Webster Electric, Inc. Earns Esteemed 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects our company’s consistently high level of customer service

AngiesList-SSA_Logo_resizedWebster Electric, Inc. has once again earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2014.

“We have received this award every year since 2009, and I am not sure it was even used previous to that date,” said Ron Webster, president of Webster Electric. “We don’t set out with the goal of winning the award, but we do try every day to provide the highest level of customer service to each and every customer. It is gratifying to know that our customers, reporting back to Angie’s List, are confirming a great level of satisfaction.”

Best Electrician in Kalamazoo Angie's ListOnly about 5 percent of the companies Webster Electric competes with in Southwest Michigan are able to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great customer service.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2014 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

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Webster Electric, Inc. is an Electrical Contractor located in Kalamazoo, Michigan and has been in business since 1986. They perform Electrical power, Lighting, and Cabling projects, as well as electrical service work of any size for residential and commercial customers. They can be reached at 269-388-3110 or at www.websterelectric.com

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 Angie’s List helps facilitate happy transactions between nearly 3 million consumers nationwide and its collection of highly-rated service providers in 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to health care. Built on a foundation of authentic reviews of local service, Angie’s List connects consumers directly to its online marketplace of services from member-reviewed providers, and offers unique tools and support designed to improve the local service experience for both consumers and service professionals.

Modern Day Alchemy – Turning Light fixtures into piles of cash!

All through history scientists and pseudo scientists put forth enormous effort and consumed great wealth in the pursuit of a process to turn low value base metals into gold or silver. That theoretical process is called “Alchemy,” and it was all an enormous waste, since no one has ever made even the slightest progress toward that end.

Historical Alchemist

Today, if you pay a utility bill for a commercial building in the State of Michigan, the lighting scientists at Webster Electric, Inc. can turn a portion of that bill in to pure gold!

Well, more precisely, we will set you up to generate a stream of cash that will flow back to you each and every month for years to come. There is no need for a big upfront investment and the process takes little or no effort on your part. Sir Isaac Newton would be very jealous.

Electrician commercial lighting

Sound too good to be true? It is absolutely true, and we have performed this “Alchemy” for a large number of our customers.

We accomplish this feat by making huge improvements in the efficiency of the existing lighting systems, paying for a part of the improvements with Utility Company rebates, and financing the rest with programs that use below market interest rates.

Car Dealership Lighting  Retail Store Lighting

Real life lighting upgrade example

One of our happy customers in Battle Creek is now saving an average of $1,600 per month as a result of a lighting project we performed for him in 2013.

We obtained a little over $20,000.00 in rebates, and financed the balance through Michigan Saves . His payment for 5 years is a little less than $900/Mo. As a result, he gets to keep $700.00 per month on average after paying his Utility bill and loan payment combined, compared to what he previously paid to his Utility Company while using his old lighting.

He now keeps $700 more each month and at the end of the five year loan term, he will be able to keep all $1,600 he saves each month.

$700 extra dollars per month for 5yrs = $42,000 he would have spent before on his bigger utility bill.

$1,600 extra dollars per month for yrs. 6 – 10 = $96,000 he would have spent before = $108,000 saved over 10 yrs!

Warehouse Lighting in Michigan Parking Lot Lighting Kalamazoo

Why call Webster Electric?

Compared to all other sources, we do a superior job of lighting system improvements. We will also do all the work associated with rebates and/or financing.

Our first focus is to determine exactly what is the absolute best lighting solution for each area of your building, inside and out. Not only quantity, but the quality of light is considered. Each of our customers is then left with a system that is not only much more energy efficient, but is vastly improved. So our lighting customers are all saving money each month, and very often, these savings are eclipsed by other benefits to their organizations as a result of better lighting.

Do you have someone on staff with knowledge of lighting? Using them may save a little, but cost you dearly!

Do you know another Contractor who might help with this work? Let us show you how we are different!

 Other information on lighting upgrades

Do you have to finance these projects through us? Certainly not, but it works well for many businesses.

Starting right now in 2015 we have financing interest rates as low as 2.99% & 0% available.

All Electric Utilities in the State of Michigan currently have rebate programs available, but 2015 is the final year!  Do not delay; rebate funds often run out long before the year ends.

Many of the lamps and light bulbs that are in common use in most buildings are no longer being manufactured. As a result, you will ultimately have to make expensive changes and it will be without the help of Utility rebates. So act now!

We can help commercial entities with small or extremely large utility bills.

