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Understanding Your Home's Wiring: An Interview with Lightning Volts

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Lightning Volts Electric Service is a full service electrical contractor primarily focused on electrical testing, repair, design and installation services. We can assist in lighting design and installation of all types of traditional or new LED lighting systems. We also can diagnose and troubleshoot any electrical or lighting issues. We also install new main electrical services, sub panels and additional branch circuits. We even do the very smallest of jobs. In fact there is no job too small! We also try to get to you as quickly as possible. Depending on our schedule, sometimes the same day. Like our logo says, "Turning night into light...in a flash!"

How did you get into this line of work?

I was raised in industrial and commercial electrical construction from my teenage years on up. Then as I progressed from an apprentice to a Journeyman and then finally acquiring my Masters I took an interest in residential electrical systems. Leaving heavy construction, I then changed my business model to concentrate solely on residential and light commercial repairs and service work.

What are common electrical mistakes new home buyers make?

Minimizing the cost of repairs to electrical wiring, equipment or devices. Sometimes in the excitement of buying their home, people will allow emotions to minimize the true cost to bring electrical systems to code. This forces them to either live with an electrical problem or to spend more than they thought after they have moved in.

What are common electrical mistakes people don't realize they are making?

Doing their own electrical work or hiring a "handyman" or even an electrician who is anything less than an electrical contractor. Here in the State of Texas, it is illegal for anyone who is not a licensed and insured electrical contractor to perform most electrical work on a home. If an unlicensed person performs work that is substandard and it causes a fire or other damage, insurers will not cover it since the homeowner was engaged in illegal activity in not hiring an electrical contractor to perform the work. A serious penalty for doing something that years ago was not even given a second thought about. Insurance companies are not going to be on the hook for replacing someone's home because they didn't think they could afford a contractor. It's a good law because it has reduced the number of bootleg electrical projects being done on peoples homes and because the electrical work that is being done, is being performed by licensed electrical contractors and it is insured, thus not only providing good quality electrical work but also protecting the homeowners investment.

Are there any electrical services people should have done or checked out on a regular basis?

Yes. Most of your major systems such as Mechanical (Air Conditioning), Electrical & Plumbing also known as the MEP in a home is basically designed for around a 30 year lifespan. Each of these systems will have to have some major portion of their equipment serviced or replaced within that time frame. The main electrical panel and any sub-panels should be cleaned and have all of the wiring terminations within tightened every few years. This is especially true with homes that were built in the late 60's to early 70's and have aluminum wiring. Also any devices that have seen moderate or heavy use during that period should be replaced. This would include light switches and GFCI outlets or other similar devices.

What electrical services should be checked out as soon as a new homeowner settles in?

After you get moved in you may start to notice things that didn't get addressed in the inspection phase of the purchasing process. Such as lights flickering or outlets that don't work. These are indications of a potentially serious loose connection condition. These should be addressed immediately. Also things like overly warm light switches or warm walls around electrical devices. Or switches or outlets that are making arcing or sizzling sounds. All things that should be looked into.

Do you have any tips for people looking to save on their electric bill? Can the Energy Saver really save you a substantial amount on your monthly bill?

Doing the obvious things like using a programmable thermostat for times when the house is regularly unoccupied is a great help as your air conditioning is one of your largest electrical devices.

As for the energy saver yes it does save money on your electric bill. When I installed a unit on my own home I noticed an immediate 15% savings in my electric bill. It paid for itself in a few months of operation. They also act as power conditioners and some manufacturers include surge suppression equipment. These offer a $75,000.00 insurance policy for any connected electrical device (i.e.computers, TV's etc.) that might be damaged should the electrical system take a severe power surge from a lightning strike. It's definitely a good investment.

Please elaborate on the Z-Wave home control device.

Zwave devices are a relatively new spectrum of home automation devices that allow you to control thermostats, light switches and even outlets over the internet. So you can turn on the front porch lights from your smartphone on the way home. Or you can set up a schedule of when you want your A/C to turn off and on from your Ipad or laptop from the poolside in Honolulu. Home automation systems are very quickly becoming more and more specific to individual pieces of home equipment through the use of Zwave devices or even built in WiFi capability in some larger appliances. Devices like your garage door opener can be closed remotely or your refrigerator can email you the grocery shopping list. You can even unlock your front door to let a neighbor or family member in over the internet and then lock it back when they've left! Amazing technology!

Do you offer emergency services for those that encounter an electrical problem in the middle of the night?

No. All of our work is scheduled for regular business hours 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. There is not really enough demand for a 24hr service to justify the expense of an emergency call service.

Your chandelier installation looks quite impressive. Is this a popular service? What is the most popular service you offer?

Yes our chandelier service is popular as we are one of the few companies in this area that have the proper ladders or even electric lifts to get us up to some of the heights we have to get to. Some of the chandeliers we have installed are extremely rare pieces, family heirlooms or are works of art and can be worth many thousands of dollars. You want these handled by technicians who are going to care for them like you would.

Our most popular service is our ceiling fan installation. Fans come in such a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors that people are installing them in the most unique places.

What sets your business apart from other comparable companies? Is there anything you believe you do better/different?

Well we are just a small service company. We're not national so if you call, your probably going to talk to me. Not a dispatcher or a phone tree. Just some local electricians trying to make our customers a little safer in their homes and their lives a little brighter. The main difference is that we will spend time with you before the job if needed to explain what and why we are doing a task. Then we make sure after that you're satisfied. All our work is guaranteed and warranted for one full year. Also our estimates are always free of charge.

Also we know that peoples homes are intimate to them, so we try to tread lightly and show the respect that we would like to be shown.

For those looking to sell, how important is proper wiring in the value of the home?

I've had customers who were looking to sell their home and wanted to get out ahead of the buyers home inspector by having us take care of all the little nagging repairs that they just never got around to. This is a really smart strategy. This removes any little red flag that could pop up in the mind of a potential buyer plus it projects a very positive impression of a home when everything works and it looks nice and bright on the initial showing. As we know you can't redo that first impression and it just helps to give the feeling that the property has been well maintained.

What should customers look for in a good electrician?

First and foremost, licensing and insurance. If they don't have a TECL license number on their advertising and on their truck, don't use them. Then check with the BBB or online sites like Angie's List or even Google. Then ask lots of questions. If you get the feeling you are being "sold" or they are unclear in reasons why a job should be done a certain way, get another bid. I try to explain why something needs to be done, or why it costs so much money. I'm trying to earn your business so I will answer any question or provide you with enough information so that you can feel confident that I know what I'm doing and why it's necessary.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

The best way is by phone at 512-301-4911 or email at Andy@lightningvolts.com

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

Phone: 203-913-0483

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