Exterior lighting should make your home appear inviting and warm while complementing your existing décor. Slight changes in the amount of illumination, color and style, size, and mounting height can create a welcoming glow for your home. Does your back porch appear dark? Is your front entryway dull and uninviting? Spruce up your space with some updated exterior lighting!
Here’s what to consider and how to pick out the exterior lighting fixtures that will enhance your space.
The end goal of exterior lighting is to brighten a space without being overbearing – side yards, garages or driveways could use a brighter bulb or utility type fixture while the front door, porch, and back deck can often rely on smaller fixtures and softer, dimmer lighting. Since these are outdoor lighting fixtures, opting for longer-lasting LED bulbs is usually recommended.
2. Color and Style
The color and size of your fixtures and lighting should coordinate with your existing style scheme to help improve the aesthetic. If you have brass fixtures or doorknobs use those elements with your light fixtures. If you have silver or platinum, coordinate that in your lighting scheme to create a more completed look.
You want to strike a balance between a light that illuminates a good amount of space with a fixture arrangement that doesn’t dominate the entire exterior façade. A light that is too large can appear clunky and shrink the look of your house. Size choice may vary depending on the location. For instance, a side yard or driveway may need a larger light, whereas the lights at your front door should be smaller and ornate. A good rule of thumb for entryway fixtures, is to select a fixture that is approximately one-third or one-fourth the height of the front door.
4. Mounting Height
The placement of a lighting fixture is also imperative. For most wall-mounted applications you want to display lights that are approximately eye-level. This is about 66 to 72 inches above the floor for most entries, front doors and garage-mounted lights.
Where to Display Outdoor Lights
In addition to the height, proper placement will create being the look together. Entryways and front doors should have two sconces or fixtures on each side. Covered deck lighting is dependent upon the size of the space. If possible, use larger fixtures like outdoor chandeliers to create a chic look if the space allows. Placement for a garage depends on the size and number of stalls. A one-car garage may only need a single fixture near the walkway, or a fixture on flanking both sides of the garage door. A two-car garage with two separate doors may look better with three lights – the left, center column, and right side of the garage front.
How to Choose Outdoor Lighting Fixtures for Your Home
In addition to all these considerations the type of light used can make or break your outside lighting goals.
Here are a few lighting types and some advice on when and where to use them:
- Post lights: These are standalone, stately fixtures that can be used for illuminating walkways or marking a yard perimeter.
- Outdoor wall sconces: These work well to flank the front door or light a side entry.
- Outdoor chandelier: Light up an area by adding an element of elegance. These larger, more ornate fixtures could be used in a covered deck that has room to spare.
- Outdoor table lamp: Best for patios or back porches, these lights can be moved, dimmed and changed out to create the perfect mood.
Adding to or updating your exterior lighting can go a long way toward enhancing your outdoor spaces. Decorating with matching fixtures outdoors will complement your home and create a welcoming glow to your yard.
For professional assistance from a licensed electrician, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical at 336.283.8485.
The kitchen island in a home is more than a design feature, it’s functional, too! As the centerpiece of your room it becomes the main point and hub for flow, design and creativity. To add the most functionality, add an electrical outlet to your island. You’ll be able to make the most of your counter space and maximize the efficiency of your kitchen.
Running electricity to your kitchen island may feel like an overwhelming project, so be sure to get the job done right with an experienced electrician.
Before you begin, decide the type of outlet that will meet your needs. There are multiple options available, including:
This outlet style stays low profile until you need to use it. When it’s not in use, the outlet lays flat on the island countertop. When you are ready to use it, push on the outlet to “pop it up” and plug in.
A recessed outlet has a faceplate that is set deeper into the island than a regular outlet. This type of outlet will hide protruding connectors and plugs to create a streamlined look for the island.
You can create a universal and convenient charging station to your kitchen island with a USB outlet. There are a variety of finishes to fit with your décor. You can also use a pop-up outlet that includes USB charging to give you added functionality and still have a discrete finish.
