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Best Home Electrical Tips

Do you have an upcoming home improvement project that involves electrical wiring? Before you get started on your project, you should make sure that you are following certain safety precautions to avoid electrical shock and other accidents. Taking care of projects on your own can save you money, but to ensure you are safe against potential dangers, you should take the time to understand what you are getting into. Whether you are wiring lights or connecting electrical wires, look over this list of best home electrical tips before you take out your tools and begin your renovation.

Before starting any electrical wiring projects, make sure you turn off the electricity to avoid any hazards.

 

Labeling Your Circuit Panel

 

Before you start messing with electrical wiring in your property, you will need to know which outlets and electrical connections are connected to each other. You may need to shut off power to specific parts of your house. In order to do this, you will have to access your circuit panel. When your circuit panel was installed, there is a good chance that various rooms and outlets were labeled on the circuit panel. Over time, through renovations and changes to your home, these labels could become outdated or incorrect, especially in older homes.

 

Take a look at your circuit panel and see if it contains any labels. Next, go through your home identifying which locations go to each circuit breaker. To do this, turn on all your lights. You may also need to connect a lamp to an outlet to determine which circuit it is connected to. Now turn off one of your circuits on your panel and see which room the power was shut off to. Go through all the circuits, examining which rooms and electrical outlets each circuit is connected to. Add labels as you go and re-label any incorrectly marked circuits. Having a fully labeled circuit panel will help you when it comes time to shut off power to the area where you will be working.

 

Dealing with Light Bulbs

 

Every home has lights and most homeowners do not give much thought to what lights they use. When they burn out, we simply replace them and move on. If you want to ensure your light bulbs last as long as possible, there are a couple of tips that you should keep in mind.

Packaging for an LED bulb that can be dimmed

Use bulbs with the correct wattage in order to prevent lightbulbs from burning out quickly and shattering.

 

Always purchase light bulbs that match the wattage of the light fixture. Most light fixtures are labelled with the correct wattage to use. Using a light bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture can handle could cause your light to burn out quickly. In addition to having your light bulb burn out quickly, another problem that you may encounter occasionally is broken light bulbs. It can be dangerous to attempt and remove a broken light bulb with your hand. First, turn off power to the room with the broken light, which should be easy if you have labelled your circuit panel. Now attempt to remove the light bulb using a pair of pliers. If you have difficulty using pliers, then consider using a potato to unscrew the bulb without the risk of cutting your hand.

 

These are just a few tips for dealing with electricity in your home. If you are ever unsure about the best way to handle a project that involves electrical wiring, you should consult with a professional or hire an experienced electrician. Safety should always be your primary concern. Do your research, and contact a professional when needed.

 

Can Halogen, LED, and Fluorescent Bulbs be Dimmed?

Packaging for a GE dimmable CFL bulb

When shopping for a dimmable bulb, check the packaging to make sure it can be dimmed.

There are many different kinds of lights on the market today. Three of the most popular are Halogen, Florescent, and LED. Each of these three types of lights has its pros and cons. Some bulbs have better energy saving features while some bulbs will have stronger outputs.

But can these bulbs be dimmed? Home, office, and even public environments often require different light levels at different times, and being able to identify the right bulb to use for different situations could save time, money, and embarrassment. Not to mention add a touch of style to your home lighting. Here are the details on the new generation of energy-efficient dimmable bulbs.

Can halogen bulbs be dimmed?

Halogen is an incandescent lamp with a tungsten filament — similar to the regular incandescent we’ve all grown with. The bulb is filled with halogen gas (unlike the traditional incandescent). As the bulb heats up, tungsten from the filament evaporates through the halogen gas in the bulb and deposits on the inside of the glass “wall.” The halogen gas then carries those tungsten particles back to the filament and re-deposits them. For this reason, halogen bulbs often have much longer lives than regular traditional incandescent ones.

All halogen bulbs can be dimmed, and finding a dimmer for halogen bulbs should be easy. Most dimmers are compatible with halogen bulbs. As long as the light and the dimmer are compatible, the bulb will be able to dim to most frequencies — but at the cost of a shorter life. You will have to replace a dimmable halogen bulb more often, so keep that additional maintenance in mind.

Packaging for an LED bulb that can be dimmed

It’s easy to find an LED light bulb that can be dimmed. Most LED bulbs are dimmable.

 

Can you dim LED bulbs?

