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Five Best Places to Install Electrical USB Outlets in Your Home

Category: Electrical

Where Should I Have USB Outlets Installed In My Home?

Being able to charge your iPhone, iPad, and tablets plus still have room to plug in lights, makes life easier. Here are a few ideas for where you should have USB outlets installed in your home!

USB Outlets in bedroom Lutron

In a world of smartphones, laptops, and a plethora of electronic devices and accessories, keeping track of charging cables and their wall adaptor companions can be a hassle. A simple solution to this issue is to install USB electric outlets, which have USB ports in place of, or alongside, traditional electrical outlets. A USB outlet converts 120 VOLT AC wall power into five volt DC power. 

It’s something we hear every day, “has anyone seen my charger?”.

With an electrical wall USB outlet, you can charge your electronic devices and accessories with your regular charging cable without the need for an adaptor and place them in places that make sense to the functionality of your home.

Five Best Places to Install  USB Outlets in Your Home

Strategically placed USB outlets can enhance your home’s functionality specific to the needs of your household. Consider placing USB outlets in the following places: 

  • Entryways: Above a shelf, table, or cubby by an entryway is an excellent place to put a USB outlet. A great productivity hack is to have a landing zone in your home. One spot for your phone, keys, jacket, and any other belongings.
  • Kitchen counters and islands: USB outlets in the kitchen are useful in the same ways as your home’s entryway. Charge your iPad in one place where it can be easily grabbed. 
  • Floor outlets in the family room: Floor USB outlets in the middle of the room, i.e. next to the couch, eliminate the need for additional accessories like extension chords. You’ll be able to charge your phone, tablet, and more without additional clutter taking away from the visual appeal of the room. 
  • Wall outlets in bedrooms: Having a USB outlet by your bed, desk, or even behind a wall-mounted television can prove to be useful for accessories that need to stay plugged in like clocks, gaming systems, and charging stations. 
  • Bathroom vanities: Having a USB outlet built into or next to your bathroom vanity can be used to support bathroom accessories like electric toothbrushes and electric razors. They can also be used to charge your cellphones and smart accessories overnight. 

Picking the Best USB Outlet for Your Home

A USB charging port will end up sharing the amperage output for the new USB outlet. Devices such as phones and tablets typically require 1 ampere of electricity. A charging iPhone or Android device typically takes one amp. A tablet might take up to 2.4 amps. With two charger ports sharing 3.6 amps, you’re covered for charging a phone and a tablet. If you have two devices each requiring 2.4 amps, however, charging will be a bit slower.

Installing USB outlets throughout your home enhances your home’s functionality and aesthetic appeal. Minneapolis Electricians with Dean’s Home Services install a variety of different types of electrical outlets in your home. Untangle your life with USB outlets that match the way you live!

What to Do When Your Lights Keep Flickering

When you’re trying to relax at home or get ready for the day, lights flickering are probably the last thing you want to deal with. The causes can range from small to major, either way, it’s something that you’ll want to fix. Learn how to know when it’s a DIY job and when it’s something you should leave for a professional electrician.

lights flickering

Reasons for Lights Flickering In Your House

What Causes House Lights to Flicker?

There are a lot of potential causes for flickering lights, which means you’ll have to troubleshoot the problem a little to find the cause. Here are common reasons why your lights might be flickering.

Poor Wiring: If the wiring in your home is old and/or hasn’t been properly maintained, it could be causing your lights to flicker. A common reason why wiring may be causing your lights to flicker is if the wiring isn’t grounded properly. If the wiring in your home isn’t properly grounded, it can cause excessive current flow in the wiring to occur, which can cause flickering lights.

Wiring Issues: Aside from wiring issues caused by poor wiring, wiring issues that are inherent to the wiring in your home can also cause flickering lights. Electrical wiring issues most commonly occur with age, but they can also happen as a result of high usage.

Light Fixture Issues: Your light fixtures may be causing your lights to flicker, especially if you have an older home. Light fixtures that are older can sometimes cause flickering lights due to the wiring inside them being worn out due to use.

When the Lightbulb isn’t the Problem, Check the Wiring

If replacing the light bulb doesn’t correct the problem, you may want to replace the wiring inside the light fixture. If it’s an antique, then it may be worth taking the time to have the wiring replaced.

Have a professional electrician evaluate your home

If you’ve tried troubleshooting the problem and you’re still dealing with a light that flickers, you may want to have a professional electrician come out and take a look at your home’s wiring. Dean’s licensed electricians are experienced with troubleshooting electrical issues in the Twin Cities

Electrical issues are often easy to spot, but they can be very dangerous. Because of this, it’s best to leave electrical issues to the professionals.