With a smart outlet, you can use WiFi or Bluetooth technology to control your devices. For convenience and energy efficiency, smart outlets allow you to control them (and the devices plugged into them) remotely or on a timer.
Contact an electrician
Now that you’ve selected the right outlet for your space, it’s time to contact an electrician to add an electrical outlet to your island. An electrician will drill a hole through your kitchen floor to run the wiring from your crawl space or basement. It’s important to choose an experienced professional who will, not only properly wire the outlet, but will also be careful not to damage your island or flooring.
Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for expert assistance with your electrical projects.
Unwind, soak your muscles, decrease stress and relax – all in your own hot tub! Spending time in a hot tub is a great way to unwind. You can soak to soothe your mind and body, spend time and reconnect with your family, and even get some great health benefits, too. Soaking regularly may even improve your sleep. Installing a hot tub is not difficult, but you need to check your homeowners’ association rules and local zoning laws. Once you have all the requirements, just follow these steps to create your own spa setting right in your backyard.
Follow these five easy steps for installing a hot tub:
1. Find a location.
Choosing the best location to install your hot tub is the most essential step. Try to envision your new oasis in your yard. Take into consideration neighbors, traffic flow, and anything that may disrupt a peace time. Also consider these questions:
- How will you move the tub off the delivery truck to the location you selected? Will you need tools, more manpower or even a crane? Be sure to plan ahead so you don’t end up spending unnecessarily.
- Do you want your hot tub in the shade or in the afternoon sun?
- If privacy is an issue, do you need a fence or gazebo? If you are in the sun do you want to block it out with an awning?
- Are you creating a space to be a focal point or do you prefer privacy in a quiet corner of your yard?
Remember, your space will need:
- Easy access via a walkway from the house. You won’t want grass, dirt or sand in the tub.
- Flat, firm ground or surface.
- Easy access to a water source and a dedicated GCFI electrical circuit for power.
- An area that doesn’t collect leaves, limbs or excess rainwater.
- A space that is at least 10 feet away from overhead trees and power lines.
2. Select a foundation to build on
It’s not advised to install a hot tub directly on the ground. When the tub is filled with water the weight may cause the tub to shift and become uneven. If you are installing on an existing deck be sure of the weight limits and strength of the foundation. A concrete slab is a good long-term choice. If you are pouring a new slab be sure the concrete is fully dried before installing the tub. You can also use a foundation of paver stones, gravel or hot tub pad. Just make sure that the ground underneath is on hard-packed dirt and that materials are level.
3. Use upgraded, dedicated electrical outlets
Check that the electrical system you are using can safely power the unit. A lot of electricity is used when running heating components and pumps. Installing the hot tub circuit and GCFI outlet should only be done by a licensed electrician.
4. Place the tub in the desired position
Orienting your hot tub on the foundation is a crucial step. Steps or entry ladders should be placed away from obstacles. Make sure the tub is in a position that provides quick, easy access to control panels. You will also need plenty of room to easily remove the cover. If you have children, add safety measures locks on covers or alarm
5. Just add water!
Once your tub is in place, follow manufacturer instructions to begin operating. Turn off electricity that powers the tub at the circuit breaker. Check that the drain valve is closed, the filters are in place and that the tub is clean by using a non-foaming cleanser. Use the garden hose to fill the tub with cold, clean water. to the fill line. Once filled to the fill line, check for leaks. When you are certain everything is holding up properly, turn on power at the breaker. You’ll then set the controls for the unit and treat the water with chemicals. About eight hours later the water will be warm and ready to enjoy!
Don’t be afraid to call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010 for expert assistance.
Not only is it frustrating, but even worse, in some cases, it can mean there’s a fire hazard. Finding out why your light bulbs keep burning out too soon is crucial.
How long should bulbs last?
