Over the years we’ve found that many people have the same, or similar, questions about electrical work. We’ve included some of these questions and answers here along with other cool information as a resource for you.

Communication with Relay Electric is a key to their success. Shannon keeps me up to date on the status of jobs with them and is very good at explaining electrical issues in layman terms even I can understand.
Sally Stamper, Hutcheson Realty

Q: Do you have to replace the whole line when something is wrong?

A: We use a fault finder – a little hand-held piece of equipment (similar to a fancy stud finder) that is accurate to within a foot for finding where there are problems in an electrical line. Repairing 800-feet is much more cost effective than repairing or replacing three-miles of electrical wiring (anywhere from one-quarter to one-third the cost of re-feeding). And repairing a section of line is a viable solution in that it buys time. To put it in layman terms, wiring is like a shoe lace. When one breaks, you can knot the two ends together creating a section that is actually stronger than before. But, it’s not a new shoe lace. When problems are found in an electrical line, the bad section can be cut out and the two ends are connected together. It’s important to note that when a section of line has failed it can be an indication of damage or deterioration. It’s a good time to start thinking and planning for a long-term replacement plan.

Q: How long will wiring last?

A: Exterior wiring has a life span of 15-20 years – if all goes well. The expense of wiring is in the installation (the digging). One thing we NEVER do is direct burial of wiring. Sure, it meets city code, it is legal, but it’s not a permanent solution because it’s not protected. We always put wiring in conduit. This allows repairs to be a simple process of pulling or pushing wire through conduit rather than substantial costly repairs with directional drilling for direct burial.

Q: How do you know how many lights to use?

A: With new lighting, we work with our lighting supplier and do a photometric study to determine how much lighting is needed, where it should be placed, bulb wattage, etc. Working with the client we can help determine style for interior lighting and color for poles, pole heads, etc. for exterior lighting. We also can provide estimates and install energy efficient lighting solutions.

Q: What should I consider for a backup generator system?

A: When it comes to generators, there are several factors to consider, all of which we can help with. First, what is your need? For example, many HOAs have a generator hook-up even though they don’t have a generator. In case of emergency (ex: power is needed for a neighborhood pump house), a generator can be acquired and hooked up when necessary.

Second, what size of generator is needed? The purpose of a generator is to maintain electrical power in the event of a main source power outage. Determining and planning for critical systems continuation dictates the size and also how the connection will work. And your critical systems may be your refrigerator and ceiling fans at home or your server and computer network at the office.

Finally, we plan for and install automatic transfer switches. The system can be as complex as someone plugging the generator into the system and turning it on or as seamless as an automatic transfer switch which automatically engages when the main power source is out for 10 seconds. Again, knowing what one needs in case of a power outage determines the system.

Q: How many emergency egress lights do I need?

A: Emergency egress lighting is dictated by the building code and that is enforced by the Fire Marshal. The building and electrical inspection conducted by the Fire Marshal always trumps everyone else.

Q: What fixtures should I choose?

A: Once it has been determine the size and wattage you need, the decision becomes one of aesthetics and your personal preference. We can address maintenance and technical concerns, but how something will look or how you are going to like it in your environment … you get the idea.

Q: What’s on an electric power pole ?

A: We’re so glad you asked! Dominion Power has created this great illustration depicting and describing basic equipment that can be found on a typical distribution (power) pole.

  • Electrical lines

  • Electrical wiring

  • Lighting analysis

  • Backup generator systems

  • Egress lighting analysis

  • Lighting fixtures