What does it mean to be a Green Company?

We perform full service solar installations. We find ways to lower your electrical consumption through the use of energy efficient lighting like LED bulbs, and energy efficient appliances. We measure that savings so we can reduce the size of your solar array. This can save you thousands of dollars, as well as increase the return on your investment.

Alternative Power & Electric is a private company established in 1982 and is locally owned and operated. We perform work in many market segments including residential service, multi-family, commercial, retail, medical, laboratory, industrial and educational facilities.

We are a team orientated, learning organization. We seek out and attract some of the most talented electricians and management personnel in the industry. A commitment to employee growth and training provides a high level of expertise and service for our clients.

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10 Quick Tips for Generator Maintenance

As with any piece of equipment that provides power to other tools, the only time one seems to notice a generator is when it’s not working. Generators get thrown around, beaten, and abused, yet they’re always expected to work with one pull. Even though they’re built for abuse, generators won’t last without some regular maintenance. Here are 10 basic tips to keep your generator energized for each job:

1. DON’T BE FOILED BY OIL
Check the oil before each use. If it’s a new generator, change the oil after the first 20 hours of use to remove assembly lube and metallic particles created during the break-in period. Otherwise, change the oil every 100 hours or sooner if operating in dirty conditions.

2. DON’T RIDE DIRTY
Dirty fuel is a result of improper storage or refilling tanks in dusty conditions. To prevent this problem, store fuel in an OSHA-approved receptacle and keep out of high-traffic areas. Also, don’t refill in windy conditions where dust is more prevalent.

3. CLEAR THE AIR
Check the condition of the air filter daily and clean when necessary. Regardless of how dirty it is, clean the filter every 100 hours and change it monthly.

4. KEEP IT CLEAN
Cleaning the engine removes potentially harmful dirt and gives the operator a chance to spot service concerns. Never use a pressure washer as it could cause more harm than good. Instead, use an air supply to blow off any dust and a clean rag with degreaser to wipe off excess dirt and grease.

5. ON THE LOOKOUT FOR LEAKS
Once the equipment is clean and dry, check for any or oil leakage. If a leak is spotted, tighten the parts causing the leak or replace them immediately.

6. HANG TIGHT
Cleaning the engine will also help reveal any obvious damage and loose parts. Take time to tighten loose parts that could vibrate and potentially harm nearby components.

7. DON’T LOSE THAT SPARK
Inspect the spark plugs every 100 hours for damage, oil residue, and excessive carbon buildup. If residue or carbon buildup is found, clean with a wire brush or spark plug cleaner. Immediately replace any plugs that have cracked porcelain.

8. AVOID STRAINER STRAIN
Clean and inspect the fuel strainer located in the fill port of the fuel tank every month. If there is sediment in the fuel strainer, clean and return, or replace if torn.

9. ANNUAL INSPECTION
On an annual basis, take the time to conduct a general inspection of the generator looking for any dirty, broken, or misaligned parts. Furthermore, check the fuel hose each year and replace if there are cracks present.

10. STORE IT PROPERLY
If the generator won’t be used for more than 30 days and the user does not plan to use it for an extended period of time, take special steps to protect the engine. First, conduct all suggested daily maintenance items. Then, remove the battery, clean the posts, and ensure it’s fully charged. Next, drain the fuel from the fuel tank and carburetor float chamber. To prevent corrosion in the cylinder bore, remove the spark plug and inject a few drops of oil through the plug hole. Gently pull the recoil starter knob two or three times before the spark plug is placed back in the plug hole. Additionally, pull the recoil starter knob until resistance is felt and leave in that position. End the process with a final cleaning, ensuring that all cooling air slots and openings are unobstructed. Place a protective cover around the generator and store it in a dry place.

Exercise the generator every 2 months if gas or oil is present in the engine. If the generator will be stored for longer periods, drain the oil and gas from the carburetor, put oil in the cylinder and pull until resistance is felt.

