Monday, February 28, 2011

The Electric Car in Philadelphia.

U-Go Stations, Charge Point and You…

U-Go Stations goal is to provide infrastructure for the Electric Vehicle initiative. We are seeking partners in business to create a charging network across the country.
“Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors.”

U-Go Stations Opening Day South Philadelphia
The ChargePoint Network makes plug-in electric vehicle use a practical reality for drivers who can now top off their vehicle batteries wherever they park – at home and at convenient public locations such as at work, or at the marketplace. Drivers prefer the network because makes it easy for them to locate available public charging stations along their commute route and to track their vehicle’s charging performance from anywhere there is an Internet connection. Drivers rely on the network to keep them informed of their vehicle’s charging status at all times.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Your Place: Ancient knob-tube wiring is potentially troublesome

February 18, 2011|By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer

Question: We purchased our home in Palmyra in July 2005. The house is about 120 years old and in great shape, but there's a ton of knob-and-tube wiring.

Someone mentioned recently that homes must have most or all of it replaced when selling a house.

We had a professional home inspection done, and they never mentioned this. I still have their reports. Do you know if this is something I can act on? I realize it has been more than five years.

Answer: I put your question to real estate agents who list older houses that might still have this kind of wiring.

The short answer is that removal before sale is not required.

The long answer, however, is that, although not illegal in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey to sell a house with knob-and-tube wiring, it is - in the words of Prudential Fox & Roach Center City associate broker Mark Wade - a good idea to disclose that the house has this ancient and, frankly, inadequate and potentially troublesome wiring.

I've also seen chat sites on the Internet that claim that houses with knob-and-tube wiring cannot get FHA mortgages. When I investigated, I discovered that what the Department of Housing and Urban Development actually says is: "Knob-and-tube wiring is acceptable if found to be in good condition and a minimum of 60 amps."

If the home inspector you used in 2005 disclosed the presence of knob-and-tube wiring and suggested that you might wish to hire an electrician to check it out, then he did his job, and you have no legal recourse.

If he did not disclose, and I cannot believe he did not, then you may have a case, but keep in mind that an inspector is required only to report what he or she sees and can only recommend further examination by qualified professionals.

Let's take a step back and explain what knob-and-tube wiring is.

The oldest wiring in an old house is knob-and-tube, installed between 1890 and 1910; however, some sources report installations as late as the 1930s.

Two wires, insulated with rubberized cloth, run independently of each other along beams from the basement through the center of the house. Where they run through the joists, they are encased in ceramic tubes to prevent the wire from chafing on the wood. The wires that run over joists are looped around ceramic knobs nailed to the joists, which is the reason they are called knob and tube.

Failure to disclose that a house contains knob-and-tube probably could find a seller in court somewhere down the road.

That's not all, however. Consider the age of knob-and-tube wiring, as Cherry Hill home inspector Harris Gross points out. The wiring was intended initially, he said, for operating lightbulbs.

Look at all the electric gadgets that fill our houses these days. Even if the rubberized insulation around the wiring hasn't been chewed by rodents, trying to run a hair dryer or a front-loading washer on such antique wiring is playing with fire - literally, since an electrical overload is within the realm of possibility.

Has the presence of knob-and-tube killed home sales? Yes, said Gross, because it is costly to remedy. He checked into some pricing and found that removing and replacing the wiring in a two-story house might run $4,000 to $8,000; in a three-story, it could be as high as $10,000. That does not include filling in the holes for the old wiring, which can range from $40 to $80 per, Gross said.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What to do when the lights go out.


Power Outage Safety

Power failures on a wide scale happen when we least expect them. In the winter time they may be a result of severe weather and downed power lines. In summer excessive air conditioning may push the grid to the limit.

Sometimes the power at home or on the block may cut out from an electrical accident or short circuit.

Either way, it’s important to be prepared as best as possible. That means taking certain steps that will make life easier when a black out occurs. Some suggestions include the following:

  1. Alternative lighting sources: Since you don’t know how long a blackout will last don’t rely on security lights or solar lighting sources to help you find your way. Always keep flashlights (or head lamps that free up both hands) handy leaving them in a common place so everyone in the household knows where to look. NOTE: Flashlights reserved for an outage should be checked every few months making sure they work properly and batteries aren’t leaking. Also, if you were thinking about using candles don’t. In a blackout they are dangerous and should be avoided.