Small businesses (under 400,000 KWH use in the past year) have a special rebate program with fabulous rebate percentages (up to 100% of the installation cost has been paid in several cases).

Most buildings, even those built recently, can benefit greatly from our programs.

 Contact us today for a no obligation consultation and evaluation. Do not delay!

Bosch Automotive Awards a six star performance rating to Webster Electric, Inc.

Webster Electric, Inc. of Kalamazoo has been in the business of installing “fast chargers” for use by Electric Vehicle (EV) owners for the past few years.  Many of the car charger installations are through a program run by Bosch Automotive with Webster being one of their Certified Electrical Contractors (CEC).

They and all other CEC’s across the country have recently been evaluated based on a number of criteria important to Bosch and their customers. Webster Electric was one of a select group of companies to earn the highest ranking of six stars.

Top rated electrician

Bosch Electrical Vehical Charger Installation

Bosch markets the fast chargers to new owners of EV’s and then partners with Webster Electric to handle all electrical installation. Webster will make contact, set an appointment, explain options, provide an estimate, and finally make the installation if the owner purchases the charger.

Bosch’s “fast chargers”—technically called a Level 2 charger—are a big step above the standard electrical vehicle charger.  The chargers that all new EV’s come with typically take about 12 hours to charge the battery from a completely discharged state. The Level 2 charger will bring a fully discharged battery to 100% capacity in about 2 hours.

In addition, Consumer’s Energy and other Electric Utilities in Michigan are offering rebates for Level 2 chargers that often covers the entire installed cost.

An 83% improvement in charging time and most, if not all, of the total cost paid for by the customer’s Electric Utility, makes for a big win for the EV owner.

Along with their other extensive electrical service offerings, Webster Electric installs Level 2 chargers for customers not solicited by Bosch. Webster can make sure all available Utility rebates are applied and make a great installation for the customer, often at no net cost. They provide a high level of professional service to the public in every contact that is made. It is no surprise that Bosch Automotive has found Webster Electric to be a great partner.

Knob & Tube Wiring: Does your older home have it, and what can you do?

Knob-and-tube wiring (K&T) was an early method of wiring in buildings in common use in North America from about 1880 to the 1940s. The system is considered both obsolete and a safety hazard.

Have knob and tube wiring remediated by a professional electrician in Kalamazoo

In wall view of Knob & tube entering an outlet

Knob and tube wiring

Knob & tube in a basement

Electricity is a powerful and potentially destructive force. We bring it into our buildings to do work. We do our best to tame and control it, but are never 100% successful. Even a properly installed modern wiring system built today has some level of risk associated with it. That level of risk increases greatly if the system contains even a small amount of K&T wiring. We can reduce, but not eliminate risk associated with a K&T system if it is minimized and modified by a licensed professional electrician that is familiar with this very old wiring method.

Facts About Knob-and-Tube Wiring:

  • It is inherently more hazardous than modern wiring. The dangers from this system arise from its age, improper modifications, susceptibility to physical damage, and situations where building insulation envelops the wires.
  • It has no bond wire (aka ground) and thus cannot service any three-pronged outlets or appliances.
  • While it is considered obsolete, there is typically no code that requires its complete removal.
  • It is treated differently in different jurisdictions. In some areas, it must be removed at all accessible locations, while others merely require that it not be added to or installed in new construction.

How Knob-and-Tube Wiring Works:       

K&T wiring consists of insulated copper conductors passing through drilled holes in wood framing via protective porcelain insulating tubes. The conductors are supported along their length by porcelain knobs nailed or screwed to the wooden structural components of a building. Where wires enter a wiring device, such as a lamp or switch, or where pulled into a wall, they are protected by flexible cloth or rubber insulation called “loom.”

Problems Associated with K&T Wiring:

  • Unsafe modifications are far more common with K&T wiring than they are with nonmetalic sheathed cable (aka Romex) and other more modern wiring systems. Part of the reason for this is that K&T systems are so old that more opportunity has existed for improper modifications.
  • Junction boxes were often not part of the original installation, so scraping away of the insulation and wrapping copper around copper was an oft used method of attaching desired expansions to the original system. This type of connection often leads to a high resistance connection prone to heating and degradation. Problems at conductor connection points are not contained inside a junction box, thus making fire a more likely result.
  • The conductors tend to stretch and sag over time.
  • K&T wiring is often spliced with more modern wiring incorrectly by amateurs.
  • It lacks a grounding conductor. Grounding conductors reduce the chance of electrical shock to humans, damage to sensitive equipment, and fire.
  • Compared with modern wiring insulation, K&T wiring is less resistant to damage.  Flexing the wires may cause insulation to crack and peel away.
  • Older systems contained insulation with additives that may oxidize copper wire.
  • In older systems, wiring is insulated with varnish and fiber materials that are susceptible to deterioration.