A professional electrician can look at your wiring and let you know if there are any issues with it. A professional electrician can also let you know if there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of dealing with flickering lights in the future.

Having the lights in your home flicker is a real annoyance and when you’re able to tell the difference between a minor and major problem, you can save yourself from a major disaster.

Outdoor renovations that involve outdoor wiring for lighting and security are never complete until the wiring attached to these systems has been carefully and strategically hidden away from view. Wires often distract from most outdoor decorative themes and a structure’s attractiveness.

outdoor wiring

Built-in and string light power cords, for example, can become a trip and fall or tangle hazard if they run near the flooring of a porch or patio. Exposed cables that connect to alarms, motion detectors, and cameras can actually pose a security risk if a thief or vandal locates and cuts them to prevent detection.

Hiding these wires from view isn’t difficult. Homeowners can approach the problem of unsightly wires with one or more of these three simple solutions:

How to Hide Outdoor Wires

1. Special Mounting Base

A professional electrician can help you choose and secure a metal or plastic mounting base that is large and deep enough to hide all of the exposed wires outside the house near a mounted light. The electrician coils the wires secure them with a plastic tie or tape and then places the coil within the base. A box-style mounting base can also be used for pathway lights connected to underground wires.

2. Paintable Channel Raceways

In an office, a tech hides wires and cords attached to computers and other systems along the floor, walls or ceiling of a room behind special long guides that have a smooth curved or rectangular shape. Similar outdoor wire raceway options also exist that you can stain or paint to match or blend in with nearby surfaces. These options provide an inexpensive sleek and modern solution to unsightly and dangerous wiring outdoors.

3. Decorative Outdoor Cover

Many people successfully hide wires behind decorative items. For example, you might run string light wiring behind decorative porch roof molding. Manufacturers have also designed decorative boxes for hiding wires, security keypads, circuit breakers and other electrical systems. Do-it-yourself enthusiasts often build covers with faux rustic and modern decorative designs. For example, a property owner might hide wires, cables and attached systems behind or under a cover designed to look like a stone pedestal, sculpture, lighthouse, birdhouse, miniature shed or small closed door and walled entryway.

If you’re interested in remodeling your home or need assistance with exterior lighting projects, call Dean’s electricians to help. Our licensed and insured electricians can handle all electrical projects, repairs, breakers, panels, switches and outlets, along with any home wiring project.

 

Problems with a Federal Pacific Panel

Buying an older home in the Twin Cities can be exciting but before you submit an offer, check to see if the house has a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok electric panel. This is a big concern because these panels are not safe.

The Dangers of Federal Pacific Electric Panel

Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) sold millions of electric panels with these breakers between the 1950s and 1980s and electricians with Dean’s Home Services are still finding them in houses and condos around Minneapolis/Saint Paul.

The Problematic History of Stab-Lok Breakers

Federal Pacific aren’t the only ones who used the problematic stab lok breakers. Federal Pacific Electric Company went as far as to commit fraud in order to keep the product on the market. The specific issue with the Federal Pacific panel is that Stab-Lok breakers fail to trip during moderate to severe electrical current overload.

Eventually tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission it was determined that Stab-Lok breakers had an unacceptably high rate of failure. Tests also revealed that 51% of breakers would jam leading to fires and an estimated $40 million dollars of property damage in the United States each year.

‘Decades of Danger’ NBC Investigation

Four Ways to Identify a Federal Pacific Panel

  1. The FPE logo, which is often on the outside of the panel
  2. The panel says “Federal Pacific”
  3. A sticker inside the panel says “Federal Pacific Electric Company”
  4. The panel says “Stab-Lok” on the breakers
Federal Pacific Electric Panel

When it comes to a home’s electric panel, electricians all agree it’s not a matter of diagnosing or fixing a FPE panel, the best choice is to replace it before this ticking time bomb explodes. it’s also important to know that before the danger of the breaker was realized a number of other companies placed them in homes around the United States. If you suspect a problem with your electrical panel, never try fixing it yourself, as there is a huge risk of electrocution and damage to your electrical system. Leave all panel repair and replacement projects to licensed and insured electricians with Dean’s Home Services.

Why Aluminum Wiring in a Home is Dangerous and What to Do About It

As homeowners, it’s hard to stay on top of every single problem in the house— especially when the problem is inside the walls and out of sight. A major concern for Dean’s professional electricians is outdated wiring in homes around Minnesota. A major safety concern for electricians is aluminum wiring in your house because you have a fire waiting to happen. Many houses built between 1965 and 1972 were wired with aluminum instead of copper.

Signs of Bad Wiring in Your Home

  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers.
  • Flickering or dimming lights.
  • Buzzing or crackling sounds.
  • Frayed wires.
  • Aluminum or knob-and-tube wiring.
  • Warm or vibrating spots on outlets or walls.
  • Smoke coming from outlets or appliances.
  • Burning smells or scorch marks on electrical fixtures.

