Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Have New Devices Outstripped Your Home's Ability to Deliver Electricity Safely?
The electricity requirements of new appliances and other devices keeps going up and up, but the electrical infrastructure of many homes has not been upgraded to meet this new demand. Added electrical load creates safety issues in homes and makes it imperative that homeowners obtain a professional assessment to determine if the home's electrical system can meet a family's needs.
The amount of electricity a home needs is measured in amperes, more commonly called amps. An ampere is the amount of electrical energy flowing through an appliance at any given time. Just 30 years ago, the average home only needed a 60 amp electrical service to function well. In only 10 years, homes began to need upgrading to 100 amp electrical service as new electrical appliances and devices became available.
Why is it important to upgrade your home’s electrical service? Here's a simple example : A home built in the 1970’s may have had 12 circuits to service the entire house. Typically a circuit would be run to serve outlets, or maybe a fixed appliance in the kitchen or utility room. At that time bedrooms would be rated to have a clock radio and a ceiling light fixture as average load. In the event new loads ( i.e. appliances or stereos multiple televisions) are introduced to the circuitry, now the circuit is being asked to deliver more amps than it was originally designed for , thus the possibility of tripping a circuit breaker, blowing a fuse, or overheating the wiring in the walls. As home electrical demands increased, circuit breakers were introduced into home electrical systems that interrupt the flow of electrical current when a circuit becomes overloaded with more amp demand than the circuit can handle.
Increasing home amp capacity is a result of Americans becoming more and more power hungry. For example, average homes today are wired with 30 to 40 circuits . Even a modern air conditioning system will consume more power than an entire home did 30 years ago. Many kitchens are now wired with over 15 circuits, which is more than an entire house 30 years ago! That modern kitchen now needs circuits capable of supplying more than 60 amps of demand as we have introduced microwaves, coffee machines, undercounter lights, subzero refrigerators and more. Yet as this demand has increased, many people have not thought about increasing the capacity of their home’s electrical panel.
“Many people fill their homes with the latest electronics, such as computers, massive televisions, and high-tech stereos," said Tim Emsley, owner of Bel-Red Electric. "Yet these same people often have an old, outdated electrical panel! They’re plugging in thousands of dollars worth of electronics into a panel that may not be able to safely serve and protect them. It’s a potential disaster waiting to happen!”
A common sign that a home is drawing more electricity than its system can safely distribute is frequent circuit breaker trips or flickering lights.
“At Bel-Red Electric, during National Electrical Safety Month (May), I’m offering all homeowners 50 percent discount on electrical safety inspections," Emsley said. "One of my highly trained technicians will conduct a multi-point check of every room in your home, as well as give your electrical panel a complete diagnostic. This service normally costs $197, but we’re doing it for HALF PRICE to raise awareness of electrical safety. Having an outdated or inadequate electrical panel is a big concern and we want to alert as many people as possible to the problem and its solution.”
For more information on Bel-Red Electric, visit www.belredelectric.com and to schedule a electrical safety inspection, call 425-883-7178.