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Category ArchiveProfessional Handyman

Charger for Electric Car

Charger for Electric Car

Charger for Electric Car – Plano Texas Handyman and Monarc Technology (sister company) are your home automation specialists. With the advent of the electric automobiles, home chargers are becoming more common-place.   low is a list of the most common wiring apparatus for Tesla Home Chargers.   Listed below are the most common devices for Tesla Home charging.  We install Tesla Home Charging Stations for all panel products: Square D, Eaton, General Electric, and a few others.  Tesla Electric Car Charger Plano . Charger for Electric Car

Tesla Home Charging Station

Tesla Home Charger

Mobile Connector – The Mobile Connector is included as standard equipment with a new Tesla. It’s a compact bundle that can charge your car from different outlets at medium to low speeds. We recommend installing a Wall Connector at home and leaving the Tesla Mobile Connector in the trunk of the car as a backup option while traveling.  When installed with a 240 volt 50 amp breaker will produce (Miles of range per hour of charge) for the Model 3 of 30 MPH, the Model S of 23 MPH, and the Model X of 20 MPH.  DO NOT even consider 120 volt service as it will not produce desired results.

This bundle includes:

  • Mobile Connector (20 feet)
  • Adapter for standard 120 volt household outlets (NEMA 5-15)
  • Adapter for 240 volt outlet (NEMA 14-50)
  • Cable organizing bag
  • Adapter for public charging stations (SAE J1772)
Tesla Home Charging Station

Tesla Home Charger

Wall Connector – A Tesla Wall Connector is the most convenient way to charge at your home or office, with the fastest charge speeds. Simply plug in overnight and wake up to a full charge, every morning. Tesla Home Charger

To purchase a Wall Connector, visit the Tesla online store.

Features

  • Customizable power levels, allowing installation with any circuit breaker ranging from 15 to 100 amps
  • Compatible with 208-250 volt power supplies
  • As many as four Wall Connectors can share available power, perfect for owners with more than one Tesla or commercial installations
  • Mounted to a wall or post, the Wall Connector can be installed both indoors and outdoors
  • 48 month warranty
  • Charger for Electric Car

Each Tesla has different charging capabilities depending on its onboard charger. The table below shows circuit breaker rating for the fastest home charging speeds. Learn more about the onboard charger capabilities of different Tesla cars. For all trims not listed, open the charging menu from the charge icon on your touchscreen to view your maximum charge rate.

Please refer to Tesla Support for specific details on the Tesla Home Charging Station wall connector.  Listed below are the most common devices for Charger for Electric Car

Tesla Electric Car Charger Plano

Rental Property Repairs

Rental Property Repairs

Rental Property Repairs – Your rental property should be rent-ready when it is put on the market. Your tenant’s new home should be clean and attractive on the inside and should have good curb appeal. Chances of leasing a vacant rental unit in a competitive market are greatly increased by taking care of any items that need attention. You’ll also attract quality rent paying rental home shoppers. 

Plano Texas Handyman specializes in make-ready service on rental properties.  Call Ted at 214-507-3415 to get a real assessment of your property, visit our website for all our capabilities. Rental Property Repairs.

Good Tenants are Worth Their Weight In Gold

Making sure you attract good tenants is critical. And attracting good tenants mean offering them a prime property. Remember, if they receive the proprty in prime conditon, they will keep the property in prime condition

I also wonder if we will end up ahead anyway. After all, excellent tenants like them tend to require fewer repairs and will leave far less wear and tear behind when they do finally move out.

Here are some guidelines for doing just that:


1. Landscaping, Driveways and Walkways Check the rental unit’s appearance from the street. This includes the landscaping, driveways and walkways. Keep them as neat and tidy as possible. Remove all trash left by previous the tenants. Shrubs and bushes or trees should be trimmed if necessary.
2. Examine Exterior Paint, Chimney, and Roof Check for exterior paint peeling, blistering and discoloration. Is the chimney and cap in good condition? Make sure the roof and siding are in good shape. Check for leaks in the roof by looking at the ceiling on the interior of the home.

3. Check the Garage, Patios, Balconies & Entryways The garage should be clean and have adequate shelving. Patios and Balconies need to be clean with secure and safe railings. Check for a clean and attractive Entryway.

4. Check Windows and Screens Windows should be unbroken, clean and secure – and operating properly. Window locks should work as well. Check the screens for holes and make sure they fit securely. Windows should not be “fogged” or dirty. Plano Texas Handyman

5. Check all Walls, Ceilings & Baseboards A new paint job or wall covering, if needed, will brighten up the unit dramatically and be easier to lease. Check for, holes, nails and bad seams. All holes need to be patched and painted. Rental Property Repairs

6. Check all Floor Coverings Check for cleanliness and the condition of carpet and floor coverings. Have carpets cleaned professionally with a truck mounted steam cleaning system. Replace carpet or linoleum if it is to severely worn, badly stained, damaged or outdated. Carpet or linoleum with turned up edges are hazardous and need to be repaired before showings or tenant move-ins.

7. Check all Plumbing – Toilets, Faucets and Pipes Look for leaky faucets, clogged aerators or toilets that won’t stop running. Make sure the plumbing has the proper pressure and the sinks and tubs drain correctly. Check the shut off valves under each sink and look for signs of leaks. Locate the main shut-off valve for the property. Make sure it’s visible.

8. Check Bathrooms All sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, cabinets and mirrors are to be clean. Countertops should be free of dirt, dust and grease. Tile grout should look fresh and clean. Caulk around countertops and bathroom fixtures should be clean or new. Mold and mildew is not acceptable.

9. Check all Hardware and Locks Locks should be re-keyed. Pay attention to all latches, doorknobs and doorstops. Are the sliding doors sliding smoothly and are the locks working? Rental Property Repairs

10. Check all Closets and Storage Areas Are the doors and closets in good shape? Check rods, hooks, shelves and lights. The walls and floors should be clean.

11. Check all Kitchen Counters & Cabinets They should be clean, updated, and in good shape. Check drawer and cabinet knobs and other hardware. All cabinet doors should close and stay closed. Dishwashers should be working properly.

12. Check Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in working order? Test them.

13. Check all Lighting and Electrical Outlets Also, check GFI and Circuit breakers making sure they are in good working condition. Replace burned out light bulbs and check light switches & outlets.

14. Check the Heating and Air Conditioner Check that the Heating and Air Conditioner are operating properly. Be sure the thermostat, vents, registers, and filters are in working order. Ceiling area around vents should be clean. Install a new filter.

15. Safe and Secure The property should be safe and secure and should have no hazardous conditions.

16. Smell and Odors The property should smell clean and pleasant. It should not smell of mold or mildew. Smell or odors are the first thing a rental home shopper will notice when entering a property.

17. Operating Condition Everything should be in working order. If a prospective tenants sees a dishwasher they can assume it is working. They do not have to test it. If you are planning on excluding an item put it in the lease and point it out.

Plano Texas Handyman specializes in make-ready service on rental properties.  Call Ted at 214-507-3415 to get a real assessment of your property, visit our website for all our capabilities. Rental Property Repairs.

Patio Sound System Design

Patio Sound System Design

Patio Sound System Design – Now that the weather’s begun to cool down or get hot, regardless of your preference. I happen to love and hate both of them, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy evenings by the pool with the family or invite friends over for a cookout. Every one of your outdoor activities can be improved with the right music in place. Stream your favorite jazz station on the patio after a long day at work or listen to a special playlist when hosting a party. To enjoy your favorite music, simply bringing out a wireless speaker or hooking up a few speakers outside your Frisco, Texas home is not enough. You need to invest in an outdoor sound system that will get high-fidelity audio throughout your space.

Plano Texas Handyman can wire and provide expert assistance in designing your outdoor Patio Sound System design. Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman for your Patio Sound System Design at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for more information.

  1. Decide How You Want to Use Your System
    Having efficient outdoor audio takes a lot of planning. Everything starts with figuring out what you want. Do you just want to listen to music by the grill or do you want to cover your entire backyard? Creating the right wiring infrastructure is the first step, so it’s important that every single speaker, and where it will be placed, is taken into account.
  2. Prepare the Proper Speaker Design
    A common mistake we see is that many people simply install a few speakers mounted on exterior walls towards their outdoor spaces. Layouts like this can work if you’re only trying to get music in a small area, otherwise, they result in uneven sound and constant complaints from your neighbors. So what is the best option? You want to have speakers evenly spread out throughout your space and have them facing towards your home.You can strengthen your audio by having it bounce off your exterior walls while helping to contain it within your property. Small caveat, if you only want audio in a small outdoor patio connected to your home, you can go with a more traditional indoor design (angling sound at walls will just result in muffled audio). Patio Sound System Design
  3. Invest in the Right Outdoor Speakers
    Listening to music outdoors shouldn’t require investing in unreliable Bluetooth speakers or bulky equipment. There are many audio manufacturers, like Sonance, that have developed extensive lines designed to brave the elements. Need some speakers lining your backyard? Use their Sonarray series that mimics landscape lighting fixtures. In your patio, you can install Mariner speakers on your wall.
  4. Link Your Sound System to Your Sources
    So you’ve invested in the right speakers and worked with an AV professional to find the best layout for them. Now, what are you going to do with them? Your brand new sound system won’t do much good without something to listen to. We link your outdoor audio to your home AV system so you have easy access to your streaming services, media library, or even a turntable without having to take them outside.
  5. Create an Intuitive Control Solution
    You can then access those sources from the control device of your choice. Don’t trust your kids to keep the remotes safe? Invest in waterproof remotes that can survive a quick dip in the pool. If you’re scared that remotes may be lost, you can pull up your smartphone to choose the source you want to listen to and which speaker you want it to play on.

Create an unforgettable outdoor experience for your friends and family this fall with a brand new sound system. Call us at (972) 757-4002 or fill out or online contact form and we can guide you through the process to make sure you have the best system in place.

Plano Texas Handyman can wire and provide expert assistance in designing your outdoor Patio Sound System design. Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman for your Patio Sound System Design at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for more information.

Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Fiber Optic Star Ceiling – Twilight star ceilings are expensive to install in your Home Theatre but well worth the investment. Our company installs star ceilings in new construction and existing homes. A general rule of thumb is that we need adequate attic access, otherwise we can install a false ceiling in your home. If you plan on using your home theatre regularly, a star ceiling will cost about $7 to $8,000 for a 16 x 20 room. a room that size requires about 1,600 fiber optic cables. To learn more about fiber optic LED lighting, read on…

Plano Texas Handyman offers both fiber-optic custom ceilings as well as fiber-optic panel installations. Our plug-and-play Panel Systems make our systems easy as well, bringing high-end star ceiling experience within reach for home theaters and other environments. For new construction environments, we offer a custom fiber-optic ceiling design completely hidden.  Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Contact Ted at Plano Texas Handyman, 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities on technology installations.  Fiber Optic Lighting

With premium acoustic materials and our exclusive LED technology, Twilight star panels offers the best quality for the best value. And as a result of the Exclusive Patented Design and Technology, our lighting effects mimic the random glimmer of the night sky unlike any system on the market.

