Tips: Hiring the right electrician.

 

A lot of serious contractor related problems can be averted by doing just a little research. After nineteen years in the trade, I have found that if both home and business owners follow these tips, they almost always have a pleasant experience:

1. Check the license. Never hire an unlicensed contractor or electrician in any capacity. It may look like a good deal, but it may end up costing you more than extra money in the end. Unlicensed contractors are not bonded and have not taken any kind of exam to be assured they have the knowledge to perform the type of work you may need done. Also, it is very unlikely they have liability insurance (more on that below).

2. Check for insurance coverage. By law, Hawaii licensed electrical contractors will have liability insurance coverage. The bond that is required for electrical contractors in Hawaii is generally $7000 – an extremely limited amount. Look for an insurance policy of at least $1 Million.

3. Ask for a Journeyman card for proof of license. All electricians are required by law to be a journeyman, having passed all Hawaii State requirements. Ask to see the card of anyone performing electrical work on your home or business. This is very important and makes sure you have qualified workers.  Your persons and property are at risk if they are unlicensed.

4. Ask what kind of work the electrician has done in the past. It is usually a pretty good indication of what you should expect in the future.

5. What is the electrician’s real concern as you speak with them about your project? Are they concerned about what you are trying to accomplish on your project? Are they up front and confident about pricing? Do they care about your needs and the needs of your property?

Following these tips will give you the ability to find the right electrician for you. Blue Sky Electric is happy to provide you with more information. Give us a call with any questions and we will be happy to assist you.

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Licensed Electrical Contractor Hiring Check List

Starting that new electrical project?  Here’s a good check list put out by Hawaii’s Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs (DCCA) that is helpful when looking for an electrician, or any other trade person.

Hiring a Contractor Checklist

Are you planning to remodel your home? This checklist will help you make sure you’ve done everything you need to do for your project. Check off each item when they’re complete.

  • Get three written estimates for the job.
  • Verify the licenses of all contractors and subcontractors with DCCA Call (808) 587-3222.
  • Check prior complaints history for all contractors and subcontractors with DCCA.
  • Ask contractor for references.
  • Request a list of subcontractors to be used.
  • Draw up a written contract.
  • Read the entire contract and understand all the terms and conditions.
  • Purchase performance, material and completion bonds through the contractor.
  • Obtain the appropriate building permits.
  • See and understand any plans and blueprints before approving them.
  • Periodically check on the progress of the work .
  • Get lien releases from subcontractors and material supplies.
  • Keep copies of all documents and correspondence.
  • Publish a notice of completion in the newspaper once the job is done.

Also checkout:

RICO’s Top 10 Tips for Consumers (Hawaii State Regulated Industries Complaints Office).

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DIY: Doing electrical work on your own?


“That looks easy to fix”,  you might say, when you see a problem with your electrical wiring.

Many people enjoy doing their own work on their homes.  If they have the skills and tools, the DIY project can be very rewarding.  It’s a great way to save money and feels good to have done it yourself.  Some may think electrical work can be done just as easy as other home improvement projects. However, you should think twice when working on items electrical related.  The hazards can be lethal and catastrophic.

Some risks include:

  • Fire: Every year hundreds of electrical fires are caused by improper connections and unstable wiring systems.  Licensed electricians are well versed with a code book they follow published and updated every three years by the National Fire Protection Agency.
  • Bodily Injury or Fatalities: The truth.  Not a scare tactic!  Electricity is not only dangerous to work with, it can also cause serious injury or safety hazards to persons or property if a job isn’t performed correctly.  Experienced electricians spend thousands of hours learning and implementing the safety aspects when dealing with electricity.
  • Property Damage: Frying or melting the wires of the appliance or equipment, or worse–the wiring inside the walls.  In some states, insurance companies will not pay for any damages if electrical work is not done by a professional, licensed and insured electrician.  Who wants that hassle and grief?

Many people desire to save money and have the satisfaction of  “doing it yourself”, but doing DYI electrical can cost you more in the long run.   Even what may look simple can be done incorrectly if you don’t know exactly what you are doing.  What looks to be an easy do it yourself project can turn into a nightmare due to inexperience.

Have questions about your next project?  Need advice about the electrical problem you are thinking of doing  yourself?  Give us a call:

808-647-0599

 

 

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Energy Eye™ HVAC Energy Management System

We are Kauai’s only:

  • Factory Certified Installer
  • Certified Technical Service Provider
  • Distributor

Energy Eye™ is helping hotels save from 15% to 35% on their guest room air conditioning expenses – GUARANTEED!

What is Energy Eye?

