ICE CO. SPOTLIGHT

The Spotlight will highlight topics spanning industry news, safety, product and equipment reviews, codes and much more! We look forward to a dialogue with you.

Light Up Your Holidays Safely

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Light Up Your Holidays Safely
 

Light up safely over the holidays:

  • Choose the right light for the job: light strings and other decorations are rated for indoor or outdoor use. Read the package instructions, and never exceed the recommended wattage.
  • Replace damaged electrical products (cords, plugs, ornaments).
  • Avoid plugging too many lights and decorations into an outlet. Overloaded circuits can overheat and start a fire. 
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets when plugging in outdoors
  • Buy holiday decorations that have the mark of an accredited certification agency on the package. 
  • Once the package is opened, remember to check for the appropriate approval sticker appearing on the cord for products incorporating light strings. 

Extension Cords/Plugs:

  • Avoid overloading circuits with plugs and extension cords—this can create overheating and result in a fire. Fuses that frequently blow and circuits that trip can indicate too many items are connected to the circuit.
  • Never remove the third prong on plugs—this "grounding pin" prevents shock in the event of electrical equipment failure.
  • Plug outdoor electrical decorations into Ground Fault (GFCI)-protected outlets.
  • Don't run extension cords under carpets, through doorways, or in places where they can be damaged by furniture 
  • Keep outdoor connections above-ground and out of puddles; don't run them across driveways and/or walkways.

Installing Decorations:

  • No more than three light strings can be safely connected together in most cases—read manufactures instructions for directions. 
  • Make sure bulbs don't touch supply cords, wires, cloth, paper, or any material that's not part of the light string.
  • Use the proper clips for securing lights and decorations. Staples and nails can damage electrical cords.
  • Check for overhead power lines before using a ladder to put up decorations, or when you're hanging lights or decorations on trees.
  • Holiday decorations aren't designed for year-round use and can deteriorate over time. Take them down when the holidays are over.

Remember to:

  • Watch that children don’t put electrical decorations or cords in their mouths.
  • Keep an eye on pets that may chew or damage electrical cords.
  • Turn off holiday lights and decorations when you leave the house or go to bed.

What is an Arc Flash

Friday, October 23, 2015

What is Arc Flash?

An arc flash is an explosive burst of heat and light, caused by a sudden, uncontrolled electrical arc (or current passing through the air). Temperatures may reach as high as 35,000°F in just 1/1000 of a second, vaporizing metal, causing fatal burns, and generating a blast wave that can collapse workers’ lungs and rupture eardrums. Shrapnel, toxic gases, and intense UV rays can cause additional injuries. Arc flash accidents can kill in an instant, or cause a long, slow, and painful death. Even non-fatal injuries from an arc flash may require months or years of medical care and therapy.

What Happens in an Arc Flash?

An arc can begin whenever a conductive object gets too close to an exposed current source. Dropping tools, opening panels on deteriorated equipment, inserting or removing components from an energized system, and even a rodent infestation can provide an opportunity for an arc to begin.

If that arc has enough energy, it can continue to ionize the air around it. This ionization reduces the electrical resistance along the path of the arc, allowing the arc to draw even more current. As more and more energy flows through the arc, the process builds on itself, and in a moment the arc becomes an arc flash.

The primary source of injury in an arc flash is the burst of heat. Just like lightning, an arc flash releases an enormous amount of heat energy in a very short time. That heat also melts and vaporizes the materials around it, such as wiring and metal equipment panels, as well as drastically raising the temperature of the air nearby.

As this material heats up very quickly, it expands to create a pressure wave, just like thunder. That pressure wave can scatter the broken and melted fragments of equipment like a spray of bullets. Even after the immediate blast, the vaporized material can form a cloud of toxic vapor, mist, and dust. Arc flash is one of the more dramatic electrical accidents, and is often deadly where proper safety precautions have not been taken.

Steps for Arc Flash Safety

Preventing arc flash accidents or minimizing their impact requires a comprehensive safety program, involving both electrical workers and management. The following steps should be taken to ensure worker safety.

First, perform an electrical risk assessment. Use the guidelines in NFPA 70E and IEEE 1584 to identify and assess electrical shock and arc flash hazards throughout your facility.

Determine protective boundaries for electrical equipment. NFPA 70E recommends Limited and Restricted Approach Boundaries to protect workers from electric shock and a separate Arc Flash Boundary to protect them from burns in the event of an arc flash. Employees should keep outside these boundaries during ordinary work.

