Celebrate Earth Day With Solar Panel Installation

The first Earth Day took place on April 22nd, 1970 with the goal of a world-wide, deeper appreciation for our planet. Each year, 180 countries around the world celebrate this day to reflect on the environment and find solutions to help make it healthier.

Here at Current Electric, we want to do our part in keeping our planet safe and strong for generations to come. Therefore, we offer solar energy alternatives for your home or business. Not only is it good for the environment, it’s good for your wallet as well. Solar technology is a green power alternative that saves you money.

Even though it’s so beneficial, many people are still on the fence about making the switch to solar energy. We believe that solar energy is the way to go, so to help put your mind at ease, we’re here to show you all the ways that making the switch can benefit you!

Benefits of Going Solar

Soon after you have solar panels installed on the roof of your home or business, you’ll start to notice the benefits. If you’re wondering whether the investment is worth it, you’ll be happy to know that your new solar roof can pay you back, in full, in as little as five five to ten years! How many investments in your home can pay for themselves? With a new installation done by Current Electric, you’ll have:

  • Reduced energy costs. Solar power keeps your money where it should be – in your wallet. After installation, you will literally be making your own electricity and lowering your electricity bills. Even if you partially offset your electric consumption, you’ll still see significant savings.
  • Increased property value. Panels add instant property value to your home or business. Because they’re energy efficient and save on bills, it’s a major selling point. New research by the Department of Energy suggests that buyers were willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home with solar versus a similar home without!
  • Investment. People have a wide range of ways to invest their money, but solar technology is one of the safest. Solar energy is predictable, and as electric rates rise, the investment becomes more and more beneficial.

Is Your Home Suitable for Solar?

Contrary to popular belief, a good amount of homes are suitable candidates for solar. Unless your home is completely surrounded by trees, there’s a good chance that a system can be installed. There are four major factors that come into play when deciding if your home is compatible: roof space, roof orientation, roof slope, and shading. If your home meets the requirements, you’re good to go!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here in Wisconsin, we’re used to inclement weather! This causes a lot of people to think solar isn’t worth it. This couldn’t be further from the truth, so we’re here to set the record straight! Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about snow and solar power in Wisconsin:

Does solar work with all the snow that we get?

Although production is higher in the summer months, the system will still function in the winter months, even after a big snow storm. Depending on the roof slope, the modules naturally shed the snow within a few hours to a couple of days. Further, even when the modules are covered with snow, the system can still produce energy, just at a lower level.

Does hail damage the modules?

In over ten years of installations, we have never seen a damaged solar module from a hail storm.

Can strong winds blow the modules off my roof?

No, the system and attachments are designed to withstand 90 MPH wind gusts, the same as your home or building is designed for.

Will it cause my roof to leak?

While we can’t say we have never had a roof leak, we can say 99.9% of all our roof penetrations have been leak free. Over the past decade, we’ve been called back to fix less than 5 roof leaks. Keep in mind we have over 5,000 roof penetrations, so the 5 leaks accounts for 0.1% leak rate.

If you’re wondering how you can help the planet this Earth Day, consider a solar installation on your home. If you’re still unconvinced, give us a call! We would be happy to answer and questions you may have. Current Electric will help you every step of the way!

A Light Bulb Guide

Our field technicians hear it all the time from our clients: Buying light bulbs is more difficult and frustrating now than it has ever been before, and we agree. If you’ve ever stood in the light bulb aisle at your local hardware store with a deer-in-headlights stare, you are not alone. Between the constantly-changing technology, industry lingo, and government regulations, you might be tempted to switch back to candles and lanterns, but we are here to try and make sense of the most confusing aisle in the store so the next time you need to replace your bulbs, you can find what you need quickly and confidently.

There are 4 major types of light bulbs you will find in a variety of shapes and sizes. The first step in choosing your bulb is to figure out which type you want, and each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Incandescent

Incandescent bulbs are the oldest form of electric lighting. When you imagine somebody having a “lightbulb moment,” the bulb you picture above their head is probably an incandescent bulb. A glass bulb, either clear or frosted, contains a tiny, highly resistive wire called a filament, and when electricity runs through that wire, it creates so much heat that it glows brightly, giving off the light you see.

