Thursday, May 19, 2016

Choosing the Right Standby Generator for Your Home

Between 2000 and 2014, the number of reported power outages continues to rise across the entire country. An aging infrastructure, combined with a growing population and more frequent extreme weather, are straining the electric grid. Energy industry predictions tell us to expect more and more power outages in the years to come.

When the power goes out, many modern conveniences are put on hold. While we may be able to live without television and the Internet temporarily, losing systems such as HVAC and refrigerators can be become very costly. A home standby generator provides the peace of mind knowing power will automatically be there when the grid goes down.

The Difference in Standby and Backup Generators

We have all seen gasoline powered portable backup generators at your local big box store. Limited in power and run-time, these generators require manual hookup and the periodic refilling of fuel. Standby generators are just that, standing by to kick on automatically as soon as power goes out. As the diagram shows, the standby generator, not the homeowner, automatically detects the outage and goes into action.

Things to Consider when Selecting a Standby Generator

While its important to speak to a professional standby generator installer about what is the best fit for your needs, below is a guide to get you started on what to expect:

  1. What kind of fuels can I use? You have several fuel options of Natural Gas (NG), Propane (LP) or Diesel. Availability may narrow choices, but your estimator/installer can help you determine the best fuel for your particular use.

  2. How much power will I need? There are two types of Standby generators, a whole-house or essential circuit system. Adding up the number of watts used by all appliances will help determine the total kilowatts (kW) required to run those systems. Some appliances, such as refrigerators, require a surge of watts when they start, so use the higher number in the total. Your estimator / installer can help you determine the total kW and generator model, to supply the right amount of power you need.

  3. What if I’m not around? If you are considering a standby generator for a second home, there are options for cellular remote monitoring that provide you critical, real-time information about your standby generator.

  4. Who will install it? While standby generators are becoming more available from big box stores, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a certified and experienced company install your generator. Local codes, ideal location considerations, and upkeep are crucial to proper installation and operation.

  5. What about maintenance and warranty? While most generator manufacturers offer great warranties on new systems, you will want a trusted and experienced generator service provider to make sure you continue to get the best out of your new system for years to come.
While having a standby generator will provide peace of mind, its important to make sure that you select the right model for your particular needs. Contact your Beco specialist at 336-889-3477 and set up an appointment for a free estimate on the best standby generator for your home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Set Your Thermostat in the Spring

The Spring weather in North Carolina is unpredictable, with temperatures sometimes fluctuating by as much as 30 degrees in a day. That weather fluctuation can reek havoc on your thermostat settings, and in turn, your electricity bill. Here is how you can choose the best settings for your thermostat in the Spring to save energy and save money on your electricity bill.

Best Spring Thermostat Settings to Save on Your Electricity Bill

According to research, your Heating and Air Conditioning system makes up for nearly half of your electricity bill. The energy it takes for a HVAC system to turn on and off is greater than that which it takes to maintain a constant temperature. Spring in North Carolina can show large swings in temperature changes, often systems to turn on and off if the thermostat settings are not ideal. Monitoring your thermostat during this uncertain time can be the difference in electricity bill savings.

If you’re like most people in North Carolina, you’ll want to continue to use your furnace when temperatures fall below a certain temperature. One way to cut costs on your electricity bill in the Spring is to keep your thermostat setting at 68 degrees or lower during the colder days when you are at home. Lowering the thermostat by 10-15 degrees when you are away or asleep can help you realize electricity savings.
If you have a programmable thermostat, schedule your settings to your preference. Most of today’s modern thermostats are programmed to manage electricity settings and therefore save energy in the long run.

Cold Spring weather thermostat recommendations - Set your furnace for 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower when at home in North Carolina, and lower the setting at night and when you're away for four hours or more at a time.

Warm spring weather thermostat recommendations - For warm North Carolina Spring weather, set your thermostat to 78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for your air conditioner setting when you’re home. When not at home, turn off the air conditioner and watch your electricity bill decline.

Making your home energy efficient in the Spring

Monitoring your Heating and Air Conditioning is not the only way to save money on electrical bills in the Spring. Beco Electric offers a 20+Safety Check program that can find areas of your home that are not only using unnecessary electricity, but also causing a potential safety hazard. Taking these steps can help you to lower your electricity bill all year long.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Lights: Dos and Don'ts

A good set of well-placed Christmas lights can make the difference between a simple, run-of-the-mill house and a knockout feature of holiday cheer. Putting up Christmas lights can bring both a sense of achievement and a renewed vigor for the holiday season. Anyone can hang Christmas lights, regardless of skill level or experience, but following these key steps will help take your Christmas display to a whole new level.

