What is the difference between Static Shock and Electric Shock?
Over the past hundred years, electricity has evolved and adapted into a necessity which society cannot live without. We have become quite dependent on its uses; making it hard to escape, from flicking the kettle on in the morning to the powerful yet beautiful strikes of lightning during a storm.
Put simply, electricity is made through the burning of fuel. Australia uses either coal or a natural gas, which is burnt to heat water and create steam. This turns a turbine generating electricity, then travelling along the conductor wires, which we call powerlines, to the specified destination.
Although electricity is used every day, it can sometimes be harmful but also fun – being the core ‘ingredient’ to some experiments.
Static electricity, also known as electrical energy at rest, is the build-up of electric charge on a material. This charge is usually built up through friction, which is the contact between two objects which are both insulators.
One of the most common science tricks to create static shock is to rub a balloon against your hair, making your hair stand up on its ends.
Another example is to rub your rubber-soled shoes against the carpet and then touching a metal door knob, giving you a ZAP!
These things happen due to an imbalance in electrons in both objects, with one losing their electrons, creating a positive charge and the other gaining electrons, creating a negative charge.
A static shock isn’t harmful; it may be uncomfortable and cause a bit of a fright to the receiving personnel.
An electric shock is the sudden discharge of an electrical current from an electrical source, like a power point, which has enough force to pass through a human body part. This electrical energy flows through the human body part, creating a shock type feeling which can cause little to no injury or can be life threatening.
There are some different ways which you can experience an electrical shock, including; faulty appliances, power points, damaged electrical cords, electrical appliances and water coming into contact, incorrect household electrical wiring, and also a lightning strike.
Electrical shock can have little external evidence that it has occurred, however the internal effects of receiving an electrical shock could be life threatening.
An electrical shock can cause burns, tingling, numbness, nerve damage, and even cardiovascular problems. Seeking advice from a health care professional is always advised after receiving an electrical shock, even if you feel ok.
The main difference between these two different but similar shocks, are the outcomes and the way which they are created.
Static shock is created through human effort and electrical shock is created through electrical means.
Static shock doesn’t give a harmful result and electrical shock can cause no to life threatening results.
The Effects of Natural Lighting vs Artificial Lighting
Light is emitted via two different sources – natural and artificial. The sun is the primary source of natural light, while light globes are the primary source of artificial light. There has long been an awareness about the effects that lighting has on the human body, and now science is alerting us to the vast impact that light has on our physiological, psychological and emotional wellbeing.
So `when choosing how to light your home or office, a lot of consideration needs to be put into it. To stay healthy, alert and productive, people need to have regular circadian rhythms and keep to a constant sleep/wake cycle as directed by our exposure to certain light wavelengths during the day.
How does light affect us?
There are two key hormones that are affected by light – the sleep hormone melatonin and the stress hormone cortisol. When waking up in the morning, it’s important that our bodies produce enough cortisol to promote alertness. Into the evening and towards sleep, people need to stop the production of cortisol and begin producing melatonin.
To do this, the body needs access to bright light with blue wavelengths in the first few hours of waking up. Brightness and intensity may be decreased throughout the day and by night, blue light must be eliminated and amber tones, increased. By the time we head towards sleep, we should eliminate light altogether.
Human’s have evolved to use the sun’s light to dictate their sleep/wake cycle, so correct lighting design for daily living and health is about mimicking sunlight. This means that careful attention must be paid to colour temperature and light intensity.
In fact, our reliance on light is so intense that during the darker months of winter, many people can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. As the mornings are much darker during the colder months, we do not experience as much intense blue-rich light in the mornings, affecting our cortisone levels. This can make us feel less alert and less vibrant, which can sometimes evolve into a depressive state.
There is some concern that the excessive use of smartphones and tablets in the late evenings can affect sleep quality because they emit substaintial amounts of blue/green light at the wavelengths that inhibit the release of melatonin, preventing us from becoming drowsy. Poor quality sleep has been linked with increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Blue light can have a major effect on your sleep.
Natural light is full spectrum, meaning that it contains all colours of the rainbow, as well as colours (wavelengths) that we cannot see, such as infrared and ultraviolet. Without all of these colours, our world around us would look a lot more dull, as we wouldnt be able to see skintones or textures, for example, in their full glory.
Natural light is also dynamic, meaning that the intensity and colours of light change with the time of the day, time of the year, weather and location.
Our mood, energy, metabolism, sleep and recovery all depends upon the daily cycles of natural light, since these changes synchronise our circadian rhythm and hormone cycles. When the sun is overhead, daylight is bright and rich in blue (which stimulates us), while at sunset, daylight softens and is dominated by red (which relaxes us). These changes are due to atmospheric filtering of sunlight, which changes with the angle of the sun. Humans, plants and animals depend on these daily and seasonal cycles of natural light for their health and wellness.
The benefits of natural light are extensive:
Day-light increases our productivity and comfort.
Access to natural light improves one’s circadian rhythms.
Working in daylight boosts mood and motivation leading to the work is done faster, creating more pleasure and essentially better results.
It creates a calmer indoor environment, reducing one’s stress.
Utilising natural light reduces reliance on electricity and therefore reducing electricity bills.
Studying in natural daylight reduces stress and has been shown to improve student performance.
Artificial light is used as the substitute when there is an insufficient amount of natural light, with a similar concept as natural light. Artificial light is composed of visible and invisible radiations like ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR).
Artificial light can come in a variety of different colours and intensities, depending on the environments mood.
The UV and IR radiations which artificial light sources hold aren’t harmful to the health of humans, as long as they aren’t situated at a close range or extremely intense. Think of it like this – the annual dose of UV from artificial light is equal to a one-week holiday in an overly sunny destination like the Sunshine Coast.
Although artificial light isn’t harmful most of the time, it has some aspects which can essentially create some health risks.
