Frequently Asked Questions
These are questions I am often asked as an electrician, electrical contractor.
Usually it would take a day to survey your existing panel, check which materials are available locally, then price the job and time to fix it .
When we have a contract and payment the “first day” is what I call a “preps day”. This includes getting materials, getting permit, labeling panel, in general getting ready for the panel change.
The next day is the panel change out day. I have been an electrician since 1988 and have never failed to get the power back on the same day in an occupied residence when doing a main electrical panel upgrade.
There are more reasons, that you should hire a certified electrical contractor to upgrade your electrical panel, such as:
- Burning smell from panel.
- Known problem brands of electrical panel: Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Stabloc, Zinsco.
- The panel is a split busbar.
- The panel is damaged, corroded, rusty, burnt etc.
Assuming the lights had originally been wired correctly and were working properly, usually the problem can be found and fixed by an electrician, well trained in trouble shooting, in one to four hours.
In troubleshooting it has been my experience that the majority of the time is in finding the root cause of the problem. Often once the problem is found a connection needs to be tightened, a switch replaced etc. So, determining the time and cost before finding the actual problem is not possible.
The above answer is based on the following assumptions:
- You have already replaced the light bulbs.
- The lights that need replacing are not fluorescent lights (as they may need ballast…)
I would break down outdoor lighting into two parts.
- Attached to the house lighting:
This is sometimes for security, sometimes aesthetics, sometimes both. More toward security, often motion sensor lights are used. These lights are almost always done with 120 volts.
- Not attached to the house lighting:
This could be in a garden, yard, walkway, around a driveway, around a deck, etc. These lights are simpler and saver to do with 12 volts.
It takes Usually 1 to 2 hours.
Here are variables:
- The first variable, is the existing electrical box rated to support a fan? If not, additional time will be needed to address this problem.
- Some unique fans take longer to install. But usually if simple, one hour to one and a half hours. Can be longer based on variables but rarely over 3 hours.
Most of the time, yes.
Here are some of the main variables:
- Is there an available existing circuit that is Arc Fault protected?
- Is there attic access above where you want the new fan?
- Do you want the fan to be controlled by a wall switch, the fan’s pull chains, a remote controller?
- Did you know that adding a wall switch would increase the cost of the project?
In general, to install a fan in a new location, without a switch, and is a simple install, could take around four hours and require Arc Fault protection which will add some to the expense.
Doing more than one fan as part of the project should save some expense.
There is a good chance we could use the wall switch to control the fan.
Some variables are:
- Is there attic access above the switch and new fan location?
- Are you willing to have the plug with constant power- not switched?
- Did you know that using this switch would increase the cost of the project?
Work with your electrician, electrical contractor to determine whether a wall switch is the best solution for you.
No, it is much better for the homeowner, not the electrician, to select a fan that is best for the home or business owner.
There are some fans (few) that cannot take a separate remote controller.
Not as simple as you would think.
Arc Fault Protection; In most areas of a house the National Electrical Code requires, when changing out even one plug, for it to be Arc Fault protected. This is allowed to be done with a special plug (if there is room in the electrical box) or at the breaker (if there is space in the panel, etc.).
But there is a way to change out a plug or plugs, it might be more work than you had thought. Changing out plugs, when and how to add Arc Fault protection is important. Check with a qualified electrician, electrical contractor.
First as above, when changing out plugs in a house they need to be Arc Fault protected.
The code does allow 3 prong plugs to be put on ungrounded systems if they are ground fault protected and labeled “GFCIed Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.” So, in this case they would need to be both Arc Fault protected, and ground fault protected.
It is good to note though, that if a plug is not actually grounded, then surge protection strip plugs will not function.
When feasible it is best to get the plugs actually grounded, but often this can be cost prohibitive.
In a lot of case, yes we do .
In almost all cases we need to have attic access. There have been 2 or 3 times we managed to get a bathroom exhaust fan without attic access, but usually this is not the case.
We usually install a new bathroom exhaust fan from an existing light. This means that fan will turn on and off with the light. We have always exhausted the fan to the outside, usually the eves.
Yes. For many years now, when I have read the specifications for above the range microwaves, they have all required their own circuit. In my many years of practice as an electrician, electrical contractor, I have sometimes seen that some unqualified electrician has removed an old range exhaust fan and used that wire, but it was not dedicated.
This is not good. So, yes, you do need the above the range microwave on its own circuit breaker from the electrical panel.
In addition to the electrical requirements (see above) there are space or dimension requirements. Is the cabinet space the correct width? In the specifications for the above range microwave there will be a minimum distance from the oven to the microwave. So, if there is not proper clearance, I cannot install it. But usually I can.
Temporary Generator Hook Up What are Some Things I Should Know?
The simplest way to get some temporary power is to get a small generator and run some extension cords. This does not require hiring an electrician, electrical contractor. Many people do not like this option.
A second option is to set up a manual way to put your generator outside and run a cord to a temporary panel hookup. The way I usually like to do this is to put a special set up on the main panel so that the utility power (usual electricity source) and generator cannot deliver power to the panel at the same time (this is often referred to as “interlock”).
This system allows the homeowner to turn individual circuit breakers on and off and manage the electrical power. Yes, this requires both some knowledge of how to deal with gas engines- generator- and an ability to think with math- not use more watts than the generator supplies.
Some other things to know on this are:
- You need a 120/240 generator.
- You are likely to want a generator perhaps around 5000 watts. Perhaps a little higher or lower if you know the load you will be using. (This is not a tutorial on how to size a generator.)
- You will not have enough power to run the central air conditioner. Could run a window A/C.
- The generator must be run outside, not even in the garage.
- Montgomery Electrical Services does not buy the generator or cord for the customer.
A third option is to have a large generator constantly on standby, ready to start itself and automatically power your house.
This may require tens of thousands of dollars, scheduled maintenance, and buried fuel. Montgomery Electrical Services Inc does not offer this generator service.
Over the years as an electrician I have seen pool panels deteriorating faster than other panels. This could be because they are around water, chlorine, and other corrosive elements more than other panels. When your pool panel has corrosion, it should be replaced.
The current code requires ground fault circuit interruption protection on most pool equipment- be sure your electrician addresses this as well.