About The Author:
Dale Gabrielse is in sales and marketing at Subaru Industrial Power Products. For more information about generators, visit www.subarupower.com.

 

http://www.mcsmag.com/10-quick-tips-generator-maintenance/

How to Do Home Electrical Repairs

Your home’s plumbing and electrical systems may seem as different as any two things could be. But there are significant parallels. Water enters your home through a pipe under pressure, and, when you turn on a tap, the water flows at a certain rate (gallons per minute). Electricity enters your home through wires, also under pressure (called voltage, measured in volts). When you turn on an electrical device, the electricity flows at a certain rate (current, measured in amperes, or amps).

electricity
A replacement receptacle must match the one you are removing. If you have the grounded type, you must buy a receptacle that has a ground terminal screw and slots for three-prong grounded plugs.

Unlike water, which is used as it comes from the tap, electricity is meant to do work: It is converted from energy to power, measured in watts. Since household electrical consumption is relatively high, the unit of measure most often used is the kilowatt, which is equal to 1,000 watts. The total amount of electrical energy you use in any period is measured in terms of kilowatt-hours (kwh).

The instrument that records how much electricity you use is called an electric meter. This meter tells the power company how much electricity they need to charge you for. There are two types of electric meters in general use. One type displays a row of small dials on its face with individual indicators. Each meter dial registers the kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. For example, if you leave a 100-watt bulb burning for 10 hours, the meter will register 1 kilowatt-hour (10×100 = 1,000 watt-hours, or 1 kwh). Each dial registers a certain number of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy. From right to left on most meter faces, the far right is the one that counts individual kilowatt-hours from 1 to 10; the next one counts the electricity from 10 to 100 kilowatt-hours; the third dial counts up to 1,000; the fourth counts up to 10,000; and the dial at the extreme left counts kilowatt-hours up to 100,000. If the arrow on a dial is between two numbers, the lower number should always be read.

The second type of electric meter performs the same function, but, instead of having individual dials, it has numerals in slots on the meter face, much like an odometer in a car. This meter is read from left to right, and the numbers indicate total electrical consumption. Some meters also use a multiplying factor — the number that appears must be multiplied by ten, for instance, for a true figure in kilowatt-hours. Once you know how to read your meter, you can verify the charges on your electric bill and become a better watchdog of electrical energy consumption in your home.

Three main lines (older houses may have two) are responsible for supplying 110-120/220-240 volts AC (alternating current) to your home. The exact voltage varies depending on several external factors. This three-wire system provides you with 110-120-volt power for lighting, receptacles, and small appliances as well as 220-240-volt power for air conditioning, an electric range, a clothes dryer, a water heater, and, in some homes, electric heating.

Electricity enters your home through the power company’s service equipment, which is simply a disconnect device mounted in an approved enclosure. It’s used to disconnect the service from the interior wiring system. Usually called a main fuse, main breaker, main disconnect, or often just “the main,” this disconnect might be a set of pull-out fuses, a circuit breaker, or a large switch.

Although main disconnects can be mounted outdoors in a weatherproof box, they are nearly always inside the house in a large enclosure that also contains the fuses or circuit breakers, which handle the distribution of power throughout the building. This is called a main entrance panel, a main box, or an entrance box. The three wires from the meter enter this box. Two of them — the heavily insulated black and red lines — are attached to the tops of a parallel pair of exposed heavy copper bars, called buses, at the center of the box. These two lines are the “live,” or “hot,” wires. The third wire, generally bare, is the “neutral.” It is attached to a separate grounding bar, or bus, that is a silver-color strip in the main box. In most homes this ground bus is actually connected to the ground — the earth — by a heavy solid copper wire clamped to a cold water pipe or to an underground bar or plate.

