect it up and voila, you have light.

Or, you could just pick up the phone and ask me for a quote and save all the hassle of doing it yourself!

Let me know,

Carl.

Carl here, I hope all’s well.

I love summer. It’s brilliant. Warm(ish) weather, long days, time off – it’s my favourite time of year – so I always feel a bit sad when it comes to turning the clocks back.

I just don’t understand it! I know it’s handy for farmers to have a little more light in the mornings, but come on, what about the rest of us?!

It has led to one good thing, though. I’ve installed over 100 super-bright LED Security Lights since the evenings started getting darker.

Most people are like me and hate the inconvenience of it getting dark, so they’ve asked me to pop round to fit one of my powerful lights to illuminate their driveways and tricky-to-negotiate outdoor spaces.

These are the lights I’ve been installing…

Stator electrical

There are some brilliant benefits to installing a Security Light…
They’re fairly cheap.
They use minimal electricity.
They work on a sensor, meaning they’re hands free so you don’t need to turn them on and off.
They’re discreet.
Very quick to install.
Deter burglars.
AND (most importantly) prevent tripping accidents.

So, make sure you have a think about installing a light, and if you need a hand on choosing the right one, make sure you get in contact (I’d recommend the 20 watt myself!).

Talk soon,

Carl.

It’s not often I get excited by the latest toy to hit the market. Usually it’s the kids who are pulling at my leg in tesco, wanting me to give in and buy a new toy I’ve never heard of. But this week there was a role reversal, as something caught my eye that I REALLY liked the look of. Electric Lego!

Apparently it was invented by a guy whose son came home from school with a complicated electric science project. The wires were messy and hard to learn with, so this guy invented lego with a chrome coating. The metal coating acts as a conductor for the electrical current to pass through, and it does cool stuff like turning on light bulbs etc.

I could sit here and explain it to you all day, but you should really take a look at the website (in particular the video).

http://www.getbrixo.com/

And the good news is…

…You now know what to get me for Christmas – Electric Lego!

Haha!

Talk soon,

Carl

I was having a chat with a friend just the other day about how electricity is provided to houses.

I guess he’s like most people – he has absolutely no idea how electricity is dealt out to houses in this country. When we got onto the subject he started to ask lots of questions, and as I told him the answers his face made all sorts of fascinating expressions.

As he was so interested, I thought that you might be interested too. So, here’s a bit about how electricity is made and ‘pumped’ all the way to your house.

There are a couple of hundred power stations around the UK. Some of them run on coal, gas and oil, and some of them run without the use of fossil fuels, on things such as biomass and hydro. A couple run on nuclear.

Basically these power stations supply ALL of the electricity to their areas. They push out electricity at massive voltages. Obviously this would be useless (and downright dangerous) coming through the socket next to your bedside, so it has to be ‘stepped down’ before it reaches your street.

For that to happen, the electricity first goes to an electrical sub-station. This steps the voltage down to something more useful. The substation manages the amount of electricity that gets pulled from the main power station (the national grid) and put through to our streets. Employees manually work machines that pull through just enough electricity for all of our appliances to work. Pull through too much and they have to pay for it (actually, we end up paying for it through our bills – our rates go up), and if they don’t pull through enough, everything completely stops and the lights go out! It’s an important job!

The electricity is stepped down further again (to a voltage that we can use – 230v – in the home) when it gets to the end of our streets. You know those big metal cages you often see? Yep, that’s where it all gets transformed into a smaller voltage and fed into our houses.

There’s a fair bit more detail than what I have just shared with you there, but next time I come round, make me a cup of tea and I’ll explain the finer details of how electricity is provided to houses.

Thanks,

Carl.

Hopefully I’ve got you in time. You see, I’ve just been on holiday and I’ve seen some of the awful electrical work that’s around, and I wanted to let you know about Electrical Safety On Holiday

I’ve had many bad experiences with electrics abroad.

Just last year in Egypt I realised I needed a shave – I was treating the family to a nice dinner, and wanted to spruce myself up a little. Anyway, I plugged the electric shaver in and left the room to head back to the pool.

That evening, I returned to the room, selected an outfit and unplugged the shaver, ready for a trim.

Well, blow me down!

It was as though my shaver was on steroids! It was about three times more powerful than it ever gets in the UK. It must have been charged to the nth degree, bursting at the seams with energy.

Now, it made for a quicker shave, but I was suddenly quite worried. What if I’d decided not to shave and left it plugged in all night? It could have resulted in a fire and the loss of my whole family’s possessions. Or it could have been worse than that, which I’m not even going to think about.

If you’ve ever been abroad and used electrical sockets, you’ll have noticed that they’re not as sturdy as ours here in the UK. They often spark, and many don’t have off or on switches. Here’s a few tips I put together to make sure you don’t come across any problems…

Here’s what to look out for…

• Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands.

• Don’t touch light switches if they are cracked or show signs of damage.

• Avoid plugging equipment into a socket which looks damaged or cracked, or has part or all of the cover missing.

• Never use mains-powered electrical appliances in a bathroom.

• Always check cables are securely attached and are not cut, nicked or damaged in any way. There should be no joints in the cable and certainly no repairs with insulating tape. Cables should also be checked for signs of overheating, such as discoloration.

• Make sure to check that the travel adaptor you are using is the correct type for the country you are travelling to and never force it into a socket if it does not easily fit.

• Never ignore burning smells, sounds of arcing (buzzing and crackling), fuses blowing or scorch marks on plugs and sockets.

• On campsites check there is Residual Current Device (RCD) protection or a similar device that will cut off the supply if there is an electrical problem.

• Find out about the type of sockets and the voltage used in the country you are visiting.

• Think about the appliances you intend to take and whether you will need to use travel adaptors or voltage converters and what their power rating should be.

• Consider buying travel adaptors and voltage converters before you go as not all products available abroad will meet British safety standards.

• On cruise ships, the voltage and type of sockets provided in cabins can vary (even with the same cruise operator) and may not be the same as that used in the country the ship departs from. Check with the cruise operator or your travel agent.

I hope that helps you to avoid any problems, and increases your Electrical Safety On Holiday knowledge

Talk soon,

Carl