Identify equipment and components that present a significant risk of arc flash. The NFPA identifies the following types of frequently-affected equipment:

  • Switchboards
  • Panelboards
  • Industrial control panels
  • Meter socket enclosures
  • Motor control centers

Next, ensure all potential arc flash hazards are properly labeled. Warning labels that inform workers of potential hazards are a key part of arc flash prevention. The National Electric Code (NEC) Article 110.16 addresses arc flash protection, stating that affected equipment  ”shall be field marked to warn of potential arc flash hazards...." In addition, NFPA 70E requires that arc flash labels contain information specific to each piece of equipment, detailing the exact hazards that are present.

Pre-printed arc flash labels can be used, although pre-printed labels must be modified in the field to include the required information. A better option is to print custom arc flash labels on-site. Specialized software can track and organize the information for each label, such as available incident energy, approach distances, and required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Labels should be kept legible and up-to-date, since arc flash hazard levels can change any time your electrical system is modified.

Finally, make sure that workers are adequately trained. Any employees who will work on electrical equipment need to be aware of the dangers of arc flash, understand the warning labels and signs, and know how to select and use the appropriate PPE.


Get Prepared for Fall

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It may be only September, but the leaves are changing here in Oregon. This has me thinking about all the things I need to do around the house to get ready before the cold weather settles in. Even if in your neck of the woods, you are still enjoying warm sunny weather (lucky you), you'll benefit from preparing for the winter weather that is only a few months away.

                      

1. Clean Out the Gutters

All the leaves and grime that you neglected while you were out swimming, hiking, or riding your bicycle this summer have built up in your gutters. If left full of debris, clogged gutters and drains can form ice dams that prevent your drainage systems from working properly. This can lead to water seeping into your home, which can lead to all sorts of issues and extra energy costs. Save yourself the hassle of repairing a leak by simply cleaning your gutters and drains now. When you do, run water through the gutters to check for misalignments that could also cause water damage.

2. Keep the Outside Air Out and the Inside Air In

Warm air will escape out of any cracks and can make your heating system work harder and cost you more to heat your home.  Use caulk to seal cracks and openings between stationary house components like a door frame and weather stripping to seal components that move like an operable window.

3. Show Some TLC to Your Furnace

Your furnace may be a distant memory since you last powered it on, but before the cold weather descends and you must reluctantly switch it on, give it some TLC. Clean your furnace annually each autumn. Sediment build-up can cause your system to work less efficiently or potentially become a fire-hazard. Cleaning your system and getting it inspected will reduce the risks.

During the winter try to change your filter regularly; a dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy-efficiency. And if your furnace is ready to be replaced, buy an energy-efficient model. It will save you money and energy each month!

4. Get Your Ducts in a Row

Your ducts are often times out of sight, out of mind, tucked away in the attic or basement, but a home with central heating can lose about 20% of the air that moves through the duct system. Make sure your ducts are in order by properly sealing and insulating them. Tightly sealed and insulated ducts can potentially reduce your annual energy bills by $120 or more! 


Why You Need an Electrician

Friday, August 14, 2015

Electrical contractors are crucial to any new build of commercial or residential premises. They can also be incredibly helpful when looking to renovate an existing building, where your expertise is not that skilled. You may feel that you are capable of performing smaller tasks, but where electrics are concerned it is far better being safe than sorry.

Electricians are trained professionals who understand how dangerous the work can be, and how important it is to stick to the strict guidelines. When you are performing any work within your home that involves electrics, you need to consider if you should hire electrical contractors. There are smaller tasks that you may be able to perform with confidence; however, larger jobs may need an expert.

Many people try to do an electrician’s job themselves, which will often lead to problems further down the line. Therefore, making the decision early on in the project to hire contractors will save you both time and money. If you have found that you are in too deep and do not understand what you are doing, you need to hire a professional electrician. They will be able to notify you of the problem and instruct you how to make it better.

Hiring the professionals to carry out the electrical work within your home or business will ensure that everything is done safely. Electricians will be able to install all electrical components around your home. Plugins, ceiling fans, security lighting, light switches and wiring in appliances can all be done with ease. You will be surprised how easy the electricians will make it look; however, they are trained to do their job.

There are many common issues and problems with the wiring in homes all over the world, and typically these issues have arisen from the wrong people performing the tasks. By hiring qualified and experienced electricians, you will be guaranteeing that your home is safe. They will be able to rectify any existing issues, and ensure that all new work is carried out in the correct manner.

 

If you have been having problems for a while, they will source the issue and fix it correctly. Performing jobs around your home and business may seem like a good idea, and you may think that you are saving money, but you should call an electrician the moment that you begin to find problems with the wiring in your home.