The Many Benefits of Maintenance

At first glance, maintaining the health of an electrical power system may seem simple — even boring — to some. After a new system has been installed and commissioned, it may operate seamlessly for years with no routine maintenance. Improvements in component design and quality are two reasons why electrical systems today operate at higher levels of reliability and availability. This has led some owners to take a “sit and wait” approach, doing nothing until there’s some type of component or equipment failure. Even then, they may simply tell the contractor to replace the failed components or pieces of equipment and quickly get them back up and running. But seasoned electrical professionals know the value that preventive and scheduled maintenance activities can bring to the table.

One area that has really captured the attention of owners of late — and proved the worth of a solid maintenance program — is emergency and standby generator maintenance. The regularity of widespread devastating weather events, coupled with our ever-growing reliance on communications and electronic data needs, has brought renewed focus on generator maintenance programs. Faulty maintenance procedures or simple neglect can render these important systems useless. More times than not, the reasons these systems fail to start or run are basic in nature. Old or contaminated fuel can quickly clog a fuel filter. Starting batteries may fail to operate because they were not charged properly or left unchecked. Even something as simple as leaving a start switch in the wrong mode of operation can delay the availability of these powerful generation systems. For a really good review of the key activities that should be included in a standby diesel generator maintenance program, turn to page 8 and read what one manufacturer’s operations specialist has to say on the topic.

Another area of maintenance that has grown in popularity in recent years is thermal imaging. The cost of infrared imaging equipment has dropped considerably over the past few years. One result of this development is the broader use of these devices for non-electrical type activities. Those individuals working in the energy efficiency field are relying on these pieces of equipment to perform building diagnostic checks and complete energy audits. IR cameras can identify hot and cold zones in buildings, pinpoint leaky window and door locations, verify the integrity of insulation systems, and locate moisture problems.

In the electrical arena, we’ve known the benefits this type of technology offers for many years. As part of an overall maintenance program, these devices can yield early warning signs of pending electrical failures. They can help identify problems with electrical connection points and check the operation of equipment. Incorporated into a broader maintenance program, they can help you reduce unplanned outages and prevent damage to key equipment. But using these devices around energized electrical equipment requires the user to adhere to strict safety guidelines. The user must also be well trained in how to properly orient the camera, aim the device, and capture true images to judge the severity of the problem. For a snapshot review of some of the key issues being discussed in the thermal imaging field, check out our cover story starting on page 18, “The Language of Heat.”

When implemented properly, a preventive maintenance program can yield a number of benefits. Yes, these types of programs can be costly and a challenge to manage, but in the long-run their benefits should far outweigh these factors.

http://www.ecmweb.com/blog/many-benefits-maintenance

What Does An Electrician Do, Exactly?

​This is a question that seems like it has an obvious answer: electricians work with electricity. They set things up so that buildings and homes receive the power they need to utilize electrical devices. But that doesn’t really tell you about the actual tasks that an electrician does on any given workday.

​So, what does an electrician do, exactly?

To answer this question and give you more insight on how electricians actually spend their days, we’ll start with a broad description of the work, and then discuss the different types of electricians, the job responsibilities of each, and the tools they use during an average job.

Electrician Job Tasks — A Broad Overview​

We’ll keep this brief, because it’s probably a review: electricians are paid to install the wiring that brings electrical power into any type of building or structure, and then they are paid to maintain that wiring as time goes on. They work in accordance with safety rules and regulations to ensure that buildings have enough power to operate, and do so in a way that is safe to residents.​

Electrician Job Types​

​As we detailed on our homepage, there are basically four different kinds of electricians (there are a lot of specialties, but we’ll go into that later). The four different types are:

1. Residential Wiremen. They install and maintain the electrical wires that go into peoples’ homes.​

2. Inside Wiremen. They place and maintain the electrical wires that go into larger structures, such as office buildings, factories, arenas, airports, municipal buildings, schools, colleges, etc.​

3. Telecommunications Electricians. They lay the cable that is needed for all forms of communication, including phone, computer, and local area network wiring.​

4. Outside Linemen. They set up the cables that go from power plants to buildings and homes. You’ve probably seen these folks up on telephone poles and laying thick cables on sides of the road. A very difficult (and very high-paying!) job.​

Electrician Job Responsibilities​

​Let’s take a look at some specific tasks that electricians handle, along with the type of electrician that is responsible for completing that task.

