The following are the most common electrical questions asked by our customers in the Saint Cloud area. Please contact us so we can discuss your own electrical needs, as each electrical configuration and design is different. We can personalize your service and provide you with an array of options.
The National Electric Code calls for 100 amps minimum, but with all of today's electronic devices, air conditioning, and small appliances, we suggest 200 amps in new homes (this also gives you extra for any future additions or new devices). Service installation is complicated, and should be completed by a licensed professional. In most cases, installation involves replacing everything from the service loop (the wire that extends from the top of your meter to the utility tie-in) up to and including the main panel.
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is designed to protect people from severe or fatal electric shocks. The GFCI constantly monitors electricity flowing in a circuit and can sense any loss of current. If the current flowing through the circuit differs by a small amount from that returning, the GFCI quickly switches off power to that circuit. The GFCI interrupts power quickly to prevent a serious shock injury (electrocution).
There are two types of GFCls in homes - the GFCI outlet and the GFCI circuit breaker. Both serve the same purpose, but each has different applications and limitations.
The GFCI outlet is actually a replacement for a standard electrical outlet. A GFCI does not need a ground wire to function. It does not measure shorts to the ground, but instead it measures the current difference between the hot and neutral wires. A sudden difference of 5 milliamps or more (indicating that there is another path for the electricity to flow through) will trip this device. The downside to this is that there may be some "nuisance-tripping" in highly inductive loads (e.g. large motor, fluorescent lamps or fixtures on the same circuit, etc.). The GFCI outlet protects any appliance plugged into it, and can also be wired to protect other outlets that are connected to it.
The GFCI circuit breaker controls an entire circuit, and is installed as a replacement for a circuit breaker on your home's main circuit board. Rather than install multiple GFCI outlets, one GFCI circuit breaker can protect an entire circuit.
All bathroom and garage outlets within six feet of a sink must be GFCI-protected. Electric code also requires all kitchen outlets for countertop use to be GFCI-protected. GFCls are also required for basements, pools, spas, utility rooms, attached garages, and outdoors. At least one GFCI outlet is required in an unfinished basement, and for all outdoor outlets.
In some states the homeowner can pull their own electrical permit for work in a single family home, however, if there is damage or fire that is found to be a result of that work, homeowners insurance may not cover the costs like it would if the work was done by a licensed electrical contractor.
Doing electrical work yourself is a gamble. You may be putting yourself and others at risk by attempting to complete electrical work on your own. Even the smallest job could become a safety hazard, and electricity and electrical work should not be taken lightly.
In every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, library, den, bedroom, or similar room or area of a dwelling unit, convenience outlets should be installed within 6 feet of the start of a wall, and every 12 feet after that. This prevents the use of extension cords because most household appliances are supplied with 6 foot cords. Outlets are usually placed about 18 inches above floor level, and switches usually are placed about 48 inches above floor level.
The AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker will shut off a circuit in a fraction of a second if an arc is detected in a circuit. An arc does not always carry enough current to trip a standard breaker, but it will trip an AFCI (which helps prevent fires).
There is a difference between AFCls and GFCls. AFCls are intended to reduce the likelihood of fire caused by electrical arcing faults; GFCls are for personal protection and are intended to reduce the likelihood of electric shock hazards. Both serve as safety features. Combination devices that include both AFCI and GFCI protection are available.
AFCls can be installed for additional protection in any 15 or 20 ampere circuit in your home. In the near future, other types of devices with AFCI protection will be available.
Ryan Electric of St. Cloud, Inc. is an electrical contractor providing full capability electrical contracting for new construction, renovations, tenant improvements, service upgrades, exterior, interior and landscape lighting, retrofits and service installations.
From design to finish, our experienced estimators, project managers and technicians provide the expertise to ensure your electrical project is completed on time, on budget and up to code. Contact us today and we'll show you how we can put our knowledge to work for you.
Don't wait until the wall receptacle is overloaded or your lights dim when the air conditioner starts. Contact us first. We can answer any question you have about your electrical system.