We depend on the wiring in our homes for more than we usually realize or think about. Without electricity, we couldn't keep our food cold or frozen, watch television or movies, use the internet or even find our way around after dark! The invention of electricity changed our lives dramatically, and every new technological gadget makes us more and more dependent on this utility.
In this era of green living, we're all looking for ways to reduce the amount of electricity that we use. Thankfully, manufacturers realize this, and new and more efficient products are becoming widely available.
Finding the Right Contractor
If you're looking to wire a new home or update the wiring on an existing one, you'll want to find a contractor with experience. Since electrical work is very delicate and a mistake can result in a disastrous fire, you'll want to find a licensed electrician. In many areas, anybody doing electrical work must be licensed for the work to be permitted. Even if you don't get a permit, if you hire somebody without a license and there are problems with the work later on, you may have a very hard time getting your insurance to cover any damage. Play it safe and hire somebody licensed.
Once you've established that your potential electrical contractors have the proper licenses, you'll want to make sure that they have a good amount of experience. Everybody has to learn, but it's a good idea to have somebody with experience overseeing the operation. If you consider hiring a newly licensed contractor, ask if he or she will be working alone.
Checking references online is an excellent way to narrow down your choices. Websites which allow former clients to post reviews have become very popular lately, and with good reason. There's nothing like a first-hand account of a contractor's work, and these reviews let you read first-hand accounts from real people right in your local area.
Discuss exactly what you want before making a hiring decision. This way, you won't run into disagreements halfway through a project because your plans and your contractor's experience...or opinions...differ.
Current Lighting Trends
Today's lighting â€œrulesâ€ are very relaxed. Following trends is actually passé, where designing or purchasing lighting that complements your own personality and the theme of your home is trendy. Obviously, this covers a lot of ground.
Some things, such as recessed ceiling lighting, have always been popular and continue to draw consumers. Since these fixtures require special wiring, it's something that many people wait to install. Be sure to mention to your electrical contractor if you want a lighting source that requires specific wiring. Ceiling fans also fall into this category, since they also require dedicated wiring.
A very popular trend in lighting actually has nothing to do with wiring. Lamps are more popular now than they have been in years. The style of the lamp, of course, depends on the décor of your home. However, a lamp is more desirable for many people because, unlike permanent lighting, it can be moved around as you wish.
The biggest trend in electricity and electrical work today is green living. This refers to any earth-friendly practice which reduces a household's impact on the environment.
Wiring a home is pretty much the same operation which it was years ago. It's the way in which we use electricity which has changed. However, there are some green additions which your contractor may or may not be familiar with. Be sure to ask before making a hiring decision.
If you're lucky enough to own an electric vehicle, you may want to join the growing number of green drivers who have their own dedicated charging station in or near the garage. These charging stations are simply large electrical outlets, designed to accommodate the electrical components of your car.
Resembling a simple post, these charging stations are unobtrusive and can blend in with any outdoor décor. For the sake of convenience, they are usually placed either next to the driveway or inside the garage. This depends on where you usually park your electric vehicle, and on how many you own. Some homeowners simply plug their cars into outlets which have been installed in the garage wall. The placement is up to you, and the convenience of charging your vehicle without any extra fuss will only enhance the ownership experience.
Energy-efficient light bulbs are another green innovation that we hear a lot about these days. The light bulbs which we all grew up with, known as incandescent bulbs, are very inefficient. They're essentially small heaters which give off light. In fact, only approximately ten percent of the energy which incandescent bulbs use goes toward producing light. The rest produces heat, which is wasted.
There are two big innovations in lighting. These are compact fluorescent bulbs and LED's. LED stands for light-emitting diode. Compact fluorescent bulbs are commonly known as CFL's.
The choice between these new forms of lighting depends on what you'll be using the light for, and also your budget. Recent innovations in production methods have made CFL's much more affordable. While they still cost significantly more than traditional incandescent bulbs, they also last much longer. In addition, they use much less energy. Your initial expense will be compensated for by lower electrical bills.
LED's are still much more expensive than either incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. However, they last much longer than these options. Light-emitting diodes are a wonderful choice for lighting which is inconvenient to reach. Outdoor lighting is another great use for LED's. Holiday lighting has been made with light-emitting diodes for years, due to their longevity and the brightness.
Making the switch from incandescent bulbs is difficult for many people. After all, a light bulb is something that most of us thought would never change. In addition, many people find that the light these new bulbs emit is different from what they're used to.
Compact fluorescent bulbs have been said to emit a blue-tinged light, similar to what you may find in a hospital or school. For many, this is simply not what they want in their homes, where a warmer, softer light is desired. However, you don't need to worry. While it's true that the first few â€œgenerationsâ€ of compact fluorescent lighting did emit a harsh light, newer bulbs mimic traditional incandescent light quite well. There are even bulbs designed to look like incandescent, for people who dislike the â€œcoilâ€ appearance of CFL's.
If you find that you truly dislike the light emitted by even the newest CFL's, you may want to try an LED. The light emitted by these bulbs is virtually indistinguishable from that of an incandescent bulb, appearing warm and soft.
Installing Home Entertainment
A very popular trend when wiring a home today is installing a home entertainment center. While this can, of course, be done without the use of dedicated wiring, building certain components directly into the walls of your living room or den is increasing in popularity.
There are many ways to configure your home entertainment center, and the choice is yours. Many homeowners install their surround-sound speakers in the walls to free up shelf space. Others install their flat-panel televisions directly into the wall to free up even more space. Gaming consoles, stereos and DVD or Blu-Ray players can also be directly installed, eliminating the need for a large, bulky entertainment center!
Plan with your Contractor
As you can see, there are many things to decide upon before you begin a full-scale wiring job, or even the wiring of a single room or wing of your home. Before you begin, you should sit down with your contractor and discuss your plans. It's much more difficult to go back and change or add something once a project has begun. Having everything determined beforehand will likely make the process simpler for everybody involved.
Don't be afraid to ask your contractor for any recommendations he or she might have. Since they work in the industry every day, they're likely to be aware of possibilities and innovations which you are not. If you're unsure whether to install a certain component, ask the contractor's opinion. They'll likely ask you a few questions, including how and how often you use the component, and base their recommendation on your individual circumstances.
As with any home improvement project, remember to only hire workers you're comfortable with. It's your home, after all, and you have a right to expect friendly, knowledgeable and experienced professionals. While you're discussing the project with various contractors, trust your instincts. If a certain contractor has all the right qualifications but you simply don't get along, don't hesitate to cross them off your list. A comfortable working environment will make the project, no matter how long it lasts, more pleasant for everybody involved.