The blue light aspect of artificial light can have a deeming effect on one’s internal body clock, along with the hormonal system which can lead to overall health problems relating to sleep deprivation and stress. The body’s internal body clock runs on dark and light, and the different chemicals in the brain to let us know ‘when its time to get up and when its time to go to sleep’. These chemicals are then affected by the artificial light which is being used. The blue light in smart phones is the perfect example; when used in a dark room before sleeping, the production of melatonin is reduced, making us less sleepy and more likely to stay awake. If this is a reoccurring situation – sleep deprivation can quickly become a major health problem.
UV light is also a harmful ingredient in both sunlight and artificial light with excessive exposure. UV is what creates the tan on the outermost layer of the skin, but skin cancer can become a quick health problem if too many skin cells become harmed in the process. With tanning beds are a popular way to create this tan, the large amount of UV light which is used can have a major effect on one’s skin and even create eye damage.
Sun baking in tanning beds can cause skin cancer.
For more information on lighting, take a look at our other blogs which talk about lighting including; ‘Glare – Annoying or Harmful?’, ‘Colour Temperature – Warm White vs Cool White’, and ‘The Unfamiliar Role That Light is Playing in Our Lives’.
If you’re still unsure about how lighting can affect your life, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to discuss the different lighting options which we have to offer.
What To Choose? Ducted Air Conditioners vs Split Air Conditioner
So, you’re after an air conditioner but are stuck on which type to purchase – a ducted reverse cycle system or a high wall split system?
Both are effective at cooling a space, but the way that they do this differs dramatically. Your choice will often depend on a number of factors such as the space that you are wanting to cool, your budget, whether your home can accommodate the system, and much more.
Ducted Air Conditioning
Ducted reverse cycle air conditioners work just as the name suggests – through a series of ducts. These are hidden within the roof space and out of sight, making it the more attractive choice. They contain a central unit, known as the fan-coil unit. Ducts then branch off of this fan-coil unit and run to different rooms/zones within your home. The air is expelled from the vents in your ceiling, which are the only visible parts of the system.
There are many pros for ducted air conditioning in comparison to split systems, with one of the biggest being that you can easily and efficiently heat or cool your whole home at the touch of a button. Controlled by a thermostat, ducted systems are much better at keeping a consistent temperature throughout your whole home, but the option to have your system zoned means that you can individually control the amount of conditioned air to each room. There are two ways that you can do this; with a simple on/off switch, or a variable air volume controller which you can increase or decrease the amount of airflow to suit your requirements. The last option also allows for better air balancing throughout your system. The entire system is completely hidden within the roof cavity of your home (besides the vents in your ceilings), making it the more attractive option over split systems. Ducted systems are often a lot quieter than their counterparts, with the only noise being a quiet fan noise from the outdoor unit, and gentle passing of air through the central filtration grille.
Despite the extensive list of pros, ducted air conditioning systems also have their limitations. Ducted systems are the more expensive option to purchase and have installed. As the system is installed within your roof, technicians will need to spend a large amount of time and effort, cutting into your ceiling and this can often add to the cost. Having a ducted system installed is best done during the building or renovation of your home (but not limited to), and they can often be restricted to which homes they can be installed in. Apartments and dwellings with limited roof space often may not be able to have ducted systems installed due to this reason, and already built two-storey homes need a large amount of extra consideration and planning. They are also not the best option if you only spend an extensive amount of time in only a small area of your home.
Split System Air Conditioning
Split system air conditioners are the most ideal solution for single room heating and cooling. They are made up of two components – an indoor unit (head unit) and an outdoor unit (compressor). The indoor unit moves the cool air around the room, while the outdoor unit dissipates the heat from the cooled area (heat exchange).
Split system air conditioners are the more cost-effective choice to purchase and have installed. Due to the fact that you are not purchasing an entire system of ductwork and vents, the costs can be minimal in comparison to ducted systems. A considerably less amount of time is needed for technicians to install them, and there is minimal modification required to your home. If budget is a restraining factor, more split systems can be added to your home if you require later on, or as your budget allows. Due to the fact that split systems only heat or cool one room or space of your home, they have lower energy demands and therefore are quite cost-effective to run.
However, there are also cons involved with having a split system installed within your home. The heating or cooling capacity is limited with splits, and therefore may not be a possible option for your space. While they are the cheaper option singularly, if you need multiple units within your home, the costs can add up. The bulkiness of both the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, and the inability to hide them can often become an eyesore and stand out on your wall. So if you are looking for a neat and tidy option that is easily concealed, then a split system is not your choice.
So which option is best for me?
Each of these systems essentially performs the same job, but personal preferences and limitations can restrict which one is best for you. It is important to take into account each of the pros and cons provided so that your system benefits you for years to come.
Factors to think of when deciding include:
What maintenance/upkeep is included – A ducted system will require yearly services by a professional, while a split system will require more regular cleaning that can be completed by the homeowner, and professional servicing less frequently.
How much you want to spend – A ducted system will cost more to purchase and have installed upfront but the options to zone your system means that their running costs can be reduced. While a singular split system will cost less upfront, should you need to add more in the future, the costs can add up.
What area you are looking to cool – Do you want to cool your entire home or just one room? Should you only need one room cooled, is important to think about whether you will be wanting to cool more in the future.
Aesthetics – The way the system will look is also something to think about. While split systems stand-out on both an indoor and outdoor wall, they are becoming much more visually appealing.
If you are unsure about which system is best for you, call us today on (08) 8297 3422 to speak to one of our professionals. We can provide fuss-free quotes for more than one type of system so that you can weigh up your options.
Over the years we’ve become accustomed to hearing the same questions relating to having a solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed. So, as we are dedicated to education and helping our customers as much as we can, we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you on your journey.
1. What is a grid-connected solar system?
A home without a solar system draws its energy from the electricity grid. A grid-connected solar system is a solar PV system that is connected to the electricity grid. Your household will consume the energy that is created from your solar system first, and if more is needed, it will draw the remaining electricity from the grid. It also allows your system to send power back out to the grid. If your household is not consuming the entire amount of energy that your system is creating, then that surplus is sent back out to the electricity grid. This surplus is measured and credited back onto your power bill. Depending on what state you live in and what electricity supplier you are with, this value will vary.
