Power Strip Usage Tips for Commercial Buildings

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to serve as your full-service commercial electrician. We’ll handle everything from basic hookups and connections to entire system overhauls for any commercial business type and size, ensuring your space is both properly-powered and fully safe at all times.

We’re also here to offer expertise on electrical usage and maintenance, vital areas for everything from maintaining safety to keeping your company’s electrical bill in a reasonable range each month. One of the most common areas we’re asked about here: What are the proper ways to use – and not use – a power strip within a building? Here are some general tips to consider in this area.

power strip tips commercial buildings

Proper Rating for Usage

For starters, it’s vital to make sure any power strip you’re using is the proper type for the use in question. This begins with making sure it has enough plugs for your needs, and continues with an understanding of the wattage that will be placed in it. Depending on this level, you may want a basic office strip or something more significant like an industrial strip.

Avoid Multiple Strip Plugging

We’ve talked in this space in the past about preventing electrical fires in your commercial building, and one of the top recommendations we can offer here is never plugging one power strip into another to extend the range. This is a quick way to trigger an electrical fire, which can spiral into a massive issue involving employee safety and liability concerns. Do not allow this to happen within your commercial building for any reason.

Air Flow

When using power strips, it’s important to allow them basic air flow to keep them cool. Covering strips or even their cords with cloth, fabric or even tape could lead to them overheating, another electrical fire risk you do not want to mess with.

Usage Limits

Generally speaking, power strips are not meant to be used as permanent electrical devices. They’re meant as temporary stop-gaps when you can’t access a specific outlet, and you should consider long-term solutions if you find yourself using a power strip daily.

Upgrade to Surge Protectors

One big theme here: Power strips differ from surge protectors, which perform the same electrical splitting duties while also protecting appliances against surges. Surge protectors can absolutely be used as permanent conductors, while power strips should not be. If you find yourself using power strips for anything more than just occasional needs, take the time to replace them with surge protectors to keep your space much safer while accomplishing the same overall conductivity results.

For more on the proper, safe usage of power strips and surge protectors, or to learn about any of our commercial electrical contractor services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

Themes for Preventing Commercial Electrical Fire Risks

There are several major sources of fires out there, and during the cooler parts of the year, one of the top culprits here is electricity. From an increase in several electrical use areas to holiday lights and other elements, the fall and winter seasons come with a higher number of electrical fires than other times of the year.

At Orange Electric, our commercial electrical contractors are here to ensure an electrical fire is never a risk in your business space. There are a few important themes to keep in mind here, from strong electrical repairs and services to a few simple safety approaches you can promote within the workplace. Here are some vital areas to keep an eye on when it comes to preventing electrical fires in the office.

preventing commercial electrical fire

Heating Equipment Risks

The biggest risks present for electrical fires: The electrical equipment in the building itself. If this equipment is not properly maintained or is allowed to wear down, it can expose the structure to significant fire risks. A couple themes to keep in mind here:

  • Regular service: Ensure your building receives routine electrical and HVAC service. Many fires begin in an HVAC system, often in an area filled with debris or buildup that would have been removed during a standard tune-up appointment. Such appointments come with a small cost, but this pales in comparison to the potential cost of a fire.
  • Space heater: If you or any employees in the workplace use space heaters regularly, it’s vital to ensure they’re used properly. They should be kept well away from any flammable surfaces or materials, and should always be powered by the proper outlet support. If possible, we highly recommend a dedicated circuit for the space heater. Finally, never leave the space heater running for an extended period if no one is in the room.

Generator Concerns

Many businesses have generators present as a backup in case power goes out during the winter. This is a good idea when it comes to taking precautions, but it’s vital to use the generator properly to avoid fire risks. This means keeping them maintained and replacing old fuel, which can spark a flame if it’s been sitting idle for six months or more.

Office Kitchens

If your office has a kitchen for employees, make sure it’s safely equipped as well. One important consideration here is circuits: You should use ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) wherever possible, as these will shut off power in the event of a ground-fault. If possible, large appliances like ranges, ovens and fridges should be on dedicated circuits to avoid overloads that might cause fires. Finally, ensure everyone who uses the kitchen knows to turn off all appliances when leaving the room.

For more on how to stay safe from electrical fires in your office, or to learn about any of our electrical contractor services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

The Value Provided by Commercial Electrical Maintenance

If you own or manage a commercial building or facility, you have several regular tasks to keep an eye on. These range from basic HVAC and plumbing services to handing utility payments and other expenses, and also may feature the occasional electrical issue that crops up.