Problem with Aluminum Wiring Use in Older Homes

  • Failure at the connection points, such as splices between wires, connections at outlets, circuit breakers, switches, lights, etc.
  • There are thousands of houses in Minneapolis/St. Paul but especially the surround suburbs built during this period
  • In 1972, the formula for aluminum wiring changed, making it a much safer product.  Aluminum wiring was used in single family homes for a few years after that, but was completely phased out by the mid-’70s. The Home Inspector – StarTribune.com
Burned out outlet, Aluminum Wiring, safety, minnesota

Issues with Aluminum Wiring Compared to Copper

1) Rusting: When metal rusts, it oxidizes. Oxidized copper is still conductive, while aluminum is not so much. Thus interfering with the flow of electricity.

2) Softness: Aluminum is a lot softer than copper. It is much easier to nick or break.

3) Cold Creep: Wire heats up when electrons flow through it. Aluminum expands when heated expansion and contraction cause connections to loosen.

Dean’s electricians are able to help you identify issues with the wiring in your home by performing a full home electrical inspection, Our trained, experienced pros can help with your electrical system and any other aging parts of your house:

A house can go from warm and inviting to festive in minutes with well-placed holiday decorations. Most people in Minnesota start putting up Christmas lights the first week of December, and some start earlier than that. The process can be frustrating and can cause problems if it’s not done right, especially if you’re using extension cords or proper outlets. We talked to a handful of electricians with Dean’s Home Services and got some great advice for creating a hassle-free holiday display.

Christmas Display

When Hanging Christmas Lights, Avoid Blowing a Fuse

When you string too many lights together and plug them into the wall, you’re more likely to blow a fuse, and your lights won’t stay lit. A good way to avoid this is by using LED light bulbs which means more lights and a much smaller chance of tripping a breaker.

GFCI Outlets Are Your Friend

GFCI senses the slightest difference in the amount of electricity between what enters a circuit and what leaves the circuit. A small variation, as little as 5 milliamps, will cause the circuit to trip or shut down within 1/10th of a second. This prevents people from getting electrocuted.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Christmas lights and decorations and GFCIs, generally all it takes to trip a circuit is for a little moisture to get into the outlet, cord, or lights. If this happens and the power is on, the circuit will trip, causing the lights and décor to go out. Make sure you’re keeping the area as dry as possible and when possible, avoid using splitters or having to connect multiple ext

Going All Out? You May Need Extra Circuits

If you’re installing a lot of lights on your home, you may need to install new circuits to handle the usage. If you don’t pay attention to the number of amps your lights are drawing, you could create a fire hazard. If you plan on going big with your holiday display, you’ll need more power, which is when it’s important you have an electrician from Dean’s help set you up with a safe, reliable setup

Using a smart outlet/timer is another good way to control your lights, even better, have a Dean’s electrician place outlets outside your home.

Christmas Lights Still Tripping?

Older houses and Christmas lights don’t get along well. The average older home’s outdoor outlet is connected to a GFI which is a part of the circuit.  If you’re using a lot of electricity in your bathroom, it can directly affect your outdoor lights. 

Top Christmas Light Tipss From Dean’s Electricians

  • Use common sense.
  • Avoid placing extension cords over sidewalks or high traffic areas
  • Test lights before hanging
  • Keep an eye on pets because they love to investigate and sometimes even chew on wires.
  • Use approved hangers not tacks, nails or staples which can damage the insulation around the wires, creating a fire hazard.

Thanksgiving Recipes

When it comes to creating the perfect Thanksgiving meal, we here at Dean’s Home Services feel you shouldn’t just be focusing on your main dish. It’s important to make sure all of the other components including the sides and desserts are up to quality. We collected some unique ideas from co-workers at Dean’s for your taste buds to enjoy on Turkey Day. These recipes are not only unique, but they are simple enough so you can still enjoy family and friends.

Ari’s Mighty Mac N’ Cheese

Ari – Customer Advocate

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 

1 pound elbow macaroni 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter 

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster Cheese

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese 

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack 

2 cups of half and half 

1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes 

2 large eggs, lightly beaten 

1/4 teaspoon season salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Light butter a deep 2 1/2-quarter casserole dish. 

In a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender (about 7 minutes). Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot. 

In a small sauce pan, melt 8 tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild, sharp cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese. Add the half and half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese and cubed Valeeta and the eggs. Season with the salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheeses on top. 

Bake until its bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot. 