Incandescent bulbs are known for producing true-to-life color, they are affordable, and they create an ambiance that is warm and inviting when the brightness is toned down by a dimmer switch. However, these bulbs are prone to burning out quickly, they use a lot of electricity, and they produce a lot of heat. They are so inefficient that governments around the world are outlawing incandescent bulbs to reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our energy consumption.

Halogen

Incandescent bulbs have a number of issues that halogen bulbs address. For one, they are more efficient (not much more), which is why when you want to buy a regular light bulb, let’s say you need a 60-watt bulb, the closest thing you will find will be a 43-watt halogen. The light output will be the same (measured in “lumens”), but the electricity needed to power the bulb is reduced.

Halogen bulbs also use a filament, so they produce a clean and true color of light, and they dim beautifully. Halogen light bulbs can also be made in a smaller format, some bulbs as tiny as the tip of your pinky, so they are commonly used in specialty fixtures where space is a concern. They also tend to last significantly longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Halogen bulbs are extremely hot when they are turned on – so hot, in fact, that you can’t even touch the small, fingertip-size bulbs because the oils from your skin can create hot-spots where the glass will actually melt and can explode. They are also not the most efficient bulbs available, only about 25-30% less energy than incandescent.

Fluorescent / CFL

A lot of our clients call these light bulbs the “Curly-Q” style – We call them Compact Fluorescent or CFL. Fluorescent bulbs also come in other shapes like straight tubes and U-shaped tubes. These bulbs contain a type of phosphorous gas that glows when electricity is applied to it. There is no filament that can burn out, so these bulbs last longer and use much less energy than incandescent and halogen bulbs. The price of these bulbs makes them a common choice for people looking to reduce their electric bills, and organizations like Focus On Energy offered rebates on these bulbs for many years, making them even more affordable.

All fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, so disposing of them in a landfill is both harmful and illegal, making it difficult for homeowners to throw them out properly when they need to be replaced, especially in states where there are no easy and accessible recycling programs available (Wisconsin included). The light produced by fluorescent bulbs is very poor quality, rendering objects and people much differently than they look in natural light. Most fluorescent bulbs cannot be dimmed, and the ones that can don’t have a wide range and can be very expensive. Producing a small format fluorescent is virtually impossible because less glass means less light. And finally, cold weather makes fluorescent bulbs perform very poorly, with sluggish startup and dim light, making them a poor choice for anything outdoors in Wisconsin.

LED (Light Emitting Diode)

For years, the only LEDs we saw were little blinky lights on computers and circuit boards. In the past decade, this technology has been refined and adapted for higher brightness and better light quality. While they have their own limitations, LEDs are quickly becoming the bulb of choice for most homeowners, businesses, and manufacturers.

LEDs use roughly 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, making them the most efficient available today, and only getting better as research continues. The quality of light from an LED can be excellent, some bulbs scoring above a 95 on the color rendering index, meaning objects and people under these lights will look true to life. LEDs can be manufactured in virtually any shape and size, most of them are dimmable with standard dimmers, and many manufacturers are making claims of up to 22-year lifespans. There is no toxic gas inside, so they can be thrown into the regular trash.

There are myriad companies producing LED bulbs right now, and there is a big difference between the good ones and the not-so-good, so there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for LEDs:

  • Look for name brands. You will usually have a better experience with big-name manufacturers like Philips, Cree, and Sylvania
  • Look for color temperature. Traditional incandescent bulbs produce a warm white tone, which registers on the Kelvin scale at 2700-3000K. Daylight, which looks bluish to many people,
  • Lands at 5000K. The lower the number, the more yellow/amber the color of light will be.
  • Look for lumens. Gone are the days where watts translate to light output. If you want something that will be as bright as a 60-watt incandescent, you want an LED that puts out 800 lumens.
  • Look for the word “dimmable” if you are using a dimmer switch. Keep in mind that some bulbs may not work well with older dimmers and you may need to upgrade to an LED-compatible dimmer.
  • Look for light quality. Unless you are using the bulbs in a garage or utility room, you’ll want good quality light. Light quality is measured by Color Rendering Index or CRI. A score above 90 is very good.
  • Look for the warranty. While a manufacturer may claim a 22-year lifespan, those claims mean nothing if they don’t back it up with a warranty. Don’t buy a bulb with less than a 5-year warranty, and save your receipt.