Our Fiber Optic Star Ceiling Panels make installations a breeze. Our star ceiling tiles are designed to attach directly to finished drywall.  Fiber Optic Lighting

Our standard Surface Mount Panels are produced with 1” fiberglass. Each panel is wrapped in standard midnight black fabric. Each panel will have 7-12 stars per square foot and dimension is created with light intensity from the LED light engine.  The digital LED Light source draws only 2.3 W and is easily “daisy chained” to other panels for simple and worry free wiring. A 350W power supply will power up to 120 panels. Custom sizes and applications are available.

Our Star Panel Kits are special order and may take up to 4-6 weeks for delivery. Please call if you need to have your panels sooner and we will see if that is a possibility. Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

We offer:

Star Kits that provide a complete solution for small and medium size star ceilings, floors or walls. These kits provide everything you need including an illuminator, fiber optic cable and complete installation instructions. We offer a wide range of bundle sizes and lengths and can do custom kits specific to your project. All of our kits are assembled in our Dallas facility and typically ship out the same day as ordered. Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Twilight Star Ceiling Kits with premium acoustic materials and our exclusive LED technology, Twilight star panels offers the best quality for the best value. And as a result of the Exclusive Patented Design and Technology, our lighting effects mimic the random glimmer of the night sky unlike any system on the market.  Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Special Effect Ceiling Lighting which includes shooting star lighting, shooting star and meteor lighting, firework lighting, shooting star and twinkle lighting.  No matter your choice, we offer one of the most unique and inexpensive ceiling lighting arrays on the market.

Contact Ted at Plano Texas Handyman, 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities on technology installations.  Fiber Optic Lighting, Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Fiber Optic Lighting

Introduction

Optical fiber can be used for transmitting light from a source to a remote location for illumination as well as communications. In fact, fibers are made to not only transmit light but to glow along the fiber itself, so it resembles a neon light tube. Applications for fiber optic lighting are many, generally based on utilizing the special attributes of the fiber as well as its unique characteristics. Fiber Optic Star Ceiling

Typical Applications

Museum displays
Pools
Starfield Celings

Why Use Fiber Optics For Lighting?
Using fiber for remote lighting has many advantages, some of which are more important for special types of applications than others.
Heat-Free Lighting: Since the light source is remote, the fiber transmits the light but isolates the heat from the light source from the illumination point, an important consideration for lighting delicate objects, such as in museum displays, that could be damaged by heat or intense light.
Electrical Safety: Underwater lighting such as used in swimming pools and fountains or illumination in hazardous atmospheres can be done safely with fiber optic lighting, since the fiber is nonconductive and the power for the light source can be placed in a safe location. Even many lights are low voltage.
Precise Spotlighting: Optical fiber can be combined with lenses to provide carefully focused light on extremely small spots, popular for museum exhibits and jewelry displays, or simply light a specified area precisely.
Durability: Using optical fiber for lighting makes for much more durable lighting. Optical fiber, either plastic or glass, is both strong and flexible, much more durable than fragile light bulbs. 
The Look of Neon: Fiber that emits light along its length, generally called edge-emitting fiber, has the look of neon tubes for decorative lighting and signs. Fiber is easier to fabricate, and, since it is made of plastic, is less fragile. Since lighting is remote it can be placed at either or both ends of the fiber and sources can be safer since they are low voltage sources.
Vary the Color: By using colored filters with white light sources, fiber optic lighting can have many different colors and by automating the filters, vary colors in any preprogrammed sequence.
Simpler Installation: Fiber optic lighting does not require installing electrical cables to the light locator and then installing bulky light fixtures with one or more bulbs on location. Instead, a fiber is installed to the location and fixed in place, perhaps with a small focusing lens fixture, a much simpler process. Often several fibers can use a single light source, simplifying installation even more.
Easy Maintenance: Lighting in hard to access areas like high ceilings or small spaces can make changing light sources difficult. With fiber, the source can be in an easily accessible location and the fiber in any remote place. Changing the source is no longer a problem.


How Fiber Optic Lighting Worksfiber optic lighting systems
Fiber optic lighting uses optical fiber as a “light pipe,” transmitting light from a source through the fiber to a remote location. The light may be emitted from the end of the fiber creating a small spotlight effect (also called “end glow”) or emitted from the outside of the fiber along its length, looking like a neon or fluorescent tube (also called “side glow”).
The light source is usually called a “fiber optic illuminator” and consists of a bright light source and often some optics to efficiently focus light into the fiber. Sources must be bright, so quartz halogen or xenon metal halide lights are commonly used. Smaller fibers may also use LEDs which very efficiently couple light into fibers but do not achieve the light levels of the other lamps.
Optical fibers used for lighting are similar to fibers used in communications, but optimized for transmitting light not high speed signals. The fibers consist of a core that transmits the light and an optical cladding that traps the light in the core of the fiber. Unlike communications fibers that use small cores to maximize bandwidth, lighting fibers use large cores with thin claddings to maximize coupling of the light from the illuminator into the fiber. Side-emitting fibers have a rough interface between the core and the cladding to scatter some of the light out of the core along the length of the fiber to create a consistent lighted look similar to neon light tubes.
Lighting fibers can be made of glass, just like communications fibers, or plastic. If the fibers are glass, they are usually very small diameter and many are bundled together in one jacketed cable to provide enough light transmission. Larger diameter plastic fibers are  also used, perhaps more commonly, because they are inexpensive and easier to install, but they have higher light loss and cannot withstand as hot a temperature, sometimes limiting the light input from a source.

Types of fiber

End-emitting Fiber
fiber types
End-emitting fiber is generally a step-index multimode fiber with a large transparent core that transmits the light and thin transparent cladding that traps the light in the core in an optical process called “total internal reflection.” The core is large in comparison to the thin cladding as that makes it more efficient in coupling light from the illuminator. The cladding does not transmit light, so any light coupled into the cladding will not be transmitted by the fiber.
End-emitting fibers are generally made from plastic as it can be made in larger sizes than glass and is less expensive and easier to install. Plastic optical fiber (POF) is made in sizes from 0.1 to 20 mm in diameter. Glass fibers are generally made in much smaller sizes (hair thin, about 50-150 microns or 0.05 to 0.15 mm) and bundled together to make larger diameter cables.
The choice of core and cladding materials determines the angle of light rays accepted from sources and transmitted by the fiber (called modes), defined by a specification called numerical aperture(NA). The light will exit the fiber in a cone that shows the size of the NA with larger NA having a wider output cone of illumination. Higher NA fibers also couple light from sources more efficiently, as it will capture light at higher angles emitted by the source. Typical fibers have acceptance cones of 30-60 degrees, corresponding to NAs of 0.3-0.6. When optics are used to focus the light emitted from the fiber, the NA of the fiber must be known to choose appropriate optics.
End-emitting fibers transmit light well. Glass fibers are more efficient at transmission because glass is more transparent than plastic, but because of the inefficiencies of packing fibers into bundles, spaces between the fibers in the bundles means much of the illuminator light is not coupled into fiber cores. However, glass fibers may be more tolerant to heat generated by the illuminator, allowing greater illuminator intensity and providing more light from the end of the fiber.

Edge-emitting Fiber
Edge-emitting fiber is basically similar to end-emitting fiber except the core/cladding boundary is designed to be slightly inefficient. Instead of trapping all the light in the core, the boundary is rough and some light is scattered into the cladding where it becomes visible. By careful design, the fiber can have a smooth glow that looks much like a neon light tube. Smaller edge-emitting fibers have been woven into tapes that emit light in a band.
Since much of the light is lost by the edge-emission along the fiber, edge-emitting fiber has high attenuation. This may limit the lengths of edge-emitting fiber that can be used. This can be alleviated by illuminating the fiber from both ends by using two illuminators or looping the fiber back around to the same illuminator, or using reflective end caps to send excess light back up the fiber from the far end.


Illuminators , Types of Sources
The illuminator contains the light source for the fiber as well as optics and filters designed to produce the amount and type of illumination desired. While the amount of light coupled into the fiber is the primary consideration in choosing an illuminator, many other factors are involved, which has driven the market to offer many types of sources.
The power coupled into the fiber or fibers, as many sources will accommodate more than one fiber, will generally determine the type of light source used. Quartz halogen lamps are used in many illuminators. These sources, developed as spotlights or lamps for projectors, come in both low and AC voltage versions, with a wide range of power outputs. Quartz halogen lamps are usually made integral with reflectors that make focusing light into a fiber simpler. New Xenon metal halide lamps that have high power output but require high voltage power have been introduced that offer greater efficiency.
Lower power systems have been able to use LEDs which have higher efficiency but limited power. New LEDs are becoming brighter and even more efficient, making LEDs a viable source for more systems.
Illuminators include more than just lamps or LEDs. Lamps may need reflectors if they are not built into the lamp, as well as lenses to focus light into the fiber.  High power sources may have infrared (IR) filters to reduce heating of the fiber and ultraviolet (UV) filters to prevent damaging the fibers during long-term exposure.
Power sources for the lamps or LEDs will be needed, including dimming capability if desired. Since most lamps generate lots of heat, fan-forced ventilation will be designed into many illuminators.
Lamps are easily filtered to provide colored light in the fiber. Using moveable filters, usually in a wheel powered by a small electrical motor, allows the color of the light to be changed in a chosen sequence.
The complexity of illuminators precludes most users making their own, but numerous manufacturers offer various models optimized for various fiber types and applications. Working with these manufacturers is the best way to choose an appropriate illuminator and compatible fibers.
Passive lighting using fiber optics is being done using roof-mounted solar collectors that deliver sunlight over fiber to rooms in a building or below decks for ships.

solar-fiber optic lighting

End-Emitter Fixtures
Normally, light exits an end-emitter fiber in a cone of light defined by the numerical aperture of the fiber. In some cases, that will be adequate for illumination. However, it is sometimes desirable to focus the light on a smaller spot, create a shaped illuminated spot or diffuse the light to resemble a normal light bulb. End fixtures with lenses are available that can focus the light as needed, but need to be chosen for compatibility with the fiber being used.
Decorative fixtures are also available to create a attractive fixture for the light, not just the end of a fiber. Manufacturers offer many different types of these fixtures, just like with regular light fixtures.