1) Gather the proper materials: What kind of lights are you looking for? The more festive and larger-bulbed C7 and C9s? The traditional green-cap string lights? Or perhaps icicle lights to match the winter season? Make sure to get timers and controllers as well as clips to hang the lights.

2) Measure, measure, measure: Grab a tape measure and get to work. There are few things worse when stringing lights across the door and window frames of your home than coming up short just before the end.

3) Carefully consider your hanging surfaces: Christmas lights can be installed on the roof line, gutters and shingles, but did you know there are specific clips for each surface? Be sure to inspect these surfaces for any potentially loose elements. You wouldn’t want the line to fall and risk an accident or electrical issue.

4) Pay attention to power wattage: Overloading a circuit or blowing a fuse is a common occurrence with improperly installed holiday lights. First, check the total number of amps the wire is rated for. Remember that number. The professionals multiply the wattage of the bulb by the number of sockets and then divide by 115. For example, 10 watt bulbs x 100 sockets / 115 = 8.69 amps. This number needs to be less than 10% of what the wire is rated for. Got it? Simple math.

5) Finally, hang them up and turn on the power! Enjoy your beautiful work of holiday art.

Christmas lights have been an American tradition for longer than any of us can remember. But unfortunately, if not installed correctly, they run the risk of causing electrical issues and unwelcome headaches. If you’d like to know more information about how your wattage is affected, feel free to give us a call at 1-888-969-BECO or visit us at our website. We’d love to help you safely spread holiday cheer this season.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Choosing The Right Generator For Your Home

The right generator at the right time can turn a homeowner’s nightmare into a disaster averted. From the smallest of setbacks to potentially life-threatening situations, a generator is one of the smartest investments you can make. If the power goes out in a thunder or ice storm and doesn't come back on for some time, a generator can keep you and your family safe, warm and secure. Equally valuable is its ability to preserve food in the refrigerator and freezer. But how do you decide what kind of generator to get? There are two basic types, each with their own merits to consider.

The first option is a standard portable backup generator. This version is the least expensive method of supplying backup power and is easy to move. These generators range in price from $500 for a 3,250-watt unit to $1,500 for a 10,000-watt unit and can be stored away easily until power goes out. But more portability concedes less functionality. This option requires extension cords to be run to individual appliances, and there’s a small risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if not placed at least ten feet from your home while in use. Running a cord from the unit to an outlet inside your home, instead of directly to the appliances, can create back-feed into the electricity circuits and seriously injure electricians working on lines even miles away. An electrician can install a manual transfer switch sub-panel off your main circuit panel to avoid this issue. This is a somewhat costly alternative that limits what can be powered in your house, but it’s the safest way to run power through your internal circuitry from a portable generator.

The second option is much more of a long-term investment and powers a great deal more. A standby generator is built into your home circuitry, so it doesn't require that you manually fill it with gas or hassle with extension cords. When the power shuts off, a standby generator automatically turns on, powered by your house’s fuel lines. This option is best if you frequently lose power or are operating a business or home that relies on a consistent feed of electricity. Standby generators are powerful enough to run a central air conditioner, kitchen appliances and other large items at the same time, but reliability and power come at a price. This option ranges from $5,000 for a 7,000-watt unit to about $15,000 for a 30,000-watt unit. When a loss of power threatens your safety, the standby generator is a much more secure option. Also, you won’t run the risk of injuring electricians operating on your power grid.

Portable and standby generators each have their advantages and drawbacks, so it’s best to weigh the two options to make the best decision. The important thing is that when disaster strikes, you’re prepared for any situation. Having a generator ready to use is a big part of a security plan for the safety of your home and family. If you want to learn more about where generators fit into your plan for power loss, you can give us a call at 1-888-969-BECO or visit our website. As a certified Generac dealer, we look forward to helping you.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Our Top Seven Electrical Tips For Around the House

Electricity is one of the most versatile tools at home. Thunderous in power, it can cause extensive damage or even start a fire if not properly applied. But it also powers our hairdryers and televisions, brings life to our rooms in unique ways and helps spread joy every holiday season. There are as many safety tips to remember as there are decorative ideas to employ using electricity around the house, and you often don’t know which appliances are energy hogs and which aren’t getting enough. So here is our shortlist of the big ones—our seven most useful tips for electricity in your home.

1. Energy efficiency is the buzzword of the decade, so make sure your light bulbs are CFL certified, you use timers or motion-sensor lights outside, and consider a yearly energy audit.

2. Electrical fires often start in the kitchen. Be sure to unplug any unused appliances and keep them away from children and pets.

