What Christmas means for your Breaker Box

What Christmas means for your Breaker Box

Every year, there is always that neighbor that goes all out during Christmas. The huge Santa Claus balloon with an adornment of magical lights on their ginger bread shape home always attracts our attention as we drive by. One person in the car may ask, ¨I wonder how much that costs? ¨

You may actually be the person we talk about OR you may want to be the next high-lighted home in the neighborhood.

How much does it cost?

If you have your electrical bill handy first find out how much you pay per kilo-watt hour to get an accurate price. However, according to EnergyStar the average price of electricity is about 11.3 cents per kilo-watt hour.

Here is your formula:

  • Find out how much wattage you will be using
  • Multiply 0.001 to find out the kilo-watt hour
  • Multiply 5 hours a day to find kwh/day
  • Multiply 30 days to find kwh/season
  • Multiply 11.3 cents, or your actual cost according to your electrical bill to get your final cost.

Some Saving Tips that Add Up

Putting up Christmas lights on your front lawn, takes good planning. Try to incorporate Timers in your Christmas lights. You can get them in your Dollar Tree or Dollar General Store close by as it can prevent you from forgetting to turn off the lights during the day. Get more extension cords instead of buying the longest light strings to cover your desired area. Place the light strings on only the exposed focal points of your Christmas lawn decoration and place the extension cords in the unseen areas. Many don´t think about this, but making sure you pair the timers and extension cords to the same amperage capacities will help you save too.

Beautiful Christmas lights display in Southern Maryland

Make your Home the Best with Less!

To be honest, most of us are those envious neighbors and just down play it by negatively commenting on how much they are spending on those lights. However, the truth is not now! Not now, when you have LED LIGHTS! Check out the blog on your guide to energy efficient bulbs to learn more.

With LED lights, they consume 80-90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. While incandescent bulbs last 3,000 hours, your LED can last up to 100,000 hours. LED is the way to go and is the only way to shine bright during Christmas and pay less.

If you are going to make your home the best on your street consider the cost of some typical items you would use for your roof, yard, driveway and wrapping of trees comparing the use of incandescent bulbs verses LED lights. Using these items will definitely make many stop their cars for a moment to admire the light show.

Incandescent Watts LED Watts
800 feet C9 String on Roof 5,600 768
500 feet C) String in Yard 3,500 480
10 strings for light tree 408 48
15 strings for walkway tree 612 72
30 strings wrapping 2 trees 1,224 144
150´spool of rope light 378 120
95 Icicle lights 6,056 458
5 motifs 554 277
Total 18,332 = $310.73 2,369 = $40.15


Smart Planning is your Savings

In the past year, if your circuit breaker kept tripping or you blew some fuses that means you didn´t plan well where you hooked up your lights. Keep in mind this time, your Christmas light wattage and amps.

In a home, an electrical circuit can have a few plug outlets. If you are attaching your Christmas lighting to the same circuit where bigger appliances get electricity from that can be a reason why you are tripping your breakers.

So when you start shopping for your Christmas lights start considering the maximum watt capacity of your string lights and the maximum watt capacity of your house circuit where you plan on plugging your lights.

  • Most homes have circuits of 15 or 20 amps
  • 20 amp circuits support 2,400 watts and it is recommended to never exceed 80% of its capacity, so your limit would be 1,920 max watts
  • A 15 amp circuit can support 1,800 watts, so you can have up to 1,440 watts on that circuit.

When you understand the wattage and amp current, you will save on repair costs and most of all prevent your light show from becoming an explosion.

Start Planning!

Time flies and before you know it you will start hearing Christmas in the air in the radio or in the mall. Start looking for the right kind of LED lights so you can be the next home that everyone stares at in Southern Maryland!


Your Guide to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs in 2017

Your Guide to Energy Efficient Light Bulbs in 2017

Lighting is very important in our lives as it can affect our moods. Installing beautiful light fixtures to a home adds accent and flavor to a room. You may call our Maryland Electrician Pros to install a light fixture and if so, they can also guide you about light bulbs. If you don´t choose the right kind of bulbs you may be spending more on energy bills and replacing them often.

Let´s consider the more modern light bulbs in our day that can light up your room perfectly, can avoid you from empty pockets and most of all,  can contribute to making your home more a positive green one!

LED LIGHTING is the way to go!

LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes. These light bulbs are absolutely energy efficient. Manufacturers have evolved the use of LED lights by joining the single bulb use to making clusters we see in flashlights and headlamps. LED is one directional lighting as incandescent bulbs have light spread spherically. LED is fantastic for underneath cabinet lighting but not for table lamps. However, LED designers have further evolved to solve this limitation by putting diffusers and reflectors to spread the light like an incandescent bulb.