2. How much will my solar system cost me?
As an extremely broad question, the answer is dependent on a number of factors. The final price depends on what brand of system you choose, how many panels you have installed, whether you decide on a string inverter or microinverter and much more.
ALWAYS get multiple quotes to compare prices and remember that the most expensive quote doesn’t necessarily mean equate to the best system. In South Australia, on average a 5kW (kilowatt) system costs approximately $5,500 but there are some elements that will affect this price.
3. What size system do I need?
To answer this question, your system designer will need to understand your energy habits such as your daily usage amount, your energy usage patterns, your location, etc. From here, they will be able to offer you the correct sized system. While your installer should be able to offer you a rough estimate just by receiving your latest electricity bill, they should not be able to present you with an ACCURATE system size without first asking these questions.
4. How many solar panels will I need?
Once your installer determines the system size that your household requires, they will then look at what panels will best suit your system. Not all panels are created the same, or yield the same amount. So your installer should be working out which panels are most appropriate for your lifestyle and energy patterns. They will also need to look at elements such as your roof size and budget.
5. Will anything else affect the price of my system?
There are a few added elements that will affect the overall price of your system. Each solar PV system is tailored individually, so don’t assume that just because your family member has a 5kW system with X amount of panels on their home, means that you will pay the same price for the same system. Factors need to be taken into account such as additional labour costs for things like a double storey roof, panel mounting brackets to angle your panels correctly if your roof is flat and much more.
6. How much money will I save with my solar system?
Typically, it can take anywhere from four to six years for a system to pay itself off in South Australia. Payback times depend on a number of things such as your location, your energy consumption, daily usage patterns, how well you maintain your system, the size of your system and your feed-in tariff.
Ensuring that you have the correct sized system will speed up your payback times. Having a system that is large enough is important as it will not only cover your power consumption, but it will maximise your return on investment. But having a system that is too large will mean that you’re exporting a large surplus of energy back into the grid and as feed-in tariffs are no longer as high, you will be selling your power for less than your electricity rates. So it’s important to ensure that your system is correctly sized to maximise your return.
7. Is my roof right for solar?
Not every roof is suitable to have a solar system installed on it. Generally, there are six key factors that will determine the suitability of your system.
Orientation: While a north-facing roof is best for optimum production in South Australia, it has been proven that panels facing north.
Shade: Solar panels only produce maximum energy in full sunlight. If a part of a panel becomes
shaded, then the output level is reduced. It is therefore necessary that your roof does not experience any shade if possible. Vegetation and overgrown trees can easily be removed, but shade from chimneys or poles on the roof is much more difficult to work around. If there are certain ares of you roof that do experience shading during the day, then your installer may offer you a system with microinverters to avoid your output dropping too much.
Size: Your roof has to be large enough to have the space for the number of panels that you require. The minimum sized system that can be installed in Australia is a 1.5kW, which generally equates to 6 solar panels. If your roof is not large enough for 6 solar panels, then you may need to look at other options.
Age: The age of your roof will be an indication of its structural integrity. If you are in an older home and are unsure about whether your roof will be able to safely support a solar system then it is best to have an inspection done beforehand.
Pitch: Solar panels
generate maximum power when they are positioned perpendicular to the sun. Your installer will need to take the pitch of your roof into account when installing your panels at the optimal angle. If the pitch of your roof is too flat or too steep, then your installer will need to use mounting brackets to angle the panels correctly for maximum yield.
Material: While solar panels can generally be installed on any roof, there are some exceptions. Metal roofs are often the best to install a system on, while tile roofs can be quite fragile and generate an extra cost.
8. Does the temperature during the day affect production results? Does hotter weather equal greater energy production?
Many people believe that hotter weather produces more energy, however, it is much the opposite. The hotter the day, the less energy that your system will produce. This is because a solar system converts LIGHT into energy and not HEAT.
A solar panel has an optimal temperate range that is best for producing the greatest amount of energy. As the temperature rises out of this optimal range, the production efficiency begins to decrease. Excessive heat is therefore detrimental for a solar panel’s production. Instead, the days that you will find you produce the most energy are on sunny, cooler days.
9. Is there any maintenance involved in having a solar system on my roof?
Despite the rumours, solar panels are NOT self-cleaning. So, like any other appliance or installation around the home or office, we do ask that you occasionally inspect and perform a small amount of maintenance on it. You can find a copy of our maintenance manual here.
10. Do I need developmental approval to have a solar system installed?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to get council or planning approval when having a solar system installed, however, there are a few instances in which you may. If you live in a council strata development, then getting approval from the body corporate may be required, or if you live in a heritage listed home then you will need to get council approval. If you are unsure whether or not you should be receiving approval, you can ask your solar installer or local council for guidance.
11. Will I still be using energy from the grid?
Yes. Your solar system only generates energy when there is sunlight, and when this energy is generated it needs to be used immediately. At night time when there is no energy being produced, your system will draw energy from the electricity grid so that you can continue to use the appliances within your home. Should you have a battery system however, it can store energy produced by your system to use when your system is not generating power.
Solar systems are all individually tailored to ensure maximum power generation for your household. If you have any further questions, please do not hestitate to give us a call on (08) 8297 3422 today, to speak to one of our qualified installers.
Electricity should be seen as a tool and the ways that we can use it are endless. But we can’t forget just how dangerous it can be when installed incorrectly, not properly maintained or used without care. Issues such as flickering light, tripping circuit breakers, electric shocks and much more, all indicate possible points of concern with your home’s electrical circuit. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, please call us today to have them inspected to ensure your’s and your family’s safety.
1. Tripping Circuit Breakers
Many people are unsure about the difference between safety switches and circuit breakers within their home. Circuit breakers provide protection for your WIRING and ELECTRICALS within your home by opening the circuit when a fault is detected. They do not provide personal protection from electric shock. There are three main reasons why your circuit breaker might trip within your home.
One of the most common reasons is that you are ‘overloading your circuit’. This is an electric circuit that is carrying more current than what it can handle, running the risk of causing a fire or an injury through overheating. For example, in one outlet you may have a powerboard plugged in, that is overloaded with cords and adaptors that, simultaneously, are drawing too much current. Your outlet/powerboard may not be able to handle such a large current and therefore runs the risk of overheating. Your circuit breaker would trip to avoid any overheating, minimising your chances of getting hurt.