Illumination Levels
Since the illumination of an area or object is the reason for using fiber optics, the illumination levels are most important. Making direct comparisons between various fibers and illuminators can be difficult due to the numerous options available. Even the perception of the human eye, highly sensitive to color, is a factor.
End-emitting fibers are easier to calibrate as the output power can be easily measured at the appropriate distances from the end of the fiber by light meters calibrated in foot-candles. Edge-emitting fibers are harder to calibrate, as they emit in diffuse patterns and their perceived contrast is dependent on ambient lighting.
It is illustrative to look at the factors involved in the illumination provided by the various options.

Coupled Power
The power coupled into the optical fiber is a function of the intensity of the light source, the efficiency of the focusing on the end of the fiber, included filters (IR, UV and/or color), reflectance of the fiber endface and the cross-sectional area of the fiber. Larger fibers, obviously, couple more power. Doubling the diameter of the fiber increases the cross sectional area by four times (2 squared) so the coupled power should be four times higher. Likewise, higher packing density on fiber bundles will increase coupled power. Even the cleanliness of fiber ends is important as dust and dirt absorb considerable light.

Fiber Attenuation
Losses in the fiber due to scattering and absorption will reduce the output power, and since the fiber attenuation is wavelength dependent, the color of the emitted light will change. Longer fibers mean the light will be slightly reddened.


Designing Fiber Optic Lighting Systems
Fiber optic lighting appears to be missing industry standards so every product and application is proprietary.
Since there is so much variety in fiber optic lighting systems, it’s hard to generalize about designing systems. However, every design project will start with some common items: what is being lighted, what kind of light is desired (intensity, illumination pattern, color, variety, etc.), where the light will be presented and where the illuminator will be placed. If the designer is new to fiber optic lighting, consulting with an experienced designer and contractor is highly recommended. They will be able to recommend designs, fiber optic lighting components and manufacturers. They should also be able to help design not only the fiber optic lighting system, but also the power and controller for the system.
If an experienced contractor is not available, one can use manufacturer and distributor websites to help learn more about what applications are possible, what components are available and hot to implement them. One can also see the options regarding buying components and assembling them yourself or buying a complete system ready to install.

Installation of Fiber Optic Lighting Systems
The installation of fiber optic lighting systems involves installing cables, illluminators and fixtures. Most of the applications are custom and many will require specialized practices related to the components being used. Working with manufacturers who have not only developed the components but also the installation fixtures and practices is the best way to ensure the installation is properly done. If the application is a new type, experimenting to determine if it will work properly before committing to the actual work is very important.
The advice given above about designing fiber optic lighting systems holds here too, as there is no substitute for experience. It appears that any competent electrician used to installing lighting should be able to install a fiber optic lighting system, especially since they are experienced in installing cable, light fixtures and electrical power and controllers.

Difference between Ethernet Cables

Difference between Ethernet Cables

Difference between Ethernet Cables – Ethernet represents the plumbing pipes of the Internet. Many network installers and system integrators are familiar with the ethernet types: Cat5e and Cat6 cables with RJ45 connectors. But the term “Ethernet”, co-invented by Robert Metcalfe, encompasses an entire range of twisted pair and fiber cables that are constantly being upgraded and standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers known as IEEE. Each new iteration of Ethernet, or category, supports increasingly faster bandwidth speeds and improves upon noise cancellation.

Plano Texas Handyman is your technology company that can install the right Ethernet cables in your home. Call us at 214-507-3405 for more information or visit our website for all our capabilities.

Build a Co-Axial Based Network

Cross sections of different category types of Ethernet reveal differing internal physical compositions. This guide will help you learn more about the subtle differences between each generation of twisted pair Ethernet cable.

Different Ethernet Categories

Ethernet cabling differences can be invisible to the casual observer. However, each new generation introduces copper pairs with tighter twists and more complex sheathing. Many earlier Ethernet generation cables have become obsolete.

Different Ethernet Categories Chart

Category 3

Cat3 cable is an earlier generation of Ethernet but can still be seen in older deployments. With the ability to support a maximum frequency of 16 MHz, this type of Ethernet can still be used for two-line telephone systems and 10BASE-T networks. CAT3 cable can also be used for alarm system installation or similar applications. CAT3 cable can have 2, 3, or 4 copper pairs (though uncommon). Category 5e cable, however, has become the default Ethernet category of choice with the ability to support faster speeds and frequencies.

Category 5

Cat5 Ethernet, introduced 10/100 Mbps Ethernet over distances of up to 100 meters, also known as Fast Ethernet. Even though some older deployments still use CAT5 cable, it is now considered obsolete and has since been replaced by Cat5e.

NOTE: 100 Mbps /100m.

Category 5e

Though Cat5 and Cat5e cables are physically similar, Category 5e Ethernet adheres to more stringent IEEE standards. “E” is for enhanced, meaning a lower-noise version where the potential for crosstalk is reduced. Crosstalk is interference that transfers from adjacent wires.   

Cat5e is the most common type of cabling used for deployments due to its ability to support Gigabit speeds at a cost-effective price. Even though both Cat5 and Cat5e support a maximum frequency of up to 100MHz, Cat5e has completely replaced its predecessor. Gigabit Ethernet utilizes 4 data pairs in comparison to Fast Ethernet which utilizes 2 data pairs.

Further, Cat 5e supports speeds of up to 1000 Mbps. It’s flexible enough for small space installations like residences, though it is still used in commercial spaces. Of all the current cabling options, Cat5e is your least expensive option.

NOTE: 100-250Mhz/1 Gbps/100m.

Category 6

Cat6 wiring can support up to 10 Gbps and frequencies of up to 250 MHz. While Cat5e cable features 1.5-2 twists per cm, Cat6 cables are more tightly wound and feature 2 or more twists per cm. (The amount of twists per cm varies upon each cable manufacturer).

Cat6 cables also sport thicker sheaths in comparison to Cat5e. Though standard Ethernet supports distances of up to 100 meters, CAT6 cable only supports 37-55 meters (depending on crosstalk) when transmitting 10 Gbps speeds. Its thicker sheath protects against Near End Crosstalk (NEXT) and Alien Crosstalk (AXT).

Even though Cat6 and Cat6a cabling offer higher performance rates, many LANs still opt for CAT5e due to its cost-effectiveness and ability to support Gigabit speeds.

Plano Texas Handyman is your technology company that can install the right Ethernet cables in your home. Call us at 214-507-3405 for more information or visit our website for all our capabilities.

NOTE: 250-500Mhz/10 Gbps /100m.

.cat5e cat6 cat3

Category 6a

Cat6a supports bandwidth frequencies of up to 500 MHz, twice the amount of Cat6 cable, and can also support 10Gbps like its predecessor. However, unlike Cat6 cabling, Cat6a can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet at 100 meters. [Cat6 cabling on the other hand, can transmit the same speeds at up to 37 meters.]

Cat6a also features more robust sheathing which eliminates alien crosstalk (AXT) and improves upon the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). “A” = augmented. The stronger sheathing makes Cat6a cabling considerably thicker than Cat6, also making it less flexible to work with, and therefore, better suited for industrial environments at a lower price point.

NOTE: 250-500Mhz/10 Gbps /100m.

Category 7

Cat7 can also support 10 Gbps, but laboratory testing has successfully shown its ability to transmit up to 40 Gb at 50 meters and even 100 Gb at 15 meters. The newer “Class F” cabling can support frequencies of up to 600 Mhz. That said, Cat7 has not been approved as a cable standard for telecommunications.

Cat7 offers extensive shielding to reduce signal attenuation and is relatively stiff in comparison to previous generations of cabling. Both individual pairs are shielded, with an additional layer of shielding over the entire cable. The shielding needs to be grounded and Cat7 also requires special GigaGate45 (GG45) connectors to take full advantage of higher performance features.

All in all, Cat6a can perform just about the same as Cat7 but at a lower price point. Most of our AV and IP surveillance customers opt for Cat6a STP or Cat6a FTP. Both offer shielding from alien crosstalk and interference around high voltage lines.

Cat7 is suited for use in datacenters and large enterprise networks.

Note: 600Mhz/10Gbps/100m (40Gbps at 50m/100Gbps at 15m).

Category 8

Cat8 cable is still in the development stage and not yet ratified. According to the 2016 Ethernet Alliance Roadmap, it will be able to support 25GB and 40Gb Ethernet. Cat8 will be able to support even faster transmission rates at distances of up to 30 meters.

How to know what types of ethernet cabling to buy once deciding on a CAT type

Answer the following questions to narrow down to your requirements:

  • Are you looking for burial cables with UV protection?
  • Will the cables be within 6 inches of power lines?
  • Will the cables be in walls?
  • Is flame resistance cabling required for the installation?

Here’s a link to an outdoor CAT6 gel filled cable. There are plenty of good manufacturers out there. PLANET is not advocating one supplier. This is just to illustrate.

Each cable category has various types of insulation or shielding that installers need to take into consideration before purchasing. There’s no one answer to all questions but the answers to these questions should help the reader decide based on their project.

The price difference between the various types can range anywhere from $100 to $600+ depending on type.

Here’s a helpful overview: Siemon’s category 6A F/UTP shielded outside plant (OSP) cable delivers TIA and ISO performance requirements for shielded category 6A/class EA.

Why are copper pairs twisted?

When telephone lines were first deployed alongside power lines, Alexander Graham Bell, popularly known as the inventor of the telephones, was the first person to twist copper pairs to reduce crosstalk between the lines. Twisting the copper cable every 3-4 utility poles allowed for the reduction of electromagnetic interference and an increase in range. Ethernet copper cables adopted the same technique to reduce crosstalk between internal wires (XT) and external wires (AXT).

Shielded (FTP) vs. Unshielded (UTP)

Twisted pair copper comes in shielded an unshielded forms. Shielded copper cable includes protective conductive coating such as braided strands of copper, copper tape or conductive polymer to reduce noise interference. Unshielded Twisted Pair, or UTP, includes no shielding and is ideal for most common LAN environments. Shielded twisted copper pairs, are reserved for networking environments with higher frequencies.

shielded-vs-unshielded-cables

There are many types of shielded copper pairs.  Sheathing can also envelop all four data pairs. Sheathing can wrap around twisted pairs.There are two sections to a shielded “code”. The first letter signifies the type of shield used to enclose all four twisted pairs of an Ethernet cable. An Unshielded cable is marked with a (U), a cable with Foil Shielding is marked with an (F), and a cable with Braided Shielding is marked with an (S).  The second portion of the code, describes if a twisted pair is foiled (F) or Unfoiled (U). TP stands for Twisted Pair.

Shielding Code Key

Shielding Code:

TP: Twisted Pair

U: Unshielded or Unscreened

F: Foil Shielding

S: Braided Shielding

Types of Shielded Ethernet Cables

F/UTP– Foiled/Unshielded Twisted Pair

Common in Fast Ethernet deployments, this cable will have a foil shield that wraps around unshielded twisted pairs.