  1. In a black out cell phones may not have reception and depending on the length of the failure they will eventually run out of juice. Always have a working non-cordless house phone that doesn’t need electricity connected to your land line so you can reach to the outside world. Land lines aren’t usually affected by outages.

  1. Have a battery operated radio available in order to hear news and instructions from public officials.

  1. Always have your computer connected to a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) protecting it from a power surge and allowing you to save information and shut it down normally.

When a black out has already occurred other precautionary measures are needed.

  1. Turn off all lights except one to see when the power returns. Also turn off appliances that were in use before the black out. Doing so will prevent a power surge when the electricity returns and prevent fires from any heat producing mechanisms like a sandwich maker that were in use but forgotten about in the interim.

  1. Check and see if the outage is localized or throughout the entire neighborhood.

  1. Keep the refrigerator closed as much as possible. Blackouts may last hours and you don’t want food to go to waste, especially if the region is struck with severe weather.

  1. Watch for water collecting near electrical switches or devices which could cause electrocution and create a fire hazard.

  1. Be careful when you go outside as there may be downed but live power lines. Survey the area carefully.

  1. Stay calm: Blackouts can be scary for young children. Try to keep the family calm and teach them in an imaginative, creative, and fun way about electricity. Helping them understand what’s going on can ease tension. Outages can also be a great time to spend with the family playing games, telling stories, or playing instruments.

Jakob Barry writes, a growing community of users sharing and monitoring home improvement projects allowing homeowners and contractors to get the most from their resources. He covers various home improvement topics, including green landscaping and electrical repair .

How To Childproof Your Philadelphia Home To Prevent Shock And Electrocution

How To Childproof Your Philadelphia Home To Prevent Shock And Electrocution

Philadelphia Electricians

One of the biggest responsibilities that a new parent will have is ensuring the safety of their little one. Of course, you cannot protect your child from all harm, since there are sure to be scraped knees, bug bites and other bumps and bruises. However, there are very real dangers that you can easily safeguard against.

One main danger to curious little ones would be the electricity used in your home. There are just a few quite simple steps you can take to make sure your Philadelphia home is properly childproofed from shock and electrocution.

The first, most obvious step is to cover empty electrical outlets. Little ones may try to stick things in the empty socket, which could lead to electrical shock. Small, plastic placeholders can be purchased at almost any home improvement store or department store. These placeholders will childproof the outlets, but they can be removed anytime you need to plug something in.

Loose electrical cords can get in the way of children who are learning to walk. They could also look like something to play with or even chew on. In order to protect your child from this danger, make sure all cords are secure and out of reach. Cord keepers can be purchased that will stow away the excess slack in the electrical cords.

In the bathroom, make sure you have no small electrical appliances within easy reach of the bathtub. In addition, always unplug any of these small appliances when you are not using them. This would include hair tools like hairdryers, hot rollers, curling irons, beard trimmers, and shavers. With one quick tug, one of these tools could easily be pulled in the bathtub.

In the kitchen, unplug any small appliances or put them away out of reach of children. For example, a plugged in toaster needs to be away from curious hands that could stick a fork in the electrical coils while trying to reach a toasted item.

Finally, do not leave a child unattended near a space heater or electrical fan. These two items pose a threat if the child where to try to reach into them or push a toy through the safety bars.

You can easily childproof your Philadelphia home against electrical shock. By taking simple steps to keep your little one away from possible danger, you will be able to enjoy their childhood without fear of danger from electricity.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ungrounded outlets.

The problem of ungrounded outlets is prevalent in homes constructed prior to 1960. The actual 2 conductor wiring is typically the real problem and not the actual outlet itself.
Origonally when the electrician wired the homes back in the day, he used the proper methods of that time, being the 2 conductor wire. Sometime later, more 'modern' electricians came in and replaced the origonal two prong outlets with the three prong outlets which are popular today. Unfortunately doing so, without an actual 3rd conductor to connect to that 3rd prong of the outlet, can be very dangerous.
There are only a few ways to safely deal with this issue. According to current NEC code standards, a grounding type receptacle (3 prong) shall be connected to a functioning equipment grounding conductor. If no such conductor exists, or is not functional then a 3 prong cannot be used. (NEC 2008 406.3 D1,3a,b,c)
There are other replacements which satisfy the requirements, but nothing can actively ground a receptical without running a new wire.
Installing a GFCI receptical to each outlet location will satisfy the requirements and add a level of safety but, again, nothing will actually ground an outlet without running a new wire.
It would be acceptable to run an individual conductor from each outlet directly to the main panel where the actual feed circuit originates. This method is both impractical and very costly. The best option is to rewire each outlet with a new grounded circuit, and rewire each outlet from there on.
This is the only 100 percent guarantee that the outlets are not only grounded, but up to current code and safety standards.