Lighting

Monday, May 26, 2014

Remember having a nightlight as a child? The light that kept away the monsters in the closet or under the bed? Outdoor lighting is essentially the “nightlight” for adults.

 

Outdoor lighting is an important safety feature of your home, but it doesn’t mean you should be spending an arm and a leg on your energy bill! By using energy efficient light bulbs and utilizing solar lighting where possible, you’re able to reduce your energy bill while still keeping your home and family safe.

 

Why Have Outdoor Lighting?


There’s a pretty simple answer. Safety. Outdoor lighting allows you to safely walk around your home at night, see pathways and walkways, be able to know who’s at the door before you open it and it lights up decks, patios and pool areas so you know who may be lurking around your home. Outdoor lighting is a criminal deterrent because it is so easy for someone to notice a criminal running around in the light and call the police.

 

Save Money


By using solar lighting wherever possible, this allows you to cut down on the amount of money you are spending on your electrical bill. If you are unable to use solar due to lack of sun lit areas, you can use energy efficient light bulbs and set up automated lights to cut back on wasted energy.  

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) use up to 75% less electricity than standard light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer than your regular lights. There are specially designed CFL lights for outdoor use so be sure to read the packages and get the best light bulb you need!


Placement of Outdoor Lighting



Direct light where it is needed to cut back on wasted lighting and you won’t need to light your home up like a Christmas tree. Always have lights stationed at the top and bottom of stairwells. Light pathways and walkways from the street to your front door, especially around shrubs to rid of any shadows. 




The Incandescent Light bulb Phase Out

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Last week’s blog discussed LED energy efficient bulbs and the cash savings and benefits from purchasing them. This week we are going to discuss what has happened on January 1, 2014, that will change the way you buy your light bulbs. 


Many people love the fact that they can buy a light bulb for only $0.99. Surprisingly though, that cheap light bulb will cost you around $7.00 a year to burn!


The new bulbs that you will have to buy will be more expensive than $0.99, but will only cost around $1.00 a year to burn. That means you will save $6.00 a year per bulb. In the end, your energy efficient light will pay for itself.


 


You will now have three choices when buying light bulbs. The three choices are limited to LED, Halogen, and CFL’s. 

 


Pcmag.com describes each bulb and their attributes.

“Halogen bulbs act most like incandescent bulbs, and have very similar energy profiles. A halogen bulb will last only about 1,000 hours and consume approximately 43 watts for the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent light. They're the least expensive of the non-incandescent light bulbs, available for approximately $1.25 per bulb. Their per-bulb economy has a trade-off of energy economy, as they use over two-thirds as much energy as incandescent bulbs.”



“CFL bulbs offer a great combination of efficiency and economy, but they have their own drawbacks. CFL bulbs are available for about $2, can last 10,000 hours, and consume 13 watts for the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb. However, fluorescent light is much cooler than incandescent or halogen light, making it appear more blue than white to eyes used to the warm, orange-tinted light of incandescent bulbs. Many users simply dislike how CFLs look. CFL bulbs are also the hardest to dispose of safely, as most contain a trace of mercury and must be recycled at a proper facility.”



“LED bulbs are the most expensive up front, but offer the most efficiency in the long term. They can cost between $12 and $50 each, but they can last 25,000 hours and consume 10 watts for the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb. LED bulbs can have adjustable colors, and don't have any toxic chemicals that need to be disposed of safely.


In the long run, LED bulbs are the superior choice, but they're going to remain the most expensive one because of the numerous electronic components used in each bulb. According to Mertz, LED bulbs might reach a low price of $4 to $6, but they simply won't dip below that or anywhere near the price of halogen or CFL bulbs because of the cost of the parts. “


Of course, you can still buy the incandescent bulbs until they run out at your local hardware store. 

There is a lot of controversy over the phase-out, but if you look over the facts, you can end up saving a lot of money.


Click here for more information similar to this chart.

Source - Pcmag





Energy Efficient Products – Switching to LED Bulbs

Thursday, December 26, 2013


You have probably heard of energy efficient products before, maybe from a friend or neighbor bragging about how they saved money on their electricity bill from using these same products.

If you are like me, you are skeptical.  Can I really save money? How much? Which products should I buy? Are they all the same? 

 

This week I’m going to answer some of these specific questions, and what you are about to read, might just surprise you.

My husband has a passion for his reef aquariums in our home. This Christmas he wanted to spend a decent amount of money on some new LED light fixtures for ONE of his reef tanks. By a decent amount, I mean $600.00! For lights?