Incandescent bulbs should last for about a thousand hours. Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and LEDs (light-emitting diode) typically last much longer – about 10 thousand usage hours for CFLs and 25 thousand hours for LEDs. Still, if your bulb is burning out before it should, it’s time to find out why.
Why do my light bulbs keep burning out too soon?
There are many possible reasons, here are the main ones:
- You may be using the wrong type of light bulb in a certain fixture.
- A bulb may be loose or incorrectly connected.
- The bulb’s power supply voltage may be too high.
- The dimmer switch may require a different bulb.
- Recessed lighting may be causing overheating in the insulation about it.
- Filaments in the bulb could be broken due to excessive vibrations.
Wrong bulb type
If a lamp is rated for 40 watts, placing a 1o0-watt bulb in the fixture creates excess heat. This can shorten the bulb’s life, and possibly even cause a fire to start. Always make sure the bulb’s wattage is not more than the fixture’s wattage recommendation. Another possible problem is that the bulb is not right for its location. LED bulbs are better to light fixtures that have frequent on/off usage throughout the day, but CFLs are not.
You may notice a bulb flickering if it is loose. Check to make sure that the bulb is correctly connected into the socket and if it’s loose, turn it until it’s snug. Ideally, the fixture’s tab and the bulb solder should be roughly the same size. This will create a good connection between them. If they are not, try switching light bulb brands.
Wrong power supply voltage
In the United States, 120-volt electrical outlets are standard in homes. Be sure that the light is connected to a standard outlet. If it is, use a multimeter to check if the reading is more than 120 volts. If you are having electrical supply issues, contact a licensed electrician right away.
Dimmer switch with incompatible bulb
Using CFL or LED bulbs can damage the bulb or circuitry in an older dimmer switch. Those were made to be used with incandescent bulbs. Be sure your dimmer switch and light bulb are compatible.
Recessed lighting overheating
“Can lights” hang inside the ceiling. Newer models may be designed to be in contact with insulation (IC-rated) and not cause any problems with overheating, but older recessed lighting fixtures can overheat. If they are not, this situation poses a fire risk. Be sure to install IC-rated fixtures so that they don’t overheat insulation.
Broken bulbs due to vibration
Excessive vibrations like ceiling fans or automatic garage doors can crack or prematurely cause incandescent bulbs to burn out. If the problem bulb is near an entrance, in a ceiling near heavy upstairs foot traffic, or in other places where there are vibrations you may want to switch to an LED bulb. They are better designed to handle vibrations.
If you’re concerned about your home’s electrical system, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.
It’s not uncommon to have a windowless bathroom in many different sizes and styles of homes. Sometimes these bathrooms are used for guests, are only half bathrooms, or the layout of the house was built with the bathroom in the interior. A windowless bathroom doesn’t have to be dreary with only dim light. We will tell you how to light your windowless bathroom for function and style. Brighten things up, it can really make a difference!
Ambient & Task Lighting
If you bring in ambient light and task lighting into a bathroom with no windows you create a bright, functional space. Start with overhead lighting that’s bright and projects throughout the room. Add focused lighting directly over the vanity or mirror to make bathroom tasks like washing your face, applying make-up or shaving a breeze.
Knowing the lighting options you have will help you choose the best bulbs for the right location. Making a good decision is more than just choosing a high watt bulb. Light quality is based on a few factors so take a look at different options that are available.
For bathrooms there are two main types of bulbs available – you do not want to use a compact fluorescent light (CFL) in this space. You can use halogen incandescent or light emitting diodes (LEDs.) Many pros use LEDs for windowless bathrooms. Incandescent bulbs will work fine, but LEDs are much more energy efficient, lasting 25 percent longer than incandescent bulbs.
The measurement for bulb brightness is lumens. For a windowless bathroom, the ideal total lighting is 2,000 lumens at a minimum. Most household bulbs emit about 800 lumens, or the equivalent to a traditional 60 watt incandescent bulbs. A light fixture that is centered overhead and takes two or three bulbs will get you the lighting you need and makeup for not having natural light.
