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Answers to Electrical Questions About Someone Tapping Into Your Power and Wiring a GFI Receptacle

December 21, 2008

Question mark John asks:
My family lives in a 19-year old 3-story townhome with an attached common wall. Our next door neighbors moved out and new ones moved in a little over a year ago. A week after they moved in, all of the power on the third level (all bedrooms, etc.) began to go out and you could hear the inside circuit breaker tripping in our master bedroom.

This went on for a few more weeks and after it would happen, I would walk outside to see that the main circuit breaker panel would be left open, but no one was there so I would close it back. In time, our television downstairs would turn on/off on it’s own, the master bathroom lights would flicker when turned on, and our computer would lose internet connectivity repeatedly as well as shut down on it’s own while plugged into any upstairs a/c electrical outlet.

These occurrences never happened with the old neighbors. We contacted the Power Company and they sent out a technician who explained to us that someone had tampered with the outside breaker panel and that it required being locked down as this was all he could do.

Not too long afterward, we began to experience higher voltage than normal coming through the a/c outlets which resulted in the following components being “fried”: 2 computer monitors, a pc system board, a 300gigabyte external hard disk (lost all data after power surge), Xbox 360, and a few other items (items mentioned had been connected to non-overloaded UPS surge protected equipment).

We contacted our home warranty insurance and had 4 different electricians come in to investigate as they literally all said the same thing – – “there might be a problem but can’t figure out what it could be because it’s not happening at the time.” We also attempted to speak to the neighbors about the issue(s), but they were not very cooperative.

We had to then hire an independent electrical contracting company to come in and do extensive testing to which the troubleshooting electrician committed to paper that “he believes our home’s electrical appears to be tapped by someone on our grid.” What would you recommend we do to resolve this problem as well as isolate and protect our electricity? Thanks for your help.

Answer:
If someone tapped into your power you should be able to see the additional wires; unless the tap is underground. If the tap is underground, then dig it up with a witness and take pictures. Call the police and have them file a report. I’m definitely not qualified to offer legal advice, but I would start with the previous steps and ask the police officer what needs to be done next. After everything is documented, then disconnect the wires that are tapped into your power.

If your breaker box is outside, then I highly recommend moving it inside. The only thing required to be outside is your main breaker. I also recommend hiring the independent electrical contracting company to come in and resolve this problem for you.

 

Ron asks:
I am putting in a GFCI in a mobile home. It is a kitchen switch and a plug I have one red hot wire and two (one black and one white negative and a ground I ohm the replacement I have two wires on the top of the plug I assume are for the switch I’m not sure exactly how to wire it any ideas?

Answer:
I really need more information to solve this problem. You need to determine which wires are your power supply. Are there only 4 wires (red, black, white and ground) in the box? If so, use a volt meter and check voltage between the red and white wires. Repeat this with the black and white wires. The pair which measures approximately 120 volts are your power supply.

After determining which wires are your power supply, you may terminate the wires. First ensure that the power is turned off. Next attach 2 pieces of ground wire approximately 6 inches long to the existing ground. Now do the same for the hot wire. Next connect one of the ground tails to the ground screw on the switch and the other to the ground screw on the GFCI receptacle. Now connect the white wire to the silver screw on the line side of the GFCI receptacle. Next connect the red wire to one of the terminals on the switch; it doesn’t matter which one. Finally, connect one of the black tails to the brass terminal on the line side of the GFCI receptacle and the other to the switch.

If you have more wires in the switch box or this configuration does not work, then I recommend using my paid service where I offer DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Master Electrician.

Renewable Energy Solutions

December 20, 2008

With the world slowly moving to the much-dreaded energy crisis, it is important that we reduce our dependency on non-renewable sources of energy. Non-renewable sources being renewable are about to get extinct. Renewable energy solutions refer to those energy solutions that can keep churning energy without exhausting the resources. Three types of energy solutions fall into the category of renewable energy solutions: solar energy solutions, hydro energy solutions, and wind energy solutions.