Check out the benefits

  • LED lighting lasts longer than your basic incandescent bulbs. It can last up to 10 times longer than compact fluorescents.
  • You can save more as LED lighting does not cause heat build-up, which means, less cost on your air conditioning.
  • They are strong against any kind of movement that would easily damage your typical incandescent bulb because they are solid.
  • No mercury is used to make LED lights
  • LED lights only use 2-17 watts of electricity, which is 1/3rd to 1/30th of incandescent bulbs or CFL bulbs. Using LED bulbs in your home´s light fixtures, will save you on electricity, money and will keep your home cool.
  • You will get your money back. It may seem expensive to pay for light bulbs but in the end, over time you will get even more back since it will last longer; save you money and you would not be replacing the light bulbs as often if you would have resorted to your typical light bulbs.

What to look for

Every year, there are new styles to choose from as the lighting industry keeps pace with new technology. When you shop for your LED light bulbs, there are a few things to consider.

In hallways that have no natural light flow to spaces where you do, you will have to keep in mind how much brightness you would want. Most commonly, many use wattage to measure bulb illumination; for example a 9W LED would be equivalent to a 45 W incandescent bulb. The more recent method to compare illumination is Lumens, which is perceived brightness. When the lumen is rated higher it means the bulb is brighter.

More efficiently, there are LED lights that are a 3-way bulb. This bulb eliminates your 30, 60 to 75-watt incandescent bulb and consumes 80% less power! Plus, it is omnidirectional, meaning the lighting would be the same like using an incandescent bulb.

  • You can choose from warm light which is for accent lighting or cool light, which is for working light.
  • You can also choose light bulbs for places you want to have a dimmer.
  • Remember when paying cheap you get cheap. Please do not buy cheap bulbs as they will need to be replaced almost immediately because they use low-quality chips.
  • Most of all, look for certifications! For example: FCC, Energy Star or UL
  • LED lights have different styles to offer for many different functions. They also come in different colors like: red, green, blue, white and amber.


There are so many home expenses to think about and many do forget about light bulbs. However, from now on you know light bulbs have a huge factor on your energy expenses. We often forget to turn off the lights when we are done occupying a living space. But remember, electrical lighting contributes to about 25% of the average home energy budget. LED lights are the way to go as it can offer you the same affects as an incandescent light bulb but with more lasting benefits. No doubt it will light up your life!




What to do when you see a Downed Power Line

What to do when you see a Downed Power Line

Southern Maryland is no surprise to downed power lines. You never know, you might be the lucky one that has to deal with it on the road or you might be the only outsider that can help. Obviously, this is not something to handle recklessly.

Here are some tips to call to mind if this not so favorable situation just happens to land on your lap:

Landed on Lucy

¨What the %&$?! Just happened? A power line just landed on Lucy!¨

Ok, try to calm down. Your first reaction is to get out of your car and check for how much damage just occurred to your baby. But that technically can be a total fatal move.

What to do:

  1. Stay Put – Only if your car is not burning with flames. The power lines can charge your car with electrical current and so if you get out, Lucy will actually be saying goodbye to you. Make sure you communicate quickly to any passengers to not move as one faulty touch can affect everyone.
  2. Do not touch the inside of the car- any part of the car frame should be avoided so keep your hands to yourself.
  3. Call for help – Use your cell phone to call 911 and follow their specific instructions
  4. Outsiders cannot touch the car- Make sure you use all efforts to get the message across for passerby´s not to touch your car. If you happen to not carry a cell phone ask them to call for you.
  5. Don’t worry, your almost safe – Once the police arrive, leave it to them to solve the problem and follow their instructions until they tell you, you can exit your car.

Power pole falls in front of a Southern Maryland residents´car.

The Roof is on Fire

What to do:

  1. Is it a real fire or just exhaust – Smoke won’t disappear quickly but exhaust will fade into the air. Obviously, if you see flames, get out!!
  2. Open the door with only touching plastic frame of the door. The metal parts of the car will be charge with electricity so it is absolutely important that you don´t touch any metal parts to avoid electrocution.
  3. Jump out of the car – You cannot step out of the car as usual. Bring your legs together and have them tucked towards your body. Turn your body in a way that your feet do not touch the metal framing at the bottom. Cross your arms to make your body as small as possible so you are ready to jump out.
  4. How to jump – As your legs are together, jump out of the car and land both feet on the ground at the same time to reduce your chances of getting electrocuted. Your body should be in the air when you jump out of the car.
  5. Hop away – hop as fast as you can, keeping both feet on the ground at the same time. Making sure your feet touch the ground at the same time avoids being electrocuted.
  6. 50 feet to 15.2 M away – once you are about 50 feet away from the car call 911. Follow their instructions and make sure other observers don´t approach the car as you keep your distance away from the car.

