How do I determine which new bulbs to buy if I am switching to CFL/ LED bulbs?

In general we recommend going to LED rather than CFL, LED has become more affordable and offers better longevity than CFL bulbs. There are now good looking LED bulbs available for almost any application even retro style “Edison” bulbs. There are a few older application or small bulbs that remain most appropriate for a Halogen or incandescent bulb, mostly small bulbs found in appliances; refrigerator bulb, range hoods, some low voltage track lighting etc., but otherwise try switching to LED as you replace household bulbs

Look for bulbs from a reliable manufacturer, big names like Phillips, GE, Halo and Lutron, these may cost a bit more but offer better quality than unknown brands.  If they offer a warranty, check to see if it applies only to the diode or if it covers the ballast/drivers as well. 

Fixtures are rated for either dry, damp, or wet locations, the same goes for bulbs and it will lessen the lifespan of the bulb to put an indoor bulb in an outdoor fixture. In addition, be careful to read the label on your fixture or bulb to see if it's dimmable. CFL's and LED's can blink, buzz and have a shorter lifespan if they are installed on an older incandescent only dimmer. We recommend changing your dimmers to a Lutron brand "CL" type for all CFL's and LED's. Some specialty LED fixtures require an "ELV" dimmer which cost more because it is more effective at dimming LED's. 

Over time switching your bulbs to LED is a great way to conserve energy as well as spend a bit less time changing bulbs, even making the swap in your most frequently used lights can have an impact. 

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Which light bulbs should I switch for energy efficiency first?

Most people transition to newer LED or CFL bulbs on a gradual basis as old incandescent bulbs burn out.  Think about which lights are on most often in your home and start there. For many homes these are lights in the kitchen or living room. Another area that can provide some energy savings is outdoor lights especially if they are on all evening on a regular basis. 

The other area we recommend doing first are any fixtures that are hard to access or require a ladder, switching these to a longer lasting energy efficient bulb not only saves money but saves the hassle of changing them on a more frequent basis.

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Why do my new LED/CFL lightbulbs not last as long as the package says?

We hear complaints all the time about new “long life” bulbs needing to be replaced or burning our prematurely. A couple of factors come into play here:

First the claims made on packaging are often for a 3 hour per day usage. A bulb that claims a 10 year life may burn out much quicker if it is being used for a kitchen or living room light that is on most of the time. If the bulb is on for 8-9 hours a day then the manufacture would estimate a 3 year lifespan based on the number of hours. It is always an estimate at best and individual bulbs when combined with fixtures/especially older ones may not meet the average as determined under laboratory settings by the manufacturer.

A second factor is the cost/quality of the bulb. With CFL and LED technology being relatively new there is a wide range of quality vs cost as these bulbs become more accessible to the public at a relative price range.  Components other than the bulb itself may fail and cause the bulb to “blow”, with CFL this is commonly the ballast and with LED it is a driver, both these parts regulate voltage to the bulb and can be affected by heat, vibration or other external factors and become the weak link in the functioning of the bulb.

A third factor in overall bulb life is the condition of the fixture and working environment itself. This is often harder to determine but some older light fixtures may simply be harder on new lightbulb technologies. Older dimmers and touch sensitive lights may be incompatible with new energy efficient bulbs and cause bulbs to burn out or not response correctly. Enclosed fixtures may allow newer bulbs to overheat. Another environmental culprit may be vibration and loose or insecure connection in the fixture itself, kids romping around in a playroom above the kitchen or a wild dance party upstairs may be shaking the light fixture below, better quality bulbs may be unaffected but cheaper bulbs may fail as a result. 

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Why do I need a Capitol Improvement Affidavit?

If your job is considered a capitol improvement under NC tax law, labor costs associated with your job are exempt from sales tax but we must have a completed affidavit for capitol improvements signed by the homeowner for our records. This law changed in January of 2017 and now all jobs that are regarded as being service, repairs or installation require sales tax be charged on labor. Capitol Improvements are exempt from this tax. The form can be downloaded here.

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I plan to run my generator on propane, how large a tank do I need?

