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What Causes Flickering Lights?

What does it mean when the lights in your home start to flicker?

While there are a few benign issues, flickering lights should not be ignored. In many cases they are the telltale sign of a much more serious electrical issues that requires immediate professional attention.

The occasional light flicker might be caused by a number of problems, some of which aren’t cause for concern. These include a problem with the lightbulb, a loose socket connection, or defective fixture. Inspecting your lights can often reveal if any of these are the issue.

However, while these causes might be to blame, they are not typical. More often, flickering lights are a symptom of a more serious problem.

Here are the 6 main causes of flickering lights.

1. Overloaded Circuit. If you notice flickering when you turn on a large appliance, you may be overloading the circuit.

Flickering that is brief and infrequent usually isn’t critical. This can happen in even the best-designed electrical systems, where larger loads have their own dedicated circuits. However, f the flickering is consistent or persistent it’s time to call a professional.

2. Utility Service. Sometimes the issue stems from the source. Your home likely shares a transformer with the surrounding homes. If a neighbor is engaging in heavy electrical use, it can cause your lights to flicker. This means the issue may lie with your utility service. An electrician can determine if it’s time to call them for a repair.

3. Fluctuating Electrical Voltage. On a standard, 120-volt circuit, your home should have a reading of between 115 volts and 125 volts. There are many reasons whey the voltage in your house might be too high or too low. 

Other signs associated with this issue include lights flicker or dim when large appliances are turned on, flickering keeps happening after the appliance is turned off, lights dim at random times, frequent lightbulb burnouts, and appliance malfunctions.

Incorrect voltage can be a safety hazard in your home and lead to an electrical emergency. That’s why it’s imperative to call an electrical to diagnose the problem immediately.

4. Loose Wiring. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that nearly 70% of home fires caused by electrical equipment and lighting can be traced back to loose wiring.

Sometimes wiring can be improperly installed, or loosen over time. This demonstrates the need for annual electrical maintenance. If your home’s electrical system has not been maintained annually, and you already have flickering lights, call an electrician.

5. Arcing. Not only can loose wiring cause your lights to flicker, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. If you have loose connections it can lead to a phenomenon called arcing. Arcing is when electricity jumps over a loose connection. Every time it jumps, or arcs, it produces very hot temperatures that can spark an electrical fire. 

Prevent arcing before it becomes a problem. Have a professional check for loose wiring in lights, switches outlets and the breaker panel immediately.

6. Main Connection. If the flickering occurs in several areas of your house, it likely means there is a bigger, underlying issues with your main panel.

If your lights flicker inconsistently, or for no apparent reason, call an electrician right away.

It might seem like a minor issue, but flickering lights can quickly turn into a serious problem. Even one loose connection can be enough to spark a fire or cause a major electrical issue throughout your whole house. 

If you’ve noticed flickering lights, and aren’t sure of the reason, it’s time to call an expert. These connections are dangerous and should only be handled by skilled, experienced electricians like the ones on our team.

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today. 775-841-9473

Top 5 Tips For Choosing The Best Electrical Contractor

 

Top 5 Tips For Choosing The Best Electrical Contractor

 

When it comes to your electrical system, it’s essential to make sure it’s functioning well – and keeping you and your family safe. In order to do that, you want to hire a professional to take care of all your electrical needs. Here are the top 5 tips for choosing the best electrical contractor.

  1. 1. Licensed and Insurance

Finding an electrician who is licensed and insured is extremely important. This will protect you from unnecessary costs and stress if anything is to go wrong inside your home during your appointment. Not only that, but it also confirms that the electrician you chose for the job has the proper electrical training. To hire the most professional, skilled, and experienced electrician, make sure they have up-to-date licenses and insurance.

  1. 2. Qualifications and Certifications

Being an electrician with specific qualifications and certifications offers a guarantee to customers that the work performed will be of a professional standard and high-quality. As a customer, this is something you’ll want to look out for. Hiring a certified electrician is just as important as hiring one that is licensed.

  1. 3. A Good Reputation

One sure way to know you’re hiring a true professional is to see what their online reputation is like. Reading reviews from past customers lets you know the type of service you can expect to receive from the company in question. Do some research online before making your selection

  1. 4. Value For Money

As a general rule of thumb, you should get at least 3 quotes before making your selection, so you can compare. That is how you’ll know for sure that you’re getting the most value for your money. A good electrical contractor will provide a quote and a breakdown of prices so it’s very clear to you and you know what to expect. Aside from pricing, there are many other things to consider before choosing the best electrical contractor for the job.

  1. 5. Attitude and Communication

There’s nothing like choosing an electrician for an important job – and not hearing back from them. Communication in any relationship is key – even your relationship with your electrician. Your home is important to you, and it should be important to anyone you hire. When searching for an electrical contractor, find one that keeps their customers informed from the start. Many HVAC companies will use dispatching software, like Service Titan, to communicate effectively and efficiently with their customers.