S/UTP– Braided Shielding/ Unshielded Twisted Pair

This cable will wrap a braided shield around unshielded twisted pairs.

SF/UTP– Braided Shielding+Foil/Unshielded Twisted Pairs

This cable braids a shield around a foil wrap to enclose unshielded twisted pairs.

S/FTP– Braided Shielding/Foiled Twisted Pair

This cable wraps a braided shield around all four copper pairs. Additionally, each twisted pair is enveloped in foil.

F/FTP-Foiled/Foiled Twisted Pair

This cable encloses all copper pairs in foil. Additionally, each twisted pair is enveloped in foil.

U/FTP-Unshielded/Foiled Twisted Pairs

This cable only envelopes the twisted pairs in foil.

U/UTP-Unshielded/UnshieldedTwisted Pair

No sheathing is used. Standard Cat5e cable are examples of U/UTP cables.

Solid vs. Stranded Ethernet

These terms refer to Ethernet conductors. Stranded copper cables comprise of several thin copper cables. Solid cable conductors comprise of a single, thick copper cable conductor.

Plano Texas Handyman is your technology company that can install the right Ethernet cables in your home. Call us at 214-507-3405 for more information or visit our website for all our capabilities.

Option for New Garbage Disposers

Option for New Garbage Disposers

Option for New Garbage Disposers

Garbage disposals are a convenient way to get rid of food waste in the kitchen. But whether you’re seeking your first-ever disposal unit or looking to replace an old one, you’re going to want the best of the best. That’s where we can help. Option for New Garbage Disposers, Read on, this is a great article on selecting a garbage disposer. Your North Dallas and Plano Home Improvement expert is Plano Texas Handyman. Call Ted at 214-507-3415 to discuss your home improvement project.

Best Garbage Disposals 2020 review

We’ve combed everything from customer forums to plumbers’ blogs to track down the garbage disposals real people own and love. And after many hours of research, we’ve selected the best garbage disposals for you and your family.

Read on for our top picks.

If this is useful to you in any way, please leave a comment or a like to let us know we’re doing good work. We’d really appreciate it!

Why Should You Buy a Garbage Disposal?

Garbage disposals are just plain handy when it comes to handling, well, garbage. This includes food scraps, smelly leftovers you forgot in the back of the fridge, or even flowers kept a little past their prime. Sure, a good kitchen trash can serves a similar function just effective, but people are crazy about their disposals for other reasons. Option for New Garbage Disposers

For starters, there’s the convenience factor. Prepping and cooking often produces a lot of food discards. And each time you have to reach for the trash can, it interferes with the flow of the cooking process. If you think about it, dropping your waste down the sink is actually much more intuitive—not to mention, cleaner. 

Furthermore, each food scrap you stick down the disposal is one less item you’re throwing in the trash. And with a smaller amount of waste to stink up or overflow the bin, you’ll find yourself taking out the trash a lot less frequently. In-sink garbage disposals may not eliminate the dreaded chore altogether, but it’s a step in the right direction. Plus, you may find that your bins are less appealing to pets and neighborhood critters in search of a snack. It’s another perk of putting your most edible garbage down the disposal. 

Finally, using a food waste disposer to grind up food waste can actually lead to enormous potentials in renewable energy, which we’ll go into more detail below.

Are Garbage Disposals Good for the Environment?

The environmental impact of garbage disposals has long been the subject of debate. Over the years, researchers have struggled to provide a definitive answer as to whether a grinder or a landfill is the more eco-friendly option. However, recent research has brought forth evidence in favor of garbage disposals.

According to a study about food waste published on Oregon.gov, food treatment with in-sink grinding (ISG) ranks above landfill, depositing in all accounts when considering climate impact, energy concerns, and effects on soil productivity. In fact, ISG is considered to have great potential for renewable energy production.  Option for New Garbage Disposers

Another study has suggested that home food waste deposited in municipal sewage systems via garbage disposals could be a very potent resource for biogas harvest. By applying biogas recovery technology to these treatment systems, organic waste by-products from anaerobic digestion could be controlled and exploited.

How to Choose the Best Garbage Disposal

What makes an in-sink garbage disposal system good or bad? There are a few basic aspects that consumers should consider prior to purchase.

How Noisy Are Garbage Disposals?

If you’re sensitive to noise, you should know that all garbage disposals produce it but some are louder offenders than others. When choosing a garbage disposal, you’ll want to carefully consider the noise levels that work best for you.

To make your choice a little easier, we’ve prepared a chart that compares some of the top models on the market at peak volume. If loud noises bother you, you might be a great candidate for the whisper-quiet InSinkErator Evolution Excel, while those with less sensitive ears might be happy with InSinkErator’s slightly louder Evolution XTR or even Badger 5 models.

How Noisy Are Garbage Disposal

However, a lower volume often requires a bigger budget. The machines with better sound insulation are often more advanced—and more expensive. The Evolution Excel is the optimal choice, but only if you have a little extra cash to spare. If you’re trying to spend as little as possible, the cheaper but noisier Waste King L-8000 or Badger 5 should suit your needs.  Option for New Garbage Disposers

It’s worth noting that apart from the disposal unit itself, other factors may also affect the noise level. If you value your peace and quiet, you may want to ensure your sink is sound-insulated so as to avoid amplifying the noise of the attached disposal. These days, all the best sinks have foam-coating and deadening pads. If your sink lacks these features, perhaps it’s time for an upgrade.

How Much Food Waste Do You Produce?

A large volume of rubbish requires a powerful motor to get the disposal job done. So, before you buy a disposer, think about how much horsepower (HP) would be sufficient to deal with your daily load of garbage. 

Here’s what we infer after digging around:

  • ⅓ or ½ HP: for a small house or apartment with 1-3 people
  • ¾ HP: for families with 4-6 people
  • 1 HP: able to support a family of 7-9 people
  • 2 HP: powerful enough for more than 9 people, usually used for commercial ends.

We don’t think that ⅓ HP models are capable of meeting the average person’s garbage disposal needs and have therefore chosen to exclude them from our picks. On the flip side, 2 HP models provide more power than you’d need in an ordinary home. However, we think that ½ to 1 HP models are totally suitable for most families—just opt for the HP that matches the size of your household. Option for New Garbage Disposers

We’ve made the choice a little simpler by putting together a table that pairs each of our picks with its suggested household size, assuming a fairly ordinary family routine with three meals a day and no guests. Your North Dallas and Plano Home Improvement expert is Plano Texas Handyman. Call Ted at 214-507-3415 to discuss your home improvement project.

Suggested Disposals Based on Family Size

If your family is small but loves to throw dinner parties, feel free to go for a more powerful machine, like the InSinkErator Evolution Excel. But if you don’t cook at home that often, a lower-HP model such as the Badger 5 should do just fine. Just think about what’s right for your lifestyle.

How Strong Do You Want Your Motor?

Motor strength doesn’t simply dictate the amount of waste your disposal can tackle—it also determines how well it can actually grind everything up. Stronger motors can tackle tougher garbage, grinding it up more finely than weaker motors. This matters because the finer the grind, the less likely it will clog the drain.

That said, weaker models are quite popular among certain groups. ⅓ HP models are the weakest ones on the market, yet they sell relatively well. This might be because these models are more affordable, or simply because 45 percent of the US adult population is single and may live in small apartments or studios that do not have the space for bigger models. 

½ HP models are a bit stronger and are a more ideal choice for small homes. Both the ½ and ⅓ HP motors are recommended for regular light use only and should be treated gently.

If you want your disposal to tackle garbage that the ½ and ⅓ HP motors can’t handle, you’ll want a ¾ or 1-2 HP model. ¾ HP motors have the strength and technology to deal with bones and hard, fibrous vegetables that would stump weaker models. 1-2 HP motors can withstand heavy use and even tougher food waste.

If you’re curious how our picks compare to one another when it comes to grinding capabilities, we’ve prepared a chart to demonstrate.

Garbage Disposal Capability

Weaker models like the InSinkErator Badger 5 and Waste King L1001 can’t grind anything tougher than fibrous veggies, while the stronger Evolution Excel is able to handle all sorts of food scraps in the kitchen, including meat bones.. 

Reviews of the Best Garbage Disposals in 2020

Our list includes a wide range of models spanning from high-end options that offer top-of-the-line features to budget alternatives that can satisfy basic needs. 

Here’s our picks for the Best Garbage Disposals.

  1. InSinkErator Essential XTR 3/4HP Garbage DisposerBest To Buy in 2020
  2. Waste King L8000 Legend 1HP Garbage DisposalBest Value Garbage Disposal
  3. InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1HP Garbage DisposalBest High-End Disposer
  4. InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2HP Food Waste DisposerBest for Small Home
  5. Moen GXS75C GX 3/4HP Garbage DisposalBest Moen Disposer
  6. Waste King L1001 Garbage DisposalBest Budget Food Disposal
  7. InSinkErator Septic Assist 3/4HP Garbage DisposalBest Septic System Safe Disposal

Your North Dallas and Plano Home Improvement expert is Plano Texas Handyman. Call Ted at 214-507-3415 to discuss your home improvement project.

Replace attic stairs

Replace Attic Stairs

Replace attic stairs with Plano Texas Texas Handyman. We are the premier home improvement company serving the Plano, McKinney, Frisco and north Dallas suburbs. Call Ted today at 214-507-3415 for more information on our services or visit our website for all our capabilities. The cost to replace you attic stairs starts at about $525 for a wood stairway and $595 for an aluminum stairway. This includes removing the old and installing a new. We do not dispose of old stairway and new trim and paint can be added for a minimal charge. Replace attic stairs

An attic ladder is a retractable stairway that pulls down from the ceiling to provide access to attic space, then folds up into a ceiling frame out of the way when it is not needed. An attic ladder makes every trip up and down from the attic easier, faster, and safer. It can make the difference between an attic storage space that actually gets used and one that is quickly forgotten—along with its contents. Replace attic stairs

Installing an attic ladder or fold-down stairway is a very doable DIY project that can take just a few hours. Most retractable attic ladders come as pre-assembled kits that you can order for shipment to your house or pick up at a local building supply store. But there are several factors to weigh as you consider which ladder to buy.

Location of the Ladder

Attic ladder kits are made to fit between existing framing in the ceiling (that is, the floor of the attic). Where possible, choose a size and location for your attic ladder that allows it to fit between existing ceiling joists or trusses. In some cases, the ladder may fit into an existing attic access hatch. In other cases, though, the access hatch may need to be enlarged, or an entirely new opening will need to be cut. When locating your attic ladder, make sure the bottom of the ladder will fall in a safe spot where there is room to maneuver—both from the bottom of the stairs and as you enter the attic.