That was a lot of information, we know. If we had to sum it all up in 1 sentence, it would be this: Buy LEDs, and do so thoughtfully and informed. Good luck!

Preparing Your Generator For The Winter Ahead

Generators are a backup source of electricity and can be absolutely crucial to some homeowners in order to keep their basements dry, their homes warm, and their food cold. Whatever your reason for wanting a backup generator, the technicians at Current Electric can offer the perfect solution for any budget.

Types of Generators

While there are technically more than two types of generators, our clients generally choose one of the following:

  • Automatic standby, natural gas/liquid propane generators run directly on fuel that comes through available gas lines so they are lower maintenance and don’t require constant refueling as other types of generators do. Natural gas and propane are relatively clean forms of energy that start and run well in all kinds of weather. These units are permanently installed next to the home and take a footprint roughly the size of an air conditioner. In the case of a power outage, the generator will start its own engine and transfer power safely to the backup system. Within a minute, the power is restored without the homeowner needing to lift a finger, and when the utility power comes back, the generator automatically shuts itself down. Advantages to an automatic standby generator include The ability to power more things in the home, up to the entire house, minimal maintenance, reliability, and not needing to worry if you’re not home.
  • Portable gasoline/propane generators are common because of their low upfront cost. When the power goes out, the homeowner retrieves the generator from storage, runs extension cords to the house, and starts the engine. To make it simpler, we can install a plug on the outside of the home that can directly wire into the essential circuits in the home, like the refrigerator and sump pump. This is an economical way to keep the power on for homeowners that are good at staying on top of the maintenance that comes with small engines, and for people who don’t leave the home for extended periods of time.

If you already own a portable generator

  • Keep any generators within a dry, clean area. Make certain that it is in an area in which you can access it, as it can be difficult to find once the lights go out.
  • If it is a gasoline-fueled generator, add new gasoline every couple of months. Consider using a gasoline stabilizer
  • Remove any old gasoline from the tank, if necessary. Dispose of the gasoline properly. Check the fuel line for any sorts of cracks and damage. Replace as necessary.
  • Test your generator once a month in order to ensure that it is working properly
  • If it is a propane generator, call your propane supplier to refill the tank before it is half empty. You may wish to consider the installation of a larger propane tank.

If you already own a permanent standby generator

  • Be sure that you’ve partnered with a reliable and qualified contractor to perform annual maintenance visits, which include changing the engine oil and filter, replacing spark plugs, and checking the health of the battery and air filter.
  • Listen for your weekly “exercise” cycle to be sure the generator is starting and running on a regular basis, and check for any warning lights that can alert you to service needed.

Call Current Electric today for more information about generators!

Current Electric Will Be at the NARI Home Show! Booth 242!

The Home & Remodeling Show is a vital resource in considering your next home improvement project! This show features hundreds of reputable NARI Member home improvement professionals showcasing products and information related to improvement and maintenance of the interior or exterior of the home. Whether it’s an addition, kitchen or bathroom renovation or home maintenance needs of a new roof, windows, siding, gutters or more, it’s all available at the Home & Remodeling Show.

Have a one-on-one conversation to address your questions, or gather inspiration to decide on your home improvement or maintenance plans. This show is a complete consumer experience with engaging seminars, interactive spaces, ideas for the holidays and more!

How to Cut Down Your Energy Bills with Solar Panel Installation

Saving money isn’t easy when it comes to utility bills, especially if it means compromising your comfortable lifestyle. With changes in seasons, bills fluctuate. Summers and winters have many appliances needing to sap more electricity just to function. It’s a frustrating situation. You don’t want to spend more in bills, but there’s always a limit to how much you can cut down on using appliances. Sometimes your hard efforts just don’t cut it. So what can you do in a seemingly helpless situation? The answer is literally right above you. It might sound crazy at first, but if you’re sick of what you’re paying for utility bills, now’s the perfect time to invest. It’s time to invest in solar panel installation. Harnessing the sun provides you with a clean, renewable, and reliable source of electricity that ultimately pays for itself. You’re not just helping the environment; you’re helping yourself, considerably.