Looking For A Reputable, Quality Electrical Contractor Near You? Contact Happy Outlet at 775-841-9473 today.

 

5 Reasons LEDs Are the Best Light Bulbs

Most people don’t think about their light bulbs very often, except for when it is time to change them. It’s natural to assume you should just grab the cheapest package of bulbs on the shelf at the hardware store. But all light bulbs are not created equal.

We always recommend LED bulbs to our customers because they save you money in the long run and they are better for the environment. Here are five reasons LEDs are the best light bulbs from our team of electricians at The Happy Outlet.

1. Energy Savings

The number one reason you should switch from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs is the money you can save on your electric bill. LEDs use 25-80% less energy than incandescents because they don’t waste any energy producing heat.

That means if you decorate a Christmas tree or leave your lights on all day, your electric bill won’t spike as drastically as it does normally. Even though LEDs cost more money upfront, they will pay for themselves with energy savings. And they will reduce your carbon footprint too!

2. Longer Lasting Light

LEDs can last 3-25 times longer than their incandescent competitors. Since LEDs do not have filaments, they won’t go out suddenly. They will slowly dim over time until they must be replaced. The higher price tag for LED bulbs is a lot less annoying when you can buy your light bulbs a lot less often.

3. Better Durability

LEDs are designed with durability in mind. They are shock-resistant, making them less likely to shatter if dropped. They are ideal for outdoor lighting because they can withstand wind, rain, or hail better than incandescent bulbs can.

4. Customization

Most people picture bright white or neon lights when they think of LEDs. But the reality is, LEDs are now made in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and styles. If you want warm lighting or bulbs in a particular shape, you won’t have to sacrifice your personal style for your energy savings. With LEDs, you can have both.

5. Environmental Impact

LEDs do not contain toxic chemicals or elements like mercury. This protects the environment from leakage after used bulbs are discarded. Since there are electronic components inside of LED bulbs, they can be recycled so that they won’t end up in a landfill anyway.

Did these reasons convince you LEDs are the best lights?

If you still aren’t sure LEDs are worth the extra money upfront, buy a small pack and give them a try. Once you have experienced the energy bill savings, longer lifespan, and enhanced durability, you might not want to buy anything else!

If you need any new lighting solutions for your home, give us a call at The Happy Outlet. Our live call center is standing by.

If you need any electrical repairs, replacements, or upgrades in your Carson City home, contact The Happy Outlet! Give us a call at 833-2B-HAPPY to schedule an appointment and get started.

Security Lighting for Your Home

Plenty of light, inside and out, is an excellent deterrent.

A well-lit interior at night tells would be intruders it’s likely someone is home, and exterior lighting exposes them if they approach your house. So, not surprisingly, burglars don’t like the light. Evaluate and improve the lighting around your house – both inside and out – to discourage prowlers and to increase safety.

Exterior Lighting

Select and place fixtures to provide an uneven blanket of light at entrances and to eliminate dark zones around the house where a person can hide. Brighter isn’t necessarily better. Left on all night, glaring lights can annoy neighbours, blind visitors, and consume a great deal of electricity. Along walkways and in the landscaping, the artificially equivalent of a bright full moon (40-60 W) is sufficient to discourage a burglar. For increased safety at entries, however, and for any security lights that you don’t burn all night, use higher wattage fixtures.

Follow these guidelines for lighting key areas:

At entry doors. Use fixtures with two bulbs or pairs of one-bulb fixtures at each of your homes exterior doors, including doors that you don’t often use. A second bulb provides a greater spread of light and ensures that the door won’t be in the dark when one bulb burns out.

At the garage door. Equipped with a motion detector, a fixture mounted above the garage door will turn on automatically every time someone – family, guests, or an unwanted visitor – enters your drive. Again, a double fixture provides both a backup and increased lighting coverage.

Along walkways and driveways. The path from the street to your house, and from a detached garage to the house should be well-lit. A post light at the end of the driveway on a short walk we will do the job. For longer paths, use low-voltage fixtures to light the way.

Under eaves. Use floodlights pointed downwards from the eaves to wash the side of the house with light, and install them at corners to eliminate two sides of the house. Don’t point light away from the house; that leaves an unlit gap between house and light. And, where possible, place fixtures high enough to be unreachable by someone standing on the ground.

Choose a model with a motion sensor. The lights will come on only when someone or something comes into range. Or, if you want them on all night, choose a model with a photo-electric cell; the lights will turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

Under windows. Mount fixtures on the ground, directing light up through trees and shrubs, to illuminate windows. Use low-wattage lights so you can see out.

