Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Google Power meter

RIP Google Power Meter

Canetti's tomb-stone in Zürich, SwitzerlandImage via Wikipedia
Google FractalImage by Junyu Wang | 王俊煜 via Flickr
RRed PowerImage by Clearly Ambiguous via Flickrhttp://www.google.com/ig/adde?moduleurl=http://www.google.com/powermeter/gadget&source=imag

What is Google PowerMeter?

Google PowerMeter is a free energy monitoring tool that helps you save energy and money. Using energy information provided by utility smart meters and energy monitoring devices, Google PowerMeter enables you to view your home's energy consumption from anywhere online. Find out what people are saying about Google PowerMeter.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Google power meter

Google power meter

Monday, September 13, 2010

Old wires

Subject: old wiring, new fixture
Question: I'm by no means an electrician but have installed plenty of new fixtures before. This time, I am in a house built in 1946.

When I took down the old ceramic single-bulb fixture in the kids' bedroom, I found 4 wires connected: 3 in unmarked/white fabric wrapping and one in black stripes. 2 of the white wires were connected together to one contact point of the old fixture. The other white and the black stripe were connected singly to other contact points. Although it looks old as hell (is that horsehair up there?) the wires are in good shape and not brittle.

Following some advice, I have capped the two wires that were together, together under one cap but not otherwise connected, and I can get the new fixture to work by connecting the striped to black and the white to white. However, apparently it was wired in series as now the bathroom, hallway and attic lights no longer work!

Should I tie in all 3 white wires to the white fixture wire?
Answer: Hi Kazimea,

I would stop now and call someone to come out to your home and look at these wire. It sounds like you could be dealing with some knob and tube wiring. I know plenty of old time seem to think that as long as the wires in the box look good everything is alright. I'm thinking that there is a reason insurance companies as canceling or not writing policies on home with knob and tube. Your wiring is approaching 70 years of age and this stuff was not designed to last that long. As so the was there circuits were wired in the 40s could allow you to send dangerous voltages into other room with out you being aware. I would like to see you with some professional first hand advice.

Sub panel

Subject: Sub Panel Feeder
Question: Ok Bill i have gone blind trying to find an answer to wiring up my sub, I understand that I need 4 wires to feed it 2 hots 1 neutral and a ground. Question is where do I pickup the ground connection from? I see on my main panel that neutral and grounds are on the same buss bar. both panels are back to back, main on outside sub inside and feed with a 2x5" nipple. The main is grounded with AU. Can I just attach a jumper ground wire from the main buss bar to the sub ground buss bar and if I do this will this now isolate grnd from N?
Second question when moving breakers from main to sub i need to splice in more cable to reach the sub panel, do I need to splice all 3 wires or just the hot wire and leave N and GND where they are?

Geez Cat 5 and 6 wiring and routers is a lot easier for me to handle (jk)

Thank you
Answer: Hi Rory,

Yes, Cat5 is a bit easier to deal with and much less life threatening.I think I can help you a bit with some answers to your question. This is not the type of work for a beginner. It should be inspected by a pro after it is completed.

Your question about the ground and neutral wiring confuse many DYI people. The ground and neutral wires coming into your home are the same wire. After leaving your electrical panel they are separated. The reason for the two wire in your home is to provide one path as a return (the neutral wire) with voltage and a second wire as a 0 voltage ground for equipment.

With your additional sub-panel you do not need to remove, splice or re-run your ground wires. It is OK to keep them where they are. I may re-run them if it made the job look better.

I want to say this again. This is not a job for a DYI person. I would advice you to hire a pro for this. It will save you money to do this type of work right the first time.

Code Question answered

Subject: Electrical codes
Question: I’m working in a house that is going to be sold, so I want everything to be up to code.
1. Does the ground wire going into a circuit breaker box have to have its insulation all stripped within the box, or can it keep its green insulation?
2. I’m working with a breaker box that has 3 side by side rows of bars to connect the ground & neutrals to. It’s very hard, maybe impossible to get to the 2nd row, the as yet unused row. Can I make a shortcut by, instead of routing the ground & neutrals along the side of the box all the way, & then to the right, placing them under the old grounds & neutrals, running them up, then on top of the 1st row, then running them by “the back door,” back to the left & then under the screw. This makes as good a connection as any.
Can a breaker have 2 wires coming out of it, or must it have a splice in a box outside of the breaker box?
Is it possible to get a copy of the electrical codes on line, or even at a library? Last time I tried I couldn’t find it. Would it be easy to understand, or is it written in legalese?

Answer: Hi Larry,

You are an ambious fellow. I can give you some advice and hopfully help you out a bit but I'm afraid that I will not be able to teach you all that you need to know to do this work correctly. The best piece of advice I can give is to call out an inspector or underwriter after your done.

1. You don't need to strip the green jacket off your ground wires.
2. It can be tricky getting your wires on to the ground/neutral bars. This is a craft and there are no rule as to how you route your wires. You just need to make good connections.
3. You can only place one wire under each breaker screw. More then on wire is called a double tap and you home inspector will find that and report it on a home inspection report.
4. You should be able to get the code book at a library but I don't think it is available on line. The NFPA make money selling the book but you may want to check out their website. http://www.nfpa.org/

Good luck
Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.