Want to Know More?

For converting sunlight into energy, solar panels have a fairly simple design. The panel, made of glass, protects the solar cells inside, which is what converts sunlight into electricity. Those cells are wired together and make one solar panel. There’s usually an array, or row, of multiple solar panels, which are either installed on top a homeowner’s roof, lawn or attached to a pole. There’s an inverter which converts DC power into AC power, and a battery to store any excess electricity generated. There are also two different types of solar panels, off-grid, and grid connected. Off-grid solar panels are best for isolated communities that typically don’t have much access to utility companies. Homes that run on off-grid solar panels can be entirely self-sufficient, and residents can directly use the electricity generated from the panels. Grid connected solar panels are connected to a grid, meaning homeowners can either use the electricity generated from the solar panels or if need be, use electricity from the grid.

Sounds Interesting Right? But How Does Solar Panel Installation Cut Down Your Energy Bills?

In several ways actually, because solar panels can produce and store a considerable amount of electricity, you can end making money versus just saving money. The solar industry is booming, and by 2016, the US installed enough solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to power 8.3 million homes. States and utility companies go as far as to provide homeowners financial incentives for installing solar panels in their homes. If you ever plan to sell your home, installing solar panels can increase your home value by 17%. Still need convincing? Here’s how solar panels save you money.

  • Tax returns and rebates. Within the first year of solar panel installation, you will receive 30% of the cost back in federal tax returns. This means you could earn up to $7,500 for a $25,000 investment. Some states, municipalities, utility companies, or organizations that want to promote solar energy, will provide rebates, it will depend on how much solar is installed and usually only lasts for a limited time.
  • Performance Based Incentives. Some states and or utility companies will pay solar energy providers with a per kilowatt-hour credit for the electricity they generate. They’re paid monthly over a 5 year period, and the amount of payment depends on how much electricity is generated.
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificates. There’s legislation in some states that require utility companies to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from solar power. Homeowners can earn SRECs if they meet the criteria and sell them to utility companies, which can result in hundreds and sometimes even up to thousands of dollars in income per year.
  • Lower Monthly Bills. Homeowners who have solar panels can expect their electricity bills to decrease by at least $100 a month. In 20 years, homeowners can save up to $30,000.
  • Solar Purchase Power Agreements. If you’re concerned about the initial costs, solar providers can provide a ‘no cost installation’ option. The solar installers would own the solar panels on your roof, and take care of maintenance and repairs. In return, you simply pay for the electricity provided at a discounted rate. Whereas you wouldn’t have to pay for the electricity generated from the solar panels if you bought them, renting solar panels can still be cheaper than the typical cost of utility bills.
  • Low Payback Period. Homeowners with solar panels can expect a payback in ten years or less, depending on where you live. Residents in Hawaii, for example, can see a payback in just 5 years.
  • An Increase in Home Value. If you plan to sell your house, solar panel installation will help make your home marketable. A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory concluded that on average, homes with solar panels installed sold 20% faster and added about $17,000 to the listing price.

Don’t Wait on Those Rebates, Invest in Solar Panel Installation

It’s crazy how much money you can save from solar panels. Both your state and utility company have enough incentive to keep paying you if your home generates enough electricity. What’s even better is a solar panel’s warranty, lasting up to at least 25-34 Years- that’s at least 25-34 Years of lowered utility bills, PBIs, and SRECs. So why wait if you’re already dreading the next bill? It’s time to add to your roof a new accessory.

 

Electrical Safety Inspections Will Keep Milwaukee Safer This Summer

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says that electrical problems are the biggest source of home structure fires in the U.S. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) blame improper wiring and the small appliances in your homes as  the leading causes of accidental electrocutions in your home. Heed these words and warnings and make sure to get your home full electrical safety inspections regularly to protect your family.

At Current Electric, our professional electricians will perform electrical safety inspections in your home in the Milwaukee area. A full electrical safety inspection will consist of thorough examinations of every part of your electrical system to ensure everything is up to the proper safety regulations set by the National Electrical Code (NEC). We especially recommend getting an electrical safety inspection when you’re purchasing a home, when your home turns 40 years old, or when adding a major appliance or addition to your house.

