Category Archives: Articles

Surge Protection for Homes and Businesses

A power surge is a short burst of energy caused by a quick change in the conditions of an electrical circuit. Power surges are inevitable, which is why it’s so important for properties’ electrical systems to be protected against them, as a lack of surge protection could lead to massive losses in equipment and the need for an appointment with commercial electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA who can provide the required repairs.

About 60 to 80 percent of power surges are caused by problems that arise within the facility that houses the electrical equipment. The rest are caused by external events that may affect the internal electrical system through various power cords, cable lines, telephone lines and more. Examples of events that can cause power surges include:

  • •Problems with the local power system: Low-quality power is one of the primary causes of downtime. The most common source for this issue is the local electric company. Some of the points of failure in the system could be faulty wiring, downed power lines, breakdowns of equipment, capacitors switching or grid shifting. In addition, large users on the same power line can create power surges, as can heavy electrical equipment that frequently turns on and off.
  • •Lightning: While it is rare for direct lightning strikes to cause power surges, it can happen, as this accounts for about 2 percent of damage caused by power surges. When this happens, the power surges produced can be devastating. In addition, the electromagnetic fields created by lightning can induce their own power surges that affect radio frequencies, telecommunications and power.
  • •Facility events: Switching between high-powered electrical devices is one of the most common causes of surges generated within a specific facility. Other common causes include ignition and interruption of electrical arcs used for welding, tripping of circuit breakers and fuses and more.

With all this in mind, it is important for homeowners and facility operators to address the risks associated with power surges and take whatever steps are needed to prevent them from causing serious issues in their electrical systems. Properties should have surge protection installed to guard against external sources at any point where external power is supplied to the property. All electrical systems should have a common “ground” and should enter the building within just a few feet of each other to make it easier to provide this protection. In addition, communications and low voltage lines should be kept away from power cables within the property, and should cross at right angles whenever possible.

If your facility is an industrial facility that features large motors, welders or other such equipment, make sure to include surge protection at distribution panels throughout the facility. There should also be surge protection in place for other specific individual pieces of equipment. Finally, all electrical and telecommunications systems should be designed and installed in a manner that minimizes power disruptions as much as possible.

For more information about surge protection in your home or business and the specific steps you should take, contact an experienced commercial electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA at Walsh Electric today.

Grid-Tied Solar Power Systems

Alternative energy solutions continue to become more popular throughout the United States for their ability to protect the environment and deliver more energy-efficient solutions to homes and businesses. A grid-tied system (also referred to as an on-grid, grid intertie or grid backfeeding system) is a type of solar system that gets connected to the utility power grid, and such systems have been exploding in popularity in North America in recent years.

Here’s an overview from our team of residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA about what you should know about this sort of system.

The benefits of grid-tied systems

One of the biggest advantages associated with grid-tied solar systems is that they allow you to save a significant amount of money. They provide much better efficiency rates, include net metering and have lower costs of equipment and installation than other solar alternatives.

For your solar system to be fully functional when used off the grid, you’ll need a variety of batteries and other standalone equipment that don’t just increase your costs of installation, but also increase the amount of maintenance you have to perform. This makes grid-tied systems cheaper and easier. In addition, you should keep in mind that solar panels you place on your property will generate more electricity than what you’re capable of consuming. With the net metering of grid-tied systems, you can put the excess electricity you don’t use back into the grid rather than storing it yourself, passing on some of the benefits to your community.

The utility grid used in this system acts as a sort of virtual battery. You’ll need to spend the energy in real time, but you can temporarily store it as other forms of energy, such as the chemical energy you’d find in a battery. Energy storage can come with some major losses, but with this electric power grid, you get better efficiency rates. You’d lose much more electricity through a standard, conventional battery system than with a grid-tied system.

Getting your equipment

So, what exactly do you need for a grid-tied system beyond your solar panels? Not as much as you’d need for an off-grid system:

  • •Grid-tie inverter (GTI): The inverter regulates the voltage and current you get from your solar panels. Direct current from the panels gets converted into alternating current, the kind of current used for most appliances.
  • •Micro-inverters: These smaller inverters are placed on the back of every solar panel you install on your property. This setup exists rather than having a single central inverter that manages the whole solar array. While micro-inverters come with a higher initial expense, they are also significantly more efficient.
  • •Power meter: You will likely need to replace the power meter you already have at your home with one that will be compatible with net metering. The meter should be capable of measuring power that goes in both directions.

For more information about grid-tied solar power systems and their advantages, contact Walsh Electric to speak with our residential electrical contractors in Alexandria, VA.

The Differences in LED Color Temperatures

If you’re interested in purchasing LED lighting for your home, one of the factors you’re going to have to consider is color temperature. When we talk about temperature, we’re not referring to the temperature of the light itself—light, of course, does not have a temperature in the traditional sense. Instead, we are referring to the warmth or coolness of the color.

Think, for example, of how a piece of metal can change colors depending on how much it’s heated up. At first it starts to glow red, then orange, yellow, white and eventually gets closer to blue. The higher the temperature of the metal, the “cooler” the color temperature gets, which can be confusing for people who are used to referring to colors like blue, green and purple as “cool.” But that’s what we’re talking about when looking at LED color temperatures.

Here’s some information about this from a team specializing in electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA.

What to know about LED color temperatures

Your standard incandescent lightbulb generally gives off a yellowish light with a temperature of around 2,700K. A normal halogen bulb is slightly cooler or whiter in color, at about 3,000K. Most of the Western world uses incandescent or halogen lighting in their homes, so these colors have a sort of comfort level that we are used to, along with their warmer color tones.