You also want to consider the color of the light you want to shine. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins. It rates the color or tone of light. All you need to know is lower color temperatures are warm tones – yellow to soft white – and higher temperatures indicate cool, bright light with blue undertones. Consider something in the 3000K to 4000K for general lighting in a windowless bathroom.
Also, the color rendering index (CRI) tells you how an object’s color appears under the bulb’s light when compared to how it appears in natural lighting. A higher value indicates a more true representation of color, like incandescent bulbs. For bathroom lighting look for a CRI of 90 or higher. This will work well for task lighting that provides light over the bathroom mirror. Try LED for optimal lighting for makeup application.
Many different types of light fixtures work well in bathrooms. If it’s a small space you may want to avoid low-hanging lights. Choose clear or white shades so the light shines through. Moisture accumulation is common in bathrooms, so recessed lighting may not be the best choice. It can allow moisture to escape into spaces above the ceiling.
If you are lighting a vanity sconces on each side of the mirror will minimize shadows from overhead lights and add an elegant touch. For a more contemporary look check out Hollywood style kits where globe sets or rope lights are placed all around the mirror.
There may also be times you want to relax in lower light at the end of the day. Installing a dimmer switch to control the brightness for overhead lighting will allow you to adjust lighting. You can get a dimmer switch for all types of bulbs. Always check the dimmer’s label for information about what light bulb it’s compatible with.
If you need the assistance of a licensed electrician, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.
Making electrical upgrades in your home can give you peace of mind that safety hazards are minimal and your electricity is reliable. You also want to add electrical features that add to your home’s value. Consider modern upgrades that make your home look and feel brand new and that are a positive investment to the home.
Updated wiring is attractive to future potential homeowners and it gives you security knowing your home’s electrical system is safe and secure for many years to come. If you are considering an electrical project hire a professional for an evaluation.
An electrical panel that is old and worn can contain damaged wiring. This can leave your home unprotected from fire hazards and cause an electric shock. If your home was built more than 30 years ago, it’s advisable to hedge your risk and upgrade your electrical panel.
Broken outlets usually get all the attention, but if you are running a bunch of extension cords through your home it might be time to install additional outlets. Not having enough outlets is not only a hassle, it’s dangerous. Evaluate your home to identify where more outlets could improve safety and convenience.
Whole-home surge protection prevents the need for many individual surge protector strips attached to your electronics. Installing a single system to protect your home during a lightning storm or unexpected surge saves you worry and unsightliness of a bunch of extra wires.
Lighting under cabinets
Kitchen prep, cooking, cleaning and entertaining in the kitchen is better with under-cabinet lighting that include fixtures installed on the underside of cabinets. They make working in the kitchen easier by lighting countertop surfaces that are usually in the shadows. Also consider other rooms where you have cabinets such as the living room, bedroom and laundry room. This upgrade makes a huge difference in the look of a room with a warmer, more contemporary appeal.
Laundry room lighting
Most laundry spaces use 4-foot fluorescent tube lighting. When the light isn’t flickering or buzzing it’s still probably not serving you or the space well. Recessed lighting is a better option that fills the space with warm, comfortable light. Overall it’s directed well for the the tasks at hand.
Ceiling fans are one of the most-wanted decorative home features. They are extremely efficient and can save energy dollars in every season. In the winter, setting a ceiling fan to work in reverse draws down the warm air from the ceiling. In the summer, you reverse the direction to create a cooling effect. Ceiling fans are also an attractive addition in most rooms.
When considering electrical upgrades don’t forget the outdoors. Outdoor lighting creates a more inviting look and adds a layer of safety around your home. There are many types of landscape lighting options including up lights that are installed below a tree or structure and down lights installed at a high level to highlight objects below. Accent lights are another option to highlight a specific landscape feature, and path lights illuminate walkways or steps for safety and security purposes.
If your electrical upgrades require a professional, call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.