This depends on both the size of your generator and how long you plan on running it for. For most home usages we recommend either a 120 gallon tank for short outages (1-2 days) or a 50 gallon tank for more extended time periods (8-10 days).

Here are more exact estimates based on the size of your generator and assuming an average 50% load on the generator during the outage.

22kw Generac: 48 hours on 120 gallon tank / 197 hours on a 500 gallon tank

20kw Generac: 50 hours on 120 gallon tank / 210 hours on a 500 gallon tank

16kw Generac: 59 hours on 120 gallon tank / 246 hours on a 500 gallon tank

7.5kw Generac: 138 hours on 120 gallon tank / 574 hours on a 500 gallon tank

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Why has the inspector requested additional work be done that isn't related to the current job?

Occasionally, an inspector may find other issues when visiting your home that require attention. This is most common when improvements have been done in the past without proper inspections or permits. Depending on the type of issue, inspectors can sometimes require that other additional repairs be made before allowing the current job to pass inspection.

This can be frustrating as it may require additional work on your home and can delay current work being done.  Inspectors are most likely to make this decision when the previous work is wildly outside of code or represents a safety hazard in your home.  It doesn't happen very often but can become an unexpected issue that must be dealt with.

The best way to prevent this is to ensure that all work done to your home is properly permitted and inspected.

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Will my job require a permit?

County permitting offices exist to both record improvements for tax purposes as well as oversee work being done to ensure that it is safe and meets code building code standards.  If a job is considered new service, an improvement to existing service or an upgrade it may require a permit. In general repairs to existing systems do not require permits.

The permitting process is fairly simple, a permit is applied for, a fee is collected and then an inspector visits at various stages to ensure that work is completed correctly.

The permit process can add additional time to completion as in most cases an county inspector will need to visit and approve work being done at different stages of completion. Depending on the type of work being done this can be one or multiple visits.  If the inspector has a question or finds a problem they must re-inspect the work before the job can proceed. Most inspectors require at least 24 hours to schedule another visit so this can add additional days to a job.

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Should I use Natural Gas or Propane to fuel my generator?

This depends entirely on your preference is or what pre-existing fuel type you may have already available at your home.

In general propane is a slightly more commonly available and customers can contact their propane provider directly to upgrade the size of the fuel tank and make arrangements to have a line added for the generator. Initial installation costs for the propane line tend to be a bit cheaper but propane is more expensive than natural gas over the long term if you will be using the generator for extended periods of time. Additionally the size of the fuel tank will determine how long your generator can run during an outage.

Natural gas installation costs a bit more but the fuel cost of natural gas is generally lower. As long as the supply of natural gas is uninterrupted your generator will continue to work.

Your generator will perform well on either fuel so many people select the fuel that they already use in their home, especially if the generator is intended for emergency back-up power and will not be used on a regular basis.

Both fuel types require a two-tiered inspection from county permitting offices. One when the fuel line is prepped and ready to connect and a second final inspection once both the generator and fuel source are connected.

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Will my power be off while installing my generator?

For safety, your main electrical power will need to be turned off while connecting the transfer switch and other components of your generator. This is generally done on the second day of installation and your power will be off for part or most of the day while work is completed. Please plan accordingly as hvac systems, refrigerators and other electrical appliances will not be available during this time.

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What is the process for setting up my whole home generator? How long will it take?

After accepting your generator proposal and making a few key decisions about fuel type and permitting we are generally able to install your new generator system in 4-5 weeks after receiving your deposit. Decisions about what type of fuel and if the homeowner is managing any fuel contractors or permitting will impact this timeframe.

Homeowners should allow up to 2-4 weeks to order materials, apply for the required permits, and co-ordinate schedules with a fuel contractor and then the installation is scheduled and can generally be completed in a week.

Installing a standby generator that is connected to you home requires careful coordination of the fuel contractor, Dynamic Electric and county permitting departments.  If homeowners decide to manage their own fuel contractor or the permitting process they may need additional time to gather quotes and manage schedules so should adjust their timeframe as needed. 

