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5 Ways to Creatively Save (Energy)

January 26, 2011

This guest post is written by Leon Harris of Southern States. If you would like to write a guest post for this site, then please visit guidelines and suggestions for guest posts at Ez DIY Electricity.

There’s no denying that we’re wasteful when it comes to energy. We’ve gotten so used to having it on hand that we practically lose the ability to function during a blackout. We leave lights and electronics on day and night (whether we’re using them or not) and we keep our homes at a constant temperature regardless of the climate outside (be it sweltering hundred-degree heat or below-zero blizzard). All of this contributes to massive energy consumption and an attendant utility bill that you dread every month. However, there are tons of ways to save when it comes to energy usage. By getting creative with cutting your electricity, you can help the planet and yourself. Here are a few ways to pull it off.

  1. Energy audit. Your local utility provider can probably send a technician to your house to perform this survey (although there are private companies, many of them also offer repairs, meaning your audit could be questionable). You’ll get a full report of problem areas that are leaking your bought air to the outside world. From there you can update or add insulation, install weather stripping, and seal any leaks to conserve more energy.
  2. Go old school. During the summer, or any time it’s warm outside, consider eschewing appliances in favor of the old ways. Hang laundry to dry on a line rather than throwing it in the dryer, and cook your dinner on the grill. Also, consider washing dishes by hand. A sink full of suds uses a lot less water and electricity. And of course, rely on the natural light provided by the sun whenever possible.
  3. Drop the drain. You may think that powering off your electronics means they stop drawing energy. In fact, they continue to suck up “vampire energy” and unless you unplug them, you’re going to pay for it. If you want to cut back on this phantom drain, simply keep electronics hooked up to a few power strips that you can easily unplug when not in use. As a side note, keep close watch on charging devices and detach them when charging is complete (to save on wasted electricity and keep your batteries going strong).
  4. Get a timer. Newer digital thermostats almost all come with a timer attached that allows you to input a turn-on and shut-off schedule for use. Simply set it to the “off mode” during the hours you’re absent from your home and then have the AC or heat kick back on about 30 minutes before you return (so that your house isn’t an extreme temperature when you walk in). If you’re home all day, set it to moderate while you sleep instead (since you don’t need a ton of heat if you’re cozy under the covers).
  5. Look for the energy-star label. You may think this energy-saving system only applies to lighting and appliances, but there are actually about 50 categories of products that conform to their standards (using at least 30% less energy). You could be saving on electronics (cordless phones, TVs, battery chargers), plumbing (water heaters), and even building materials (roofing, windows, doors), all of which are available from energy-star approved manufacturers. Check out the Energy Star website for more information on their products.

Leon Harris writes for Southern States, the quality name in high voltage switching. Whether you are in need of a high voltage disconnect switch, power fuses, or anything for your electrical power transmission and distribution needs, Southern States will tailor a custom solution for you.

Portable Generators Recalled by Cummins Power Generation Due to Fire Hazard

January 25, 2011

Cummins Portable Generator Model P5350 On May 25, 2010 Cummins Power Generation, of Minneapolis, Minn. recalled approximately 550 portable generators which were manufactured by Loncin Industries Ltd., of China. The reason for the recall is fuel can leak through the carburetor during normal usage, posing a fire hazard to consumers. They have received 25 reports of fuel leakage. No injuries or property damage have been reported.

This recall involves Cummins Onan Portable Generators. “Cummins Onan” and the model number are printed on the front of the generator. The serial number is printed on the generator’s name plate. Only generators manufactured on or after June 2009 and before December 2009 are included in this recall.

This recall only involve generators with model numbers P5350, P5350c, P5450e, P5450ec and P5550e and with serial numbers starting with F09 through L09.

These units were sold by authorized dealers nationwide from June 2009 through February 2010 for between $700 and $1,100. They were manufactured in China.

If you have one of these generators, then you should immediately stop using it and contact Cummins for a full refund plus a $100 check. All known users have been contacted by Cummins.