 Building Insulation:

K&T wiring is designed to dissipate heat into free air, and building insulation will disturb this process. Insulation around K&T wires will cause heat to build up, and this creates a fire hazard. The 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that this wiring system not be covered by insulation. Specifically, it states that this wiring system should not be in…

hollow spaces of walls, ceilings and attics where such spaces are insulated by loose, rolled or foamed-in-place insulating material that envelops the conductors.

Local jurisdictions may or may not adopt the NEC’s requirement.

Knob and tube wiringModifications:

When K&T wiring was first introduced, common household electrical appliances were limited to little more than toasters, tea kettles, coffee percolators and clothes irons. These systems often served only a single light bulb in most but not all rooms of a home. The electrical requirements of mid- to late-20th century homes could not have been foreseen during the late 18th century. Existing K&T systems are notorious for modifications made in an attempt to match the increasing number of electrical devices and current flow required by televisions, refrigerators, and many other electric appliances. Many of these modifications were made by insufficiently trained handymen, rather than experienced electricians, whose work made the wiring system vulnerable to failures, both minor and catastrophic. The photo above shows newer wiring wrapped onto an old K&T system.

  • Many homeowners adapted to the inadequate capacity of K&T wiring by installing fuses with overcurrent ratings that were too high for the wiring. The result of this misapplication is that the fuses would not blow when they should have and the wiring would suffer heat damage due to excessive current being carried by the conductors.
  • It is not uncommon to find wiring connections wrapped with large quantities electrical or other types of tape. As if an excessively large ball of tape will somehow improve the quality of the connection the tape is concealing.

K&T Wiring and Homeowners Insurance:

Some insurance companies refuse to insure homes that have knob-and-tube wiring due to the risk of fire. Exceptions are sometimes made for houses where an electrical contractor has deemed the system to be safe. Other insurance companies do not concern themselves with the type of electrical system in a home.

 Advice for those with K&T wiring:

  • Have the system evaluated by a qualified electrician. Only an expert can confirm that the system was installed and modified correctly. They can determine if it may be subject to use beyond its safe capacity.
  • Completely rewiring a house can take many days, involves opening at least some walls and ceilings, and cost thousands of dollars. It is the absolute best way to deal with K&T wiring, but is not the only option.
  • The next best  option is to remove as much of the knob and tube as possible, replacing it with modern wiring. Then an attempt should be made to remove as much known electrical load from the K&T system (appliances, large lighting loads, and outlets that may be used heavily). We then feed all receptacle outlets in the home with modern wiring. It is impossible to predict what device may be plugged into a particular receptacle outlet.
  • An electrician should remove and replace any Knob and tube wiring before it is covered with building insulation.
  • Prospective home buyers should get an estimate of the cost of replacing K&T wiring in a home they are considering. They can use this amount to negotiate a reduce price for the house. They will be tempted to use the price reduction for other purposes, but would be well served to get the K&T wiring problem repaired.

 Summary:

In summary, knob-and-tube wiring is inherently less safe than modern wiring systems. Only an experienced electrical contractor can help you identify just how unsafe a particular system may be. Anyone buying, selling, or living in a structure that uses K&T wiring as part of its electrical system should be aware of the level of risk they may be dealing with. Having said that, there are no guarantees. Homes burn every day. Since no one could possibly inspect every inch of any system (behind walls, above ceilings), we cannot know for certain if a potential problem does or does not exist. So complete removal and replacement is the only method to take risk to near zero. Anything else is and improvement with some unmeasurable risk left intact.

We can provide a FREE PHONE or ON SITE CONSULTATION and a FREE ESTIMATE* of the cost to eliminate or reduce this problem. We promise no high pressure sales tactics will ever be used.

Call today! Webster Electric – (269) 388-3110

Electrician in Kalamazoo, MI

*Free estimates are restricted to those that own homes or buildings. Others may be charged a nominal fee that will be refunded if the estimated work is ordered.