  • Reading blueprints to learn where circuits, outlets, panel boards, and other electrical components are to be found or placed (all);
  • Planning the layout and installation of wiring through an entire building or series of buildings (all);
  • Installing electrical machines in factories (inside wiremen);
  • Putting fiber optic cable for telecommunications equipment into commercial structures (telecommunications electricians);
  • Installing systems that will enable telephones, intercoms, computers, security alarms, and fire alarms to work properly (telecommunications electricians);
  • Adding, maintaining, and replacing circuit breakers, fuses and wires (all);
  • Tracing the flow of energy to circuit breakers and transformers (all);
  • Reviewing the work that other electricians have done in a building, and making sure it meets the safety standards set out in the National Electrical Code (all);
  • Finding and replacing faulty wiring or aged wiring that could pose a safety hazard (all);
  • Managing work crews’ time and labor (all); and
  • Teaching and appraising electrician apprentices (all).

Installation vs. Maintenance

If you’ll notice, the tasks in the list above are split between “installation” and “maintenance.” New construction and installation are obviously important, and are a very satisfying part of an electrician’s job. However, maintenance is also vitally important. Have you ever been in an office building when the electricity goes out? The place basically shuts down. Electricians must do routine maintenance checks and periodic testing to make sure systems are running smoothly, and no interruption of operation will occur.

For residential wiremen, maintenance may mean replacing a run-down fuse box with a new circuit breaker, or adding new electrical equipment, such as light fixtures or ceiling fans. For inside wiremen working in factories, the maintenance work can be more difficult, and can include working on generators, transformers, assembly line machinery, or motors. Factory work can be much more dangerous.​

When something goes wrong, it can be very difficult to figure out what is broken, and then, it can difficult to figure out how to fix it! A good maintenance electrician who can keep a facility running smoothly (and quickly fix problems when they arise) will have a long and prosperous career.

What Does An Electrician Do

Tools Electricians Use​

​Electricians use a tool set that includes many item to cut and shape wire. That includes knives, hacksaws, pliers, wire-strippers, and various hand tools. They also use conduit benders to shape pipes or tubing into specific angles.

Measuring Devices Electricians Use​

​You probably had some idea of everything we’ve written so far. Most people have a kind of intuitive understanding of most of the electrician job responsibilities. That said, many people don’t know about the measuring devices that electricians use OJT (“on the job”). Here’s a breakdown of the different tools they may use, and what the tool is used for:

  • Ammeters: Electric currents are measured in amperes, and an ammeter measures the electric current in a circuit.
  • Ohmmeters: The opposition to an electric current is called electrical resistance, and an ohmmeter (sometimes written “ohm meter”) measures that electrical resistance.
  • Volmeters: A tool that measures that amount of voltage that is passing between one point and another point.
  • Oscilloscopes: A device that graphs how voltage rises and falls over a specific period of time.

If you aren’t familiar with those tools, but you’re interested in a career as an electrician, don’t let that lack of knowledge bum you out! There will be plenty of time during your training to learn what each tool is, how it works, and how to use it.

A Diversity Of Tasks​

​As you can see, electricians handle many different jobs tasks, and have a wide range of responsibilities. For most electricians, that varied nature of the work is the best part of the job—it’s always new, and always exciting!

http://www.electriciancareersguide.com/what-does-an-electrician-do-exactly/

 

What is LED? A beginners guide to LED lighting

Author: Richard Bevan

LEDs have become the most efficient source of lighting available, using up to 90% less energy than incandescent lighting and 60% less than fluorescent lighting. However, LED lighting has not always been the cost-efficient alternative that it is today, with the first LEDs costing around $200 each. Since the first visible LED was created in 1962 the technology has grown rapidly, with LED lights becoming an extremely popular lighting solution in recent years.