  • It is an energy management system designed for hotel/resort rooms, offices, and condominiums to control your AC cooling based on room occupancy.
  • Energy Eye is the only energy management system that is insured and guaranteed to save you the most money on your HVAC utility bill!
  • Wireless occupancy sensors help manage HVAC energy consumption and prevent energy waste.
  • The Energy Eye uses a combination of advanced Passive Infrared (PIR) Sensors and Wireless Technology to control the rooms HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) temperature while occupants are away.
  • Hotels and offices can benefit from wireless sensors and controllers because they require less installation, and can be retrofitted in existing rooms without unsightly or expensive upfits.
  • They have been in the business of developing occupancy based HVAC and building energy management controls for hotel buildings since 2001. –Energy Eye, Inc.
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Surge Protection on Kauai

Kauai’s electrical grid surges affect the life span of our computers, appliances, and other electronic equipment. Power surges can also completely roast the internal electronic parts during a storm or utility fault.

A whole house surge protector installed by a licensed electrician will greatly decrease the risk of power surge destruction.

Blue Sky Electric offers a quality whole panel surge protector for your home or business (parts and labor)

Here’s what Jim Collins of This Old House magazine says about surge protectors:

Guarding against surges requires a two-pronged approach: a whole-house suppressor to tame the big, dangerous power spikes and an individual circuit (or “plug-in”) surge suppressor for vulnerable appliances and electronic devices. Both types essentially act like pressure-relief valves. Normally they just sit there, allowing electric current to flow through them. But with higher-than-normal voltage, the devices instantly divert excess voltage to the ground wire. (The best ones react in less than a nanosecond.) As soon as voltage levels return to normal, the flow of electricity is restored, unless the surge was big enough to melt the fuse built into some units.

Typically, whole-house suppressors are hard-wired to the service panel, a process that takes a licensed electrician about two hours. Whole-house systems should be rated to stop a 40,000-amp surge, at minimum. Features to look for include thermal fuses, and lights or alarms that indicate when a device has taken a hit. Protection for an average house with 200-amp service will run about $500 — including a couple of hours of an electrician’s labor. Separate but smaller whole-house units are recommended for the phone and cable lines. These protect fax and answering machines, televisions, and modems.

By themselves, whole-house suppressors can’t stop surges completely; up to 15 percent of excess voltage may leak by. That’s where “plug-in” surge protectors come in. These buffers between individual appliances and wall outlets come in a bewildering array of options and prices. They range from $70 units not much bigger than a computer mouse to $350 units the size of a pizza box that guard all the components in a home theater. But most plug-in models fall into three basic categories: the familiar multi-outlet power strip; the multitasking surge station that can handle phone and cable jacks as well as power cords; and the UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which completely cleanses electric power of random fluctuations and provides a short-term battery backup in case the power dips or goes out entirely. Expect to pay between $20 and $70 for a quality power strip or surge station, and from $100 to $250 for a UPS.

Contact us for more about installing a whole house surge protector to your home.

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DIY vs. Handyman vs. Qualified Electrician

Do you have an electrical repair or a project you’re moving forward on, or you’re wanting to improve the look of your home or business?  Will you do it yourself, hire a handyman, or hire a qualified electrician?

Because of the rising costs of our island’s economic environment, many are looking for ways to cut costs when it comes to electrical repairs or additions. One way people are doing this is through their own attempts or choose someone who claims to be a qualified electrician working as a “handyman”. The current economy has left many skilled tradespersons unemployed and eager to offer their expertise as a handyman repair worker.

A “handyman” might be able to do the electrical job you have or they might not.  How are you to know?  Much of the work performed in an electrical project is covered up by walls, wire junction boxes, or in limited access locations.  I’ve  seen bad connections where the previous installer has connected wires using gift wrapping tape or paper clips or some other household items. Also, wires that carry high voltage were cut, pinched, and fully exposed to a shock or fire hazard (see above picture).  The owners knew nothing about this!  Following the electrical codes didn’t seem to be a priority in these attempts.  Codes need to be met or there’s a huge liability to persons and property.

Electrical wiring can be very dangerous! A handyman may have some electrical talent, but they are not recognized by the law as a licensed contractor. In other words, in Hawaii, they cannot pull permits on jobs where they are required or legally work on projects that earn $1000.00 or more for their services. The State knows the dangers of unlicensed work.  They are not just looking for other means for revenue.  If you hire someone who is unlicensed to save money, then you are taking a huge risk.  If something goes wrong,  you have  very little recourse.  You could end up paying more in the end.

Blue Sky Electric not only is licensed, but insured and bonded.  The State requires this for good reason….. The State of Hawaii has a fund for you that all licensed contractors pay into called the “Contractor’s Recovery Fund”. The purpose of the fund is to provide reimbursement to a consumer who has suffered a financial loss as a result of a licensed electrical contractor who has engaged in fraudulent, deceptive or dishonest practices, or failed to perform.  Injured parties my collect funds to recover damages.  Any unlicensed person can not offer you this protection.

To get the results that you expect, it is essential that you put appropriate effort behind finding an electrician matched to the specific requirements of your job – do not simply trust someone that puts you at ease or wins your confidence.  If a licensed contractor is hired one item to look into is their complaint record with the Hawaii Board of Contractors. Here’s a link to check the status of a person’s record: Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing Search Whoever you may hire, they should always come with word-of-mouth recommendations or testimonials of their peers.