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to offer a comprehensive range of commercial electrician services for our Utah clients. From big jobs like installing new systems to simpler tasks like running routine maintenance and upkeep, our electricians are here to keep your facility both safe and operating at optimal capacity when it comes to power. Let’s take a quick look at why commercial electrical maintenance is so important, and what you’re risking if you attempt to go the cheap route and avoid it.

value commercial electrical maintenance

Basics and Goals of Commercial Electrical Maintenance

Commercial electrical maintenance is a broad term, one that covers several specific areas and tasks that may be performed. Areas handled include both indoor and outdoor lighting, wiring, signage, outlet upkeep and several others. Through a variety of inspections, clean-outs and performance evaluations, we’ll keep your system running at peak levels consistently.

Put another way, our commercial electrical maintenance focuses on a few specific goals for your facility:

  • Avoiding any future complications based on a faulty or worn-down system.
  • Locating, assessing and reducing any risks for electrical fires, shocks or even electrocution.
  • Improving several areas of electrical safety, from day-to-day considerations to long-term issues.
  • Limiting the future need for major, high-cost repairs – repairs that can generally be avoided through our much more affordable maintenance programs.
  • Increasing the efficiency and lifespan of various electrical systems and building appliances.
  • Optimizing energy use and reducing any waste caused by your facility.

Is it Truly Necessary?

Some building owners or managers might be thinking something like this at this point: “It’s been years since my building had even a minor electrical issue – do I really need to pay for commercial electrical maintenance if nothing is wrong?”

Simply put: Yes, absolutely. Electrical systems will not last forever under any circumstances, and just because you’ve gone a few years without any issues doesn’t mean they can’t crop up tomorrow. Good business owners are those who take the time to prevent possible future issues, rather than waiting for them to happen and then shouldering the burden for a much larger cost and high-hassle repair. And the longer you go without routine maintenance, the greater your risk for issues that build up over time, such as power surge issues for instance. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as they say, and this phrase applies in spades to the electrical world.

For more on the value of commercial electrical maintenance services, or to learn about any of our electrical repairs or emergency electrician services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

 

NEC Guidelines and Electrical Panel Installation

Within any home or commercial building, the central hub for electricity is known as the electrical panel. Also called breaker panel, electrical access box or several other related terms, this is the foundation of electricity for the structure, one that connects to and controls electricity in every major area.

At Orange Electric, our residential and commercial electrical services include a wide range of expertise and knowledge on electrical panels. If your structure is in need of a new breaker panel, we’re here to help install and wire it safely and properly for future use. This is a very precise process, one that comes with several distinct requirements we’ll examine here.

NEC guidelines electrical panel installation

NEC Code and Importance of Precision

NEC stands for National Electric Code, a series of guidelines offered by the National Fire Protection Association. This code includes several important areas for installing electrical components, including but not limited to electrical panels. These guidelines are not law, per se – localities and states determine their own rules here. But many such bodies include NEC codes in their actual legal requirements, such as the location of the panel box and other areas.

Both within this code and across the board, it’s important to appreciate the level of precision being carried out. Any mistakes open up risks of poor electrical function, appliance damage, electrical fires or even human harm due to unsafe systems. All our electricians are trained in extreme detail on every possible risk and safety procedure, particularly for the installation of such a high-value item as the breaker panel.

General Requirements for Panel Installation

Here are some of the standard requirements for breaker panels when being installed, many of which fall directly under NEC code:

  • Working space: To ensure safe access and no interference, the area in and around the breaker panel must not have any other major installations present. This space must be at least 6.5 feet high and three square feet away from the wall, and must have a 30-inch width. This allows for safe, simple service when needed.
  • Room size: Smaller rooms like closets, laundry rooms, utility rooms or bathrooms are heavily frowned upon for breaker panel installation, and often prohibited.
  • Height: The handle of the highest grip cannot be higher than six feet, seven inches off the floor.
  • Access: Panels may not be blocked by any major element, whether it’s furniture, other installations or anything else.
  • Light: There must be at least one light present in the room, per the NEC, and we recommend this light be placed in the vicinity of the panel so those performing any work on it can easily see what they’re doing and remain safe.

For more on NEC guidelines and installation of breaker panels, or to learn about any of our other electrical services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

Assessing and Resetting Circuit Breaker After Trip Concerns

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to offer high-quality electrical repair services for home residents, commercial buildings and even industrial electrical applications. We know many electrical issues can sneak up on you in a hurry with little warning, and our team is here to assist you with concerns large and small.

