Even when the East Kootenay region experiences a relatively mild winter like this year, it’s tough to escape higher hydro bills with turning on the heat and lights more often.
Given this extra load – you may have a new hot tub or air conditioning unit, too – do you know whether your home electrical system is rated for your power usage? Maybe you’re renewing your home insurance and being asked whether you have 60-amp, 100-amp or even 200-amp service. To ensure your system is as safe as possible, having a professional assess your power use and capacity is a good first step, says Mark Stahl, owner/operator of Stahl Electric Ltd. in Cranbrook.
“If you’ve added new appliances or are planning to do so, you may not be sure your existing service can handle that extra load. Or you might be looking to put in a separately metered rental suite. There are many good opportunities to look at upgrading your service capacity.”
Stahl Electric’s inspections can help in other ways:
- Aluminum can be risky – If your home was built in the 1970s, when aluminum wiring was common, it’s a good candidate for an upgrade to the more resilient copper wiring, Mark says. “Aluminum can oxidize when it’s exposed to air. It can overheat and eventually fail at the termination points. Aluminum also expands more than copper, and that can create loose connections, which can arc and potentially cause a fire.”
- Looking for hot spots – A new thermal imaging camera allows Stahl technicians to immediately see any hot spots in your system that could lead to problems. “It can tell us quickly if a wire or component is overloaded, heating excessively or showing signs of failure,” Mark says.
- Power analyzer is a versatile tool – If your commercial property is being assessed a “power factor surcharge” due to system inefficiencies, Stahl uses a power analyzer to record the electrical load for up to 30 days to locate the problem. Similarly, if your home hydro bill takes an unusual jump, the analyzer helps technicians find the power draws. Wondering how your power efficiency upgrades are performing? This versatile tool can also provide before-and-after measurements of your system!
- Lighting changes a good time for upgrades – If you’re updating your home’s lighting, Stahl technicians can assess the need for further wiring upgrades. And if you’re ordering fixtures online, check with Stahl first to ensure they’re approved for use and installation in Canada.