Electric fireplaces are an attractive, much more cost-effective alternative to a wood-burning fireplace. Some of the best electric fireplace benefits are their safety features, impressive heat output and energy efficiency. Electric models provide a significant amount of heat for small spaces. They also reduce the need to run the furnace at full speed and save money on energy bills.
What is an Electric Fireplace?
An electric fireplace is an electric heater that has the look of a fireplace, with realistic-looking flames. They are much sturdier than your average space heater. They work by drawing in the cool air in a room, heating the air using internal heating coils, and then forcing the warm air back out using a fan system.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?
There is no need to worry! While improper use and other safety issues can arise with any electric appliance, these units are actually very safe. In fact, many people choose an electric fireplace over traditional gas and wood-burning options.
Electric fireplaces require virtually no maintenance. Since there is no real fire, you don’t have to worry about dangerous smoke or fumes. This makes them an ideal choice for the safety-conscious and for anyone dealing with allergies or breathing sensitivities. If any troubleshooting is required, it won’t involve climbing on the roof or calling a chimney sweep.
Electric Fireplace Safety Tips
When it comes to electric fireplace safety, it’s a little less intimidating than traditional space heaters. Electric fireplaces are sturdier than space heaters, making them nearly impossible to knock over. However, it’s important to follow safety guidelines.
- Keep surrounding objects at a safe distance – Your electric fireplace heater should be clear of objects such as blankets, electronics, furniture or toys. Leave at least three feet of clear space in all directions. Never place anything on top of your electric fireplace.
- Avoid touching the surface – The surfaces of your electric fireplace can become hot to the touch during use. It’s best not to touch it at all when in use.
- Do not leave children or pets unattended – Accidents can happen when it involves small kids or animals. Don’t leave them unattended when your electric fireplace is in use.
- Use your unit inside – Electric fireplace heaters are designed to be used indoors only.
- Make sure your outlets are safe – Never plug your electric fireplace into an outlet you suspect is unsafe, nor use a cord or plug that is frayed or damaged. If you’re unsure of the safety of your electric system, consider an electrical safety inspection.
- Unplug the unit when not in use – For precautionary reasons, always unplug your electric fireplace heater when it’s not in use.
- Never modify the unit – Modifying an electric fireplace can be very dangerous. Always consult the owner’s manual when problems come up. Hire a qualified electrician to do any repairs or modifications.
In most cases, you can put your unit anywhere in your home you want to enjoy the best electric fireplace benefits. Depending on the model you choose, the unit can be mounted to the wall, set on a TV stand or installed into the wall. You can use electric fireplaces on most types of flooring, including carpet. Because it’s an electric appliance, keep it away from liquids, especially while the unit is turned on. Overall, these units are safe.
If you are unsure if an electric fireplace is right for your home contact an electrical professional from Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010!
Whether you’re taking a shower or doing dishes, being stuck on the wrong water temperature is no fun. If you’re frustrated that you can’t seem to get the shower as warm enough, or because it feels like the water is at a painfully scalding temperature, you can do something about it. Achieve the best water heater temperature safely and correctly—whether you have a gas water heater or an electric model. You don’t have to settle for a water heater that runs too hot or too cold.
When setting the temperature – know the risks.
Yes, something as simple as a water heater can be dangerous! There are risks in both the process of adjusting the water heater and the problem of water temperature that isn’t right. Any time you are dealing with electricity and water there is risk. To protect yourself, be sure to follow any instructions for adjusting the temperature carefully and call on professionals if you aren’t sure what to do.
As for the water heater setting, it’s important to have the correct setting to avoid the following risks:
- Bacterial contamination – If the water isn’t hot enough, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Burns to the skin – If the water is too hot, it can result in scalding injuries to which children and the elderly are especially susceptible. At 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes less than two seconds to suffer third-degree burns. Anyone can be burned, but infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities are more likely to experience burns, and require serious care and recovery.
What is the right temperature setting for your water heater?
