Category Archives: Articles

View articles published by Walsh Electric. Click to learn more or give us a call with any questions or comments.

Why You Should Leave Electrical Work to the Professionals

Reasons to Hire a Professional Electrician

Considering rewiring your home? You may be wondering if it’s smart to hire a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA. If your home is older, especially older than 50 years, it almost certainly needs rewiring if it hasn’t had it done already. A call to a professional is the most responsible decision you can make.

Bad wiring can be extremely dangerous. In fact, 39 percent of home electrical fires involve outlets, interior house wiring and other electrical wiring. The good news is, you can prevent many home fires by scheduling a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria to look at your electrical wiring. Look for these other signs that indicate it’s time to rewire your home.

  • Flickering lights: If your lights are flickering or dimming, this is a sign there is an issue with your wiring, and it could be a dangerous problem. Flickering lights are also a common sign your electrical wiring is outdated—in which case, it should be rewired as soon as possible.
  • Loose or sparking outlets: If your outlets are too loose to hold a plug, or they are hot to the touch or sparking when plugging in or taking out an electrical cord, you need to call a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose the problem and fix it before it causes more damage or a fire.
  • Shocks: If you feel a shock when you plug something in an outlet or take it out, you have a major issue that should be looked it. Under well-operating wiring and systems, you should never receive a shock from your appliances, cords or electronics.
  • Blown or tripping circuits: Blowing or tripping circuits is something that can occasionally happen even if your wiring is fine. However, frequently blowing circuits indicates there is a major problem with your wiring. Wires could be touching or creating other dangerous conditions that need to be checked out by a professional.
  • Aluminum wiring: Aluminum wiring is common in homes over 40 years old. You’ll be able to tell if your wiring is aluminum if the letters “AL” are written on the wiring jacket. Failing aluminum wiring connections can cause overheating and lead to a fire. You’ll want to have your home rewired if aluminum wiring is present.
  • Discolored or charred switches: If you see discoloration on your switches or outlets, that means that there was a short caused by a loose connection or faulty wiring near the outlet or switch. This connection caused arcing and sparking that caused a small fire, which then charred the surface of the outlet or switch.

Older wiring was not meant to handle the electrical load of modern homes with today’s appliances and electronics. Since the wiring on older homes is likely to be deteriorating and not properly insulated, the heat of overloading the system causes surrounding materials to catch fire.

If you’re in need of rewiring and looking for a residential electrical contractor in Alexandria, VA, contact Walsh Electric. We have a team of experienced master electricians ready to rewire your home. Call us today!

Surge Protection for Homes and Businesses

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 in Alexandria-Arlington

Facts about Grid Tied Solar Power System

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

How to spot 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

How to Identify a Tripped Breaker

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.