How you enlarge or install an attic hatchway opening will depend on the type of framing used in your attic.  Replace attic stairs

Type of Framing

Your attic floor and roof are probably framed with either trusses or with individual rafters and floor joists. A truss functions as an interlocking system of framing members joined by gussets or metal connectors. The components cannot be cut or altered, or you risk ruining the structural strength. When installing an attic hatchway and retractable stairway unit, the normal strategy is to position them in the gap between two trusses.

Standard framing using rafters and floor joists, on the other hand, can usually be reorganized easily in order to frame a hatchway opening or install a new one.

Joist (or Truss) Spacing and Orientation

Standard-size attic ladder kits are designed to fit between floor joists (or trusses) that have a 24-inch spacing (on center). This means there is about 22 1/2 inches of open space between each joist pair. If the gap between your framing measures 22 1/2 inches and one of those gaps falls over where you’d like to install the ladder, you’re in luck. If not, additional framing will be required.

It’s also possible that the joists are running in the wrong direction for the ladder installation. With standard framing, this can be overcome by simply cutting out sections of the joists and then framing the rough opening with doubled-up headers and joists. With trusses, however, you may be out of luck. Check with a professional about your options. If alteration is possible at all, it may be an involved process that is fairly expensive.

Basic Space Requirements for an Attic Ladder

Full-size attic ladders usually need an opening in the ceiling that is at least 22 1/2 x 54 inches. Looking for a space adequate to this opening is your first step. Also, make sure there is a suitable landing space in the attic, so you can safely mount and dismount the ladder while carrying items. Check for headroom, too, since you don’t want to bang your head against the roof framing every time you use the ladder. Finally, make sure there’s enough open space in the room and on the floor below the attic opening to accommodate the ladder when it is fully extended. These dimensions vary by the ladder-type and model, so check the manufacturer’s requirements for the exact model you’re considering.  Replace attic stairs

If space is tight, look for compact ladder models designed for closets and other small spaces. Some models need only an 18 x 24-inch opening and require less floor space than standard ladders. 

Length and Weight

Attic ladders are sold in different lengths. Be sure to measure the distance from your ceiling to the floor and buy an appropriate size. The weight rating relates to the load capacity of the ladder itself. As a general rule, the more weight a ladder can hold, the sturdier it is. At the very least, buy a ladder that can handle the weight of the heaviest person who will be using it plus the heaviest load they will be hauling up and down. This may mean that a 250-pound capacity is sufficient, although 300 pounds may be a better choice, even if it requires some extra framing. 

Material

You can find attic ladders made of aluminum, steel, or wood. Aluminum is generally the best all-around choice because it is lightweight and strong. Because aluminum is a rust-resistant metal, it’s unlikely to be affected by humidity and temperature over the years. A wood ladder also might very well last as long as the house, but it may be more prone to the effects of moisture and temperature change, as well as potential natural defects. 

Usability Features

Attic ladders come in a variety of styles and designs that incorporate various features that improve convenience, safety, and general usability. Much of this comes down to personal preference. Here are some of the features to consider, keeping in mind that you may be limited by your available space and your budget:

  • Rungs vs. steps: Some retractable attic stairs have shallow steps, while others have ladder-style rungs. The steps aren’t like those of a regular staircase, and, in most cases it’s best to climb up and down as if you’re on a ladder, holding a higher step while climbing.   
  • Folding vs. telescoping: Some ladders fold out, while others telescope like an extension ladder. There are also stairs that extend on scissor-like mechanisms (picture an old-fashioned shaving mirror), sometimes called “concertina.” 
  • Angle: Attic ladders and stairs are almost always steeper than regular staircases. Some may prefer less or more of an angle. Ladders typically have the same steep angle as those used when painting a house or cleaning windows. Stairs usually have a somewhat flatter angle.
  • Handrail: Some attic ladders include a handrail. Keep in mind that climbing attic ladders usually means carrying items in one hand while climbing with the other. Is it preferable to climb with a handrail or just use the ladder rungs? It depends on personal preference. Replace attic stairs

Insulation

Attic access panels can be a significant source of energy loss in a home. Look for attic ladder and stairway models with tight-fitting doors and, if possible, insulation. Some models come with insulation covers that fit over the hatchway from above. Or, you can add weatherstripping around the door opening to stop air leakage, and cover the door panel with a rigid foam insulation board to slow heat loss.  Replace attic stairs

Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Smart Home System – So you are looking for the best Smart Home products, Insteon Smart Home System is the best. Insteon is made by a company called Smart home, itself a subsidiary of Smartlabs, a California-based company founded in 1992. Competition for the “hub” or the brains of your home is fierce. With its acquisition of SmartThings (Mountain View, California), Samsung entere d the market in a big way in 2014 and makes all sorts of “things” to automate your home. Central to its strategy is the Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Hub. Wink Labs Inc (New York) is another strong player — launching a new v2 version of its well-reviewed Wink Hub.

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

Insteon Dimmer Keypad 2334-232
A new Insteon Keypad. A neutral white wire is required in your home’s electrical wiring.

Cloud technology and lower prices are key factors why the smart home is finally within grasp of the mainstream. Unlike years past when contractors might quote you $10,000+ for a custom Crestron system to control lights and cameras, these things are DIY friendly, and don’t require you to take out a second mortgage.

But there’s another reason why the time is now for home automation:

Voice control.

And we can predominantly thank Amazon (Alexa and Echo) and Google (Google Assistant and Google Home) for that.

With a voice interface, we can now interact with our home in a natural way. Better still, we can combine multiple hubs, and switches from various manufacturers and need only control it all with, say, an Amazon Echo Dot (“Alexa, turn on kitchen lights”). In my experience, it works especially with Insteon.

But more on all of that in future posts. For now, if you’ve just bought a hub, or are researching the home automation market and considering what to do, here’s 10 things I’ve learned over the past 10 years working with Insteon.

Smart Home: Top 10 tips for getting started with Insteon

1. Buy only the latest revisions of Insteon hubs, switches and modules

Insteon Tips and Tricks
Each Insteon device has a revision number. Be careful to only buy the most recent ones — they are vastly improved in quality and performance.
Old and new Insteon dimmer comparison
Old and new keypads. Note the newer Insteon branding on the right. That’s another clue, along with the revision number, you’re buying a newer model.
Insteon Tips and Tricks
3 Insteon dimmers for kitchen lighting.

This is important. Insteon (the brand name for Smarthome’s line of home automation products) has been around for a while. I bought in early, in 2006. Products were in their infancy and it showed. Reliability was a big issue — software and hardware. Dimmer switches often failed. Communication between the hub and devices was iffy. Flash forward to 2017 and the situation is dramatically improved. Insteon Smart Home System..Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

So, please be sure to buy the latest revision (or as close to it as possible) of any Insteon device.

How?

Each Insteon device has a version label, usually placed on the front of a switch, or the rear of a plug-in module. Check that. Then use a Google search to verify the latest versions.

For instance, the most recent version of the 6 and 8-button keypad controllers (models 2334-232 and 2334-222 respectively) is at least 8.0 and from what I can tell they were manufactured in 2017. The latest version of the Insteon Dimmer (2477D) that I’ve installed this year is 8.2.

My understanding is that if you buy Insteon products from Amazon you will get the newest stuff so long as you select the seller as: “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.” That’s key. if you buy from a marketplace seller or a third-party that is fulfilled by Amazon you may get old switches as many suppliers will try to move old inventory.

If you buy on eBay (a good place to sometimes look for deals on Insteon switches), again, look for the label. A good seller with include a photo of the switch with the label so you can verify it’s a later version.

This is my #1 tip for Insteon.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Insteon, but in recent years it’s been mostly love because the newer, 2nd generation (Dual Band) products are vastly improved over their iffy predecessors. Today, I find Insteon to be very stable, and reliable — so long as you heed this advice and only buy/install newer versions of their hubs, switches and modules.

2. Keep it simple

Insteon Dimmer and Keypad Tips Review

Complexity can really create problems when it comes to the smart home. For Insteon I’ve found that keeping scenes (groups of multiple devices that turn on together) as simple as possible ensure that your home network won’t get overloaded with commands and create slowdowns and errors. Insteon Smart Home System

In particular, if you’re adding devices to an Insteon Keypad (6 or 8 button switch) just know that if you set one of the buttons as a “controller” and assign, say, 10 devices, the hub will then create 20 links, a two-way connection between each device. This can multiply exponentially if, for instance, you want multiple buttons on keypads around the home to act as a “controller” for the same scene. It can get messy really fast.

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

One solution is not to use Keypads. Instead just use dimmer switches and plug-in modules. Besides, with Alexa you can simply ask your Echo to turn on a scene (“Alexa, turn on evening mode”). I still use two keypads as I like to see the status. And sometimes hitting a physical switch is all you want. But I don’t create mega scenes, and ensure that the scenes I do create are a minimal as possible, and typically have just one “controller” defined (the rest being a “responder”).

Note: a controller in Insteon speak can control all the devices in a scene meaning it can turn the entire thing on or off and also control brightness. A responder merely responds to the controller. For example, you have a button “All On” and set it as a “controller” and group 20 devices (dimmers and plug-in modules connected to lights throughout the home or condo) into a scene each as a “responder”. If you tap the “All on” button all 20 lights will turn on. Tap again and, of course, everything turns off. However, if you turn off the switch for any of the assigned responders (say, a living room light) it will only turn off that individual device, not the entire scene.

3. Avoid Android: You really want to use the iOS version of the Insteon app

Insteon App for iOS / iPhone

If possible use the iOS Insteon app. it’s miles better than the Android equivalent. It looks better. It runs better. It just a better overall experience.

This is where you can feel the roots of Smarthome, an A/V company founded in the 1990’s. Unlike many new home automation players who are software-centric, with many based here in Silicon Valley, Smarthome has had to morph over the years. Thankfully, the latest version of the Insteon app for the iPhone is good. Not phenomenal. But definitely functional, with a few design quirks to be sure. However, in my experience it does the job and is reliable. Just take your time and spend some time learning the layout and you’ll be fine.

 4. Setting local dim level and ramp rate is very easy with Insteon

Insteon 2477D Dimmer Indicator Light - Adjust dim and ramp rate

I still believe Insteon makes the best all around dimmer switches. They look modern and clean, and are easy to install thanks to the included pigtail cables (4 in total).

Perhaps best of all is this little trick:

You can easily set the local dim level and ramp rate for any Insteon dimmer switch:

  • To set dim level (the brightness of the light when you turn it on) simply set the switch to the desired level and tap the set button (below the paddle) once. It will beep. Next time you turn on the light it will go to your preferred brightness. Easy.

