Mar 10

Toasty Toes Heated From Below


Q. I was watching a show the other day where they mentioned electric heat coming from beneath the flooring surface. What type of electric heat system would that be, and is it compatible only with certain flooring materials?

A. There is a wide range of system choices in electric radiant heating – mat, wire, and fiberglass mesh are the most common. These systems can, for the most part, be used under any flooring material that is not nailed into place (meaning floating wood floors would be fine if the wood is dense enough, but traditional hardwood flooring would not be a good candidate). Porcelain tile, marble, and other natural stone materials would also allow the option of installing electric radiant heating.

These systems control the temperature by use of a thermostat wire that is installed in the floor, which regulates the temperature and communicates with the thermostat. Many of these systems are not designed for whole-room heating, but instead provide a supplemental system that keeps floors at a comfortable temperature.

For more information about the various types of electric radiant heating available, or to find out if the flooring in your home would be suitable for such a system, contact us today.

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Feb 18

Different Ways of Keeping Warm in Winter

Q. What are the differences between electric baseboard heaters and electric hydronic baseboard heaters?

A. Electric baseboard heaters consist of an electrical coil (an element a little bit like in an electric oven) surrounded by multiple metal fins. The coil heats up as electricity flows through it, and the fins act to radiate that heat. Since hot air rises, the cooler air from the floor level is drawn in the bottom of the heater, passing over the fins and being warmed, and then rising out the top of the unit.

Hydronic baseboard heaters work in a very similar fashion, but with one important difference. Whereas standard electric baseboard heaters require the element to be running the whole time to warm the air, hydronic baseboard heaters feature a tube filled with oil inside. Once the oil has been heated to the correct temperature, the electric element can shut off, while the remaining heat will continue to warm the air that passes over the tube. Because the element does not need to be running all the time, hydronic baseboard heaters are more energy efficient, and they’re life expectancy is often longer because they are running less frequently.

The same thermostat can be used for both types of unit, making it easy to switch from standard electric baseboard heat to a hydronic baseboard. If you are interested in converting your existing baseboard heat setup or have questions about other types of electric heating, contact us today.

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Jan 08

An Office-Wide Update to Light the Way

Q. Our office is looking to save energy and save money by retrofitting our lighting. We currently have 4-foot fluorescent fixtures. What can we do to save money and update this setup?

A. For lighting retrofits in businesses and small offices, you have a couple of options:

1. You can completely replace your existing lighting fixtures (usually T8 or the older T12) with more efficient T-5 replacement fixtures or LED type fixtures.

2. With a conversion kit, you can change your T12 fixtures to accept the newer T5 bulbs or, for an even more updated approach, you can convert them to new LED bulbs. Given the long life of LED bulbs, that switchover can not only save money on energy in the short term, but also save money on parts and replacement costs in the long run (from continually changing light bulbs and ballasts).

The second option, a conversion, is usually the more affordable choice since your existing fixtures are reused. Additionally, a conversion takes less installation time, which can save you money on labor costs as well.

Whichever option you choose, Renaissance Electric has many years of experience installing both new lighting fixtures and upgrade or retrofit kits.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about these two approaches, and to help you decide which approach makes the most sense for your business. And learn more about energy saving tips specifically for small businesses with this online guide from Energy Star.

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Dec 09

Making It Bright and Right with New LED Lighting

Q. I want to buy LED bulbs for my house, but I can’t figure out which style or designation will look most like my old bulbs when they are on.

A. LED light bulbs are an excellent upgrade for energy efficiency, and they offer a wide range of color shades or tones – cool, warm, soft, neutral, and daylight. Each of these options will offer a slightly different lighting “feel” or mood when they are on. Some people prefer a softer light, while others want as much brightness as possible. If you are trying to match the feel of your old incandescent bulbs, look for LEDs described as either “warm” or “soft” lighting.

Daylight bulbs offer another great option, especially at this time of year. That is because these bulbs more closely replicate natural light, which can help mitigate the effects of seasonal affective disorder (or the winter blues).

Cool or neutral bulbs are often used for outdoor lighting, as they tend to light larger areas and provide a broader lighting effect than you would need inside.

Feel free to contact us with additional questions about LED lighting and other lighting upgrades available for your home.

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Oct 08

Cable Run the Right Way

Q. What is the difference between having a cable company run the interior cable lines in my home versus an electrician?

A. While both will get you the connection you need, most cable companies restrict their employees from working in attics and crawlspaces for a variety of reasons. As a result, installers are sometimes forced to drill through siding and floors, or run visible wiring outside the home and unprotected.

Electricians, on the other hand, are capable of utilizing spaces in the home that provide protection for the wiring while keeping them out of sight. Licensed electricians have knowledge of wiring routes in homes, construction techniques, and proper wiring procedures that allow them to run reliable cable connections to any and all rooms in your home.