Use This, Not That: Save $1500 on your outdoor lighting costs

Replace this pole mounted light fixture

If you have pole mounted light fixtures that look like this:

  • 100- 175W MH, 175W MV, or 100-150W HPS. = 15 to 60 yr. old technology
  • Maintenance cost for 15 yrs = ????
  • Energy cost for 15yrs @ current rates = $1,170 to $1,825.00

 

 

 

Modern outdoor lighting

You should be installing light fixtures that look like this:

  • 36 Watt LED light engine = State of the art technology.
  • Maintenance cost for 15 yrs = $0.00
  • Energy cost for 15yrs @ current rates = $336.00
  • Energy savings $834 to $1,489.00
  • Light output and quality = noticeably better
  • Total cost to replace old technology above = typically about $210.00

 

 

Energy efficient outdoor lighting

If it is mounted on a building, it should look like this:

  • 30 Watt LED light engine = State of the art technology
  • Maintenance cost for 15 yrs = $0.00
  • Energy cost for 15yrs @ current rates = $280.00
  • Energy savings $890 to $1,545.00
  • Light output and quality = enormously better
  • Total cost to replace old technology above = typically about $320.00

 

Call us for additional information or to schedule a replacement appointment!
Commercial customers can take advantage of Utility Co. rebates!

Fuses in your home, problem or no?

Is a home equipped with fuses less safe than one equipped with circuit breakers?

The answer is complex but, decidedly yes.

A home equipped with a fuse panel is almost always less safe than one equipped with modern circuit breakers. There are some old circuit breakers that are also very hazardous, perhaps more hazardous than fuses, but that is a separate discussion.

I have to answer that fuse systems are less safe even though paradoxically, the fuse itself is one of the best ways to protect an electric circuit from overloads and short circuits. Those are the same two jobs that modern circuit breakers do, and fuses actually do them better.

Unfortunately, fuses come with baggage (secondary and associated problems). It is this baggage that creates safety issues and makes fuses impractical in home use, so impractical that we recommend replacement in almost every case.

What are the problems associated with fuse systems?

There are many.

  1. Over Fusing. A properly sized fuse protects as well as or better than a circuit breaker, but once they have done their job and blown, they need to be disposed of and replaced with a new fuse. Here is where one of their biggest flaws becomes evident. Most fuses can be incorrectly replaced with a fuse that has too high or too low a set point. This can cause inconvenience with an undersized fuse that blows too easily or it can cause overloading of the wiring systems if an oversized fuse is installed. This overloading can result in a fire.  Over time we find that misapplication of fusing almost always ends at over sizing of the fuse in use. In extreme cases, desperate people have been known to install coins or other objects under a blown fuse completely eliminating any and all circuit protection. Over fusing is a hazard; bypassing the fuse is an insane hazard and should never be done.
  2. The photo below shows a wire that is only rated to carry 15 amps connected to a 30 amp fuse. You may notice the insulation on the wire is beginning to break down due to the heat caused by excessive current passing through it.

     Improper fuses

  3. Complexity. Even though properly applied fuses work well in protecting circuits, the average homeowner does not have the knowledge, training, test equipment or other tools to properly interact with a fuse systems over time.  If power is interrupted to outlets, lights, or appliances in a home, it takes specialized knowledge and training to even determine IF a fuse has blown at all or which fuse has blown. In some cases there is visible evidence of a blown fuse if you know what you are looking for. Often you need to test to find the blown fuse. Uninstalling and reinstalling fuses while hunting for the problem only compounds the misapplication problems outlined in #1 above. In addition, an empty fuse socket exposes energize portions of the system to people working on the fuse system. Even if you install the same size fuse you removed, there is no guarantee that it was the right size to begin with. To compound matters, these issues are often dealt with in the dark.
  4. Limited number of circuit connection points. The most common fuse box we see in residential installations is equipped with a set of fuses for the “main disconnect” a second set for the range, and four screw in branch circuit fuses for the remainder of the home. This is all that was needed in the early 1900’s when these systems were installed. A few of the most modern versions of the fuse panel had eight or ten branch circuit fuses. In my 30 plus years as an electrician I cannot remember ever seeing a fuse panel in use in a home that did not supply more circuits and more load than it was designed to handle. Modern living requires power to many devices, most of which did not exist when fuse panels where commonly installed. Even the smallest, most modest home can barely get by today with a 20 space circuit breaker panel if wired to meet the needs of the occupants. The six circuits available in an outdated fuse panel fall far short.
  5. Fuse Panel? Replace it. You will never be sorry you did,  but each year many people are sorry they did not!