Be the Samaritan

If you are the witness of what just happened, there are things you can do. First of all, keep your distance away from the car, about 50 feet away. Your safety is first priority from helping others. Start yelling to the person in the vehicle and make sure they know they should not touch anything and to stay in the car if there are no flames. Assure them quickly that police is coming as you start making the call. If the car is on fire, give them instructions of how to jump out of the car to avoid being electrocuted. Also, assure them the police are coming so they try not to go into panic mode.  If there are other bystanders, make sure they know not to approach the car. Once you talk to the police and relay the details wait for arrival before you decide to leave the scene.

Smart Reaction is the Key

In situations like these, it is very important you try to keep calm and to remember the car can be easily charged with electricity. Keeping in good communication with other car passengers will help keep the situation non-fatal. We hope it doesn’t happen to you, but it is also beneficial to know what to do if your the one who draws the red straw.



How to wire an electric water heater

How to wire an electric water heater

The time has arrived when you start planning your awesome backyard barbeques with family and friends as the change of warmer weather lures you to enjoy the fresh outdoor air of Southern Maryland. You invited company that lives quite a few hours away and prepared rooms for them to stay a night or so. A few came with a new born this year and you realized you’re getting older as your cousin’s son greets you with his changed voice and gives you a hug at the same eye level. You planned this weekend weeks ago that you even went out of county to Costco or Sam´s Club to refill on stock so you don´t need to go out often during the weekend. At dusk, you start a barn fire to keep the chatter until the wee hours. The next day you get up to shower but as you turn the knob you get a rude awakening of COLD WATER!
What the heck! Did we just run out of hot water? As you get out of the shower and head to the water heater tank you hear screams throughout the hallway. You thought it could just be the over flow of the demand of hot water but in time you realized something else it wrong. You look it up on YouTube and you find many tutorials on hot water tanks. Do you attempt a DIY?

Re-Wire it Yourself?

You realize that it´s not the tank but there´s something wrong with the electrical current. Can you just troubleshoot the electric water heater? Unless you are an electrician go for it; however there are huge safety concerns to be aware of before touching any wire that conducts heat, surrounded by water and has a 240 voltage that can cause your awesome weekend into an unforgettable death in the family. The most reasonable and lifesaving decision you can make is to call The Southern Maryland Electrician Pros who can come in and make sure you get your hot water back.

More than Meets the Eye

A water heater tank has different electrical components that only a professional serviceman should look into it. The basics would obviously be your breaker and your reset buttons on the tank. If it’s tripped, those are definitely more reasons for you to leave it to the professionals.
Regular water heaters are on a 30 amp two pole breaker and the two poles means it is stated 240 volts with usually a number 10 wire since frequently the panel is not so far from the water heater. Most electric water heaters with two elements are factory wired so that one element would heat at a time. The thermostat above would control when the lower element would heat. Now there are options of wiring a hot water heater so simultaneously both elements can run at the same time. This would reduce the time to wait and give out more hot water. However you would need more amps and heavier wire. If this sounds a bit of too much jargon, than it is another sign to call for help.
Your Electrician would have to look at a few different areas to get an accurate diagnosis. He would have to check if the breaker in the panel is functioning than check if there is power to the water heater using voltage testers. Next he would check if the Reset button was functioning and if they keep tripping then something else is wrong. It could be the thermostats or the elements. The water heater elements are the ones that actually heat up the water and most likely the ones that cause problems. When the upper element goes bad you have no hot water and when the lower element fails you will have minimal hot water. So the elements are a huge part of re-wiring or wiring an electric water heater. Your electrician can test if the elements are bad. Additionally, the thermostats are part of wiring an electric water heater. They tell the elements when to fire up the water and have an upper and lower thermostat. Most of the time it is set-up to work separately as only one element is allowed to heat at a time. The thermostat above is the controller, permitting the upper element to heat and then the lower element. When the upper thermostat doesn’t work you will get no hot water at all but if the lower thermostat starts acting up you have very little hot water.
As you can see, trying to do it on your own can be super complicated when there are many factors with the electrical connections throughout a hot water tank. It is best to let an electrician come in as they know all the areas to watch for and they have the tools to test every item related to wires. They have the eye of the tiger and you do not.

The Newer, the Better

On average, a household for a couple would approximately need a 30-40 gallon water heater as homes with five or more persons would need about 50-80 gallons. However one thing to keep in mind is when the tank puts out more hot water than the household demand. You can be wasting money hourly and energy. If you are considering of changing the whole system, Tankless water heaters can avoid unnecessary cost, take up minimal space and give you hot water very quickly. Even if one is considering of installing on their own a new water heater tank it would be wise to keep the wiring installation to someone who has years of experience. If the wiring is done incorrectly you will be paying for it every day from your family members and be paying the big bucks to get it fixed frequently.
There is such a refreshing clean feeling when you come out of a hot shower. Whether it be before you sleep or when you start your day, having a hot shower is a need not a want. So please leave the wiring to the Southern Maryland Electrician Pros. They are called Pros for a reason.