Solar energy solutions: The sun’s energy is the most abundant energy available on earth. Make use of this free energy. You can employ solar power solutions at home. This will not only cut down power bills but also help you contribute to a greener world. Solar power solutions comprise of solar cookers, solar heating systems, solar lighting systems, solar dryers etc.

The sun has always been a source of heat energy and light energy. With the advancement of technology, the sun’s energy can be used to create other forms of energy.

The solar energy systems have many advantages apart from being cost-effective and environment-friendly. They are low on maintenance thus saving your time and effort. Also, solar systems give you a return on investment very soon, thus making the systems free after some time. Cooking with solar energy is also considered extremely healthy. Families have started employing solar energy as a power solution at their homes.

Hydro energy solutions: The hydro energy or water energy is an effective renewable energy. One can convert the hydro energy into electrical energy to run vehicles and various electrical appliances. Hydro energy is typically generated on a large scale. It has been estimated that 90 percent of the electrical energy produced by renewable resources is produced solely by hydro power. Dams are built to help generate electricity by tapping the water power.

There have been some concerns about using this energy because it is supposed to adversely affect the water-borne flora and fauna.

Wind energy solutions: Windmills were in existence even in the years before the birth of Christ. They helped tow boats and pump water. Eventually, post-industrialization, they became a source for generating electricity.

Windmills and wind turbines have never been passé. Wind energy can help generate tonnes of megawatts of electricity. When employed at individual estates, it can help do away with conventional power sources. An excellent renewable source of energy, the wind energy will go a long way in promising a good future to generations to come.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power bill. Get the complete guide at www.earth4energy.com

Home Lighting Control Alliance Fact Sheet Educates Consumers and Home Technology Installers About Ways to Use Advanced Lighting Controls to Save Energy in the Home

December 15, 2008

HLCA living room lighting Warrenton, VA – November 17 – According to the Energy Conservation Enhancement Project at Louisiana State University, 20 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. is used for lighting, but one-half of that is wasted by “inefficient lighting sources or careless consumers.”

Lighting controls can be used to reduce energy consumption in the home while enhancing the homeowner’s lifestyle and security, making lighting control a “green” technology that not only avoids sacrifice, but actually increases comfort—according to a new fact sheet published by the Home Lighting Control Alliance on its website, www.homelightingcontrol.org.

“Many people recognize the lifestyle benefits of lighting controls, but many remain unaware of how controls can be used to save energy,” says Seth Atkinson, head of corporate business development for LiteTouch, Inc. and chair of the Home Lighting Control Alliance’s Sustainability Committee. “Lighting controls, in fact, are the only element of a home’s lighting—and the only home automation subsystem—that reduces instead of adds to the monthly electric bill.”

The whitepaper outlines five ways lighting controls can be used to save energy, including automatically dimming the lights during use, taking advantage of sunlight, automatically turning off the lights when they are not in use, avoiding the use of lights when they’re not needed, and controlling the most efficient light sources.

Homeowners and home technology installers and dealers are invited to download this free fact sheet by visiting HLCA’s Learning Center at www.homelightingcontrol.org.

About the Home Lighting Control Alliance (HLCA)

The Home Lighting Control Alliance is a consortium of leading lighting control manufacturers, systems integrators and industry support organizations. Its sole purpose is to promote the awareness, value and benefits of lighting control in residential applications.

Members include AHA Design, CEA, CentraLite Systems, Control4, Echelon, EH Publishing, ETC, FulTech Solutions, HAI, Integrated Concepts, iLuxe innovation, Karen Proctor Electric, The KRUX Company, Lightolier Controls, LiteTouch, Pass & Seymour, Process Dealer Services Group, RL Johnson Construction, Savant Systems, S&S Electric, Somfy Systems, Square D/Clipsal, SST, Vantage Controls and Watt Stopper/Legrand.