To adjust the ramp rate — the speed  at which a light turns on:

  • To set ramp rate set the light from near off for a slow ramp or up to on (100%) for instant on, or anything in between. Then double tap the set button. It will beep. Now your light will turn on at the rate which you set. Insteon Smart Home System

Once you’ve done this a few times it’s very easy. For some reason I can’t find similar features in other dimmers from the likes of GE, Lutron and Leviton. Yes, of course you can customize dim and ramp when you create a scene, but unlike Insteon it seems hard if not impossible to actually set them on the dimmer switch itself.

5. Double tap On and Off

Want instant on light? Just double tap top paddle. Or double tap bottom to turn off instantly without waiting for dimming to ramp down.

Another nifty trick. Double tapping the top or bottom of an Insteon dimmer switch will instantly turn the light to full brightness or turn it off — convenient if you don’t want to wait for the light to ramp dimness.

6. More Insteon devices strengthen the network*

*but quickly deplete your bank account

Insteon Home Control Starter Kit
Insteon Home Control Starter Kit is a great value. You get the Hub plus 2 dimmer switches.

Another thing I like about Insteon is that it is dual band. That is, it communicates using two methods: (1) power line (white neutral wire); and (2) wireless RF signal (proprietary).

Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

In my experience, it’s extremely reliable and very fast to respond. I now have 37 Insteon devices across a small home. As I add new lamp modules and dimmer switches (and, more importantly, replace older ones from 2006!) the Insteon network actually gets better. That’s because each device extends the range, and also adds another communication point to send/receive commands. I’m no expert, but it’s something called a “mesh network.” Like me, you may not want or need to know all the details. Just know that Insteon is not wi-fi based, and it provides serious performance, especially as you expand the number of devices throughout your home. Insteon Smart Home System

7. Leak sensors and alerts: Your new best friends

Insteon Leak Sensor by Refrigerator
Placing leak sensors in high risk areas around the home is a great way to get started with home automation.

Quick tip to avoid costly home repair. Put Insteon water leak sensors in places prone to potential flooding: the refrigerator, washer/dryer area, shower, hot water heater, etc. Occasionally Smarthome direct or Amazon run 2-for-1 specials and you can get these sensors inexpensively. I sure do wish I had one a few years back when a line from our hot water tank burst.

Place the sensors on the ground next to these areas. Don’t worry, they’re white and fairly unobtrusive. Then after you’ve added them to the Insteon Hub, be sure to setup alerts in the app. Slide them to on, and add your email address. If a sensor detects wet, it will immediately email you. Then you can start freaking out.

8. Go deep with Stringify to create conditional Insteon programs (“flows”)

Stringify App - Insteon Flow Example
The Stringify app, like IFTTT, provides an easy way to create custom notifications, scenes and integrations with other apps and home automation devices. Here, in this “flow”, a simple notification is sent when the garage door opens.

You might have heard of IFFF (If This Then That)? Unfortunately Insteon is not yet supported on that platform (though other hubs are supported, including Samsung SmartThings and Wink). You can use a competitor app called Srtingify. It’s available for iOS and Android and can really take your smart home to the next level.

I won’t go into details here, that’s for another day. But you can do things like switch lights on randomly late at night while you’re away to make it look like someone’s home. Or detect if your garage door is open for 20 minutes and have it automatically close. Or have your irrigation system not run if rain is detected. And on and on… and on and on and on. The possibilities are near endless.

With Stringify (and IFTTT) and Insteon the sky is the limit and you can really do some interesting things. It’s definitely not for the plug-and-play crowd, but it’s there if you want to do more advanced things with your IoT things. It really is a thing.

9. Insteon is closed and proprietary while most of the competition is based on open standards

Insteon review and tips

This one is not really a tip, but something to be aware of.

If you own an Insteon Hub you already know that you can only use it with Insteon products. You can’t mix and match with other manufacturers. So dimmers from Lutron or Leviton or GE are a no go and aren’t compatible with Insteon.

Much of the competition, however, is based on open standards. The most prevalent — and one that appears to be gaining even more momentum — is known as Z-Wave, with the more recent standard dubbed Z-Wave Plus.

Samsung SmartThings and Wink 2 are hubs that support Z-Wave Plus. When you buy into the system you can mix and match from a variety of vendors: Nexia, GE, Lutron, Leviton, Ecolink, Honeywell, Schlage, Kwikset, and dozens of others. A lot of brands make Z-Wave enabled smart home devices.

Something to keep in mind.

In a sense, Insteon is like Apple. You buy in, and you buy only Insteon.

Z-Wave is more akin to Google and Android. You buy in, and can buy a variety of devices made by partner companies.

Neither approach — like Apple and Google’s business models — is necessarily better or worse. If you really have your heart set on that Lutron Caseta dimmer switch (Z-Wave based), then you’re choice is made and it’s not Insteon. Go with the Samsung SmartThings or Wink 2 hub. If you appreciate the look of Insteon switches and don’t mind buying only that brand then it’s definitely a strong option.

10. THIS IS BIG: Use Alexa and Amazon Echo, Dot and/or Show to control Insteon lights (Hint: it’s a home automation nerd’s dream come true)

Insteon with Alexa and Amazon Echo Dot: Tips and Review

Finally, but not least: voice control.

When I first tried out an Echo Dot I wasn’t a fan. It sat on a tabletop mostly unused. That is, until I discovered it could work with Insteon. First, I had to update to the latest hub. A bit of a pain because I needed to re-add all my devices and setup scenes from scratch. But it was worth it.

It’s as simple as this: Alexa a game changer for home automation. Together with Insteon I’m in a la-la land of smart home nirvana. I couldn’t near imagine this stuff possible even 5 years ago:

“Alexa, turn on the downstairs lights.”

“Alexa, dim the front lights to 50%.”

“Alexa, turn on movie mode.”

“Alexa, turn on sleeping.”

and my favorite…

“Alexa, turn on the espresso machine.”

It works so well that I was absolutely flabbergasted. Yes, we’ve had Siri and Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana for a while now. But to now have this capability in the home, available anytime to control lighting is a dream come true… at least for this home automation nerd.

The best part of Alexa voice control and Insteon is that the setup is a breeze.

  • First, enable the Insteon skill in the Alexa app.
  • Then tap “discover devices” under the Smart Home section of the Alexa app. In about 20 seconds the app will import all of your Insteon scenes and devices.

That’s it. You can start asking Alexa to control your lights. Plano Texas Handyman offers advice and suggestions for all your Smart Home Products. Call us at 214-507-3414 for more information. Insteon Smart Home System

Alexa Smart Home

Alexa Smart Home

Alexa Smart Home – Setting up an Alexa smart home in 2020 is a whole lot easier than it was just a couple years back.

Why is that?

Well, you really don’t get much by the way of compatibility issues these days. The impressive Works with Alexa program means these days it’s surprising to see something that doesn’t work with Alexa.

Another prime benefit in of Alexa in 2020 is the huge choice of smart speakers and smart displays you have at your disposal.

So, today we’ll walk you through the logistics of creating an Alexa-powered smart home the easy way and it’s got to start with that Echo device… Plano Texas Handyman can assist you in product selection of smart home devices. Call us at 214-507-3405 or visit our website. Alexa Smart Home

Choose Your Smart Speaker or Smart Display

The Echo bench continues to widen and deepen. The recent launch of several new models along with some retooled models means there’s never been a better time to invest in an Echo.

Choose from the following options:

Echo

The original smart speaker debuted Alexa in 2016 and this new and improved second-generation comes with overhauled audio and a facelifted design.

As with all Echo devices, you’ll get a vehicle for hands-free control of your smart home. If you’re looking to bring Alexa out to play and you want serviceable audio, the classic Echo still makes a valid choice in 2020.

Pick from 3 colorways and opt for a multipack if you want even better value and you need multiple smart speakers in your home.

From hands-free home automation to entertainment, organization, and voice calls or messages, Echo delivers exceptional value for money.

Echo Plus

If you’ve got a more fluid budget and you like the idea of a Zigbee radio onboard your smart speaker, Echo Plus is the obvious solution. This works as de facto home hub affording you voice control of selected compatible devices without needing a third-party gateway.

Beyond this neat property, Echo Plus delivers a crisp, immersive soundscape. You can pair Echo devices for stereo sound. You can also manipulate the settings in-app to personalize your listening experience.

With 3 subtle designs to choose from, Echo Plus will blend in rather than standing out while Alexa will streamline your life wonderfully. Alexa Smart Home

Echo Dot

All-new Echo Dot comes with the time displayed making it better than ever as a bedside smart device. Measuring just 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.7 inches, this tiny disc will sit neatly on your dresser and allow you to launch into your day the smart way.

While you’ll need to make some compromises on the audio front, you won’t lose out on any of Alexa’s smarts.

Echo Dot also comes in a colorful kids’ edition.

The price of Echo Dot is firmly in budget territory so there’s no reason not to invite Alexa into your home even if you’re on a tight budget.

Echo Spot

Now being slowly phased out, if you act quickly, you could still pick up an Echo Spot, Amazon’s first attempt at a small smart display.

The diminutive 2 ½-inch screen gives a visual edge to search and music without eating up too much space on the counter.

As with every Echo device, Echo Spot comes with the inimitable Alexa onboard and ready for action.

Echo Studio

As we regularly point out, most smart speakers are certainly plenty smart but they typically underperform on the audio front. This is perhaps not surprising since the primary use case for most smart speakers is hands-free control of other tech.

That said, Amazon redress the balance with the upscale Echo Studio now flying off the shelves after its recent launch.

Echo Studio is bulky and weighty with no less than 5 speakers crammed inside. You won’t begrudge that extra weight when you ask Alexa to fire up your favorite playlist. The sound is powerful yet balanced. Echo Studio also automatically self-optimizes for the dimensions of your room for an even stronger sound.

As an added bonus, you’ll also get the Zigbee hub previously only seen on Echo Plus.

Echo Flex

Do you have areas in your house where you’d like to take Alexa but you can’t accommodate a regular Echo device?

For stairs, hallways and attics or basements, Echo Flex is an all-new solution from the innovative Bezos stable. Alexa Smart Home

A plug-in smart speaker, Echo Flex boasts a USB port to maximize functionality by giving you an extra charging station while preserving power outlets. There’s also space for optional accessories. At the time of writing shortly after launch, a motion sensor and night light are available. We’re confident Amazon will build out more devices to capitalize on this port.

From dropping in on other Echo devices to performing all your home automation, you really can take Alexa anywhere in 2020.

Echo Show

In the second iteration of the original smart display, Echo Show has an expansive 10.1-inch screen along with revamped sound giving you a greater experience than ever before.

With smart displays, the screen adds a great layer to your entertainment by opening up music videos, visual search and video calling. You’ll also be able to follow the lyrics of your favorite tracks on screen.

The display comes in handy in the kitchen where Alexa can give you plenty of help with ingredients, recipes, and timing.