Your circuit breaker may also trip due to a ‘short circuit’. In your homes electrical circuit, this occurs when a live wire touches a neutral wire, resulting in high current and therefore triggering your circuit breaker. There are many reasons why these two wires can come into contact with one another. Your attachments in your home may be extremely old and deteriorated, possibly have been chewed through by an animal or pest causing them to become loose, or caused by a faulty appliance.
Ground faults are another reason why your circuit breaker may be tripped. A ground fault is when electricity finds an unplanned path to ground and are often caused by damaged wiring or faulty/old appliances. They often occur in ‘wet’ areas of the house such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
Sometimes faulty circuit breakers can be installed unknowingly. These circuit breakers can trip at lower current ratings than what are specified. If this were the case, your circuit breaker might be tripping quite frequently and need replacing immediately.
If your circuit breaker trips, identify why it may have happened and eliminate the chances of it happening again. If you cannot find the cause, or it electrically more advanced than simply unplugging a device, call an electrician today.
2. Frequent Power Surges
Power surges in the home can be caused by a number of reasons, most of them within your control. They occur when there is an interruption to the normal flow of electricity within the home, or when there is a sudden influx of electricity into the system.
Internal power surges are most common, and may include:
Power hungry devices such as refrigerators and air conditioners being switched on.
External influences include:
Animals chewing through wiring
Fallen tree limbs touching power lines.
While the actual surge of electricity is generally extremely quick, the damage that it can have on your appliances can last a lot longer. Frequent power surges can damage your electrical devices componentry and reduce their life expectancy.
To protect yourself from power surges in the home, you need surge protectors installed. There are three different types of surge protectors you can choose from:
Portable surge protectors: These plug into an outlet and protect the device that is plugged into them. While cheaper than other options, these run the risk of only being able to be used once.
Powerpoint surge protectors: These surge protectors are installed within the powerpoint itself, and therefore must be fitted by a qualified electrician. They protect anything that is plugged into that powerpoint.
Main switchboard: Installed by a licenced electrician at your switchboard, these surge protection devices (SPDs) protect your entire circuit from a power surge. Should a fault occur, they switch off the power to your entire home keeping you and your family safe.
It’s important to remember that these are all different types of surge arrestors, and are used for different types of surges and in most cases, two types will be safest for your property. The primary type is used for large surges such as lightning strikes, to protect your motors or non-sensitive equipment. The secondary type can be utilised to protect your electronics.
3. Buzzing/Humming Outlets and Switches
A number of issues in the home can cause outlets and switches to buzz – some are normal and some may be an indication that there is something else going on. Generally, there is no need to worry, but if you are concerned, then call us today to complete an electrical inspection.
Dimmer switches work by ‘chopping up’ the current between the switch and the light, so rather than actually dimming the light itself, it flickers rapidly enough so that it appears dim. It is this ‘chopping up’ of the current that can produce vibration and therefore cause a buzzing noise. High-quality dimmer switches should have a filter to reduce this buzz, but if the noise intensifies it may be another issue. It may be a sign that you have an LED or CFL globe installed that is being controlled by a dimmer built for an incandescent globe. Your globes may also flicker if this was the issue. It could also be a sign of an overloaded switch. Dimmer switches are rated according to the maximum wattage that they can handle. If you have a globe in your fixture that’s wattage is higher than what the switch can control, then you may hear some buzzing and need to upgrade your switch.
If an outlet in your home is buzzing, then it may be a sign of an overload or bad wiring. The wires in your home may have become loose, which can cause them to hum. This is more prevalent in older homes with outdated, old, or worn out wires, but there may also be a chance that they have been installed incorrectly. To see whether it is the outlet itself, or possibly an overload, try plugging in a different appliance to see if the outlets continue to buzz. Only do this if it is safe to do so, but if you are in doubt, please do not touch it. Instead, call us today to organise an inspection. Any loose wires or connections within the home shouldn’t be ignored, as larger, more serious issues can result.
4. Electric Shocks
An electric shock occurs when a person comes into contact with an electrical energy source. This electrical energy then flows through the person’s body and causes a shock. Exposure to an electric shock can cause anywhere from no injury at all, if you’re lucky, to serious health issues and even death. It’s important to distinguish between whether you have experienced an electric shock, or simply a static shock.
Static shocks are simply the build up of a negative electric charge on the surface of an object. Negative charges are carried by paricles called electrons, which are found in all matter. Most electrons are packed within matter, but sometimes they can sit on the surface. If two objects come into contact with one another, the electrons on the surface will move to the material with the greatest bonding strength or pull (such as your body). This movement of electrons is the ‘zap’ that you experience, which is completely harmless.
Static shocks are nothing more than annoying, but electric shocks are a much larger cause for concern. Depending on the duration and intensity of the shock, you may experience:
Burns to the skin or internal tissues.
Loss of consciousness.
Loss of breath.
Interruption to the natural rhythm of the heartbeat, causing it to beat out of rhythm or not at all.
There are many situations within your home where you could experience an electrical shock. These include:
Damaged or frayed electrical cords and wiring.
Electrical appliances coming into contact with water.
Incorrect or deteriorated household wiring.
Downed powerlines or lighting strikes.
If you are certain that you are experiencing electrical shocks within your home, do not hesitate any longer. Call us today to organise a site inspection before it worsens. Electricity is extremely useful within the home, but it can also be extremely dangerous.
5. Higher Than Average Electrical Bills
If you have noticed that your electrical bills have been higher than average, there may be a few reasons why. Certain things that can cause higher electrical bills include:
Keeping appliances plugged in and turned on when not in use.
Increased electricity rates.
Leaks in your hot water system.
New appliances, such a larger televisions, can use a lot more power, so be sure to purchase appliances that are ‘energy smart’.