One of the most common issues we run into, particularly in residential electrical situations, is concerns with regular circuit breaker trips. Some faulty circuit breakers may trip too often, while others may have trouble with basic resets that often limit these kind of trip concerns. Here are some basics we can offer on simple causes that may be leading to breaker trips, some tips on resetting your breaker, plus areas where you should simply step back and let our professionals handle the problem.

resetting circuit breaker trip

Simple Breaker Trip Causes

Luckily, many breaker panel concerns are actually caused by simple, safe areas that you can correct on your own without risking your safety or appliance quality whatsoever. Standard trips are only caused by a few regular occurrences, a couple of which are relatively common:

  • New appliance plug-in: The single most common cause of breaker trips, by far, is a new appliance being plugged into a circuit that isn’t prepared to handle this load. There are many high-power appliances out there, from microwaves to space heaters, hair dryers and others that require a significant amount of electricity to operate. If you plug one of these into a circuit that’s already dealing with a significant load, or one not meant to handle large loads to begin with, you’ll likely deal with a trip when its threshold is exceeded. You can try a stronger circuit area, or one with less stress on it, but you may also consider installing a dedicated circuit for items like this.
  • Appliance failure: On the flip side here, older appliances that are dying will sometimes cause a jolt in electrical power near the end of their lifespan. This may cause the breaker to trip after it reads the issue as an overload.

Resetting the Breaker

In both the cases above and certain minor appliance-related trip situations, all you need to do is reset the breaker at the panel and you’re good to go. This is a simple, safe process if you follow these basic steps:

  1. Open the breaker panel to view the breakers that manage various home circuits. Listen for any buzzing or other strange sounds – if you hear any, stop what you’re doing and call our team right away.
  2. If you don’t hear any strange noises, locate the circuit you need to reset – your panel should have a simple diagram that shows which breakers correspond to each switch.
  3. Tripped breakers will generally show a switch that’s in the middle between ON and OFF settings, and should give a little as you switch it.
  4. Push the breaker into the OFF position first, then count to three. From here, flip it back into the ON position.

Professionals and Larger Concerns

In cases where a trip was caused by some other concern, or if resetting your breaker is not helping you solve the issue, it’s generally time to call our team. Unless you’re specifically trained in electrical repair areas, proceeding any further on your own will risk your safety and the quality of your home’s electricity.

For more on how we can help with basic circuit breaker trip issues, or to learn about any of our home wiring, fixture installation or other electrical services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

Identifying the Electrical Causes of Faulty Doorbell Issues

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to be your one-stop shop for all commercial and residential electrician needs. No issue is too large or small for us to assist you with, whether you’re having minor issues with certain electrical components or need an overhaul of an entire building’s electrical system.

For homeowners everywhere, particularly those who have regular guests or package deliveries, a working doorbell is important – and when the doorbell is not working, there are a few electric repair areas we might look at to help diagnose and remove the issue. Today’s blog will detail the steps that should be taken to determine the cause of a faulty doorbell, plus what can be done to remedy each potential cause if it’s found to be the culprit.

electrical causes faulty doorbell

Step #1: Button Concerns

In a huge majority of cases where your doorbell isn’t working properly, this will be the only step you need to fix it – the button itself is usually the issue. Using a screwdriver or even just your hands, you can remove the button from its perch on the door and check the two wires behind it.

When the button is pressed, these wires are supposed to connect and lead to the doorbell sound. In some cases, one or both of the wires will be out of place and simply need to be re-aligned. In others, such as if you touch the two wires together and still don’t hear anything, the button is faulty and you need to replace it.

Step #2: Bell Unit/Chime Housing

In rarer cases where the button is not the cause of the issue, it’s time to move to the bell unit or the chime housing. You can remove this cover easily, and you may see the damage right away – corroded wire, broken connections or wires that are not attached securely.

If this is not the case, you may need to call our pros unless you’re trained and confident performing a voltage test. If so, a voltage test can usually highlight issues with the bell unit.

Step #3: Transformer

If you still can’t find the issue, move to the transformer for your entire home. This is an area where, again, we highly recommend involving our professionals unless you have training, as the home itself contains a lot more power than your doorbell’s isolated system.

Step #4: Wiring Issues

Finally, if none of the above identifies the issue, the problem could be the wiring running between some of these areas. Even minor stripping or connection loss can disrupt the current flow and stop the doorbell from ringing – but our pros can also easily correct many of these issues and get your bell back working properly.

