Megavolt - Your source for electrical information in Israel




Random Electrical Tips

By: Jonathan Z. Kremer

1. When buying light fixtures:


A. It’s a good idea to stay away from fixtures that have no place for the heat of the bulb to disperse. They cause the bulb(s) to burnout prematurely, and, if they are the flat ceiling type, usually end up burning the wires from the ceilings. One of the worse culprits are flat halogen fixtures that are totally closed up. Halogen lamps burn very hot. If the bulb is right up against the back of the fixture, it usually ends up burning not only all the wires coming out of the ceiling, but the ceiling too. This can be a real fire hazard.

B. All metal on light fixtures should be grounded. Make sure that there is a proper place on the fixture to connect the grounding wire. Ask the salesman if you’re not sure.

  1. When moving into a new apartment (rented or purchased), it’s a good idea to chart out your electrical panel as soon as possible. This is done by marking your main breaker and ground-fault, then numbering each breaker. Then by getting a sheet of paper, making rows and numbering them, have one person stand near the panel (person #1) while another (with paper in hand) goes to the first room and puts on the lights. Person #1 then turns off breakers (one by one) until something goes off in the first room. Then the one in the room asks what number breaker it is, and marks it down. This is done for everything and anything electrical in the room. Please be accurate in your markings. When the first room is completed, continue on to the next, and then the next, until the whole apartment/house is charted. Don’t forget outdoor lights and outlets, balconies, and basements/sheds. This chart will be of great use, in more ways than one, sometime in the future.

  2. Have the connections in your electrical panel checked at least once a year. Even in the best scenario, the wires and connections are constantly heating up and cooling down in direct relation to the amount of power being used. As time passes, this heating and cooling causes the metal to expand and contract. This leads to the screws working loose, which in turn causes the wires and connections to start burning up. In most factories, as part of the preventive maintenance plan, all connections are checked twice a year in all of the electrical panels and junction boxes found around the building.

  3. Never use extension cords or 3 way adapters (called a “mishulash” in Israel) with any appliance that uses a lot of power (i.e. ovens and heaters). With time, this will cause the outlet, adapter and plug to burn up. Many times when this happens, and the problem is not caught early enough, causing the wires in the wall to burn up as well, requiring much more work replacing.

  4. Some fluorescent lamps have two bulbs sharing the same ballast. This means that if one bulb burns out the other will stop working until the faulty one is replaced. Even though having one ballast for two bulbs saves the cost of another ballast, it can never-the-less be very inconvenient and confusing. Where possible, try and pick a fixture that has a ballast for each bulb.

  5. To save time and trouble, when replacing a fluorescent bulb change the starter at the same time. Usually when a bulb dies out, the starter is not far behind.

  1. Clean the dust off your bulbs regularly. Dust on the bulb blocks out part of the light that the bulb puts out, making it less efficient.

  2. Test your ground-fault interrupter (GFI) every few months. On the body of the GFI is a test button. This button, if pressed, will cause the GFI to trip, demonstrating that it is in working order. Should the GFI fail to trip when the button is pressed, call an electrician to examine, and possibly replace, it.

    NOTE:   To understand what a GFI is, please see "All About Your Electrical Panel"

  3. This next tip is mainly for the older homes that don't get their grounding from the foundations of the building.

    It happens too often that a plumber comes to a home to replace some damaged piping, and a couple of days after he finishes the occupants realize that they are getting electrical shocks from all the faucets and appliances. This could be caused by accidental or non-accidental disconnecting of the grounding (earth) system during the repair.

    In most of the older buildings in Israel the grounding of the electrical system is connected to the metal water piping coming from the municipality and the piping running through the home or apartment building.

    Most of the water piping used today for repairs is plastic. Plastic is an insulator, and cannot maintain the continuity of the grounding as did the metal piping. Depending on where the work is done, when a plumber replaces even a small part of the original water piping with plastic, the whole grounding system can fail, leaving you in a potentially dangerous situation.

    Although most good plumbers are aware of the grounding problem and work appropriately, unfortunately many are interested only in the plumbing aspect and disregard the affects that it has on the electrical system.

    If piping is being repaired in or around your home (especially on the main line), ask those in charge if they are affecting the grounding in any way and what they are doing to preserve it's working status.. If you have any doubts as to what condition your electrical grounding is in, call your electrician.

  4. When installing a ceiling fan with a light fixture, it is better to install a double switch on the wall to control the fan and light (even though it may involve adding another wire), rather than use the pull chains provided on the fan constantly. Not only are the switches (pull chains) less convenient to use, they are usually not as robust as the wall switches are and wear out/break much easier. Also, the switches on the fan are usually much harder to purchase when it's time to replace.

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