Higher electricity bills may also be the result of old appliances or wiring within the home. Older appliances can degrade and lose their efficiency over time causing them to become large consumers of electricity. It’s important to maintain your appliances and update them when necessary to avoid paying too much for electricity. Faulty or degrading wiring can also consume larger amounts of power as it deteriorates, just to provide appliances with the necessary amount of power. It’s important to distinguish what may be causing this spike is power usage so that you can amend it. If you are unsure, call an electrician today.
I’m experiencing issues with my electricals, now what?
If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, or possibly something else, please do not hesitate to give us a call. Your safety is paramount to us. Most electrical issues are typically quite detailed and as electricity can be extremely dangerous when not handled correctly, it’s important that you let a professional perform the necessary actions. Please call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 for any electrical related issues.
Electricity in the home can be a marvelous tool. It can be a source of light, heat, entertainment and much more! But when it is neglected, it can become more dangerous than helpful. Have a think back to the last time that you had your home or business’s electrical system checked to make sure that everything is working safely and is compliant with the latest regulations and standards. Have you EVER had an electrical inspection carried out? Is your home old or recently built? Or maybe you are in the process of purchasing. It may be time to have an inspection done to keep you and your family safe.
According to Master Electricians Australia, 15 people on average are killed in Australia each year from electrical-related deaths inside of their homes and 300 people on average, are hospitalised. The Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council also states that between 2016 and 2017 90% of the people who were fatally electrocuted in their homes were members of the general public (i.e. non-professionals).
Many electrical issues in the home go undetected to the untrained eye. This is why it is extremely important to have your home’s electrical safety inspected to ensure that you and your family can live your days free of risk.
What Happens During An Electrical Inspection?
During an inspection, the electrician will visually inspect your home or business’s electrical system ensuring that all wiring, system, and components meet the relevant legal standards.
Some elements of the inspection will be simply a basic visual audit with recommendations regarding non-compliant components. Others will be an in-depth audit ensuring continuity of electrical system and safety switches are tested, the polarity of the outlets. Unfortunately, as most of the electrical system is inaccessible in wall cavities, a thorough visual inspection with a testing of the electrical system is the extent that can be carried out without perforating the wall.
It is important to ensure that the person that is completing the electrical inspection on your home or business is qualified to do so. By ensuring this, you will have peace of mind knowing that they are aware of and trained on the issues to be aware of and recommend how to fix the problems should they find anything.
When Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?
Despite the importance of electrical inspections, they do not need to be carried out annually. Typically, every three to five years should suffice. Technology is constantly changing and as a result, so are the electrical standards and regulations of compliance. However, there are three major situations in which you should have an electrical inspection completed immediately.
1. If you have an older home.
As mentioned, electrical standards and technology are constantly developing and changing, and therefore, the wiring that is in an older home may be severely outdated and unable to cope with the load requirement of some modern technological appliances. It also means that it may be weathered and worn and unsafe to continue using.
2. If you have experienced a major storm recently.
South Australia can experience its fair share of wild weather and sometimes, extreme weather can cause damage to the electrical elements within a home. While you may notice any damage, it is also important to seek the qualified advice of a professional to ensure that any safety features and internal elements have not been damaged. It is especially important to have an inspection completed if appliances in your home stop working after a storm.
3. Before purchasing a new property.
It is strongly recommended that you have a building inspection completed before purchasing a property. While a building inspector will examine the structural components of your home and some minor electrical components, they won’t go into much depth. They may flick switches, check that you have smoke alarms and monitor some appliances, but to ensure your home’s electrical integrity, having an in-depth inspection completed is strongly recommended.
Your electrician will be able to identify in more depth, any significant electrical issues that your home may experience and take a closer look at the wiring that is installed. You can never be too sure of what work the previous owner may have had done in your home, or if they even used a qualified and licensed professional. Having an inspection done will ensure that you do not get presented with a hefty bill or an unsafe home after purchase.
Why Should You Get An Electrical Inspection?
1. To identify any faulty wiring.
Faulty wiring is a common cause of fires and injuries by electrocution. As mentioned, every year in Australia, there are roughly 300 people admitted to hospital as a result of electrical malfunctions within their homes. Electrical wiring has a certain lifespan, so just because it may have been safe ten years ago, doesn’t mean that its age hasn’t impacted its safety today. Many old homes have never had their wiring upgraded and wiring safety and efficiency have come a long way in a short span of time. Power and lighting circuits are now required to all be on individual safety switches. This came into effect in 1991, so if your home was built before that, then chances are your electrical system is non-compliant and not protected.
2. To notice any issues with your smoke alarms.
A smoke alarm can help save lives by providing you and your family with a strong warning if there is a fire in your home. Legislative requirements state that it is compulsory that ALL South Australian homes be fitted with a working smoke alarm and there are a few rules and regulations as to where the smoke alarm should be located and whether there should be more than one. Smoke alarms are now required to be hardwired, with a battery for back up.
Many injuries and fatalities from fires in Australian homes would have easily been prevented if a smoke alarm was present, or if their smoke alarm was working. Over time, some smoke alarms have become outdated and no longer comply with Australian standards.
During an electrical inspection, the electrician will note your smoke alarms location/s, whether you have enough in your home and whether they are working and compliant.
3. Identifying overloaded circuits.
Electrical circuits are designed to have a limited amount of electrical current. An overloaded circuit occurs when there is more demand on the circuit than it can safely handle.
If your home has limited outlets, you can be tempted to utilise multiple powerboards which would increase the demand on the circuit. When the limit is exceeded, the circuit breaker should trip, shutting off the power and removing the threat to your safety. If the circuit breaker was to fail, an overload on the circuit would cause the wiring to overheat and the wire insulation to melt, which may result in a fire.
Electrical installations can age and can become overloaded very easily, particularly in old homes where the wiring was not designed for the number of electrical appliances in use today.
The most obvious sign of an overloaded circuit is the circuit breaker tripping and shutting off the power. However, some other signs to look out for are:
Buzzing outlets or switches
Outlets or switches that are warm to the touch
Power tools or appliances that seem to lack power
During an electrical inspection, the electrician will identify the electrical demands of your circuits and provide you with any corrections that are necessary to avoid serious threats to your safety. These corrections may be the installation of new and additional circuits or reducing the load on each existing circuit.