As you’d fully expect, Alexa is primed for action across the whole home, too.

What do you do if the full-size Echo Show is just a bit big for comfort? Well, you’ve now got the option of a pair of smart displays with smaller screens so which one will it be?

Echo Show 5

The dinky Echo Show 5 is half the size of its big brother so makes a fantastic bedroom device. It also works well in the kitchen or anywhere space is at a premium.

As with all new Echo devices, you’ll benefit from multiple and robust layers of privacy.

Maybe you like the idea of a smaller Echo Show but this feels a little restrictive. Well, you’re in luck as there’s an 8-inch version available as well…

Echo Show 8

Echo Show 8 is designed to fight head-to-head with Google Nest Hub with its roughly comparable 8-inch screen. This gives you enough screen real estate to watch some music videos or movie trailers while Echo Show 8 remains eminently portable.

Priced keenly and currently up for grabs at a steep discount, Echo Show 8 will not disappoint. Alexa Smart Home

So…

You’ve now got what you need to control your devices with voice commands so how do you get started?

How To Set Up Alexa to Control Your Smart Home

While setting up some smart tech can have you scratching your head, Alexa is straightforward to install even if you’re a complete beginner.

First thing’s first, you need to set up your smart devices per manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves plugging it in then hooking up a third-party hub to your router. Once you’ve done this, install the app the search for your device and enter a passcode.

With your devices fired up, open the Alexa app then enable the skill for every device you want to pair with your Echo device. Enabling the skill is as easy as pushing a button.

Some devices also call for you to pair smart devices with Echo. Simply command Alexa to “Pair devices” and it’s done for you. She’ll locate your thermostat, smart bulb, or whatever else you want to control with your voice.

Do You Need To Stay Loyal To One Ecosystem?

Here’s the good news…

Unlike just a few years back, if you plan to run your smart home with Alexa, you won’t be prevented from mixing and matching devices or brands. There’s no need to remain locked into a single ecosystem.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from staying loyal to one brand. This can often make your life easier since you’ll be using the same hub and app. This streamlines this nicely. Alexa Smart Home

That said, there’s no need to feel that you’re locked in so experiment and get the devices that fit best with your needs.

All you need to look out for on the buying trail is that the device “Works with Alexa.” You certainly won’t find yourself short of options! We’ll touch on a bare handful down below when we look at setting up a robust Alexa smart home in 2020.

Before that, a swift look at Alexa’s skills. What are they and why should you care?

Alexa Skills for The Smart Home

Alexa comes with many skills. You can think of these as apps although most you only interact with hands-free without setting eyes on.

Put simply, these skills tell Alexa what to look for and what the device in question can do.

How can you find these skills, then?

The most direct approach is to ask Alexa: “Alexa, enable the Nest Learning skill” is the swiftest route to skill-grabbing.

Alternatively, use the Alexa app on your smartphone to search for skills. This is not a bad ploy anyway as you’ll need to enter your account details in-app even if you bag the skill using voice commands.

All you need to do is this:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Push the hamburger icon
  • Select Skills
  • Open the category of devices or search by brand for your device
  • Push Enable once you’ve found the skill
  • Punch in your account details

Using skills is pretty intuitive for the most part. Nevertheless, it’s still worth reading through the skill info in case you need to employ specific phrasing.

Now you’re almost there but you need to ask your virtual butler to scan for devices.

Command Alexa To Scan For Devices

Now you’ve set up all your smart devices and told Alexa what these devices are, you can now search for them.

Luckily, this is a quick and easy process.

Either say, “Alexa, scan for devices” or “Alexa, search for devices” and the ever-faithful Alexa will do the rest.

You are now fully equipped to control all compatible devices in your connected home hands-free.

Grouping and Routines

If you’re looking to get the most from your smart devices and to streamline control further, you can take charge of multiple devices simultaneously thanks to grouping.

Here’s what you need to do for to create groups:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Press the hamburger menu icon
  • Hit Smart Home then Add Group
  • Choose which devices you’d like included in that group
  • Name the group (ie living room, downstairs, bedroom)

The best use case for grouping is a simple on/off application.

Do you want even more automation?

If so, with routines you can associate certain actions with trigger phrases. There’s also scope here for incorporating third-party scenes.

Here’s what you need to do for to create routines:

  • Open your Alexa app
  • Press the hamburger menu icon
  • Press Routines then tap + so you can add a new routine
  • Choose a phrase or a time for the routine
  • Select your required actions from the categories provided

OK…

As with all aspects of creating a connected home, be prepared for a slight learning curve and enjoy experimenting until using Alexa is second-nature.

To round out, we’ll look at how you can commission Alexa in a 2020 smart home. Texas Handyman can assist you in product selection of smart home devices. Call us at 214-507-3405 or visit our website.

6 Ways To Use Alexa in Your Smart Home

It goes unsaid this list is by no means exhaustive. We’re here to save you time, though, and we don’t want to keep you all day with a list of every conceivable Alexa application.

We’re sure you’ll agree that with the following half-dozen approaches, you’ve got a solid foundation for a hands-free smart home this year.

  1. Speak To Your Smart Lock
  2. Enjoy Hands-Free Lighting with Philips Hue
  3. Treat Yourself to a 50-Inch Smart TV with Alexa Baked In
  4. The Ultimate Smart Thermostat with Hands-Free Control
  5. Control Dumb Appliances with Voice Commands
  6. Monitor Your Security System with Alexa

1) Speak To Your Smart Lock

As with most smart devices, you’ve got a wealth of options if you’re looking to smarten up your entryway. Alexa Smart Home

One of the most impressive smart locks that works well with Alexa is the August Smart Lock Pro.

DoorSense differentiates the Pro from a slew of competitors. This nifty feature means you’ll never need to worry about whether or not you’ve locked up again.

The Connect bridge you need comes bundled so to enjoy hands-free interaction, all you need to do is add in an Echo device and you’re all set.

2) Enjoy Hands-Free Lighting with Philips Hue

If you’re intending to smarten up your lighting this year, one of the best Alexa-enabled options is the classic Philips Hue Starter Kit.

You’ll get 4 white and color ambiance LEDs with this set alongside the Alexa-compatible hub to get the most out of your lighting.

There are a huge number of variations on the starter kit so take your time and get the right one for your needs. Hands-free control of your lighting is just minutes away with the super-simple Hue set-up.

3) Treat Yourself to a 50-Inch Smart TV with Alexa Baked In

When you’re taking care of all the essential products in your connected home, it’s easy to forget to make time to enjoy yourself.

Insignia’s expansive 50-inch Fire TV Edition gives you the chance to navigate all your media and entertainment with voice control. Alexa is built right in so you won’t even need an Echo device.

4K UHD picture delivers 8 million pixels and ensures all your content looks as great as if you were at the movie theater.

Thanks to Fire TV and Alexa, you’ll be free to journey through a half million movies and TV shows hands-free meaning you’ll never say, “There’s nothing on TV” again.

4) The Ultimate Smart Thermostat with Hands-Free Control

If you think about smart thermostats, one of the first names that springs to mind is likely to be Nest. Now rebranded as Google Nest, the classic Learning Thermostat now edges into its third iteration and it’s better than ever before.

Unlike many intelligent thermostats, Learning will accustom itself to the temperatures you prefer putting an end to scheduling and programming. If you need to fine-tune heating or cooling, you can do so without even picking up your smartphone as long as you have an Echo device.

Save money while making your life easier – what’s not to love?

5) Control Dumb Appliances with Voice Commands

Do you like the idea of lamps but hate contorting yourself to switch them on or off?

Well, invest in a pack of mini smart plugs and you can uprate those old, dumb appliances, throw in an Echo device and hit the lights using voice commands.

Since these outlets come with WiFi on board, you won’t need a home hub either.

6) Monitor Your Security System with Alexa

One of our favorite home security systems is the iconic Arlo Pro. Why do we like it so much?

The wire-free set-up makes this the perfect security solution for homeowners and renters alike.

Compatibility is first-class. Arlo plays nicely with Google Assistant, If This, Then That and, of course, Alexa. Grab yourself one of the Echo devices we highlight above and you can check in on your system hands-free.

Final Word

We hope by now you can see that building an Alexa smart home in 2020 is a piece of cake. With a smart speaker or smart display and a handful of smart devices all you need, why not start the year by enjoying some hands-free convenience?

If you want even more handy hints on making your life easier, remember to bookmark our blog. Along with plenty of detailed guides like this one, we’ll also bring you the best products and the latest smart home news.

As a final incentive today, we’d suggest you also sign up for our email newsletter. Along with more great content, you’ll also benefit from 20% off your first Smarthome order. Why not use that to pick yourself up an Echo device?Smart Thermostats

Plano Texas Handyman can assist you in product selection of smart home devices. Call us at 214-507-3405 or visit our website.

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Doors

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Doors

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Doors – It’s a far-too-common scenario for pet people: You are watching the final minutes of the season finale of your favorite TV show, and just at that critical moment—your dog paws your leg and whimpers as she dashes toward the back door. She pleads with you to usher her outside so she can potty… Now! Plano Texas Handyman is your local Pet door expert, call today at 214-507-3415 for more information.

What’s the win-win solution for you and your dog? Consider installing pet doors, either in your back door, your sliding patio door and even between the studs in your wall. And let’s not overlook your indoor-outdoor cats, who can be trained to enter and exit a feline-sized cat door.

These days, pet doors come in many styles, materials and exciting features. Let’s take a closer look at some choices.

How to Choose the Right Pet Door

When getting a pet door, you must consider several factors.

  • Size of your pet or pets. The pet door must be tall and wide enough for your biggest pet to enter and exit easily through.
  • Yard features. For safety reasons, the pet door should open to a fenced backyard or other confined space, like a kennel run, and definitely not to an unsupervised swimming pool.
  • Your willingness to train your pet to use the door. When introducing anything new to your pet, training is a must. Get tips on training your dog to use a pet door here.
  • Location for the pet door. Will it be installed in a back door, a sliding patio door, a wall or another exit option? Your high-tech level of confidence. Some pet doors feature a special device on the pet’s collar that only lets that specific pet—and not any curious squirrel, neighborhood dog or other critter—in and out of your house.
  • Weather. Depending on where you live, you need to pick the right pet door to protect against extreme hot or cold temperatures as well as rain or snow.

Pet Door Options

When I lived in Oceanside, California, I teamed up with my neighbor, Jan, to cut a hole in a wall that was big enough to accommodate Chipper, my 60-pound Husky-Golden retriever mix, Cleo, my 12-pound terrier mix, and my two indoor cats, Zeki and Murphy. We purposely cut the wall opening between the studs, so it easily could be repaired, closed and drywalled, if necessary.