Features of our Electrical Safety Inspection in Milwaukee

In the digital age we live in, your modern home probably relies on the electrical system for everyday functionality – from making your breakfast to signing onto to Facebook to keep in touch with your loved ones. Our licensed inspections offer the following features as part of our electrical safety inspections in Milwaukee:

  • A detailed checklist of areas in need of immediate repair, improvements, or upgrades.
  • Testing your whole-house surge protectors, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
  • Reviewing your security lighting, proper light bulb wattage, and electrical service panel.
  • Verification of properly working arc fault circuit interrupters.
  • Checking all electrical switches and outlets for shock hazards and ensuring grounding systems.
  • Identifying any outdated or older wiring.

Benefits of our Electrical Safety Inspection in Milwaukee

Hiring our pros at Current Electric to perform an electrical safety inspection in Milwaukee once or twice a year will help you earn the following benefits:

  • Increasing your home’s overall security.
  • Preventing fires, surprise issues, and freak injuries to your family.
  • Peace of mind that your home is functioning at an efficient level and is at minimal risk of an electrical fire.
  • Confirming safe operation of all the electrical applications in your household.
  • Saving energy and lowering your bills with a more efficient electrical system.

Call our expert electricians at Current Electric to schedule your electrical safety inspection in Milwaukee today!

Service Panel Upgrade in Milwaukee 

As people add new household appliances and electronics to their homes, electric service panel upgrades are essential to keep everything working the way that it should.

How Do Service Panel Upgrades Work?

Your electrician will take note of the types of appliances and electronics you use in your home – or those you plan to add in the future – and calculate the number of amps needed for everything to run smoothly.

The average family home can successfully run on about 200 amps of power. If you have an older home that might be wired for fewer than 200 amps, or want to add items that will need more than 200 amps to run, you will need a service panel upgrade.

What Types of Homes Need A Service Panel Upgrade in Milwaukee?

Older Homes

Older homes should be inspected on a regular basis by a licensed electrician to make sure that their electrical grounding is safe and that safety updates are installed as necessary. Not all older homes need a service panel upgrade in Milwaukee, but it’s important to find out if yours does.

Homes That Have Issues with Frequently Tripped Breakers

If you find that you are frequently tripping breakers in your Milwaukee home – if your lights go out when you use your hair dryer for example – it might be time for a service panel upgrade.

Homes with Heavy Electronics and Appliance Usage

Some appliances and luxury items can require a great deal of electricity. Installing one of them might mean that you need a service panel upgrade. Some of these items include:

  • Hot tubs
  • Pool filters and heaters
  • Power tools
  • Pressure washers
  • Central air conditioning systems
  • Heat pumps
  • Some kitchen appliances

If you think your home might need a service panel upgrade, call your Milwaukee electrician for an inspection today.

 

Signs that You Need Home Safety Inspection in Milwaukee 

If you’ve never had a home safely inspection there’s no time better than the present to have one done. If you’re like most people, your home is your biggest investment. And the health and safety of your family comes before everything else. A home safety inspection is one of the best ways to protect your home and family.

What Does a Home Safety Inspection in Milwaukee Include?

A home safety inspection will include several elements on the interior and exterior of your home.

Exterior Safety Inspection Should Include:

Yard, driveway and hardscaping: These areas should all be checked for rotten tree limbs, frayed power lines, overgrown shrubs that can reduce visibility, holes or cracks that can present a tripping hazard, and woodpiles or debris that can attract rodents, termites or carpenter ants.

Outbuildings, Porches and Pools: Decks and patios should be checked for rotting wood and stability. This also goes for railings and exterior staircases. Outdoor lighting and garage doors should be checked to make sure they are in working order. Exterior electrical outlets should be inspected for safety and water tightness.