LED lights are a more recent invention; they use a lot less wattage than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of output. An LED bulb with comparable output to a 60-watt incandescent uses less than 8 watts — a huge power-saving improvement! They are much more expensive than incandescent and florescent bulbs, but can last decades. An $80 LED bulb can last more than ten years and save tons of energy (and money) in the long run; a $7 incandescent bulb may last a fraction of the time and eat up much more power. In other words, your cost-per-year is much lower with a long-lasting LED bulb.

Most LED bulbs can be dimmed. Simply check the packaging to verify its dimming capability. Some LED bulbs turn off at the lowest dimming setting; this seems to be less of an issue as LED technology improves through time. In order to maximize the quality of your LED lights’ dimming, look for dimmers that are made for LED’s.

Are fluorescent lights dimmable?

Fluorescent lights work with a constant electrical current flowing through ionized gas in a bulb. This is why they take a few minutes to turn on and brighten. For the same reason, most florescent lights, bulbs, and strips cannot be dimmed. But don’t despair! There are special florescent lights that can be dimmed. According to EnergyStar.gov, CFLs dim a bit differently than incandescents. They will dim to 10-40% of the light’s full brightness, but will not dim all the way to darkness.

Dimmable fluorescent bulbs are expensive, and won’t work with traditional halogen dimmers. They require special florescent dimmers. To check if a florescent bulb is capable of dimming, a quick look at its packaging will often do the trick.

DIY Lighting or Hire an Electrician?

Installing a ceiling light fixture

Installing a new light fixture can be a fun DIY project, or a nightmare better handled by a pro.

Been watching home improvement TV shows lately? Of course you have! They make it all look so easy and get us excited about those three little letters: DIY. Take a deep breath and a dose of reality. When it comes to home lighting projects, it’s important to think carefully about what the job requires. Only then can you make a smart decision between hiring an electrician and doing it yourself. Here’s a checklist of questions that may help you figure it out.

Do you understand electrical wiring and connections?

You don’t have to be a pro to complete simple projects, but a basic understanding of electrical outlets and wiring is essential to your safety. Do you know where your circuit breaker panel is? Do you know how to turn off the power supply to the fixture you’re working with? When you pull off the fixture and are confronted with a tangle of wires, will you know which is which? There are guides online to help explain it step by step, but look them over first and see if you can follow along or if it’s all a bit overwhelming.

If installation of a light fixture will involve switching out or rerouting cables, this adds some complexity. In this case, unless you have special knowledge of or prior experience with wiring, hiring an electrician is best.

What tools are required for the lighting installation?

Using a screwdriver to adjust a light switch

You may have all the tools around the house, or the project may require an electrician’s tool bag.

DIY lighting may require particular tools. For example, to replace most fixtures you will want a wire stripper to prep the fixture for attachment to ceiling or wall electrical wiring. If you don’t have a stripper, use a utility knife in its place. A power drill makes mounting new fixtures simple and fast, but a screwdriver is a reliable option as well. We strongly recommend using a voltage tester to confirm that the power is off before you start fiddling with bare wires.

Are you adding a new fixture where none existed before, either on the wall or the ceiling? You’ll need quite a hefty list of tools, from a stud finder to a jab saw, making this an ambitious DIY lighting project.

Does your new light fixture come with mounting materials, and clear instructions?

When you pull your new sconce, ceiling light, or pendant out of the box, you might feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Put your giddiness in check, and check the box for mounting instructions and supplies. Most lights will include a mounting bracket and screws that fit the fixture. Like our stylish 13.5″ Drum Top Ceiling Light, which comes with a plate for semi-flush mounting. Your fixtures should also come with instructions showing materials included, configuration of wiring, and also the maximum wattage for lamping. Fabby’s ceiling fixture installation guide includes a clear, helpful diagram. Easy instructions make do-it-yourself lighting projects simple.

If mounting instructions are not included, the task before you becomes more challenging. Can you fit tab A into slot B based on intuition and clever guesses? Electricians have seen just about every type of fixture out there, so hiring a professional may be easier than trying to figure it out yourself.

Is there any visible damage or wear?

When working with electrical wires, wear and tear is a sign of danger. It can cause shorting and lead to an electrical fire. If you begin to replace a light fixture and notice that the hardwiring in your home looks distressed, then it’s time to hire an electrician.

As long as you disconnect power, have all the right tools, and feel comfortable with a project, DIY lighting installation is a safe and fun project. For more complicated wiring, we recommend letting your electrician take it on. Happy renovating!