Why So Many Voltages?

In 1887 direct current (DC) was king. At that time there were 121 Edison power stations scattered across North Americathe delivering DC electricity to its customers. But DC had a great limitation -- namely, that power plants could only send DC electricity about a mile before the electricity began to lose power. So when George Westinghouse introduced high-voltage alternating current (AC), made possible by the invention of the alternating current transformer by Nicholas Tesla, he could send electricity hundreds of miles with little loss of power. People naturally took notice. A "battle of the currents" ensued. In the end, Tesla's AC prevailed.

The electricity in the power lines near your home or business range from 14, 400 - 125, 000 volts!

The higher the voltage the higher the amount of power that can be transported in the same size of wire. Double the amount of power can be transported at 240V compared to 120V. Conversely, 240V has double the danger of 120V.

North America operates on a 120/240V or 110/220V 60Khz system.

The rest of the world uses 220/440V 50-60Khz, unless the country (Cuba, Costa Rica etc.) was industrialized by the Americans.

Basic household appliances and lighting in North America.
208V Three phase (industrial, commercial) power for heating, dryers, motors etc. in North America.
220-240V Household power for heaters, motors, large loads in North America. Basic power for household appliances and lighting outside in Europe and Asia.
347V Three phase (industrial, commercial) power for lighting and motors.
440V Household power for heating, motors, large loads outside North America.
480V Early Delta system commercial/industrial power in North America.
600V Three phase (industrial, commercial) power for heating, large motors, chargers. The most efficient but the most dangerous type of power available available for use.

Three phase power is 1.73 times more efficient than single phase power. Three phase is not available for household use, too dangerous.


Single Phase or Three Phase?

Categories // Additions, Renovations

Single phase power. Household use, safer, less efficient.



Three phase power. Commercial/Industrial use, 73% more efficient, more expensive to install, motors last longer, speed control is better.

The horizonal line in the center is zero/off/no power. As you can see, in single phase, power output drops to zero then to full then back again. Three phase power never falls to zero. It only falls to 73% of full.

Three phase power is not allowed for household use. The highly efficient overlapping power band is dangerous. If someone grips a cable energized by three phase it is very difficult to let go. Short circuits are more dangerous.

For more information or to request a free estimate click here:


How Much Does Electricity Cost?

Categories // Energy Savings

Electricity is measured as you draw from the power grid. It flows from the supply lines and through the electrical meter. As electricity flows through a conductor an electromagnetic field is created. The strength of the electromagnetic field is directly dependant on the amount of electricity being used. The greater the strength of the field the faster the meter spins. Or, the faster the digital meter computes.

Electrical use is measured in Watts. We are billed for electricity use in kWh (kilowatts per hour).

kWh = using 1000 Watts of electricity for 1 hour.

1 kWh = using 10   100W light bulbs for 1 hour     Cost 11 cents

1 kWh = running a 1000W vacuum for 1 hour        Cost 11 cents


We have a two level rate system in BC.  As of April, 2013 the Step 1 rate (up to 1,350 kWh) was 6.9 cents per kWh. The Step 2 rate (above 1,350 kWh) was 10.34 cents per kWh.

Up to about 2006, the rate across the board was 6.55 cents per kWh. Although we have low rates in BC, and most likely always will compared to the rest of the world, electricity rates will continue to increase. BC Hydro now applies other charges on top of electricity use charges, the bills we recive are definitely on the increase

Link to the BC Hydro web page on rates.


There are numerous ways to reduce electricity costs. The simplest is to just turn the power off wheever possible. Energy efficient appliances, timers, dimmers, LED or compact fluorescent bulbs and high efficiency fluorescent ballasts are another solution. Installing energy efficient windows and insulation.

Install a "grid tie" back up power system in your home or business and BC Hydro will pay you for the power you produce

Link to the BC Hydro web page on rebates.

 The energy efficient ballasts are a great thing to do for commercial buildings. The energy savings (40-70%), combined with the rebates now offered by BC Hydro will pay for the entire project in 18-30 months. After that, the savings go directly to the bottom line.

 Our population is increasing, energy use is increasing and electricity rates are increasing. The most efficient solution, from an electrical standpoint, is to build mega-project hydroelectric dams in out of the way places. then build another one on the same river a kilometer below it

British Columbians have been building dams since the turn of the century. The period of greatest activity occurred in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's when BC pursued an aggressive program of large-scale dam construction. Hydroelectric power production (for domestic use and export) was the major purpose of these large-scale dams. Most British Columbians embraced dam construction in the post-war period as a positive step toward economic prosperity. That began to change in the 1970's as residents witnessed the some of the environmental and social costs of dams. The decline of fish stocks and the permanent drowning of productive farmland, valley-bottom forest, scenic canyons, and (in some cases) entire towns fueled a growing public opposition to new dams. During the 1970's and 80's, grass-roots lobbying blocked the construction of new dams on the Skagit, Stikine, and Peace rivers.

Recently, BC's provincial government responded to public opinion by legislatively protecting important salmon rivers against future dams under the Fish Protection Act. In addition, BC has embraced two important programs — the "BC Heritage Rivers System" and the "Canadian Heritage Rivers System" — which officially commemorate BC rivers that represent outstanding values of provincial and national significance. These values include history, culture, economy, recreation, and ecology.

Programs are in place for smaller private projects and many such projects are under way. As a homeowner or business owner you can install a grid-tie system and produce your own electricity. Slowing down your meter or feeding power back into the system and receiving a cheque from BC Hydro.

