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Eaton Whole House Surge Protector

13 Feb

On many episodes of Holmes on Homes, good ole Frank would install a whole house surge protector in the electrical panel. It always seemed like a good idea as we have seen people, my parents especially, have surge related damage to electronics in their homes.
One day I was at Lowes looking for something and I saw a familiar face looking back at me…

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Titus Road, Powered by Honda

26 Nov

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The day after the hurricane came through, we lost power, as did the majority of Long Island. I am not among the LIPA bashers. All you had to do was drive around a little to see what they were (and still are) up against. The sheer amount of trees that fell down is mind boggling, and it seems like 75% of them fell on roads and power lines. In any event, we were without power… For a few minutes, at least.
Unlike last year’s power outage from Irene we were prepared. We got back from my brother Tim’s wedding on Saturday and got right to work prepping the house. Some of this included getting the Honda EU2000i generator hooked up to the house. A while back I had ordered a transfer interlock for our electrical panel, and had procrastinated on installing it. Obviously, the time had come. There would be no running of extension cords through cracked doors and windows this year, the entire house would be powered up by the generator. I took my amp meter and with Corinne upstairs on the phone I checked the amp draw of various lights and appliances throughout the house. Doing this enabled us to decide what we could use freely, what we could sparingly, and what we should probably avoid using. We found out that heat/ hot water system, since it runs on natural gas, was a pretty small consumer of electricity. It only needs to run the circulators, the combustion fan and the controls. Both refrigerators were also pretty low consumers, except on motor startup. The microwave, toaster oven and hair dryer were on the no-no list.
The generator we have is very small, so it does have limited capacity, but for a house with gas heat, hot water and stove we found it more than met our needs. It is my opinion that most backup generators are oversized. This really came into play when the gas shortage started and we were using about 1/6 as much gas as other people with full size generators. Most people I spoke to were reporting gas usage of 4 to 5 gallons for an 8 hour period. We were using just about 2 gallons for a 24 hour period! Most people were only using their generators in the evening due to the gas shortage and THE NOISE. Over a 6 day period we only shut our generator down 3 times, and that was to change the oil. Besides that it ran constantly for 146 hours. Due to our careful usage we were able to be extremely fuel efficient. Our refrigerator never defrosted because it had power for all but a total of maybe 3 hours. We were careful with lights we used and hand washed the dishes rather than using the dishwasher (although it could handle it). We switched from the big plasma TV to the smaller LCD, which used about 150 watts instead of about 350. Most of our frugalness was to maximize fuel efficiency and keep the generator running nice and quite. Even at its loudest, though, it is probably 1/8 as loud as a standard generator, and at its normal level on Eco mode it is super quite. You can just barely hear the hum inside the house. If any of our neighbors had their generators on, we’d have to open the window to hear our little guy.
I can now fully endorse the Honda EU2000i generator as a durable workhorse that can power our entire house if we are smart about our energy usage. It operated flawlessly for the duration of our power outage. I strongly recommend adding an hour meter to this or any generator that does not have one to keep tabs on maintenance.

Third Timer’s a Charm

28 Jul

For the second time now, our bathroom fan timer has gone bad. The first time it broke we exchanged it for a new one of the same model. This time I decided enough was enough so we replaced it with a different kind. The old one was a GE and manufactured by Jasco, and it had a bit of an odd design.

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The new timer is made by Leviton, a Long Island based company. The layout of the switches is a little more logical, longer times are higher up.

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This switch also does not require a neutral wire, which the old one did. This is a benefit for people who are replacing a standard switch, which would not have a neutral.
Once I installed the new switch I turned the breaker back on and…nothing! I turned back off the breaker and checked the connections and everything seemed fine, but it still wasn’t working. At this point I began to suspect that perhaps the fan itself had gone bad. I was about to install a standard switch to rule out the timer but then I consulted the manual. It turns out that there is a little shutoff switch so you can disable the timer altogether. This needs to be moved to the ON position for the timer to work, once I did that it worked right away and I reinstalled the switches and the cover plate.

The timer lets the fan continue to draw humidity from the bathroom after you shower so you don’t have moisture problems. Mike Holmes promotes the use of timers on bathroom exhaust fans all the time. It helps you leave it on after you shower without the chance of leaving it on all day by accident. I can’t say how long this timer will last but hopefully it will be longer than its predecessors, for now, we’re happy with it.