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Lighting and Electrical

The design of the lighting system of your new home or addition should begin well before the construction phase of your project. For instance, the physical orientation of your home can sugnificantly add or decrease the lighting requirements of your project. A more southerly orientation will greatly decrease your daytime lighting requirements, whie northerly orientations will increase them. Adding skylights, where possible, will also decrease your daytime lighting requirements. Tubular skylights are now available for many applications, such as hallways and bathrooms. These systems are roof mounted and enhance sunlight via mirrors running through a four inch pipe. This technique greatly enhances the light, while also not allowing excess solar heat into your home via the skylight.


We recommend using LED lighting whenever possible. It is the most expensive "up front" option, but LED lighting is very energy efficient and has a longer life than any other product. At present, LED lighting is used mainly for accent and specialty lighting, such as under counter lighting, wall accents, and some beautiful chandalier applications.


All other lighting requirements of your project should use compact flourescent lighting, CFL for short. These bulbs are easily recognizable because of their "curled" look. A 100 watt replacement CFL bulb uses the equivalent of just 23 watts vs. a standard incandescent bulb. CFL lighting has received a lot of criticism lately, but most of it is not justified. First, when the bulbs were first introduced, they did not provide the type of light that all of us were "used to". Second, they often took several minutes to "warm up" and give off the expected amount of light. Both of these issues have recently been addressed. The bulbs are now available in the normal array of colors (soft white, etc.) and most brands now sell "instant on" CFL bulbs.

Finally, there has been a great deal written in the press lately about the amount of mercury in CFL bulbs. While it is true that mercury is in the bulbs, the amount of mercury is minimal, and the energy savings far outweigh any negative environmental impacts of using the bulbs. Most counties and localities now provide drop off sites for disposal of CFL bulbs when they burn out. This alleviates any negative environmental impacts, and also enhances recycling efforts.


Even more important than hiring a certified and experienced plumber for your project, a certified and experienced electrician is an absolute must. Do not attempt to install electrical wiring and outlets yourself. Also, do not hire "handmen" who claim to have electrical experience and knowledge. Improper installation of electrical systems can be fatal, either during construction or possibly long after the project is completed. Make sure your electrician is liscensed and fully insured in your state before allowing him to work on your project.

Surge Protection

Today's homes more often than not include an array of expensive appliances and electronics. To protect these systems from damage due to an electrical surge or lightning strike, the electrical industry has devised surge protectors that can be easily added to your electric box/panel. The surge protector is placed as the last "breaker" in your electric panel. It is then connected to a copper wire that is run outside your house and into the ground. In the event of a surge or lightning strike, the surge protector breaker "blows out" and forces the excess electrical energy out of your home and away from the rest of your electrical system. While these system are extremely effective, the manufacturers still recommend that you continue to use outlet based protection, especially for computer equipment. We highly recommed that everyone install a breaker box surge protector. The cost is usually just a few hundred dollars.

Surge Arrester

Photo of breaker box surge arrester

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