For additional information, contact Cummins at (800) 344-0039 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit their Web site at

Cummins Portable Generator Model P5350c Cummins Portable Generator Model P5450e
Cummins Portable Generator Model P5450ec Cummins Portable Generator Model P5550e


Answers to Electrical Questions About Wiring a Ceiling Fan, Disconnecting a Receptacle in a Staircase and Wiring a Tanning Bed

January 24, 2011

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Mike asks:
I have installed a ceiling fan and light in my living room. I have a three way switch that controls one receptacle that I have a lamp plugged into that gives me light in the living room. One light switch turns the lamp on when you enter the house and the other one turns it off when you go in the kitchen. I can turn the lamp on or off from either side of the room. I need help getting power to the fan and light. Can you help me get my fan and light to work?

Yes I can make this work, but I need more information. Do you already have a light box in the ceiling where you plan to install the fan/light? I believe that your best solution is hire me to walk you through the process. Please visit my DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Licensed Master Electrician. I recommend option #2.

Here is a general overview of what needs to be done to make this happen. I’m going to assume that there is no light box or power to the location where you plan to install your fan/light. First, you need to determine which switch box has the power supply in it. Now I would remove this switch box and enlarge the opening to install a larger switch box which will accommodate 2 more switches (1 to control the fan and 1 to control the light). Then install a 3 conductor cable with ground from this box to your new fan/light box in the ceiling. At the ceiling location, you need to securely install a “fan rated” box. You can’t use just any light box for a paddle fan as it will eventually fail and your fan will come crashing down onto someone.

Now hang the fan and connect the wires. Connect the green wire from the fan to the bare copper wire in the 3-conductor cable with ground. Connect the white wire from the fan to the white wire in the 3-conductor cable with ground. Connect the black wire from the fan to the black wire in the 3-conductor cable with ground. Connect the blue wire from the fan to the red wire in the 3-conductor cable with ground.

Now go to your new switch box, make the terminations, install the switches and cover plate.

Ella asks:
I would like to know if a hot electric outlet found in the staircase wall can be disconnected and if so how much would if cost? Average price please.

Yes it can be disconnected. I would charge you a maximum of $34.95 for my service. Please visit DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Licensed Master Electrician. I recommend option #2.

To disconnect this properly, you need to trace the cable which supplies power to this receptacle back to the source and disconnect it there. This is probably fed from a nearby receptacle or light switch box. I can walk you through this process.

Julie asks:
I just purchased a tanning bed and the problem that I am having is I was told it would run on the same outlet as my dryer….well, not true. Both cords are 3 prong but the one on the tanning bed is a different type of 3 prong. What can I do to fix this problem, or better yet what would be the easiest & safest way to solve it without having to hire an electrician. I live in an apartment and the landlord is OK with the tanning bed as long as I don’t have to have BIG electrical work done. Any and all help would be great…I would like to be tan before summer but want to do it the safe way… Thanks!!!!

I really need more information to help you solve this issue. I need the power requirements from your tanning bed. I also need the NEMA configuration marked on your power cord. It should be something like 6-30P or 14-30P. Again, I think you would be best served by visiting my DIY Electrical Wiring Help from a Licensed Master Electrician page.

Answers to Electrical Questions About Conduit and Wire Size for Sub-Panels and 240 Volt T-Stat Rating

January 10, 2011

DIY Electrical Wiring Help Doug asks:
I am running power to my detached workshop and need some advice.
Here’s some detail: Installing 90amp dbl breaker in main house panel for power-up at workshop. Distance: 100 ft. Plan to use #3 Cu stranded x 3 runs for power and neutral/ #8 solid Cu for ground from main panel to ground bar in sub panel. Wires to be buried 18? in conduit. Have a Seimens 125amp external sub panel with 8 possible circuits. Will use 4 total circuits: 2 for tool power @ 20 amp; 1 for workshop lighting@ 20 amp; one for loft and external security lights @ 20 amps.
My issue is this: I can run feeders from the main panel in conduit to my crawlspace: should I run conduit through my crawlspace as well or can I secure the wires to the floor joists? What would you do? Crawlspace is secure. Also: how high should the bottom of the sub panel be from the floor of the workshop? It will be INSIDE the workshop – I got an external box mainly for protection of the circuits and lockability to prevent curious fingers from being hurt. Do I have a workable plan? Suggestions are always welcome! Thanks for the help!