Call Renaissance Electric today to talk about your cable needs and let us provide professional installation of hidden cable wires in your home.

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Sep 12

Staying Connected with Ethernet Wiring

Q. What is the difference between Cat5e, Cat6 & Cat6a Ethernet wiring within a building?

A. In-building Ethernet wiring can be a very useful feature in small offices with several internet-ready devices. But it can also be very convenient in homes where several rooms have internet-connected TVs, Blu-Ray players, game systems, and more. Wired connections can also be useful for always-on devices, and can reduce connectivity problems that may be experienced with wireless service.

In terms of the actual wiring itself, the name refers to the transfer speed that the wire is capable of. Cat5e wiring is used primarily for transmitting data between computers operating at a certain speed, while Cat6 wiring supports both data and video transmission. As the numbers of the wire go up, so do that data speeds – so Cat6 Ethernet wire is ten times faster than Cat5e. You can read more about the comparison here.

Whether for your home or office, Renaissance Electric can provide new wiring installations or Ethernet upgrades. Call us today to discuss some of the options available for improved connectivity.

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Aug 08

Rewiring a Real Antique

Q. What is the oldest house you have ever worked on?

A. This is a great question. The oldest house I have worked on was built in 1854. It was relocated (the whole house!) from its river location to an area where the railroad came through town, and I had to rewire the entire house. Which was quite a project, as you can imagine.

There were a number of challenges, including the fact that the floor joists and attic lumber were all classic timbers – basically split logs from the local farmland where the house was originally built. I could still see bark on some of the joists, which was an interesting example of the craftsmanship and the way houses were built at that time. The crawlspace was so shallow that, in order to have room to run the wiring, I had to dig out trenches under them. In addition to that, there wasn’t a lot of information about how the walls had been framed, so running wiring was quite a process but also a learning opportunity. Fishing the wiring through some of them was quite difficult.

It was a great experience, and if you have an old or difficult house that needs electrical work, I’m sure we can handle the task. For any questions about your home’s electrical system, feel free to call us out for an inspection and estimate.

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Jul 17

Federal Pacific Panel Problems

Q. I have a Federal Pacific Electric Panel in my home, and I have heard that they are potentially very dangerous. What should I do to make my home safer?

A. Federal Pacific electrical panels, specifically their line of “Stab-Lok” panels and circuit breakers, were identified some time ago as being potentially faulty and hazardous. The problem is that prior to this discovery, the panels and breakers were installed in hundreds of thousands of homes across the country (built prior to 1990). There are two separate issues with them; one, the breakers may not trip when they are supposed to which could cause circuits to overload, and two, the panels themselves may be faulty.

The only safe and sure solution is to replace these panels with tested and approved versions from reliable manufacturers. There are a number of proper replacement panels available, and we can help you determine the electrical needs and recommended panel setup for your home.
If you suspect that you may have one of these panels installed in your home, call us today for an inspection and recommendation. We can provide you with a safe and dependable installation that will protect your home while meeting all of your electrical needs.

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Jun 10

Energy-Efficient Ventilation

Q. I have been noticing a lot of moisture in my bathroom, especially after showers. Is there any way to effectively remove or reduce moisture in rooms like this?

A. Moisture issues in bathrooms are very common, especially in rooms with inadequate ventilation. One of the best ways to reduce moisture in bathrooms is by installing an exhaust or vent fan with a step-down timer. A step-down timer allows the exhaust fan to run for a certain amount of time after you leave the room, and then turn the fan off automatically. The use of an exhaust fan equipped with a step-down timer offers energy efficiency, improved air quality, and reduced moisture in interior spaces.

We also recommend purchasing an exhaust fan that is rated to handle a slightly larger space than the room you intend to install it in. This allows the fan to be very effective at removing moisture from the room in a slightly shorter amount of time, thereby saving energy.

If you are interested in improving ventilation in your home’s bathrooms, contact us today to find out more about exhaust fan options and step-down timers.

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May 22

Brightness Control

Q. Is it possible to use dimmer switches with energy-saving CFL or LED lighting?

A. It is. A wide range of bulbs that are dimmable have become available in recent years. Both CFL and LED bulbs are now being sold that are rated for dimming and work with most fixtures.

If you have converted all of your lights over to CFL or LED, there are specific dimming switches we can install that work with them. Or, if you prefer to have the option of installing whatever bulbs you may have, there are also switches that can handle all types (incandescent, halogen, CFL, or LED).

Of course, dimming switches allow more control over interior lighting, letting you choose the brightness you want depending on the room and situation.

If you are interested in energy-efficient lighting or in getting more flexibility from your existing lighting setup, contact us today to find out more about dimmer switch options.

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