HDTV for Free – Part 2

In my last blog I talked about installing an over the air antenna to get HDTV for free so I could drop my satellite TV provider.  The problem with this is only locally broadcast television stations are available over the air, which means I am limited to about 40 channels or so in my area.  That is much less than the 200 channels I use to get from my satellite provider.  The solution is described in step 2 below.

Read more

T12 Fluorescent Lamps Burning Out and Fading Away…

Fluorescent Lamp

Fluorescent Lamp

For years, there have been rumors and missed deadlines regarding the phasing out of T-12 fluorescent lamps (the “fat” tubes as some call them).  Effective July 2012, the common 4’ T12 lamp is no longer being produced due to a mandate from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Read more


Tired of paying for cable or satellite TV?  I did two things to get rid of satellite TV service for my home theater system without sacrificing picture quality, or to a large degree, video content.  I’ll describe step 1 in this article.  You can check in later for step 2 on my next article. Read more

Flickering Lights, is this normal?

Flickering Lights Atlanta Storm Damage

Flickering Lights Atlanta Storm Damage

Our electrical systems are busy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing comfort, security and convenience in our day to day lives.  This is also a system that we rarely think about.  It’s not something you can hear, see, or smell under normal circumstances, so it’s easy to forget that it’s working for us all of the time.  There are a few signals however, that can alert us that something may be wrong with the normal operation of our electrical system. One of the most common of these signals, and the easiest to observe, is flickering lights.

Read more

What’s That Green Wire For?

One of the most common problems we find with electrical installations, whether it be a do it yourself renovation, or even new construction, is finding that the ground connection is not properly terminated to light fixtures, switches and outlets.  They will work without making that connection, but for devices that include a ground connection, it is very dangerous to leave it disconnected.

Replace electrical outlet in Atlanta

Replace electrical outlet in Atlanta

What does the ground connection look like?  It’s the green screw on light switches and receptacles, and it is usually a green or bare wire on light fixtures and ceiling fans.

Why is it important?  The ground wire is used to make sure that the metal surfaces a person could come in contact with in an electrical system do not become energized, creating a shock hazard.  When properly connected, the ground wire creates a “short circuit” pathway for electrical current to flow in a large enough volume to trip the circuit breaker off in the event that the “hot” wire comes in contact with any metal it is not suppose to.  Without this ground pathway, current can’t flow, and the breaker can’t trip.   The metal would then become energized, waiting for someone to touch it.  When a person touches the energized metal they become the pathway for current to flow, leading to injury and sometimes death.

Read more



Lightning Density Map

Spring is one of the most active seasons for lightning strikes and the damage that comes with them.  Here in the Southeast United States, we live in the most active region for lightning strikes in North America and one of the top places in the world for frequency of lightning strikes.  Lightning is one of the most powerful forces in nature, delivering over 30 million volts of electricity in a single bolt.

Read more

Safe Usage of Electric Space Heaters

space-heaterSafety Concerns with Space Heaters:

Small space heaters are typically used when the main heating system is inadequate or when central heating is too costly to install or operate. In some cases, small space heaters can be less expensive to use if you only want to heat one room or supplement inadequate heating. They can also boost the temperature of rooms used by individuals who are sensitive to cold, especially elderly persons, without overheating your entire home.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that space heaters are the source of 21,800 home fires every year and that about 300 people die annually as a result of the related fires.

Other concerns with space heaters include natural gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and electric shock. To keep safe and still enjoy the added warmth that a space heater can provide:

  • Keep heaters at least three feet from walls, bedding, clothing, pets and people
  • Turn the heater off when you leave the room or when you go to sleep for the night
  • Don’t leave a portable heater running unattended
  • Never dry socks or gloves on the heater
  • Don’t use extension cords with electrical space heaters

How to Install a Space Heater:

Calling a Licensed Professional Electrician like Belco Electric is an important step in protecting your home and family.  Items that your electrician will assure include:

1.  Every electric heater must carry the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) seal of approval to be considered safe for use. Many antique, poorly wired or homemade heaters can cause a fire without warning. The cords of even approved models must be checked regularly for flaws or insulation breaks.

2.  Electric space heaters require high wattage and should not be plugged into outlets using multiple plugs.  If the circuit breaker does not shut off power due to the overload, an electrical fire is all too likely. Many mobile homes are warmed only by space heaters. Each year, there are cases where entire families have died in fires due to electrical problems caused by overloading.

3. Extension cords, which readily overheat and ignite with excessive wattage, must not be used with a space heater except in an emergency winter situation with an outside generator. In the latter case, cords must be of heavy gauge (more than necessary for the heater wattage’s), not tightly coiled while in use and kept under constant watch.

4. A 3-foot minimum clearance in every direction surrounding any type of space heater is necessary for safety. Placing any combustible item (including drapes) closer than this to the heater can cause a sudden fire.

5. In a finished basement application, electric baseboard heaters are the best choice.  These heaters are sold in various sizes, typically in 4’ and 8’ lengths, dependent on square foot of the space.

Electric Baseboard Heater

Electric Baseboard Heater

Belco Electric can assist you in proper sizing of electric heaters as well as assuring that your heater is safe and safely installed. Contact us.

Read More:
What You Should Know about Space Heaters

Reduce Electric Bills By Cleaning Up That Crawlspace!

Sump-pumpWe are proud to introduce our guest blogger, Buddy Wofford with AquaGuard Basement Systems. AquaGuard provides solutions to foundation repair and waterproofing needs.  They are also the experts in basement and crawlspace waterproofing and encapsulation.  Belco Electric works with AquaGuard and can provide safe and reliable power to sump pumps and dehumidifiers associated with the AquaGuard system. In this section, we are thrilled to have Buddy give us some information on how crawlspaces have been built incorrectly for years!

Create a Healthier Home and Save Money Doing It!

Winter is just around the corner and if saving energy is important to you, you can save from 20% to 30% on your heating bills Read more

Three Prong Outlet Vs Four Prong Cord

dryerIf you own a home that was built prior to the mid 90’s and have had to replace your electric clothes dryer or range, you have most likely run into the dilemma of how to plug a 4-prong cord into an existing 3-prong outlet.  Can the cord on the appliance be changed or do you have to replace the outlet in the wall, or worse yet….do you need to add an entirely new circuit from the breaker panel?  Let not your heart be troubled!  It’s really a very simple fix. Read more

Attention: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues update regarding Federal Pacific Electrical Panels!

Due to continuing pressure from engineering firms and others concerned with the safety of continued use of Federal Pacific Stab-Lok electrical panels, on February 18, 2011 the CPSC released a revised version of it’s original March 3, 1983 press release regarding FPE circuit breakers. Read more