For more on doorbell issues and how we can help, or to learn about any of our electrical repair services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

Basics on Surge Arrestors, Surge Suppressors and Lightning Protection

At Orange Electric, our primary concern when assisting you with any area of commercial or residential electrical service is safety. Whether we’re hooking up home wiring during a remodel, performing electronic repair on one of several appliances or even just performing routine maintenance, we’ll take steps to ensure you and anyone else in the structure is fully safe while also receiving high-quality power solutions.

In addition, there are a number of protective appliances we can assist you with if you’re concerned about certain parts of your home and electricity. Unfortunately, there are a number of misconceptions out there about these appliances, plus several confusion areas regarding their terms – in today’s blog, we’ll set the record straight and help you identify a few important appliances you may desire in your home or commercial building.

surge protector

Surge Arrester Vs. Surge Suppressor

Electrical surges are one prominent area you’ll want to stay protected from, both for the quality of your appliances and for the safety of building occupants. Sadly, though, even many electricians out there misuse or interchange some of the terms here, namely surge arresters versus surge suppressors. These are not the same thing – here’s what each does:

  • Surge suppressor: A surge suppressor is a device that blocks power surges and other voltage shocks. It does so by routing any excess power into the outlet or circuit grounding wire. Instead of a surge of electricity hitting your appliances and either damaging or destroying them, the surge is grounded and does no damage.
  • Surge arrestor: Surge arrestors are protectors against specific types of surges, such as a power grid surge for instance. They’re more of an external protector, where surge suppressors are more of an internal one.

Lightning Vs. Surge Arrester

After reading the above, you might be thinking that lighting arrestors are really just a form of surge arrestor – and you aren’t wrong. The difference, however, is that a lighting arrestor is there to detour electricity from a lightning strike away from the home and appliances, instead moving it toward safe ground where it can do no damage.

A surge arrestor, on the other hand, will intercept the surge from a lightning strike and send the energy into the grounding wire or another grounding area. Both devices, however, are used for this purpose and can be effective.

Which Do I Need?

Do you need a surge suppressor, surge arrestor, lightning arrestor or some other protective device in your home or building? These perform similar tasks, as we’ve noted. In general, it’s best to consult a professional electrician, who can assess your budget and protection needs and recommend the right appliance to help protect your structure.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our other electrical services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

Numerous Benefits of Motion-Activated Outdoor Lighting

If you’re redesigning parts of your outdoor landscape or even just looking to switch out older outdoor lighting options for newer ones, you’ll have several options at your disposal. One such option, and one that’s growing in popularity, is motion-activated lighting.

At Orange Electric, we can help you with a wide variety of lighting installations, including motion-activated options, as part of our residential and commercial electrical services. And while the primary marketing tool for these lighting options is to present them as home security options, there are actually several other benefits they provide as well. Let’s look these over and discuss why installing motion-activated lighting might be the right call for you.

benefits motion-activated outdoor lighting

Personal Safety

While home security is indeed a large benefit of motion-activated lighting systems, it’s not actually the primary area they’re used for. Rather, the single most common use of these lights isn’t to single out burglars or other unsavory characters – but instead, to help light the way for people who actually live in the home.

Many people don’t realize it, but trips and falls are some of the most common home injuries out there. They often take place at night when we attempt to go outside for a variety of tasks, from taking out the trash to bringing a pet inside. With motion-activated lighting, however, you’ll get a nice illuminated area where you can safely do whatever you need to do and not risk injury.

Home Security

As we’ve noted, home security is a big selling point for these motion-activated lights, and with good reason. A huge percentage of vandals, burglars and others will be warded off by lights that turn on anytime they happen to enter your property. While we don’t recommend using these lights as your only form of home security, they’re absolutely a valuable piece of an overall system that should also include home alarms and other areas.

Bulb Preservation

If you’re looking to save minor costs in several home areas, motion-activated lights might help. They use less bulb power since they’re not on all the time, and they require fewer replacements to both bulbs and fixtures over time.

Energy Savings

Down similar lines, using motion-activated lights saves energy. Outdoor lights on a time clock or that are activated by darkness, and especially decorative lights, use a huge amount of power and can raise your energy costs by significant amounts each month. Motion lights are usually off, on the other hand, only coming on when they’re needed and serving as far greener and more cost-effective options.

For more on the benefits of installing motion-activated lighting, or to learn about any of our electrical services, speak to the pros at Orange Electric today.

Preparing for and Responding to Power Outages

Most of us have dealt with a few power outages in our time, and for the most part these are annoying and often frustrating events. It’s important to note, however, that power outages may also be potentially dangerous if not managed correctly, and there are a few things you should do if a building you own or manage undergoes one.