4. Ensuring that your home’s electrical system is up to code and is compliant
There are certain electrical standards that your home’s electrical installation and wiring must comply with. It is impossible to know what type of work has been done on your home previously, and whether the previous owner used a licensed or unlicensed technician.
Understanding the current state of your electrical system is extremely important to be aware of your level of safety within your home and how much money you may need to pay to fix the legal issues.
In Austalia, it is illegal to complete your own electrical work if you are not a qualified tradesman. Licensed tradespeople have the equipment, training, certification, and knowledge to do the necessary work safely and in accordance with appropriate regulations and rules.
For the safety of you and your family in your home, it is clear to see why spending a little bit of money in the short term on an electrical inspection, may save you much more in the future, including your lives. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home or business’s electrical system to ensure that it is compliant and running as it should be.
Our hot South Australian climate means that we rely a lot on our air conditioners in our homes and businesses to keep us cool and comfortable. But air conditioners are a lot like cars – they need regular servicing and maintenance to run at their most efficient.
Regular servicing should be carried out yearly, but every now and then small issues may arise which can indicate a need for a technician to thoroughly inspect it.
Here are some signs that you may need to book a service:
1. Your System Isn’t Cooling
If your system isn’t doing what it is designed to do, then it needs an inspection. A unit that isn’t blowing out cold air may indicate an issue with its compressor, mechanical failure within the system or that the system has lost its refrigerant charge. Neither cause is impossible to fix, but you will need to have it seen to if you plan on using your system to stay cool throughout summer.
2. Reduced Airflow
If air is not circulating through your rooms as strongly, then your unit’s fitler may be clogged, it’s ductwork may be squashed or damaged or its zone motors may have malfunctioned. It’s important to clean your filters regularly as mentioned here, to avoid overworking your system. But damaged ductwork or zone motor failure needs to be left for a technician to inspect and attend to during a service.
Regularly using your system when it is struggling to maintain airflow can severely overwork your system’s compressor and can easily cause extra damage.
3. Strange Smells or Noises
During operation, an air conditioner should be relatively silent. It should also not be emitting any strange smells after being turned on. If your unit is doing one, or both of these things, then a service is needed immediately to get to the bottom of it.
One role of an air conditioner is to filter dust and small debris from the air, as well as dehumidifying it. A musty smell may indicate that there is dust entering your ductwork or a build-up of foreign material on your indoor coil, which can be harmful to your health if you breathe it in, and potentially dangerous to asthmatics.
A burning smell though may indicate something far more serious such as overheating of internal components, loose wire connections, mechanical issues, etc. If your system is giving off a burning smell it is best to turn it off and discontinue use until you can schedule a time for a technician to inspect it.
Depending on what noise you are hearing coming from your unit, there may be a number of issues it could be:
Humming or Rattling
An air conditioner naturally hums due to the mechanics involved with it. But if a light hum or whir turns into a much more sinister noise, often followed by a rattling, then it may indicate that a fan is loose, there is debris caught in your unit, there are issues with your ductwork or more.
Any grinding noise coming from your unit during operation is cause for concern and needs immediate attention from a professional. This noise may indicate serious mechanical issues within your system and operation should cease immediately.
A hissing sound can either indicate a minor issue such as a water leak, or a major issue such as a refrigerant leak. If you are untrained, distinguishing between the two can be difficult, so it is best to have a professional take a look at it.
Any other noises coming from your system during operation should also be investigated by a professional. It is better to be on the safe side and have a clean, healthy running unit, than one that may fall apart at the wrong time of the year, or worse yet, create an unsafe situation.
As mentioned, if your unit is leaking it can either be a minor issue that results in a quick fix or a major issue that can have an unsuspected effect on your home. If you do notice a leak, it is important to cease the systems operation and contact your installer/service mechanic. They will ask a number of questions that can help them distinguish what the leak might be and just how serious it is. Water leaking from your unit isn’t a large issue and is generally a quick fix, however a refrigerant leak is potentially dangerous. Don’t try to distinguish between the two yourself. Call a professional and have them assess the situation.
5. High Energy Bills
If your energy bills seem higher than normal but you are not using your system any differently, then there may be an underlying reason why. When you don’t maintain your air conditioner regularly, it will become less energy efficient and your energy bills will start to rise. This may be due to issues with your ductwork, you may not be using your system correctly, or maybe your unit is reaching the end of its life.
If you are finding that one, or a number of these issues are occuring during operation of your system, the best thing to do is schedule a technician to do a thorough inspection and service on it to find the leading causes.
As summer is fast approaching, the smartest thing to do is to have a professional from Green Efficient Living come and do a pre-summer service on your unit to ensure that it is in prime working condition before constant use during the upcoming hot weather.
Note: Green Efficient Living is currently holding their annual Pre-Summer Service Sale! Take advantage of our discounted prices and have your unit serviced before the hot weather hits! Click here to find out more.
Why Should You Have Your Air Conditioner Serviced?
Having your air conditioner serviced before the hot weather hits is smart for two reasons. Not only does it mean that you will be prepared for when the temperature starts to rise, but it also means that you will beat the rush of people trying to get theirs serviced during summer.
What Is Done During A Service?
During a scheduled routine service, a Green Efficient Living technician will complete a number of checks on the outdoor unit and indoor unit to ensure its compliance and that it is operating as it should.
The first thing that our technicians do will ask you whether or not your system is functioning properly. Have you heard any noises lately? Has it been playing up or not running as it normally would? Etc.
The return air will be then taken out and checked over, during which time our technicians run your system to inspect the outdoor unit. They will get the pressure readings, check electrical voltages and currents and ensure that there is no debris on the rear coilers of the unit.
After the service of the outdoor unit, they will then get into your roof to inspect that all electrical terminals are still tight, that the ductwork does not have any imperfections such as rips and that the main condensate drain isn’t blocked. During this time they will also inspect all zones by turning them on and off to ensure that they are all opening and closing as they should.
Can You Service Your Own Air Conditioner?