Under the deck. A basement or egress window that opens onto an area under a deck needs security lighting. For the door, a standard fixture with a motion sensor is a good choice. For a window, a low-voltage well light will provide a gentle illumination.

Low-Voltage Lighting Solutions

Enhance both landscaping and security lighting with a low-voltage lighting system. You can usually install one of these inexpensive systems in an afternoon using only a screwdriver, a drill, and a garden spade. The heart of the low-voltage system is a weatherproof transformer that reduces their output to just 12 V. This means you cant get shocked, even if you touch a bare wire or cut a cable with a garden tool. And, you don’t need to worry about children playing near the lights or pets zapping themselves.

For even more security, economy, and convenience use a specialized transformer. Options include a timer to automatically turn lights on and off, photocells that turn lights on at dusk and off at sunrise, or a photocell/interval timer that turns lights on at dusk and off after an interval of your choice.

*Mushroom lights have large shades that direct light downward on walks, steps, or plants. Different shades and heights alter the width and intensity of the light.

*Floodlights provide dramatic silhouettes, as well as excellent security. Mount them on walls or entries. Or, for emphasis, install floodlights on the ground and point them skyward.

*Well lights achieve dramatic lighting effects on trees, shrubbery foliage, architectural features, or statuary.

*Deck lights along the railings add security by increasing the eliminated area around the house. They also improve safety when used to light steps to the yard

Outdoor Grounded Timers

To control outdoor lighting, choose a grounded timer. To prevent anyone but you from changing the settings, be sure to place the timer inside a locked area, or choose a model with a locking cover.

If you need any electrical repairs, replacements, or upgrades in your Reno home, contact The Happy Outlet! Give us a call at 833-2B-HAPPY to schedule an appointment and get started.

Life Without Electricity

life without electricity

Electricity has become so integrated into our daily lives, we have a tendency to take it for granted. Unless the power goes out during a storm and we have to reach for the candles and flashlights, we tend to forget just how much convenience electricity adds to our homes.

At The Happy Outlet, we see the significance of electricity every day as we restore power to homes during electrical repairs and services. We invite you to imagine life without electricity for one regular day.

Your Morning Routine

One of the first things you would probably notice if you were plunged suddenly into an electricity-free world is that your cell phone would not be waking you up in the morning. You wouldn’t have a digital alarm clock either. Your wake up call would be rays of the rising sun, a crowing rooster, or a good shake from a “helpful” family member.

You won’t be able to pick our your clothes in a pitch black closet, so bring your outfit selection over to a window to make sure the colors match. Brush your teeth and comb your hair by the light of a candle or an oil lamp. If you wake up early enough, you might have enough time to brew your morning coffee. You’ll have to boil some water using the wood burning stove, grind up some beans by hand, and pour the water over them.

Your Commute to Work

This is where things really get interesting. You definitely don’t have a car sitting in the garage in a world without electricity. If your office is more than a couple of miles away, walking on foot is going to make you pretty late. You can either bike, or ride a horse into town. Your commute time will probably double.

Your Office Job

When you arrive at work, you may notice things look drastically different in an office without electricity. There are no computers, printers, copy machines, phones, or any other electrical devices. There probably are some pretty massive file cabinets storing all of the company data on paper. You’ll have to do your work on paper with a pen or maybe a typewriter.

Cooking Dinner

When you return home from work, you’ll have to cook dinner in your wood burning oven. You don’t have a refrigerator, so any perishable ingredients were either dried and salted in a cellar or chilling for just a few days in an ice chest. All chopping, mixing, and peeling involved in your dinner prep will have to be done by hand without the help of kitchen appliances.

Relaxing Before Bed

After you cook dinner, you still have a little bit of time leftover for leisure before you hit the hay. You can’t text or call any friends to hang out, but you could write somebody a letter and invite them over a few days ahead of time. You won’t be able to binge watch any Netflix episodes, but you can read a book. There aren’t any video games, but you could play solitaire. Life without electricity could get pretty boring after a while.

Can you imagine life without electricity?

Once you begin to list all of the times we use electricity in just a single day, it becomes clear how much we rely on it. Thankfully, you won’t have to experience life without electricity as long as The Happy Outlet is around! If you have frequently tripping circuit breakers, dimming or blinking lights, faulty outlets, or any other standard electrical problems, we are here to help. Let us restore electricity and convenience to your life.

If you need any electrical repairs, replacements, or upgrades in your Carson City home, contact The Happy Outlet! Give us a call at 833-2B-HAPPY to schedule an appointment and get started. Donate seven cans of food for FISH Holiday Baskets and receive 5% OFF your total invoice for any service.

4 Facts About Smoke Alarms That Could Save Your Life!

1. The Consumer Protection Agency recommends that smoke alarms 10 years or older be replaced. According to a study conducted by the NFPA, smoke alarms are more likely to fail after 10 years. And in Northern Nevada, our dusty climate significantly reduces their useful life.

2. Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms, or smoke alarms that did not work! Do you test your smoke alarms monthly?

3. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries. Consider having smoke alarms with permanent lithium batteries installed throughout your home. These batteries are guaranteed to last 10 years – the life of the alarm.

4. Over half of all home fire deaths occur during the sleeping hours of 11:00 pm and 7:00am. Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom to wake and alert you to danger. Remember, every second counts!

Tips To Building the Perfect Man Cave for Dad

Thoreau had Walden Pond. Elvis had Graceland. Superman, the Fortress of Solitude. Bottom line—men need their space.

A 2010 study at the University of Southern California of couples in their 30s and 40s found that men’s cortisol levels dropped significantly when they had more solo leisure time in their own homes. “It seems that, when it comes to stress recovery, guys benefit from withdrawing a bit more than women do,” says USC’s Dr. Darby Saxbe, who authored the study. “The man cave phenomenon definitely fits in with the results of our research.”

Of course, not all man caves are created equal. You may have limited square footage to work with, or your budget may not allow for a full-blown entertainment center with surround sound and an 80-inch LED 4K Ultra HD big screen. But that shouldn’t stop you from breaking ground.

Here are a few tips to helping build the perfect man cave for dear old dad.

1. Plan ahead. Planning is truly the key to enjoying the completed space. Take precise measurements of each wall of the room you want to transform, then sketch a rough layout on graph paper. That way, you can see your ideas come to life and erase mistakes, without putting in wasted physical effort.

2. Set up the kickass TV. For most guys, one of the key elements to any envy-inducing man cave is an HD flat screen. And when it comes to TVs, wall mounts offer the best viewing lines. That means deciding whether you want a flat-mount, swivel or articulating arm (where the TV extends out), and getting the correct brackets for whatever kind of set you have.

3. Get a cool sound system. Man caves often double as party rooms. Carpet and area rugs also help improve the sound quality. And don’t forget to hide all those cables such as the speaker wires, HDMI cords, and cable TV.

4. Install awesome lighting. It really is true – lighting can make or break a space. Yes, even in dad’s bastion of masculinity. The lighting can say something about the man in your life, and should be dimmable to suit any mood.

5. Chill out. OK, you got the flat screen going, the surround sound turned up, and the lights are dimmed. Now is the time to let Dad pull up a chair and relax in his very own zone.

Our Home Electrical Safety Challenge

Last month was National Electrical Safety Month, and to help we offered up the Home Electrical Safety checklist to anyone willing to take the challenge. My wife, Hydie, and I took the challenge, and here is what we found…

  1. The refrigerator coils on the back and underneath were dirty, trapping heat, and creating a fire hazard.
  2. We hadn’t tested our GFCI receptacles since they were installed 2 years ago. One of them didn’t live up to the test. 🙁
  3. Bad habit I know, but we leave all toaster, coffee maker and microwave plugged in.
  4. There are no tamper-resistant receptacles installed in our home. And although we don’t have children, these receptacles can reduce the risk of electric shock injuries to everyone.
  5. Our living television and stereo need to be plugged into a surge-protecting power strip. I’m going to get one this weekend. Oh, and it’ll have telephone and TV protection too!
  6. One our extension cords has been repaired twice now, and the connectors are loose and broken. We finally threw it away.
  7. After completing the the Week 3 challenge, I cleaned all the leaves and debris from the air conditioner outside.
  8. My wife and I checked all breakers at the panel to make sure the label was correct. The water heater and cooktop breakers were mislabeled. Ooops!
  9. Our home was built in 1978 and we’ve remodeled in the last 8 years. We installed arc-fault protection (AFCI) on all the existing bedroom circuits as was code at the time. Since then AFCI protection is now required on ALL lighting and receptacle circuits.
  10. Hydie and I tested the AFCI breakers, and YES, they all were working properly.
  11. Dryer lint? We had this one figured out when we noticed our dryer wasn’t drying. That’s when we discovered the lint and very serious fire hazard that was developing. Needless to say it’s all clean and we watch it now!

Overall, we scored a 37 so we’re off to a good start! We’ll focus on the areas where we didn’t score well, and make a few simple changes that can make a big difference in our safety.

How did your home score? Did you learn anything new or discover a hazard you hadn’t realized was there?

7 Reasons To Take A Selfie

The pejorative term for taking a photograph of oneself or with others, and posting it on social media is known as “taking a selfie.” While they are sometimes frowned upon, there are actually tons of reasons to take a selfie. Here are 7 great reasons to take a selfie today!

 

  1. Selfies bring people together
  2. Selfies capture the moment
  3. A selfie can have the power to motivate others
  4. A selfie can make someone laugh or smile
  5. A selfie celebrates you and me