How to Wire a Ceiling Fan

How do I wire a Ceiling Fan?

You want a ceiling fan? That’s a great idea and there are a variety of styles out there that can be just perfect for your home. Ceiling fans do not lower a rooms temperature or take humidity from the air. However you can save a lot more energy and money long term when you can turn off the air conditioning or raise the thermostat a bit higher and leave the rest to the ceiling fan. You can save approximately 3 to 5 percent on AC costs for each degree you raise the thermostat and when you turn on the ceiling fan it can make you feel 4 degrees Fahrenheit cooler. Better yet, you save more as ceiling fans work to cool you instead of the room so you can turn it off when you leave.
Now that you went out and bought your ceiling fan, let´s wire it!


First and foremost, TURN OFF power to the existing light fixture at your circuit box and make sure there is no current using a circuit tester. Also put the wall switches on the off position.
If the location where you are going to install the ceiling fan has separate switch controls for the fan and light, label the wires so you will know which wire goes with each function.

KEEP IN MIND: If there is a control for your fan on a wall switch, confirm that you have the right switch as a few fans only function with preset multi-speed switches. Do not use the fan with any solid-state speed control device, dimmer switch or speed change unless it is actually made to be used with a ceiling fan. Electric motors are not comparable with the same dimmer switches as light bulbs are. Also if the electrical box has wiring for separate fan and light switches and you don’t plan on installing light with your fan, trim off the bare portions of the wires for the light and wrap it with electrical tape and twist into a cap to secure the ends.

ELECTRICAL BOX: Check if the box in the ceiling is compatible with ceiling fans. You may see a fan weight rating and the box must be attached to the building structure to support the ceiling fan, be grounded or have a ground wire in the ceiling. When in doubt, just buy and install a new one to make sure it is adaptable for the ceiling fan and it´s weight. Or if you’re more in doubt, don’t hesitate to call an electrician.
For a fan with a downrod, pass the wires through the canopy trim ring, canopy and downrod. Run the wires on one side of the pin in the dowrod ball. For a flush-mount fan, pass the wires from the fan motor through the top housing, trim ring and canopy.
Downrod installation: insert the downrod into the collar yoke on the fan motor and secure it to the motor assembly following manufacturer´s instructions. Flush-mount: attach the top housing, trim ring and canopy to the fan motor assembly.
Cut and strip the fan wires if necessary according to manufacturer´s instructions.
Use a circuit tester to make sure the power is off.
Use the wire connectors to join the wires according to the manufacturer´s instructions. It can vary depending if you are wiring for two switches to have the fan and light separate or to have a single switch. No bare wire or wire filaments should be exposed after connecting the wires, except the bare or green ground wire. It is always good to secure the wire connectors with electrical tape to prevent vibration during operation.
Insert the wires into the electrical box, maintaining the green and white wires separate from the black wire. If your fan includes a light kit or a separate light switch, you will have additional wiring. You can move it on to the same side of the black wire. Once everything is attached you can start mounting the rest of the ceiling fan according to the manufacturer´s instructions.
Is it right for you?

When choosing a ceiling fan, it´s environmentally friendly to choose one that has an Energy Star label as it moves air about 20% more efficiently than your standard models. As there is not much you can do to make an electric motor more efficient than another modern motor, the main technology used to make ceiling fan motors more efficient is using brushless motors. Energy Star fans included with light kits are also about 60% more efficient and you can save more on your utility bills yearly.

It is best to install a ceiling fan in the center of the room, at minimal 7 feet above or 8-9 feet for efficient airflow. Blade tips should not be closer than 24 inches from the wall and from drapes. Each fan has specific manufacturer´s instructions so your fan will work to its optimal potential.

If you want a ceiling fan in a bathroom or outside on your ceiling closed-in patio, it would be wise to get fans that meet requirements for wet/damp ratings. Fans that are made for constant moisture or salt air are sealed with moisture-resistant motors, rust-resistant housing, stainless steel hardware and all-weather blades.

Keep it Clean

Your fans should at least be cleaned at least once a season. When it’s dirty you are losing its efficiency of air flow. A ceiling fan that is covered with dust or pollen can easily cause health risks especially when you have one in the kitchen while cooking.

No doubt adding a ceiling fan to any room just adds more comfort to your home and most of all you save a lot from your pocket.

Hire A Pro

If you live local to southern maryland or charles county and need some help, call Southern Maryland Electrician Pros and we’ll be out in a jiffy.