Call us to discuss your project, and our expertise.  Let’s talk about doing it right the first time.

 

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Don’t get shocked! Install GFCIs…make sure they work.

For decades, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) have saved thousands of lives and have helped significantly reduce the number of home electrocutions by about fifty percent. Many homes and business on Kauai do not have proper electrical protection in outdoor or wet locations. With our wind and heavy rain, you need to make sure that you are guarded from the hazard of a shock.

GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted. These outlets prevent deadly shock by quickly shutting off power to the circuit if the electricity flowing into the circuit differs by even a slight amount from that returning.

A GFCI should be used in any indoor or outdoor area where water may come into contact with electrical products. The 2008 edition of the National Electrical Code currently requires that GFCIs be used in all kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoors. GFCIs should be tested once a month to confirm that they are working properly.

How to Test Your GFCI:

GFCIs should be tested often to make sure they are working properly. To test your GFCI:

  1. Push the “reset” button on the GFCI to prepare the outlet for testing.
  2. Plug in an ordinary light or plug tester (from Home Depot) into the GFCI and turn it ON. The light should now be on.
  3. Push the “test” button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
  4. Push the “reset” button again. The light should now come ON again.

If the light does not turn off when the test button is pushed, then the GFCI may have been incorrectly wired or damaged and it no longer offers shock the protection it was designed for.

Contact us at Blue Sky Electric to check the GFCI and correct the problem:

Call 808-647-0599

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Electric car charging stations coming to Kauai.

A matrix of electric vehicle charging stations are coming to Kauai soon.  Act 156, passed by the 2009 state legislature and signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle, set forth the first steps to integrate electric vehicles into the state’s transportation policy goals. The bill requires parking spaces for EVs (electric vehicles) in public and private facilities of 100 spaces or more to be available by the end of 2011.  This means all the major commercial parking places on Kauai will have electric car charging stations, so people will have access to plug in and charge up.  For those thinking of buying an electric car they can be assured of being able to recharge their vehicles when they are away from home.  To give the legislation a boost the state was awarded $2.6 million in federal grants to install and promote charging stations across the islands.

Six companies and organizations will receive grants from federal stimulus money. Grants were awarded to:

  • County of Kauai – for charging stations and EVs for County fleets.
  • AeroVironment – to install up to 320 charging stations on all islands, conduct grid integration analysis, and accelerate electrical vehicle introduction to dealerships and vehicle fleets.
  • Better Place – to introduce charging stations for rental car fleets.
  • City & County of Honolulu – for charging stations, EVs and an online charger permitting system.
  • Plug In America – to put together an EV Ready Guidebook for Hawaii, along with education and outreach.
  • GreenCar Hawaii – to introduce EVs to car-sharing services to the hospitality industry.

Blue Sky Electric has been invited to partner with AeroVironment for Kauai’s car charging installations.  Call us for more information about installing a station at your place of business or residence.

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Solar-a standard offering in construction?

Here is a good article in the Wall Street Journal about how we will see solar more and more going up!

http://blogs.wsj.com/venturecapital/2011/02/02/will-solar-become-a-standard-offering-in-construction/

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Power Surge Protected? Costly Repairs?

Surge protection can keep expensive electronics and appliances safe from Kauai’s common power surges.  During our storms, voltage spikes can be harmful to appliances and electrical devices in your home. An increase in voltage above an appliance’s normal operating voltage can cause an arc or high surge of electrical current within the appliance.  The heat created in the arc and/or the power pulse causes damage to the electronic circuit boards and other electrical components.

Example:

A customer’s  washing machine stopped working properly,  after having purchased it fourteen months ago from a major retailer on our island.  Were they covered under product’s warranty?  No.  That lasted for one year with no added extended service protection (which can cost about $400 more on top of the appliance floor price).  They called the retail store’s service man to come out and repair it.  Seven days and $230 dollars later, the small electronic part was replaced, back and running for the time being.  What caused the broken part?  Most likely a large power surge or a series of smaller surges that can break down the inner electronics–an appliance only fourteen months old!

What about your appliances or electronic equipment?    Are they protected from the next storm or outage?

Solution:

A surge protector…..Installing a whole building surge protector connected to your electric panel gives you that needed protection. It absorbs the spiked energy caused by these surges from our power lines or lightning strikes.  The surge suppressor Blue Sky provides, protects electronic devices from higher than needed voltage levels. It protects electronic devices (televisions and computers) and  appliances (washing machines and dryers) with electronic parts from surges that originate from within the home, from the utility service and from other wires that connect the devices to the outside, such as telephone and cable television connections.

Call us so you can protect your appliances and electronics from costly electrical surges.  Let’s not get too acquainted with the appliance repairman. Call: (808) 647-0599

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