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Home Electrical 101 From


Your home has a 120/240 volt system and, depending on the size of your home, 100 to 400 amps. Every home has a main breaker than can shut off power to the entire house. The main breaker is typically outside next to your electrical meter. Removing panel covers to access the wiring should only be done by a licensed electrician. If not handled correctly, an electrical shock and an ARC flash may cause severe burns and possibly death.


It is useful to familiarize yourself with the whereabouts of all electrical panels inside and outside of your home. The electrical panel will have multiple breakers and each of these should be labeled as to what that particular circuit powers. A circuit can either power a series of lights or outlets or something specific such as a garbage disposal or dishwasher. Breakers protect the system by tripping the power if there are too many things drawing power on the same circuit. A short in the system will also trip the breaker. Tripping a breaker causes the breaker to move into the center tripped position. Reset the breaker by first going to the OFF position and then back to the ON position.  If the breaker trips again after resetting it once DO NOT keep trying to reset the breaker as this indicates there is a problem on that circuit and attempting to reset could cause damage or a fire. Some outlets in your home will not allow things to be plugged in that are not aligned with the outlets proper orientation. Do not ever force something into an outlet, it could be the improper orientation or a different voltage and forcing it into the wrong type of outlet can cause damage to the device and/or the outlet.


Going Green

Conserving energy by replacing all of your appliances to Energy Star appliances or changing out your A/C system can be very expensive. There are many small things you can do to save lots of energy at little to no cost.



We have been brightening our homes with the typical incandescent light bulb since it was perfected (not invented) by Thomas Edison in 1879. Recently, with new technology, we have seen more energy efficient alternatives on the market. For example, the Compaq Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting diodes (LEDs) are exponentially more efficient by losing less energy to heat loss while giving off more usable light.  Buying a CFL bulb can be confusing but they can save you a lot of money and energy. There are several things to look for when buying a CFL bulb but the number one thing is wattage (W) or the amount of energy the bulb uses; as far as light output is concerned (measured in Lumens) a 13 watt CFL bulb is approximately equal to a standard 60 watt bulb. Light color is a factor with CFLs , measured in Kelvin(K), because of the many different choices ranging from 2500K-6500K. The standard incandescent light bulb has a light color of approximately 3000K. There are a few things that should be noted about CFL bulbs: CFL bulbs cannot be dimmed, they take some time to reach full brightness so we do not recommend them in areas where the light is not on for an extended period of time, and they contain small amounts of mercury which is harmful to the environment and need to be disposed of properly. LED bulbs are the newest on the scene and can be a little pricey, but if you are willing to pay a little more they will save you more energy and they last a lot longer (some up to 20 years!). Most LEDs can be dimmed with the appropriate dimmer and they contain no mercury. Another way to save energy is by installing motion sensor switches in some areas of your home. Areas that benefit most from motions sensors are closets, bathrooms, pantries, hallways, or anywhere else where lights do not need to be left on when not in use.


Laptops, Cell Phones, and TV s Oh My!

Most people don’t realize it but your laptop and cell phone chargers pull electricity just by being plugged into an outlet even when they are not connected to your laptop or cell phone. Picture a small drip from your faucet, over a week it could fill up the sink and more…leaving a charger plugged in pulls power 24/7 slowly but surely costing you money! So unplug your chargers when not in use or plug them all into a power strip that has an on/off button and turn them all off at once. Disconnecting your TV set could also save you money depending on the unit. Some units cannot be disconnected because doing so will cause them to reset each time. LCD and Plasma TVs are all the rage and as amazing and space-saving as they are they pull more energy than previous TV models. We’re not saying throw away that new television (if you are though please send to the address at the top of this guide), but we are saying to simply turn off the television when no one is watching and think about turning on your radio for background noise instead of that TV – your wallet and the environment will thank you.


A/C system and you

Ensuring your air conditioning system and/or heat pump are working properly can save you lots of energy. In North Carolina most homes use a heat pump style system which heats in the winter and cools in the summer from the same system. While these are efficient, they often use back-up electrical heat strips which turn on when the temperature outside drops really low and the heat pump cannot heat effectively. Unfortunately, if your system is not working properly it is difficult to tell because the heat strips pick up the slack and this increases the amount of energy needed to heat your home. Regular maintenance should be done twice a year to ensure everything is working properly. Problems? What to do if something is not working properly? First and foremost, if you are not comfortable or do not have the training please do not attempt to fix problems with your electrical system, this can cause you to get hurt and/or damage your home. We will be glad to come out and repair any problem no matter how big or small.


GFCI Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter

(GFCI) protects circuits that could potentially be exposed to water or moisture. Typically they protect bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and exterior outlets. There are two types of GFCI s, a GFCI breaker and an outlet GFCI. Outlet GFCI s are the outlets you see that have 2 buttons in the center one says TEST and the other RESET. An outlet GFCI can protect as many as 10 other outlets and are more sensitive than breakers to protect you from electrical shock, thus, trip a lot more often. Hair dryers are notorious for tripping these quite often. If one of these trips all you have to do is unplug everything in that outlet and push in the RESET button. If this button immediately trips again there is a larger problem that might require an electrician. What if I can’t find my GFCI? A common problem with homes is that outlets will be protected by a GFCI that is in a different room, outside, or even in the crawl space then when there is no power to an outlet is can be a game of hide and seek throughout your home trying to find the culprit GFCI outlet. A great way to solve this is to identify all the GFCI outlets before furniture might be in the way. Here is a quick flow chart of where to check first that could possibly save you time.

If the outlet is in the bathroom
  1. Check other bathrooms on every level of the house
  2. Check electrical panel for tripped breaker
  3. Check the garage outlets
  4. Call Arc Electric Inc.
If the outlet is outside the house
  1.   Check other exterior outlets Check Garage outlets
  2. Check electrical panel for tripped breaker
  3.   Check all bathrooms
  4. Check crawl space entrance
  5. Call Arc Electric Inc.



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