There are basic maintenance jobs that you can do yourself as the homeowner, such as cleaning the filters and ensuring that the outdoor unit stays unrestricted (see our post on that here). But when it comes to a complete annual service of your unit before using it again, this MUST be left entirely to the professionals. The smallest of attempts at servicing your own air conditioner can lead to serious unit damage or even electrocution!
Why Should You Have Your Air Conditioner Serviced?
The easiest way to understand exactly why you need to regularly service your air conditioner is for the same reason that you regularly service your car. You do not drive your car unserviced until it breaks down beyond repair and you are forced to buy a new one. Instead, you service it regularly to AVOID any serious breakdowns – an air conditioner is much the same.
There are many reasons why having your air conditioner professionally serviced is important:
1. It improves energy efficiency and saves you money on your electricity bills
Without periodic maintenance, your air conditioner will find it hard to run in prime condition. When this happens, it has to work a lot harder and consume more energy which in turn costs you more on your electricity bills! Avoid paying more by having a professional complete a service on your air conditioner to ensure that it is running as efficiently as possible.
2. It improves air quality
When your air conditioner isn’t working efficiently, it cannot properly filter the air is distributed into your home. An air conditioner that is running in perfect conditioner successfully filters out pollutants, pollen, dust and allergens, meaning the air that you and your family are breathing is cleaner and safer.
3. It extends your unit’s lifespan
Regular servicing and maintenance will extend the lifespan of your unit for all of the reasons mentioned above. It faults are left undetected, they can cause serious issues for your system in the future. These issues may result in costly repairs or even a unit replacement! However, by servicing it regularly you are increasing your system’s lifespan and keeping it running in perfect working order for many more years to come.
The professionals at Green Efficient Living recommend having your unit serviced annually, even if it is not showing any signs of faults or issues. To book your annual service, call us today on (08) 8297 3422.
Note: Green Efficient Living is currently holding their annual Pre-Summer Service Sale! Take advantage of our discounted prices and have your unit serviced before the hot weather is here!
We’ve heard it all before: ‘change your globes to LED globes!’ But why? Are LED globes really as good as they say? Is there really any point spending time and money switching your existing globes to LED ones? Why are LED globes so good?
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and is an increasingly popular alternative to your standard halogen, incandescent, or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) globes. If you haven’t already substituted your current globes for LED ones in your home or business, then your lighting would already contain one of the other three options mentioned.
What Are Your Lighting Options?
Firstly, let’s look closely at the other traditional options. Not too long ago, you had the choice of incandescent globes, halogen globes, CFLs and LEDs however, it has been predicted that halogen lights will disappear from Australia within the next two years as the country shifts towards more efficient and environmentally options. Australia began the phasing out of poor-performing incandescents in 2007, requiring homeowners and businesses to instead install energy efficient lighting to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Then in 2010, the Australian Government then enacted a ‘Minimum Energy Performance Standard’ law ensuring only the highest performing products are to be available. However, these standards relating to incandescents, halogens and CFLs still do not meet the same energy efficiency as LEDs.
Your CFL bulbs are reasonably cheap to buy but can cost you more to run over time. They can also wear out faster if put in a light fitting that is switched on and off constantly, such as your bathroom or kitchen. They can’t be used outside very often as they don’t work well in extreme heat or cold and can take a little longer to reach maximum brightness. They do, however, have a slightly longer lifespan than incandescents and halogens, and are slightly more energy efficient.
They work via a chemical reaction known as fluorescence. The tube contains mercury that becomes ‘excited’ as electricity is passed through the system. When the mercury begins to settle, it gives off light.
Incandescent globes were simple and cheap to manufacture and therefore purchase, but besides that and their bright light, the pros stopped there! Their lifespan is extremely short and they lose around 90% of their energy to heat. However, despite this, they were probably the most common light bulb that you had in your home currently until the government placed a heavy regulation on the sale of incandescents operating at a certain energy efficiency.
Incandescent globes have the classic ‘light globe’ shape. They contain a mental filament made of tungsten inside, that acts as a bridge for electricity to flow over. As the electricity surges, the filament heats up and it begins to glow giving off light. This is also the reason why the globe gives off so much of its energy as heat, and why it is often hot to touch straight after it has been turned off.
Halogen globes are a type of incandescent light, however, are stronger, designed to withstand higher pressures than incandescents and are around 30% more efficient. But while they are labelled as ‘low voltage’, they still use approximately 35W to 50W per globe, so they are still not an efficient choice to have within the home. They can also become quite hot and can, in some circumstances, becomes quite hazardous.
LEDs are often the more expensive option to purchase per globe compared to their more traditional counterparts, however, they are longer lasting and much cheaper to run! Using around 75% less energy than CFL globes and lasting two to three times as long, when we look at LED globes in comparison to the other options, it is clear to see just they’re the obvious choice!
What Are The Benefits Of LEDs?
The first and most beneficial reason is that they are extremely energy efficient and will save you money on your electricity bills. They use less power (watts) per unit of light (lumens) and can, therefore, provide up to around 100 to 200 lumens per watt. In contrast, CFL globes use around ten times the amount of Watts as LED globes. Incandescent globes also lose a lot of their energy to heat rather than light (90-95% to be exact), so they are extremely inefficient to run. For reference, a 60W (watt) incandescent bulb will only put out as much light as an 8W LED bulb! It doesn’t really make sense to put these globes in your space, when 95% of what you are paying for, you are not able to utilise. So while they might seem the perfect option upfront due to their low cost, they are considered a much more inefficient option than LEDs. In a typical Australian household, lighting makes up for about 7-10% of your electricity bill (sa.gov.au). So when you think about how much you rely on lighting in your home to live comfortably, ensuring that you have the most energy efficient lighting is a small change that you can make to save big on your bills.
Another positive is that they have a much longer lifespan than other traditional globes. To put it into perspective, an average lifespan of an LED globe is between 15,000 to 50,000 hours, while halogen globes last a mere 1,000 to 5,000 hours. So the need to consistently purchase and change your globes lessens when you purchase LED globes. That means less money spent on always buying new globes!