Interior Safely Inspection Should Include:

Main House:

  • Check doors and windows: Make sure locks are in working order and that doors and window close tightly to discourage intruders.
  • Flooring: Inspect flooring for loose nails or tiles, buckling or warping that could cause you to trip and fall.
  • Paint: If your home was built prior to the 1980s, any loose paint should be checked for lead.
  • Mold and Mildew: Check for evidence of mold and mildew, including musty smells and unusually damp areas.
  • Plumbing and Electrical: Test well water for contaminants annually, and have your furnace or boiler serviced every fall. Replace appliances with frayed cords, and be sure to have a whole-home electrical inspection every five years.

Kitchen and Bath:

  • Tub and Shower: You tub and/or shower should be fitted with non-slip mats and grab bars.
  • Stove: Make sure all burners are in working order and knobs work properly. Curtains and towels should be kept well away from any cooking surface.

Do you need home safety inspection from the experts? Call Current Electric to schedule a check today!

3 Reasons to Install Solar Power in Your Milwaukee Home 

You’ve most likely been seeing solar panels more and more often these days: on homes, business and even on public buildings. You’ve probably wondered, too, what it would take to install solar power in your Milwaukee home, and what the benefits of installing solar power might be. Here are three reasons to install solar power in your Milwaukee home that you might want to consider.

  1. It might cost less than you think. Solar power for home use is becoming more mainstream. As solar panel installation becomes more popular and installation methods become more efficient, costs for installation are quickly dropping. You also might be able to finance the cost of installing a solar power system, avoiding the need to pay for the whole job up front. Another cost bonus is that payback times are getting shorter for people who install solar power. The average amount of time it takes to recoup your investment in a solar power system is about half of what it was five years ago.
  2. Rebates and incentives might be available. For a short time, until Dec. 31, 2016, you can earn a federal tax credits when you install solar power in your Milwaukee home. Some state and regional tax credits might also be available. Be sure to ask your installer for a list of incentives and credits that are available to homeowners.
  3. You don’t need to live in a sunny place to save money. When calculating savings, your local electric rates are more important than the amount of sunlight you receive. Markets with the highest rates enjoy more savings and faster payback on solar power systems regardless of how sunny they are.

Ready to find out more about how to install solar power in your Milwaukee home? Call your licensed installer today.

Home Generator Installation in Milwaukee: Why Generac?

Homeowners who live in areas that experience frequent power outages are advised to install generators in order to avoid losing the use of their essential appliances. A generator can also help homeowners maintain safety and comfort features like heat, lighting and well water pumps during a severe storm – when they need them most. But how do you know which type of generator to choose?

Generac offers several models of home generators that can protect you from power outages 24 hours a day. If you’re thinking about home generator installation in Milwaukee here are a few reasons why you should consider installing a Generac:

EcoGen Series: This generator is the only one designed specifically to backup alternative energy systems, such as solar or wind power. An EcoGen generator can recharge your power system’s batteries when your main power source can’t.

  • An EcoGen only needs maintenance after every 500 hours of use.
  • The EcoGen series is fueled by environmentally friendly, energy efficient LP gas.
  • This model is the quietest in the industry.

Corepower System: If you’re only looking to back up your essential circuits during a power outage, you might think that a portable generator is the most affordable option. The Corepower automatic standby generator from Generac costs about the same a portable generator, and it’s easier to use.

  • You don’t have to change your fuel supply. The Corepower can run on LP or natural gas.
  • The Corepower comes with an automatic power transfer switch.
  • Unlike a portable generator, the Corepower starts automatically when the power goes out.

Guardian Series: This is one of the most powerful air-cooled generators on the market, as well as the most popular standby generator in North America. The Guardian can provide all the backup electricity needed for your home or business.

  • Within 10 seconds of an outage, the Guardian generator will begin working.
  • The Guardian comes with Generac’s Nexus Controller that includes an LCD display, allowing you to monitor the status of your generator from inside your home.

QuietSource Series: If you’re looking for complete power protection for your home or business, the QuietSource generator by Generac fits the bill.

  • Runs more quietly than any other brand.
  • The QuietSource’s powerful low-speed liquid-cooled engine is fuel efficient.
  • The QuietSource has an aluminum, watertight enclosure that will protect it from all types of weather.
  • You can monitor the functions of your generator from inside of your home with the Generac’s Nexus Controller.

Looking for home generator installation in Milwaukee? Find out why Generac is the best choice today by calling your licensed electrician.