Thank you.
Michael J

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Service entrance in plastic or Metal?

What is the difference between a 200 amp service cables in metal conduit or PVC pipe. Here you can see the differences. PVC is a good option but it can become damaged and weathered over time. PVC when exposed to the elements become brittle and can crack. This service probably had ice buildup behind it during a winter snow storm. Over time the plastic straps broke off and allowed the main service mast to swing freely. This cracked the plastic conduit. This has exposed the electrical cables. Now the home owner need to replace the service entrance.

Here is another service cable ran in metal conduit. This conduit will never become brittle and will last much longer. Installation in a metal conduit does add to the upfront cost but it will last longer than a service made out of PVC conduit. It is a definite up to consider if your homes electrical service equipment if exposed to the elements.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Awareness PSA from ESFI

Arc Fault Fact Sheet

Electronics and Safety

Over the last thirty years, our homes have been dramatically transformed by electrical devices. However, many homes are overburdened by today’s electrical demands, putting them at greater risk of arc faults and arc induced fires.

An arc fault is a dangerous electrical problem caused by damaged, overheated, or stressed electrical wiring or devices.

Electrical Damage, Injures and Death

In the United States, home electrical problems cause more than 53,800 fires each year, resulting in more than 450 deaths, 1,400 injuries and more than $1.4 billion in property damage. Arcing faults are one of the major causes of these fires.

New Code for Safety

The solution to this problem is an advanced electrical safety device known as an arc fault circuit interrupter, or AFCI.

Modern circuit breakers

Arc fault circuit interrupters, or AFCIs, are devices that replace standard circuit breakers in your home’s electrical service panel.

What does an AFCI do?

AFCIs provide a higher level of electrical fire protection, detecting hazardous arcing conditions traditional breakers were not designed to recognize, and shutting down the electricity before a fire can start.

50% reduction in electrical fires

The CPSC estimates that AFCIs could prevent more than 50 percent of the electrical fires that occur every year.

2008 Code changes

While AFCIs were previously only required to protect bedroom circuits, the 2008 National Electrical Code now requires this technology to be installed in additional areas of newly-constructed homes, including dining rooms and living rooms.

Older home electric

Though the new safety requirements are limited to new home construction, older homes with aging wiring systems can benefit from the added protection of AFCIs.

How much will it cost?

Depending on the size of a given home, the cost impact for installing AFCI protection is $140 - $350.

Installation and Maintenance Tips

* Combination-type AFCIs should only be installed by a qualified, licensed electrician.
* Test AFCIs once a month to make sure they are in proper working condition.
* To test: Push the test button. The breaker handle should go to the middle or OFF position. To reset: Move the breaker handle to the OFF position and then to the ON position.
* A defective AFCI circuit breaker should always be replaced by a professional.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Broken intercom (or Doorbell) please knock

Doorbells and intercoms

Broken intercom


Have you ever seen this? It is all too common and problem that is easily fixed. Intercoms are simply electronic devices that transmit audio over low voltage lines. Intercoms go bad and need to be replace every 15-20 years.Similar to other piece of home electronics like VCRs of Phone. That is why most intercoms can just be reorder with a new model. Generation 3 electric can help you with this.

Repace intercom

A new intercom will look great. The intercom is the first impression your guests will receive when visiting your home. You don't want to miss that important package

Door Bells

Door bells also go bad and need replacing. They can be upgraded to intercom or video intercoms. There are three main parts of a door bell system.