Environmentally Friendly and Recyclable
LED lights are non-toxic, better for the environment and your family and currently the greenest choice on the market today! CFL globes, along with fluorescent tubes, contain a small amount of mercury, a requirement of 5 milligrams according to Australian Standard (environment.gov.au). While this amount of the toxic mercury does means that handling CFL bulbs requires more care and precautions, the short-term nature of the potential exposure when broken does not create a potentially large risk. Gloves should be worn to clean up a broken or no longer working CFL bulb and the remnants should be placed in a plastic bag and given to a nearby waste or disposal centre to avoid the mercury from entering the environment. To find a centre near you, head to www.recyclingnearyou.com.au. Incandescents and halogen globes cannot be recycled due to the fact that they contain a Tungsten filament that cannot be reused, but they may be able to be taken to the same recycling centres as CFLs. The best way to dispose of these globes is to simply wrap them in a few layers of paper and throw them in the garbage, not the most environmentally friendly option, or call your local disposal centre to see if they will take them. LED globes, however, do not contain any hazardous materials, are not made of glass and are completely recyclable. So if they break or stop working, simply wrap them in paper and place in your recycling bin! Safe on your family and the environment!
More Flexible Lighting Options
LEDs are considered to be ‘directional’ light sources, meaning that they can be designed to emit light in a specific direction. Those with LEDs installed in their homes can look forward to focused and concentrated light because of this, and a more energy efficient result. Incandescent and CFL globes emit light in all directions, meaning that they are often radiating heat and light in directions where it is not needed, wasting energy and your money. Having the ability to focus your lighting in your desired direction, means that your lights do not have to work as hard to illuminate the space, and therefore your energy bills stay lower.
LEDs can withstand frequent switching on and off making them perfect for outdoor flashing light displays, sensor lighting, or in areas such as the kitchen, or bedroom where lighting is commonly turned on and off. As well as this, LEDs are able to to be successfully dimmed. Most traditional lights can only be dimmed to 30% of their light output before they stop working, but LEDs are able to operate at a mere 10% of their light output (when used with LED suitable componentry).
Durability and Safety
As previously mentioned, LEDs are much more durable and able to withstand harsh weather conditions due to their ability to operate under extreme temperatures and low voltages. This enables you to place them anywhere around your home, indoors or outdoors, as the cold, wind, rain and extreme heat will not affect them. LEDs also do not contain any filaments or glass enclosures but are instead mounted on a circuit board with soldered leads. This makes them virtually unbreakable and able to withstand shocks, vibrations and external impacts. Safety is no concern with LEDs as they do not give off heat and contain no harmful chemicals.
LED Lighting can be used outside due to its durability.
While different globes work for different situations, it’s obvious to see why LED globes are the clear choice to have within your home or business. With halogens and incandescents slowly being phased out, the only competition that still stands are the traditional CFL globes. Despite CFLs still being a good choice, the benefits of LEDs in comparison far surpass those of CFLs. If you are looking to have new lighting installed in your home, call Green Efficient Living today on (08) 8297 3422 to see what we can do!
If you live in Adelaide, you would surely understand just how drastically the temperature can change between summer and winter. One moment you are sitting in a puddle of your own sweat and within a matter of weeks, you are sitting in that same spot, with four layers of clothing on, clutching your coffee close to you.
Well, in case you haven’t noticed, winter is here and we think that it is time that you understand how to best care for and use your reverse cycle air conditioner during the colder weather to maximise your energy efficiency and save on your bills (you will thank us later).
What Is Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning?
The name suggests it all. A reverse cycle air conditioner is one that can both cool your home in summer and keep you warm during winter.
A refrigerant is passed through an external coil, absorbing heat from the outside air. This refrigerant is then pumped through a compressor, into a fan coil unit inside the home, which then releases warm air into your room. When in heating mode, the unit works in the opposite or reverse way to when it is cooling.
Note: It absolutely does not have to be warm outside for this process to be successful. Reverse cycle air conditioners can perform this function in even the lowest of temperatures.
Benefits Of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners
The first and in our opinion, the greatest benefit of reverse cycle air conditioners is that they are extremely efficient when it comes to their energy use and their cost over time. Most portable heaters or gas heaters may be cheaper to buy outright, but their energy usage is much higher than that of a reverse cycle system and therefore will cost you much more over time to run.
Another benefit is when purchasing a reverse cycle air conditioner, you are purchasing two systems in one and avoiding having to purchase both a cooling system and a heating system, thereby saving you money.
Reverse cycle air conditioners also help to purify the air during operation by trapping airborne particles. Some systems may also rid the air of odours and remove bacteria and viruses, which is especially handy in the homes of allergy sufferers and people with asthma.
How To Prepare Your System For Winter
If you do already have a reverse cycle system installed in your home, there are a few things that you can do before the cold weather really sets in.
Clean Your Filters
We have already written a blog on the importance of making sure that your filters are clean (read here), but we can’t stress enough just how damaging blocked filters can be. Blocked or dirty filters are often the first issue that we look for when on a service call, due to the fact that…
Adjust Your Thermostat
Most people think that turning their heater up to 26 degrees in winter will warm the room up faster and keep them warmer for longer. All this will do is result in your system working harder and your energy bills increasing. During winter, have your system set to 18-22 degrees. Your room will still warm up just as fast and you will still feel just as warm, you just won’t be paying the extra on your energy bills or shortening the life of your system. It has been estimated that increasing the temperature on your air conditioner by just one degree can increase your costs by a large ten per cent!
Have It Serviced
One very important point to remember is to have your system professionally serviced before a long summer or winter of using it. When a technician services your system, they make sure that everything is working as it should be and that your system is still providing the most energy efficient service that it can for your needs.
Using your reverse cycle air conditioner is no different in winter than it is in summer. Just remember to keep the temperature down, you will still stay warm, and to make sure your filters are clean. If you haven’t had your system serviced yet, Green Efficient Living have a special offer for you! You can have your Ducted Reverse Cycle system serviced from a low $200 ex GST, or a High Wall Split from $170 ex GST. Our offer ends VERY soon, so give us a call today to make sure that your system isn’t costing you more than it should this winter!