Assuming that Dynamic Electric is managing the fuel contractor and permitting, here is what to expect:

 

Weeks 2-4 after deposit is received

Dynamic Electric orders the generator and all required parts and materials.

Permit requests are submitted to the appropriate county offices.

Dynamic Electric contacts the fuel sub contractor (Propane or Natural Gas) and schedules installation of service lines with them.

Parts and materials arrive at Dynamic Electric and are staged for install day

Depending on scheduling needs the fuel contractor may come out and set up the service lines prior to Dynamic Electric's install date but in most cases we like to do everything the same week.

Week of Installation:

Install Day 1:  Generator is delivered to home and placed on service pad, leveled and all appropriate lines and materials are laid out for installation. Fuel Contractor sets up new line and preps for first inspection.

Install Day 2: Inspection of fuel line is completed. Transfer switch and electrical connections for generator are completed. Power to the home will be turned off for part or most of the day while this work is completed.

Install Day 3: Fuel contractor connects fuel to generator.

Install Day 4: Final inspection of fuel line and generator is completed. Depending on your county this may be a single inspection or may be two different inspectors.

Install Day 5: Start up test and run through of generator systems by Dynamic Electric.

Your back-up generator is now ready to go!

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Does this work require a permit?

Yes, installing a permanent standby generator always required a permit for the electrical connections and another permit for the fuel connection. We pull our own electrical permit and call for our own inspections after the work is complete. Fuel permits are acquired by the fuel provider but we can also provide a turnkey solution to work directly with your fuel provider at an additional cost and manage their installation as well.

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Are you licensed, qualified and insured?

Our license number is #29684-U and we carry a $1,000,000 general liability policy in addition to workman's compensation insurance for all of our employees.

Qualified electricians are required to pass rigorous testing and show they have completed a minimum number of hours working as apprentices under the direct supervision of a qualified electrician before they are able to take the test.  The North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors or NCBEEC oversees testing, licensing and ongoing continuing education each year.

Licensing is run on a company-wide level where qualified electricians work under the company license and the company is responsible for ensuring that each electrician's work is being performed to the highest standards.

Dynamic Electric is committed to making sure that all of our people have the best training available and stay current on new codes requirements and current issues so we can provide the best service to our customers.

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What will the apprentice do on my job?

Apprenticeships are a very important part of becoming a qualified electrician. Prior to being allowed to test with the NCBEEC, applicants must show that they have completed a certain number of hours working under the direct supervision of a qualified electrician. We are committed to a training program for people wanting to pursue a career as a qualified electrician and often have an apprentice working on our teams.

Our apprentice electricians play an important role in getting our work done promptly and professionally by assisting the electrician.  Importantly they also provide a second set of eyes and hands for getting each job done right. They are highly trained individuals who are working towards becoming fully qualified electricians.

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What is the difference between AFCI and GFCI breakers and outlets?

Both of these breaker/outlet types are designed to provide protection for you and your home.

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) are designed to prevent any excess current from escaping the line and potentially shocking people by turning off the circuit when power goes where it shouldn’t, wiring becomes wet, or damaged.

These are required for many outlets located in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors and several other locations. If there is ungrounded or leaking current, the GFCI "trips" to prevent the potential for electrical shock. The outlet is then reset with a small button located on the outlet.

GFCI have been required by code since the late 1960's so most homeowners are familiar with these outlets. They are sometimes called GFI.

AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) are designed to protect your home against fires caused by loose wires and other current disruptions that may allow electrical current to arc and start a fire. When these arcs are detected on the circuit, it will "trip" and cut off electricity to the circuit.

Arc faults can be caused by any number of things. Common causes for arc faults are loose wires, wires that have been damaged by nails or animals, damaged or frayed power cords or simply old wiring. Because these arcs often occur in the walls of a home they can be a huge fire risk.

Code now requires that residential areas of your home be updated with AFCI protected circuits during any remodeling or repair work. AFCI protection is available both on a circuit breaker level (inside your electrical panel) and on outlets and receptacles. These look very similar to a GFCI outlet or breaker with a small reset button that tests the current before allowing the electricity to flow again.

 

Here's a great video that explains the differences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU91WS94qz4

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