Answers to Electrical Questions About GFCI Wiring, Connecting Your Neutrals and Grounds Together in a Panel and NEC Standards for Living Off Grid

December 14, 2008

question mark Jim Betts asks:
In our bathroom, we have a plug with a reset button on it which I believe is code in Canada to have the type of plug in the bathroom. My problem is that the plug is controlled by the light switch in the bathroom. I want to have a decorative light on the counter turned on without having all of the bathroom lights on, and the only plug is the one controlled by the bathroom light switch. What do I need to do with the wiring between the light switch and the plug to have constant power to the wall plug?

Thanks, Jim Betts

Answer:
You need to determine which wire is the power supply on the switch. Turn off the power. Splice 2 approximate 6 inch long pigtails onto the power supply wire. Attach one of the pigtails to the switch and one to the “line” terminal on the GFCI receptacle. Turn on the power and test.

 

Federico asks:
I HAVE A FOUR WIRE PLUG IN MY RANGE, AND A THREE WIRE RECEPTACLE WITH THE NEUTRAL WIRE AND GROUND CONNECTED TOGETHER, MY HOME IS OLD(1986), I CAN CHANGE THAT RECEPTACLE FOR A 4 WIRE RECP. BUT DO I NEED TO SEPARATE THE NEUTRAL AND GROUND IN MY PANEL TOO? OR CAN I LEAVE IT AS IT IS?

Answer:
It depends. Your neutral and ground wires are permitted to be connected together at the first point of disconnect only. If all of the neutrals and grounds are connected together in your breaker box, then it is probably ok. However, I recommend hiring a licensed or qualified electrician to check this out for you.

 

TrepasseyWindPower asks:
If you are not connected to the grid, how can this impact anyone but the home owner? Too many people think that the utility owns the wires inside the home. If you are off-grid you have the freedom to connect anyway you see safe and fit.

Answer:
This question is related to Connecting A Portable Generator To Your Home

You are not free to connect anyway you see fit. The National Electrical Code® (NEC®) has been adopted into legislation in most states. This means that it is the law. If you wire something incorrectly and hurt someone, you will be liable. If you wire something incorrectly and burn your house down, then your homeowner’s insurance will not cover anything that was not inspected or does not meet the minimum NEC® standards. Living off grid or not, you still need to meet the minimum NEC® standards.

How to Reduce Your Electricity Bill

December 11, 2008

If you have been bogged by the enormous electricity bills you have been getting, it is time to take some concrete steps. You can reduce your electricity bills by following very simple steps.

This article will list some simple, easy-to-do things to reduce your electricity bill.

Limited use: Start with the room you are sitting in. If you were to take a call in another room or join your family at the dining table, would you just step out of your room without any concern for the electrical appliances in the room? If you would, stop right there, and look around. Switch off all the appliances even if you would be back in five minutes. Yes, even that will help. Every drop of water constitutes to the ocean.

Another thing to take care of here is what you perceive as an electronic appliance. Would you switch off the television set, turn off the fan, but not the light bulb? Yes, you need light, but not now when you are leaving the room. Taking care of these small things will go a long way in reducing the dreaded huge electricity bills.

Smart investments: Make some smart power investments by replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. These bulbs are a great power-saving investment.

Buy the Power Save gadget. The gadget helps monitor the power supply to your house and uses the minimum that is needed.

Home appliance usage: Most of us complain that the electricity bill touches the sky because of the number of electrical appliances they have at home. However, the electricity bill is not directly proportional to the number of gadgets you use but the way you use them. Let’s see how you can avoid the typical power-wasters.

• Use the washing machine only when there is a full load of clothes.
• Keep the air-conditioner at the minimum low or high temperature, just enough to keep you off the heat or the cold outside.
• Switch off the computer monitor even when you take a one-minute break. It takes just a second to switch on the monitor again!

Yeah, you have to stick to this way of life for saving power at home and for the world.

Remember, reducing your electricity bill is equivalent to saving power, thus helping the world save power for its future generations.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power bill. Get our complete guide at www.earth4energy.com

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