3. Avoid overloading your outlets and power strips. That’s a dangerous spark waiting to happen.

4. Do not use water to try and put out an electrical fire. Go for the fire extinguisher instead.

5. Modifying or forcing a three-pronged cord to fit in a two-pronged socket can lead to appliance malfunctioning and dangerous sparking. If you have to, grab an adapter instead.

6. If you live near power lines, be sure to keep your trees and bushes trimmed to avoid contact with the line.

7. Due to a winter storm, a thunderstorm, an overloaded transformer or otherwise, your power is destined to go out at some point. Consider investing in a standby generator to ensure you’ve prepared for the worst.

While these tips only scratch the surface of the important role electricity plays in our lives, they’re a good start to better home efficiency, safety and enjoyment. You can always contact us through our website or call 1-888-969-BECO to speak to a representative about how to best use electricity in your home. Specialists since 1961, we offer electrical audits, free estimates on electrical issues, generators and much more, so feel free to drop us a line anytime, day or night.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

High Point Furniture Market: A Beco Inc. Case Study

The High Point Furniture Market is internationally renowned for one thing: furniture. And whole lot of it. Twice each year, the Furniture Market open up and tens of thousands of attendees from the US and around the world come to shop, talk and trade furniture. As the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, the market draws more than 75,000 people every six months. Naturally, the event requires an incredible amount of planning, foresight and a little bit of luck to pull off. Beco Inc. has proudly been a partner of the Furniture Market for several years as a service provider for a wide portfolio of showrooms, and the October showing is right around the corner.

Beco Inc. understands the importance of electrical planning being properly implemented, especially in a timely manner. In the weeks before the market opens, a word often used to describe the state of affairs is chaotic. Therefore, in partnering with the Furniture Market, we have made it a priority to work side by side the showcase proprietors to ensure as smooth a transition from planning to ribbon cutting as possible. Throughout the many years as a Furniture Market electrical contractor, we have partnered with big furniture names such as Broyhill Furniture Company, Vanguard Furniture Company, IHFC, Center Point and Drexhill Heritage, but that barely scratches the surface of our list of clients. One of our goals is to improve upon our efforts for every showcase we help produce, so seeing our electrical work come to life makes us more excited every year.

With 180 buildings, 11.5 million square feet of show space, more than 2000 exhibitors and 100+ countries represented, the High Point Furniture Market is without a doubt the world’s home for furniture. Our experience with the IHFC and furniture industry showrooms have also led to the formation of a dedicated, fully-licensed team of trained electricians who really light up when the events come around (pun intended). If you’ll be one of the many visitors to this October’s Furniture Market, check out this list for some of our showcase work to look for. Or, if you’re a showcase owner looking to fix an electrical problem or even plan an entire lighting scheme, be sure to give us a call at 1-888-969-BECO, and we’ll help make your Furniture Market exhibition one to remember. The fall Furniture Market is just around the corner. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Big Five: What To Ask Your Electrician

It’s always difficult to pick the right electrician for a job. Your neighbor recommends one person, your brother recommends another, a website says this company over here is even better, and you just received a business card in your mailbox from someone entirely different. Who’s the right one for the job?

What makes this question even harder is that while there are many good electricians out there, a few unlicensed practitioners can still sneak in under the radar. Regardless of the electrician, you should know which questions to ask when you’re looking to hire for a job. Electricians should be able to answer your questions if they’re professionals. Narrowing that down further can be difficult, so we’ve prepared the top five questions you should ask when hiring an electrician.

1. Are you a licensed electrician?
This should always be your first question. Licensed electricians are trained to know the proper way to fix any job, and unlicensed workers aren’t. It’s that simple.

2. How much experience do you have?
It’s not entirely necessary for an electrician to have a decade of experience under their belt, but even a few years of experience will tell you they know what they’re doing.

3. Are you insured? 
All electricians should be carrying at least $500,000 in liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

4. What does your estimate include? 
It’s an all-too-familiar story. People hire unqualified electricians who then sneak less work for more pay. Make sure you know exactly what work you’re paying for, and you’ll avoid this headache.

5. How can I keep my energy bills down?
While they’re on the job, a qualified electrician will have useful knowledge about how to keep bills down, how to prevent future bills from popping up, as well as how to optimize your electrical use. It’s a good question to ask and could help pay for your next family vacation.

While these are our top five questions, you should certainly feel free to open up the dialogue with your electrician. You might also ask to see a work in progress, or if they can show you their permits.

At Beco Inc., our trained, professional electricians are always happy to help with any electrical need. We've served High Point, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas of the Triad for decades, so you know you can count on us. Contact us anytime for a free estimate, or if you decide to use another contractor, we hope these five questions will come in handy.