Generally, industrial settings have higher intensity lightings and higher color temperatures, especially for high bay lighting and other similar types of applications. In many cases, you’ll find color temperatures in the range of 4,500 to 5,000K, where the light is just starting to have a bluish tint to it.

In the commercial world, there is also quite a wide range of LED color uses. In jewelry cases or other types of display cases, for example, you’ll often see bluish lights in the 6,500K range or higher, which can help to bring out the shine, clarity and sparkle of silver, diamonds and jewels.

The more intense the light becomes, the more the perception of the temperature of that color changes. On an extremely bright day, the light’s color temperature could be 8,000 to 10,000K, but our eyes do not perceive that as being a blue light, even though that is the case. This might be a confusing concept, because you may say “but the sky is blue!” The sky is not blue because of the temperature of the light, though—it’s blue because of the way the light scatters in the atmosphere, with the shorter blue wavelengths getting absorbed and radiated by gas molecules to produce a blue color across the sky.

Ultimately, the temperature of light you choose comes down to personal preference and the way you’ll be using your light. But our team of electricians is happy to provide you with some LED color temperature advice when you’re looking for electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA. Contact Walsh Electric today to learn more about color temperature or schedule a service appointment!

How to Identify a Tripped Breaker, and What to Do Before Calling for Electrical Repair in Alexandria, VA

If you suddenly have an appliance or fixture that’s not working, there’s a chance you have a tripped breaker that’s cut off the flow of power to the electrical circuit on which it’s running. Your circuit breakers are typically found in a gray metal circuit box in a utility area, such as a closet, laundry room, basement or garage. If in a finished room, the box could be inside a wall cabinet.

If you do not have a circuit breaker box in your home, you probably have an older home with an older electrical system that runs on fuses, which require different processes to restore if you lose power to an area.

When you open up your main circuit breaker box, take a look at all the switches, neatly arranged in rows. You might have multiple types of circuit breakers in the same box, but all of them can be reset in the same way. With this in mind, here’s what you should do before calling for electrical repair in Alexandria, VA if you have a tripped circuit breaker:

  • Pinpoint the tripped breaker: Look for the breaker in the box that has a switch lever that is pointing away from the ON position. This should be simple—it will probably be the only one that has a lever not pointing the same way as the other breakers. There may be an orange or red marker window that shows it’s been tripped; otherwise, simply finding the switch that’s moved to the OFF position will be sufficient.
  • Turn off power to any devices on the circuit: Most electrical experts recommend that you not have any power running to devices controlled by that circuit when you reset the breaker. While this is not mandatory, it’s definitely recommended for your safety. There may be some circumstances in which you do not know or remember if certain devices were powered on before the breaker tripped, which is okay.
  • Flip the switch: Push the switch back into its ON position, at which point the circuit will be reconnected and power should be restored. Depending on your circuit breaker, you might need to fully switch it off before you’re able to power it back on. There should be some resistance in the lever as you switch it, as well as a distinct clicking sound or feel when you push it on.
  • Test it out: Turn your lights and appliances back on. If the breaker immediately switches off again, this is the point at which you’ll need to seek out professional help.

There are some other circumstances in which you should avoid trying to flip your breakers back on, such as if the floor is wet, or if you’ve been having issues with breakers repeatedly flipping off. But otherwise, you can always try resetting your breakers first before you pay for a professional electrician to come out and perform electrical repair in Alexandria, VA. Contact Walsh Electric today for more information and tips about what to do if you’re having circuit breaker trouble.

Tips to Improve Commercial Lighting in Alexandria-Arlington

It might not seem this way, but how you decide to light your commercial spaces has a huge impact on how customers and employees experience them. Lighting has the power to make a space feel dull and dreary, or spacious and inviting. Even if you feel your building is well lit, it never hurts to give it a once-over with a critical eye to see if your lighting is letting your business reach its full potential.

Are you considering improving your company with electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA? If so, you’ll want to consider the following steps to improving your current lighting setup:

  • Identify your goals: As you consider updating your business’s lighting situation, you need to figure out just what you want to accomplish. Are you hoping to draw in more clients? To improve staff morale? To save money? All of these goals would push you toward different decisions as you look through your options, so take some time to really think about what you want.
  • Do some window shopping: As you think about your own commercial space, consider others that you visit. If you’re drawn to lighting in certain buildings, make a note of them and take a few photos so you can share those with lighting designers. It can often be difficult to describe what you want without having any real industry knowledge, so those photos can come in handy during a consultation.
  • Strive for balance in design: Your commercial space will look its best only if you understand how lighting design works. Talk with a designer to see how best to balance the three main types of lighting: ambient lighting (which lights up the space in general), accent lighting (to draw the eye to specific places in the space) and task lighting (smaller lights that are linked to helping workers complete specific tasks).
  • Choose your lighting types: In today’s world, there can often seem to be too many choices, and that’s true too of lighting options. After considering your design and your budget, you’ll need to work through which lighting options would be best. Halogen lighting is often used for accents, LED lights (especially recessed lighting) are popular because they last a long time and fluorescent lights provide easy ambient lighting for big spaces.

With all the decisions involved in electrical lighting installation in Alexandria, VA, why not get the help you need from a trusted electrical contractor? If you’re ready to take the plunge, Walsh Electric is ready to assist you. We have over 30 years of experience in the electrical construction and service industry, and are happy to walk you through a commercial building lighting upgrade.

Walsh Electric’s excellent reputation and ties with the Better Business Bureau came about because of our top-quality services. Our company is NFPA and NETA certified, and offers a range of services, including upgrades, general maintenance and repairs. We have never turned down a job because of its difficulty, no matter how unique the needs of the client. Call today to find out more and get a free estimate!