Josh’s Mmmm-mmm-mmm Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Josh – Dean’s Club Customer Advocate

  

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil

Add 6 peeled and cut sweet potatoes, cook tender for about 20 mins

Drain water then add ½ cup of milk while mixing thoroughly. Add ½ cup at a time until desired texture.

Add ½ cup of butter and a ½ cup of maple syrup while continuing to mix.

Top with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and (optional) small marshmallows for desired sweetness

Kelly’s Wildly Amazing Wild Rice

This family recipe comes from Kelly’s grandfather a traveling salesman that would get wild rice while on trips.

Kelly | Home Comfort Consultant

Ingredients

Wild Rice | 1 lb black label bacon | large onion | mushrooms

Cook 2-3 cups of wild rice in water for about 15 minutes have the rice cook at a simmer. You’ll then dump, strain and rinse the rice. Do this 2x or until the rice begins to look ‘puffy”. (15ish minutes) Do this 2x to get it clean.


Now cook the wild rice again in the stock of your choice, simmer, and after 15 minutes strain, DO NOT RINSE

While you’re cooking the wild rice, cook 1lb black label bacon, cook it crispy, and cut it into squares (set aside because bacon is added when it’s time to serve. 

Use bacon grease to cook 1 large chopped onion and 1 chopped container of mushrooms.  Chop and Saute

Take the cooked onion, mushrooms, and a few tablespoons of the bacon grease and mix it in with the wild rice. Use salt and pepper to taste

Bacon is used on top of the wild rice to add “crunch”.

Older Minneapolis home flickering lights

Have you ever been walking around your home and notice the lights flickering?  If it’s something that’s only happened in your house once or twice it’s probably just a ghost (kidding). In older homes, especially those in Minneapolis and St. Paul you might be dealing with something bigger.  Flickering lights in your home could be caused by vintage wiring found in a lot of older Twin Cities homes and it needs to be checked by a professional electrician ASAP. Dean’s Home Service electricians will be able to help diagnose the issue and determine just what’s going on.

Flickering or blinking lights are usually caused by:

  • Problem with the bulb (they’re either not in tight enough or your have the  wrong bulb type for dimmer switch)
  • Loose light plug
  • Faulty light or fixture switch
  • Appliance pulling large amounts of current on startup, causing a voltage drop

Other more severe reasons:

Sensory overload on a circuit

Overloaded circuits can put your home’s electrical system at risk. Large appliances and HVAC units can cause lights to flicker when they power on, because they are drawing a large current from the circuit.

Voltage fluctuations

Voltage fluctuation is an obstruction in the transmission lines. Obstructions are mostly caused by natural factors such as thunder, lightning, fallen trees and heavy rains.

Loose or outdated wiring

The wiring inside many older Twin Cities houses is also out of date, straining to supply modern appliances, lighting, and electronics, especially if you live in an older home, you run the risk of overloading the wiring which could turn into much more serious issues.

Dean’s Home Service electricians specialize in working on the electrical systems of older homes in the Twin Cities so if you’re concerned about the wiring inside your home or are just interested in upgrading and updating, schedule an appointment to have one of our electricians come to see just what’s going on in your home.

 

Maybe you’ve heard someone mention a GFI outlet but then you hear someone else mention a GFCI outlet, is there a difference?  One of the most common misconceptions in the electrical world is the difference between a GFCI and a GFI outlet. There is no significant difference at all, a typical GFI outlet is the first in a string of outlets, and is the one used to provide GFCI protection to the circuit.  GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter and when you hear an electrician say GFI or GFCI outlet, it’s the exact same thing.

GFCI Outlet

How Does a GFCI Actually Work?  

A GFCI is basically a safeguard for your home, the outlet is constantly monitoring electrical current and if the amount is ever to change even the smallest amount, in a blink of an eye, the GFCI will stop power to that outlet. (Preventing a fire or worse)

Most often, when a GFCI “trips” it is the result of a faulty appliance plugged into the outlet or an outlet down circuit. Before calling a Dean’s Home Service electrician to diagnose the issue, you may want to try this simple home diagnosis.

  1. Unplug all appliances plugged into or down circuit from the GFCI

2. Reset your GFCI by pushing the button in the center of the outlet and then plug the appliances back into the GFCI one at a time and turn them on to see if any of the appliances are causing the appliance to “trip”.

3. If you plug in your coffee maker and the GFCI immediately trips, it is likely you have a faulty appliance and the GFCI is operating as designed.

If you live in an older home in Minneapolis or St. Paul, having your electrical wiring checked out is really important because while older homes are not required to have GFCI outlets unless the wiring is being updated, it’s a good idea to install them anyway. Dean’s Home Service electricians are experts when it comes to home wiring and will be able to quickly diagnose, update and upgrade your home’s electrical.

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