  • The doorbell Button
  • The Door Bell Chime
  • The Door Bell 120volt to 12volt Transformer

    When your door bell goes bad it is a good idea to have all three parts replaced at the same time. Doorbells and intercoms are also much less expensive to replace if you do them along with other electrical work. I can seem expensive to call an electrician out to replace a broken doorbell or intercom. That is because there is so much overhead getting the electrician to your door. If you were doing a list of other such as a safety inspection or ceiling fans then their is less overhead for an electrician to cover.

  • Inside energy saving LED lights

    New LED recessed light Save money and give off great light.

    Kitchen facelift start with Lighting

    New recessed lights can improve the look of your home

    You homes lighting can get dated. The good thing is it is easy to replace old trims on recessed lighting fixtures. You will spend between $25-$70 per fixture. The difference is in price is for the model of trim you find needed fit in your housing. This is a project most homowners can do themselves. It is also a good thing to have done by an electrician when they are doing other work.

    Recessed lighting Styles

    Recessed lights come in many different styles. The lights picture here were in a kitchen that was made over in the 1980s. Here we replace the old black style trim with a new white trim. We try to picture all the different style trims on this blog. If you have any questions about different trim types please search the blog or shoot me a question.

    The lights shown here are in the lower price range. The total cost to replace these light foe a home owner would be about $25 each. $35-$45each installed by an electrician who was out at your home doing a general safety check or doing a Panel tune-up. You should have an electrician doing regular maintenance so use that time to improve the look of your home.


    LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are used in lamps, small lighting fixtures and for Christmas lights. They are also used in small electronics, such as DVD players, as well as in tiny flashlights. Nowadays, LED bulbs are being used for more residential lighting applications, such as under-cabinet lighting, in recessed lighting fixtures and for landscape lighting applications. LED bulbs have an extremely long lifespan. They can last between 50,000 to 60,000 hours. This is more than four times longer than CFL bulbs. LED bulbs use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3 to 1/30 of incandescent or CFL bulbs). As with CFL bulbs, LED’s don’t produce heat. According to, "LEDs produce 3.4 BTU's/hour, compared to 85 for incandescent bulbs." In 2009, the first LED-based replacements for a traditional light bulb were made available to the public. These bulbs give off an amount of light equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent bulb. Most homeowners use 65 watt bulbs and higher. However, the extremely long lifespan of LED bulbs has made them into a popular choice.

    Ambient(General) lighting and Accent lighting

    There are many different types of recessed lights. I will describe the most common two types. Down lights and directional lights. Down light are the most common recessed light. They are the familiar cone shaped light fixtures that shine light strait down.Down light are great for general lighting. Directional lights have many different names. The most common name is "eye ball trim" or a "wall wash". These types of lights are best use as accent lights.

    Recessed light upgrade

    Here is a quick thing that any homeowner can do to greatly improve the look of any room with recessed lights. Replace the recessed lights cover. The simply pull down. You match the make and model of the trim with a new trim. Slide in the the new trim and now you lights look like new.

    Recessed light
    Kitchen light

    Recessed light trims do come in and out of style. The light on the right with the black trim was popular in the 1980s. Now, the more fashionable recessed light trim is the all white version.  Size does matter too. There are trims that can make a 6inch recessed light look more like the more fashionable 4inch recessed lights.
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    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Kitchen Lighting

    Recessed accent lighting

    Recessed lighting installed

    Here is a lighting trick done with recessed lights that will open make your home feel larger and more lively. The Can Light were installed about 8 inches off of this kitchen wall. This ceiling is only about 8ft

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Hidden Dangers in old equipment

    T100 amp meter sockethis looks like a normal electrical meter socket. As an electrician I can barley notice anything wrong. This brand of meter socket is about 40 years old. It was made of Aluminum. Aluminum Meter went out of production in the late 70's early 80's and was replace with steel meter boxed. Aluminum is a ductile metal that fatigues over time. A 40 year old meter socket is no longer structurally sound.

    At closer look with the cover removed from the meter the danger becomes more obvious. At least to an electrician.
    The steel pipe that is at the top of the meter is not suppose to be going through the box. The pipe ripped through the and crushed all the electrical connection. This pipe is only an inch away from electrify the entire meter.

    That could seriously hurt someone if they grabbed it by accident. The meter would have exploded uncontrollably if the pipe hit the live conductor.

    That is why we recommend that homeowner replace their electrical service equipment 30 to 40 years. I like to avoid this type of problem. and keep my clients safe.