The recommendation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to set the temperature of your residential water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria are unlikely to survive at that temperature, and it is not hot enough to cause scalding. Also, at 120 degrees, your water heater will be able to supply enough hot water for your family while promoting energy efficiency.
However, depending on your home’s needs, you may require hotter water. Check with a plumbing professional for a recommendation if you aren’t sure.
Steps for how to set water heater temperature
1. Turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker panel.
2. Find the dial or thermostat for your water heater. The location will vary depending on the model and type of water heater you are using. In most cases, you will find the dial behind an insulated panel. For an electric model, there are often two—one at the top of the tank and another at the bottom.
If you are trying to determine how to set a gas water heater temperature, you should find the dial near the bottom of the tank. The temperature for gas water heaters is easier to adjust because you only turn the knob counterclockwise to increase the temperature, or clockwise to decrease it.
For an electric model, you will need to access the dial behind the insulated panel. To do this, open the access panel using a flat-head screwdriver. Then, push aside the insulation covering and use the screwdriver to lower or raise the temperature to the desired range.
3. If the water heater has two thermostats, make sure both are set to the same temperature.
4. Replace the insulation and access panel once you are satisfied with the water temperature adjustment and restore power to the water heater.
5. Always test the water temperature after adjusting the dial to ensure it is at a safe and appropriate temperature. Allow the water to heat to the new temperature setting, then run water from the tap at a sink or tub until it is hot. Catch some water in a cup and test the temperature with a cooking thermometer.
Keep in mind it may take as long as an hour for the water to reach the new temperature after having the unit shut down. Again, working with water and electricity can be dangerous, so it’s a good idea to call an expert. Call the professionals at Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010. for assistance.
Electricity is a modern convenience that most of us could not live without. But along with the convenience, also comes some risk. How much do you know about home electrical safety? According to the National Fire Protection Association, “electrical failures or malfunctions were the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in 2012-2016.” Below is a checklist to help ensure your home’s electrical safety.
Cords and plugs
- Check all cords, plugs, surge protectors and extension cords for frayed casing, exposed wire or broken parts. Replace right away.
- Never run extension cords under carpets or over door thresholds.
- Don’t use an extension cord as a permanent fixture. If you need additional outlets, contact a licensed electrician to install some wherever you require.
- Do not overload one outlet with several high-wattage or heat-producing devices, for example a space heater or coffee maker.
- Plugs should fit snugly into outlets. So, if yours do not, contact a licensed electrician.
- Major appliances – washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, hot water heaters, etc. – should be plugged directly into a wall outlet. Do not use surge protectors, plug strips or extension cords.
- Only use light bulbs at or below the maximum wattage listed on your lamp or light.
- Always place lamps on a flat, level surface and at least a foot from anything flammable like curtains.
- Place heat-producing appliances such as the toaster, heater and coffee maker away from flammable or combustible goods.
- Unplug kitchen countertop and bathroom appliances when not in use.
- Keep your kitchen exhaust fan clean and free of grease, lint and other blockages.
- Never use a portable heater in the bathroom. The only safe options are a ceiling unit or strip heater placed up high.
- If you use portable or space heaters, make sure they receive a seal of approval from a nationally-recognized testing laboratory.
Extra Safety Considerations
- If you have young children, consider installing tamper-resistant electrical outlets. Always use a licensed electrician.
- Ask a licensed electrician about installing arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) in your home. They are a special type of circuit breaker that shuts off the current when dangerous conditions arise.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are another type of circuit breaker, and these help reduce the risk of electric shock by switching off the circuit if it becomes hazardous. Most importantly, a licensed electrician should install GFCIs in your garage, basement, kitchen, bath and all outdoor outlets.
- Test AFCIs and GFCIs at least once per month.
- If you need to dig, always dial 811 to have your underground lines marked.
Contact a licensed electrician if you have any concerns about the electrical safety of your home or are planning home improvement projects. Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010.