At Orange Electric, our commercial and residential electricians are here to help if you need some pointers in this area. There are two real elements you need to be aware of here: How to prepare your home or building properly for a potential power outage, plus how to respond in cases where they take place. Let’s go over both.

preparing responding power outages

Preparing for Power Outages

While preparing a simple plan for a power outage is something we’ll leave to individual homeowners and business owners, there are a couple larger devices you might consider purchasing to prepare for the possibility of power outages:

  • Surge protectors: Power surges are some of the primary causes of outages, and they can create significant property damage if they aren’t stopped from spreading throughout the building. If you have a whole-home surge protector in your house, however, you won’t deal with these risks. Even if whole-home options aren’t realistic, consider individual surge protectors for important appliances.
  • Lightning arresters: A lighting arrester is a device that protects the insulation and conductors in case of a lightning strike.
  • Generators: If you’re in a situation where even a temporary power outage will severely damage your business or some other area, consider purchasing portable or standby generators as backups. These can kick in and provide emergency power in cases where an outage can’t be fixed immediately.

Responding to Power Outages

Power outages can result from surges due to storms and other similar weather events, or they may be due to problems with the local supplier. In either case, they often show up out of the blue and generally can’t be predicted. Here are several tips to handle them properly:

  • Turn off appliances: During storms or damage-related incidents like power lines coming down, certain appliances may be dangerous or become damaged by power resurgences.
  • One common sign of this risk is power flickering on and off several times during the outage. In these cases, shut off your appliances as soon as possible.
  • Avoid water: Water conducts electricity, and you should therefore avoid any standing water or flooding that takes place during a storm if an outage also takes place.
  • Reaching out: Whether it’s a cell phone or another communication device, once you’re safe you should begin attempting to collect information on the outage and when it might be resolved.
  • Temperature: If an outage lingers for several hours during a cold period, remember that your home’s HVAC system will lose its power. Ensure you have proper clothing and materials no matter what season it is.

For more on preparing for and responding to power outages, or to learn about any of our electrical services, contact the pros at Orange Electric today.

Risks of Ungrounded Vs. Grounded Electrical Outlets

At Orange Electric, our top priority when performing any residential or commercial electrical service or installation will always be safety. Electrical repairs and installations involve dealing with a volatile and potentially dangerous element if not handled correctly, and the results here can be highly risky and also costly.

Not only do we take great care with several safety areas when working on any area of your home or business, we can also provide expertise to help you out with the areas you deal with on a daily basis. One common issue in this world is dealing with ungrounded electrical outlets – what are grounded versus ungrounded outlets, what are the risks of the latter, and how can you go about replacing them?

ungrounded grounded electrical outlets

Basic Configuration

Many people have heard of grounded and ungrounded outlets, though they may know them by a different name: Three-prong and two-prong. Have you ever noticed these two configuration types and wondered what the purpose was for the third, rounded opening was at the bottom of three-pronged outlets?

These are called grounded outlets, and it’s that bottom opening that makes the difference. This hole is connected to what’s known as a grounding wire, and it has some specific purposes we’ll get into below. In addition, be aware that this third prong also increases electrical capacity and improves other non-safety areas as well.

Purpose of Grounding Wire

Grounding wires are primarily in place to protect the outlet and surrounding area in case of an overload or power surge. If a transient charge (the technical term for an overload) happens to pass through that outlet, the grounding wire is there to redirect the charge into itself, or “to ground.” The outlet is able to send the electricity harmlessly away without it presenting any safety hazard or damaging other wires.

Risks of Ungrounded Outlets

Ungrounded outlets, then, are those that only contain two prongs sitting across from each other. These outlets were the standard for many years, but in the 1960s and 1970s, they began being phased out for grounded outlets that were both safer and better for electrical capacity.

The risk of an ungrounded outlet is simple: Without the grounding wire present, overloads or other surges are free to follow their current wherever it takes them. This might be the appliance you’re plugging into the wall, or it could be your hand as you go to plug said appliance in. In some cases, the current may even make its way into the air in your home or building and trigger a fire.

Replacing Ungrounded Outlets

For the reasons we listed above, ungrounded outlets are generally not considered up to code. We strongly recommend replacing them or upgrading them as soon as possible – a process that’s very simple as long as the wiring in your building isn’t worn down or too old. We can replace any ungrounded outlets with grounded options quickly and for a more affordable price than you may have anticipated.

For more on grounded and ungrounded outlets, or to learn about any of our electrical services, speak to the electricians at Orange Electric today.