I would try to run conduit all the way; from the main panel to your sub-panel. However, this can sometimes be very challenging through wood framing. If you can’t run the conduit all the way, then you need to install a junction box to change over to NM (romex) or SER cable. Then you will need another junction box where you change back to conduit.

From what you have described, your plan looks good. If you install gas, phone, internet or CATV from your house to your workshop, then you need to install ground rods at your workshop.

Walter asks:
How many baseboard heaters (240 Volts) can you install on one wall thermostat?

A wall mounted t-stat is rated for 22 amps. However, it is rare that you will place this much load on one t-stat. Typically, there is one t-stat per room with only a couple of heaters controlled by it in a residential application.

D Stewart asks:
Need to know the size and type of wire needed to run less than 75 feet from main service (200 amps) to 100 amp panel in house—–under ground.

I’m going to assume that the 100 amp panel is a sub-panel. If you install direct burial cable, then you need #1 URD aluminum with a #6 USE aluminum ground wire. You will need to sleeve the wires in 1 1/4″ PVC schedule 80 from the main service box to 18″ below grade and from the sub-panel to 18″ below grade.

If you use conduit, then you need #3 THHN copper wire with a #8 THHN copper ground wire. Install this in 1 1/4″ PVC schedule 40 underground and schedule 80 where exposed to physical damage as indicated in the paragraph above.

Mille-Rod Polymer Series Wire Pulling System Giveaway

January 8, 2011

On Thursday, I posted a tool review about the Mille-Rod polymer series wire pulling system. You can read about it here. Well, Mark was kind enough to send me a 14′ standard version and a 7′ glow version. I used the 14′ standard version in for my review and it worked well. Now, I’m going to giveaway the 7′ glow version to you. He also sent me a double magnet set, which I’m giving away as well.

Here is what you will get:

  • 4 – 14″ Glow Rods (Round) – Low Viscosity Polycarbonate. The ideal rod for most cases as it will flex around corners. Average Flex 35 degrees
  • 2 – 14″ Glow Rods (Flat) – Low Viscosity Polycarbonate. Will twist and flex around any space or corner. Average Flex 180 degrees
  • 5 – Attachments – Low Viscosity Polycarbonate. Glow set contains: 1 – Round Eye, 1 – Flat eye, 1 – Bullet, 1 – Claw and 1 – Hook
  • 1 – 18″ tube
  • 1 – Double magnet set
Mille-Rod Glow Rods Mille-Rod Glow Attachments
Mille-Rod 18 inch tube Mille-Rod Double Magnet Set

How do you enter the giveaway?

It’s simple, just enter your name and email address in the form below. Now everyone entering the giveaway needs to do this regardless of previous subscriptions. You must use a “real” email address and confirm it. You will be sent an email to your address asking you to confirm your email address. If you do not do this, then you will not be entered into the giveaway. We will contact the winner via email. This giveaway ends on Friday, January 14, 2011 at 11:59 PM Mountain Time.

Giveaway Rules:
1. This giveaway is for U.S. & Canadian residents that are current email subscribers of Ez DIY Electricity. Everyone must subscribe using the form above.
2. You must be 18 years of age or older. By entering this giveaway, you agree that you are 18 years of age or older.
3. Only 1 entry per email address.
4. The drawing will be held privately on Saturday, January 15, 2011, where I will pick 1 random winner from the email subscription list.
5. Winners will be contacted by email. If after two days we do not receive a response, a second email will be sent. If still no response after 7 days, the prize will be noted as “Unclaimed”.
6. Winners may decline. If declined, their prize will be awarded to another randomly drawn name.
7. Prizes are not redeemable for cash.

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