    Dangerous Electric

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    A behind the scenes look at Social Media

    I was asked to be on a panel for the Center City Proprietors Association covering Social Media for small business. Here is a Link to the event. It is open to the non-member so please join us.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011
    8:00 AM to 10:00 AM

    Radisson Plaza - Warwick Hotel
    1701 Locust Street

    I want to give a spacial thanks to Peter Mcllhenney for putting this panel together. This is a picture of us going over the topics for the discussion the other day at a coffee shop. I look forward to hearing your ideas and questions during this interactive event and share with you my experiences with Social Media in marketing my business. Please read below a sneak preview of my outline for the discussions:

    Moderated by
    Peter McEllhenney
    Principal Partner
    5G Health Marketing Group

    Rebecca Brumberg
    E-Commerce/Marketing Manager
    Di Bruno Brothers, Inc.

    Kevin Gatto
    Celebrity Stylist / Salon Owner
    Verde Salon

    Matthew Izzo
    Matthew Izzo Boutique

    Audrey Julienne
    Raison D'Etre

    William Lutz
    Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

    My White Board

    I'm going to be speaking about how I started using different types of social media in marketing my electrical service business, the goals that I have set and some tools I use to achieve them. The picture below is on a white board outside my office. It is called the "Idea Engine." On it are different types of content applicable to my company's service that I use to post to a variety of social media sites to position my company as knowledgable and, therefore, trusted to my target audience. I made a commitment to myself to be active on the internet so I use this tool to fight writer's block.

    You Tube

    I'm a big believer in sharing knowledge. Here are some different types of metrics you can get out of the back end of social media sites. It helps me understand what posts are doing well and what are not. The first two are from my company's YouTube Channel. Click here to check it out.
    My reasoning to post videos when I started was to generate business. As you can see from the back end of these analytic reports, some of our videos have, in fact, generated interest, although I'm not sure about the ROI as we are still working out the tracking methods to directly relate the amount of time it takes to create them versus the increase in business. Still, it is a subject of interest for me, not to mention a fun thing to do. Plus I realize that every little bit helps by saturating the online market with the Generation 3 Electric brand.


    Blogger was one of my first attempts at social media. It was difficult to find things for me to even blog about. Worst of all, I was working in the field as an electrician for years so I had awful writing skills. I still need work but if I go back over my posts I can find improvements that I have made over the last couple of years. I also figure that Social Media is less formal and I can make mistakes as long as I'm learning from them and growing. Also, I've been told by clients that the blogs and videos are "home-grown" yet less intimidating which helps customers feel comfortable inviting me and my technicians into their homes. Here is a link to my blog.

    Below are some of the back end stats that I can get from my post. I find that this information can be surprising and useful. Some posts seem to hit a nerve with people. I then apply it to my website which increases our relevancy and quality scores with the search engines allowing us to pay less on bids for keywords.


    We started a company Facebook Page a little over a year ago. I never really felt comfortable with facebook before I used it as a business tool. I did not like the idea of posting about what I was doing online, but I posted anyway. Now, we post fun coupons for G3E services, electrical knowledge and tips and event information on Philadelphia for our customers and colleagues. Our fans have increase from 250 in January 2010 to almost 500 a year later. We have also seen success from targeted facebook ads featuring specific target groups in our demographics, usually with a message applicable to a monthly holiday, ie. Cancer Awareness, Military Recognition, even specific industries and local businesses like Teachers and Pharmaceutical Companies. Integration of social media with traditional marketing keeps Generation 3 Electric in the forefront of our customer's minds and ahead of the competition.


    In the past year I have learned a lot about different on-line tools from CCPA meeting that I attended. I am excited to give back to the community of business owners in Philadelphia. I hope you can join me for this event. It will be my first time on any panel. Wish me luck and please give me some feed back on any of my social media pages. One of my goals is to start a dialog on our facebook page. You can help me by commenting on my posts. I'm interested to hear what you think. I'd be happy to answer your electrical questions.

    Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Blogger, join us on LinkedIn and check out our web site at:

    Electric Company's Responsibility?

    Winter storms cause damage to the outside electric that bring power to your home. Where does the electric company stop servicing the equipment? Where do you the home owner need to make repairs? This video will help you see the cut off point.