  6. Age. Fuses have not been installed in homes for many decades. Electrical codes change every three years to continually improve the safety of electrical systems that are installed. As a result no fuse panel currently in use in any home in the United States would comply with minimum code standards in effect today. This makes them inherently less safe than any system installed more recently and in my opinion places them firmly in the category of being obsolete and needing replacement.In addition, older electrical systems have typically seen many stresses, environmental moisture, and modifications by nonprofessionals, and on and on. Improper modification is one of the most commonly seen problems. The most common of these is tapping more than one conductor from a single connection point. The list of improper modifications that can be made is very long. In short, any older system is typically less safe than a newer system and most fuse systems are very old.
  7.  

    Fuse box with four branch circuit fuses, range pull out on the right, main pull out on left. Fuses 2 & 3 are “double taped” (two conductors from one fuse). Fuses 3 & 4 are over sized.

    Fuse box with four branch circuit fuses, range pull out on the right, main pull out on left. Fuses 2 & 3 are “double taped” (two conductors from one fuse). Fuses 3 & 4 are over sized.

  8. Insurance issues. Because of all the problems that are usually associated with fuse panel installations, insurance companies will sometimes charge a premium for homes with fused services. Sometimes they will decline to insure the home.

The bottom line is; if you live in a home equipped with fuses, are planning on buying or thinking of  selling a home equipped with a fuses, you would do well to have fuse equipment replaced. If the fuse panel is not the main electrical service but is just a sub-panel in the home, the recommendation is the same; replace it. You will never be sorry you did, but each year many people are sorry they did not.

Call for help in identifying potential hazards, have a no cost consultation, or set up a free estimate.

Webster Electric, Inc. Earns Esteemed 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Webster Electric, Inc. Earns Esteemed 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Click to visit Angie's List

Webster Electric, Inc. has once again earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2013.

“We have received this award every year since 2009, and I am not sure it was used previous to that date” said Ron Webster, president of Webster Electric. “We don’t set out with the goal of winning the award, but we try every day to provide the highest level of customer service possible to each and every customer. It is gratifying to know that our customers reporting back to Angie’s List are confirming a great level of satisfaction.”

Best Electrician in Kalamazoo Angie's ListOnly about 5 percent of the companies Webster Electric competes with in Southwest Michigan are able to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great customer service.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2013 Super Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

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Webster Electric, Inc. is an electrican located in Kalamazoo, Michigan and has been in business since 1986. They perform Electrical, Lighting, and Cabling projects, as well as electrical service work of any size for residential and commercial customers. They can be reached at 269-388-3110 or at www.websterelectric.com

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Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 720 categories of service, ranging from home improvement to healthcare. More than 2 million paid households use Angie’s List to gain access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List Magazine and the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.

The importance of Smoke Detectors… Hard to overstate

It is sad indeed to read yet another account of lives needlessly lost in a house fire. Very early yesterday morning, four people died in Three Oaks, Michigan as their home was destroyed by fire. The Michigan State Police stated that “there were NO working smoke detectors in the home”.

No smoke detectors in Three Oaks, MI

A fire in Three Oaks, MI claims four lives. The home had no working smoke detectors.
– SBT Photo/LOU MUMFORD

Home fires are going to occur. We should do everything possible to minimize and reduce those occurrences, but no lives should be lost! Smoke detectors are nearly 100% effective in preventing death due to home fires. Here are some statistics.

  • Ninety six percent of all fatal residential fires take place in homes without working smoke detectors.
  • The National Fire Prevention Association says the chances of surviving a home fire when working smoke detectors are present is 99.45%.
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association says the most cost-effective means of reducing the number of residential fire deaths is “(1) smoke detector installation, (2) testing & maintaining smoke detectors.”
  • The State of Michigan now requires hard wired and interconnected smoke detectors in every residence no matter when it was constructed or who lives in it (owner, tenant, or guest).
  • By law, no smoke detector shall be in service for longer than 10 years before being replaced.

In a cost – benefit analysis, what dollar amount do you use to represent the life value of a family member or guest in your home?

Smoke detectorIf you are unsure about your smoke detectors for any reason, please call Webster Electric in Kalamazoo!

Call 269-388-3110 for a $10 checkup ($100 value) or a FREE Estimate to install the required interconnected system or to replace your outdated detectors.

Our $10 smoke detector checkup is performed as a service to the community. We test, inspect, and vacuum all of your smoke detectors. All that for only $10 ($100 value). If we find problems, we will make recommendations and provide estimated costs to correct them.

YOU DECIDE to hire us, call us later, act on your own, or to do nothing at all. NO SALES PRESSURE ever!

This is the first step in providing life saving protection for the occupants of your home.