So, what exactly are LEDs and how could you benefit from installing them throughout your business premises?
A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is an electrical light source that only allows an electrical current to flow in one direction. LEDs contain two conductive materials that are placed in contact with each other – once electricity is applied to the diode, the atoms in one material become charged with energy. This energy is then released in the form of electrons into the other conductive material – this release of energy is what creates light. The process of generating light is what distinguishes LEDs from traditional lighting, as regular incandescent bulbs produce light by creating heat.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED lighting boasts various benefits when compared to traditional solutions.

  • Energy-efficiency: LED bulbs are far more energy efficient when compared to the traditional alternatives with energy savings of 80-90% over incandescent or halogen technologies and up to 50% in comparison to fluorescent lamps.
  • Longer lifespan: LEDs last 2 or 3 times longer than fluorescent bulbs and over 50 times longer than incandescent lamps. The typical lifespan of an LED is up to 50,000 hours, further slashing replacement and maintenance costs.
  • Instant light: many fluorescent lights can take a while to ‘warm-up’ and reach their full brightness, however LEDs light up immediately.
  • Eco-friendly: LED technology has the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions as around 20% of the world’s electricity is used on lighting, so finding a more energy efficient solution will reduce this. Additionally, as LEDs don’t contain mercury, disposal of the bulbs is much easier and cleaner.
  • Lower heat output: unlike filament bulbs, an LED lamp does not project infrared heat in its beam, making them more suitable for lighting heat-sensitive items like artworks or food. As LEDs emit less heat they are also ‘safer’ than traditional bulbs, reducing the risk of fire caused by high temperature bulbs.
  • Added durability: LEDs are a solid state form of lighting, meaning they are able to withstand lower temperatures and higher levels of vibration and shock in comparison to incandescent or fluorescent lamps.

Replacing traditional lights with LEDs

Retrofit LED bulbs look like traditional incandescent or halogen lamps, and can be used in the same fittings as traditional bulbs. These types of LEDs are suitable for a majority of scenarios, however, close attention needs to be paid to the heat dissipation of the bulbs, especially when being used in enclosed light fittings. Alternatively, speciality LED light fittings can be designed with non-replaceable LEDs, as due to the extended lifespan of LED bulbs they do not need to be replaced regularly. In these scenarios the whole fitting is replaced once it comes to the end of its lifespan. These fittings can be designed to achieve the highest level of efficiency possible, as they are custom designed to the building to reduce the amount of wasted light.

How much can you save by converting to LEDs?

When comparing LEDs to traditional lighting technology, the increased energy efficiency and extended lifespan result in a substantial long term savings. As previously mentioned, LEDs use up to 90% less energy than incandescent (including halogen) and 60% less than old fluorescent lighting, resulting in instant energy cost savings. On top of this, the extended lifespan of LED bulbs means they need to be replaced far less regularly, further reducing any additional maintenance costs. Investing in a full LED conversion may seem daunting initially due to the investment required. However, the subsequent savings will mean any initial investment is soon repaid. Our blog post on the savings that can be made by converting to LEDs includes a great example of exactly how much a business could save by making the switch.

A bright future for LEDs

LED lights are an energy efficient, long life, eco-friendly alternative to traditional lighting. For businesses looking to reduce their long term energy costs and carbon footprint, LED is the way forward.

https://www.lyco.co.uk/advice/what-is-led-a-beginners-guide-to-led-lighting/

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Residential Services:

Safety Repairs

Generator Repair, Maintenance, Replacement
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Home electrical inspections and evaluations
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Improvements & Installations

Electrical Service upgrades
New Circuits
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Additions & Remodels

Basement finishes
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LED lighting
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…And Much More