Of course, knowing my reaction, he had a couple benefits ready to unload on me. After he rambled on about how awesome they will look, he finished off his persuasion by telling me they will save us money on our electric bill and future replacement bulbs. Save? Now we’re talking!

The accounting major in me wanted the numbers, details, all of the facts. After a little digging I found out that the t5 florescent light bulbs will need to be replaced every six months, (depending on usage) at an average of $150.00. That is already an annual cost of $300.00 a year, without including the cost of electricity.

The average LED light will last around 50,000 hours. That means that the LED light will pay for its self in less than one year. The LED lights also require less energy to run all day long. 


Switching to an average perspective, I calculated the normal cost for a regular 60w house hold bulb. The results were pretty astounding. Let’s say you have a 60w bulb that runs for 4 hours a day and cost $1.44 to purchase.

The LED with the same light output only runs 7w and cost $11.99. At a rate of $13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, I would save $11.89 per year on electricity and pay for the bulb in .93 years.

The initial cost for LED lights may be more, but as I have proved to you today, they will save you money long-term. 


Recessed Lighting

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Chances are you have recessed lighting somewhere in your house. If you don't we should have a difference conversation about installing some for you. BUT assuming you already have it, there's a possibility that the trims are old, dusty, the wrong color, possibly broken. That is not even touching on the likely worn & yellowed light bulbs manufactured in 1910 that ought to be replaced as well. Sound about right?

What if there existed a place where qualified, customer service oriented, kind and creative people combined forces and provided services such as recessed lighting upgrades for fair and honest prices? We think if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that these services existed you would be pretty excited about it.

Electricity can be intimidating can't it? To the point where at times you waited for someone else to change the light bulb because you didn't want to get zapped right? Well, all joking aside, we would be happy to come take a look at your existing can lighting and propose a new trim, lamp and dimmer switch to match your existing can lights. LED inserts are more affordable now too as the market is being saturated with new products.

Finding you an affordable retrofit solution is as easy as taking down existing information, sourcing new product, sending you the quote, ordering product and installation. No sweat... You get a fresh look, possible energy savings, and a range of dimming too.

For your visual pleasure see photos of such a retrofit below.

 

Above is the inside of the existing 6" can light housing.

 

Above is the existing trim.

 

The scenario above uses a new standard trim but has an LED lamp. 

 

This LED Insert shown above has a smooth frosted lens over the LED's. Its a really clean look.

 

Another LED style insert shown above. See how the lamp and the trim are one piece?

Realistically, there are several additional styles of LED lighting that can upgrade any home, and we've been impressed with the dropping prices.

Trying out your new look in one room is a great place to start.
Thanks for checking in...

ICE Co. Signing Out

Power. Current. Grounded. 


LED Casestudy

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Greetings Blog Readers!

Have you seen the amazing possible uses of LEDs for your business?  Phillips has an LED Showcase on their website www.philipscolorkinetics.com/showcase/ which demonstrates the colorful use of LEDs for outdoor lighting, and explains all the features and benefits of using LEDs. Do you recognize this iconic building which takes advantage of Phillips LED technologies?

 

Or how about this one?

 

The possibilities are endless! Take a few minutes to consider how you might draw customers directly to your business using outdoor LED lighting from Phillips, and your friends here at ICE Co.

 

ICE Co. Signing Out

Power. Current. Grounded.


Glimpse into MaxLite

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Cultivate:
To develop and improve [insert verb] by education or training so that it may be used by future generations.

We genuinely seek to cultivate loyal relationships with our customers and vendors and in doing so, we are pretty proud of the quality of work and materials we provide. Recently we were fortunate enough to make a connection with MaxLite.

What is MaxLite you ask? MaxLite Website. They have released a number of technology driven LED 2x2 and 2x4 flat panel recessed fixtures, designed for drop in grid ceilings. Other custom mounting options available.

Compared to the typical 2-lamp fluorescent strip fixture (seen below) the MaxLite products are stellar.


The MaxLite LED conference room and class room applications below expresses how evenly distributed and smooth the light is. Equipped with full spectrum dimmers and a high tech look, we are really impressed with what MaxLite has brought to the table. I'm certain our customers would agree. We recently finished a conference space as well as private offices using a combination of the 2x2 fixtures and 2x4 fixtures. The finished spaces provided a really crisp and professional area for meetings and presentations. If we snag a couple photos of the new spaces we will post with a follow up blog.


Photos Courtesy of MaxLite Website
Thanks for tuning in and checking out our featured product.

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