We want more electricity and we don’t want to pay very much for it. But we also don’t want to build hydroelectric projects. Something will have to give. At the moment, rates are increasing and incentives are being put in place to reduce usage.

Or visit our website at:


Back-Up Power Systems

Categories // Energy Savings, Back Up Power Systems

Automatic Standby System

In the event of a power outage a voltage sensor automatically turns on the generator which feeds power into your generator panel and out to the associated circuits. This is the most popular and commonly used system for home and business owners.

Generator- natural gas

Automatic Transfer Switch-ensures that no generator power will be fed back into the public electricity grid

Generator Panel-contains the circuits that will be powered by the generator

*this system can also be controlled manually with a manual transfer switch*

Automatic Emergency System

In the event of a power outage a voltage sensor automatically turns on the generator. Electricity is then fed to the generator panel and out to the associated circuits. This system is completely off the fuel grid and has its own fuel source. This system is mainly used in hospitals, government and other institutional buildings.

Generator-diesel, gasoline or liquid propane

Transfer Switch-ensures that no generator power will be fed back into the public electricity grid

Generator Panel-contains the circuits that will be powered by the generator

Rural Areas-this type of system is becoming more common in homes as renewable technology improves. it is usually controlled by a manual transfer switch

Grid Tie Systems

Power is provided through solar, wind and hydroelectric. The power produced is fed through multiple inputs into a controller. Then to an inverter which synchronizes with the power from the public electricity grid. This power can be used in your home or business or fed back into the electrical grid. Depending on how much power your system produces  your electrical meter will either slow down as you use a combination of your own power and the grid's power or your meter will spin backwards resulting in a credit. This system is used in conjunction with either an Automatic Standby System or an Automatic Emergency System.


There are grants and subsidies available for alternate energy sources.  

UPS Systems

Usually used in offices for computers or computer servers. The UPS pack is plugged into the wall outlet, then the computer is plugged into the UPS pack. A battery system takes over when the power fails. The systems are rated according to time. 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes etc. A UPS pack will also filter and regulate the voltage output so the connected electronics have a stable voltage input.


Generator Systems


A 1000W - 3500W portable generator can be used with extension cords in an emergency to power things like trouble lights, fans, fridges and freezers.

In an off-grid system, a generator is used as a primary source of power, such as for trailer homes or cabins 


Never backfeed the generator power into your electrical panel. An approved transfer switch must be used. The power will flow through your panel and electrical meter then into the electrical grid. Technicians repairing the damaged power lines can be electrocuted.


For more information or to schedule a free estimate for any of the above power systems visit our website at


Recessed Lighting - Pot Lights/Puck Lights

Written by // Mike Devereux Categories // Additions, Renovations, Recessed Lighting

Why Use Recessed Lighting

Recessed lighting offers a clean, streamlined look. It can increase the amount of light in a room, highlight artwork or other special features, and open up spaces so they look and feel bigger. Recessed lighting, if done correctly, wil increase the livability and value of your home or office.

When to Use Recessed Lighting

Though recessed fixtures are most easily installed between ceiling joists of new building or major renovation projects, there are recessed fixtures are designed specifically for retrofit applications, we use a template to cut a hole in the ceiling or cabinet, new wiring is installed, the recessed light clamps onto the ceiling or cabinet material. The fixtures you choose must be rated for use near insulation (IC rated) if they're being installed in an insulated ceiling.

Where to Place Recessed Lighting Fixtures

The common rule is that 4-inch fixtures should generally be placed at least 4 feet apart 5-inch fixtures about 5 feet apart and 6-inch fixtures about 6 feet apart. Kitchens and bathrooms will need more fixtures. You want to make sure that you have adequate amount of light. Dimmers are a great idea to control the light level and mood in a room.

Center recessed lighting fixtures in front of the objects you wish to light – a painting, bookshelf, or drapery panels, for example – and about 12 to 18 inches in front of that object. The light should generally highlight the object at about 30 deg.

Recessed lights used for reading or task lighting should be carefully placed overhead to reduce shadows.

When lighting a three-dimensional object such as a fireplace, sculpture, or flower arrangement with recessed lighting, it is more effective to light it from two or three different angles.

Use wall-wash or directional recessed lighting fixtures around the perimeter of a small room to help “push” the walls out and make the space feel larger, or aim them at a collection of artwork or photographs to call attention to the display.

Install recessed lighting fixtures (puck light, using your imagination it looks kind of like a hockey puck) in the bottom of your kitchen cabinets. The light will wash your counter top with focused or diffused light depending on the style chosen light.

Recessed lights have 2 parts. The housing and the trim. The housing is the part that you never see, it is recessd into the ceiling. The trim is the piece that is installed into the housing and fits flush with the ceiling.


Many different trims are available: all white, white with black baffle, chrome, brushed nickel, adjustable, etc. Make sure you have an idea what type of trims you would like before installing the housings as each housing has only certain types of trims that are compatible.


Make sure that the existing circuit is not overloaded.
Dimmers are generally rated for 600 watts, 1000 watt dimmers are available. Make sure to get a dimmer rated for low voltage if installing low voltage recessed lights, you must also know whether the transformer is magnetic or electronic.

If you would like any more information or  would like to schedule a free estimate to look at installing recessed lighting visit our website at: or call us at 604-463-6695

<<  1 [23  >>