We installed the correct-sized pet door that featured a waterproof seal and a sturdy flap for my Furry Fab Four to exit into an enclosed kennel run on the side of my house to do their “business” and to enjoy fresh outdoor breezes in a safe, confined area.

Whether you wish to go the DIY route or put a pet door panel in your sliding glass door track, there are many pet door options to choose from for you and your four-legged family.

1. Pet Doors with 2-Way Locking

These are your basic pet doors. They allow pets easy access in and out of the house, usually through a vinyl flap. The flaps may have a magnetic closure, like the one on Ideal Pet Products’ Designer Series pet door, to ensure the flap stays sealed after use.

These pet doors come with a panel you can slide in to completely lock the pet door so no pets (or wild animals) can get in or out. Or some, like PetSafe’s 2-way locking cat door, has a lock incorporated into the design of the door and all you need to do is slide it closed. For indoor use only, PetSafe’s 2-way locking cat door is designed to effectively thwart your dog from accessing a specific area—for example, your cat’s litter box in the spare bedroom.

2. Pet Doors with Multiple Lock Options

If you want more locking options than open or close, consider a pet door with 4-way locking. A four-way locking door, like PetSafe’s 4-way locking cat door or Cat Mate’s 4-way self-lining door, can be set to completely open, completely locked, only allow pets to enter or only allow them to exit.

3. Pet Doors for Selective Entry

If you want even more locking options, then consider a door that only opens for a specific coordinating pet ID tag or pet microchip. This high-tech feature is designed to keep out roaming neighborhood dogs or cats as well as wildlife, such as coyotes or raccoons.

Cat Mate’s Elite Microchip pet door, for example, is operated by your cat’s unique microchip or I.D. Disc (sold separately). You can choose between locked, unlocked, in-only and out-only, and the timer function controls your cat’s access to the flap, so you can keep her inside at night.

If you happen to have a large dog and large pet door, this type of technology may help prevent an intruder from scooting through and into your home.

4. Pet Doors for Sliding Doors

Most pet doors are installed by cutting out a piece of your door. That’s not exactly an option with sliding glass doors. But rest assured, there are still options for those types of doors.

PetSafe’s Freedom Patio pet door and its Sliding Glass pet door are designed to fit easily into an existing door track and offers a convenient way to let pets out without having to cut into a wall to install a pet door.

Another benefit for renters is that it can be removed easily without causing any permanent changes to the leased dwelling.

5. Pet Doors for Walls

If you prefer a no-door option, then consider a wall entry pet door. Petsafe’s Wall Entry pet door, for example, is designed to be installed in almost any wall. It offers a double-flap system for enhanced energy efficiency and comes in several sizes.

6. Pet Doors for Extreme Weather

If you live in an area prone to heatwaves or blizzards, you might want to consider a door specifically designed to withstand extreme weather. The PetSafe Extreme Weather Pet Door has not one, not two, but three flaps to keep the heat or cold weather outside while giving your pet the freedom to come and go.

Pet Door Training Tips

The key to successfully training your dog or cat to go in and out of the chosen pet door starts with “P” for patience—your patience. Pets are adept at reading and reacting to our emotional states, so make the pet door training fun for both of you. Plenty of healthy treats as enticements certainly will help.

Here are some other tips from Nick Frank, product manager for PetSafe Pet Doors:

  • Lift or tape the door flap open to help your pet become familiar with the pet door opening.
  • Encourage, but never force, your pet to come through the pet door to avoid causing your dog or cat to become frightened.
  • Use treats to motivate your pet to use the door. First, feed your pet a treat or two near the pet door from inside your home. Once she is comfortable approaching the pet door, team up with a family member or friend. You stay inside next to the pet door while your friend positions himself outside by the pet door. Take turns having your pet go through the raised flap to garner the awaiting treat.
  • Gently lower the flap on the pet as he exits and enters to get him accustomed to the feel on his back. Be encouraging and heap on praise and treats for each successful enter-exit.
  • Once your pet gets the idea of going through the pet door, lower the flap and encourage him to push through the flag on his own.

“Most pets will learn to use the pet door with a few short training sessions,” Frank says. “The most important rule is to be patient with your pet and let him work out for himself that he can go through the pet door. He will be letting himself in and out in no time.”

Home maintenance mistakes

Home Maintenance Mistakes

1. Using carpet cleaners without spot-testing first

Home Maintenance Mistakes – You may be eager to get out those unsightly stains on your carpet, but you’re better off in the long run if you run a spot test first. If you don’t have the equipment to thoroughly rinse soapy stain removers out of your carpet, the residue will attract dirt.

Do not scrub stains: t may be tempting to vigorously scrub that spill on your carpet, but doing so will only compound the issue. Scrubbing can actually push a stain deeper into the fibers, making it impossible to remove. We recommend blotting up any liquid and then calling a professional to remove the rest.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website to view all our home maintenance needs.

2. Not cleaning your fireplace

Having an old-fashioned wood-burning fireplace provides a warmth and coziness to your home that the gas-powered equivalent just never seems to measure up to—but it also requires a far more involved cleaning regimen. And it’s one you can’t afford to ignore. The carbonaceous chemical and creosote builds up every time you light a fire and the more fires you light, the thicker it gets. Home Maintenance Mistakes

3. Placing appliances near your thermostat

Odds are that you probably wouldn’t spend too much time considering the potential implications of putting a lamp or some other piece of electrical equipment in close proximity to the thermostat in your home. But if you take a second to think about it, it makes sense why it might not be the best idea.

4. Not replacing faulty appliances

While replacing appliances can be a costly endeavor, failing to do so when they start malfunctioning is a mistake that can be far more expensive in the long run. A faulty appliance can send surges of electricity into your home’s electrical system and the resulting damage can range from a tiny bit of wear and tear on other appliances to a destructive electrical fire.

When in doubt, have a professional come service the appliance at the first sign of trouble—and if they suggest replacing it, heed their warning. And if you want to know how long certain equipment should last. Home Maintenance Mistakes

5. Not cleaning your refrigerator’s condenser coil

You may clean out the inside of your refrigerator on a regular basis, but if you’re not cleaning its condenser coil, you’re making a fatal fridge error. If you’ve noticed that your fridge is constantly running but doesn’t seem to be cold enough, then you’ll need to clean your condenser coil. Failing to do so may even shorten the lifespan of your appliance.

6. Ignoring flickering lights

It’s possible that you’ve lived with that one light in the hallway subtly flickering for so long that you barely even notice it anymore. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still trying to tell you something. Dawson says a flickering lightbulb could be a sign of a dangerous electrical issue. If you’ve tried replacing the bulb to no avail, it’s time to Plano Texas Handyman to make sure there isn’t a potentially serious problem that needs to be tended to.

7. Using the wrong pipe materials to fix plumbing problems

When it comes to your home’s plumbing system, all pipes are not created equal. And connecting mismatching materials can lead to a problem bigger than the one you were trying to repair in the first place. Some types of plastic can’t handle hot water. Other combinations to avoid? Using copper connectors on galvanized pipes, which can cause electrolysis and lead to leaks and damage. Home Maintenance Mistakes

8. Not determining the cause of a wall crack before fixing it

Not determining the root cause of a crack or imperfection before fixing it can cause larger problems in the long run. If the crack is caused by normal settling and the crack is small, then fiber tape and some spackle will do the trick. However, if there are structural issues causing the crack, then fiber tape is just tape on a crack that will continue to grow. And if you’re looking at the latter, it’s time to call in the professionals.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website to view all our home maintenance needs.

9. Using oil paint over latex paint

Before you start fixing those paint chips on your trim work, it’s important to know what kind of paint was used underneath. When you paint over oil paint with latex, this leads to new paint peeling and scratching very easily.

10. Using glossy paint for walls and ceilings

Think any old paint will work on your walls and ceilings? Think again. The more shine a paint has, the more imperfections will be noticeable. Instead, using flat paint, which allows you to easily touch up areas and hide imperfections.

11. Trying to hide your HVAC equipment

HVAC equipment may not be the most aesthetically pleasing aspect of your home’s exterior, but it’s best to resist the urge to conceal it with landscaping. Surrounding it with plants or shrubs could block proper ventilation and clog the system. We recommend making sure that there’s plenty of open space around your unit to prevent any issues. Home Maintenance Mistakes

12. Not replacing your HVAC filters

Failing to replace your HVAC filters frequently enough can cause problems down the road that extend beyond a time-consuming cleaning job. A dirty or clogged filter will impact efficiency and could even cause damage to your system. According to the expert, you should change your HVAC filters every one to three months, and more frequently if you smoke indoors or have pets.

13. Not maintaining smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

What should be at the top of your home maintenance to-do list? Checking those smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries twice a year—at Mother’s Day and the fall change in daylight savings—and replace the detector itself every 10 years.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website to view all our home maintenance needs.

14. Not draining your water heater

Water heaters can collect mineral deposits over time, which eventually form a thick, crusty coating that will begin to chip off and clog faucets, drains, and the water heater valve. Over time, this can cause your heater to run constantly, cracking the inner lining and increasing your utility costs. To avoid this, drain your water heater every six to 12 months. Home Maintenance Mistakes

15. Not hiring a professional when you need one

It’s important to have confidence when it comes to being able to handle certain home maintenance tasks for yourself. But just as important is getting the job done right and knowing your limitations. Poorly done DIY jobs end up looking like poorly done DIY jobs,” says Ted with Plano Texas Handyman. If you’ve tried and something’s still not working, it’s time to call in the experts.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website to view all our home maintenance needs.

Christmas Handyman Service

Plano Christmas Handyman Service

Plano Christmas Handyman Service – A handyman can make your Christmas season more delightful and enjoyable.  A perfectly working home is what your guests want.  A Handyman is a skilled “jack of all trades” who can complete a wide range of repairs or home improvement jobs for the holidays in your home.  Plano Texas Handyman is truly a jack of all trades with an engineering background and a master fix-ologist.  Call Plano Texas Handyman today at 214-507-3415 for more information, visit our website to get a full perspective on our capabilities. Plano Christmas Handyman Service

Plano Texas Handyman has been involved in many Christmas Handyman projects including: attic renovation to store more goods in your home, Home theatre installations and surround sound systems, home automation like security cameras, wireless switches, and an array of wireless devices to make your home smarter.  Dream it, Design it and we will build it.  Plano Christmas Handyman Service

Christmas is here and we have to prepare our homes for welcoming this happy occasion. Decorating your home for celebrating Christmas is a necessity without which you will not feel that Christmas is around you and celebrated by many people all over the world. There are many things that are required for making your home sparkle at Christmas as you have to purchase a Christmas tree which is the most important thing for celebrating Christmas, ornaments for decorating Christmas tree and other parts of your home and there are also lights which are essential for making your home inviting. Decorating homes for Christmas is not limited to indoor decoration as the area that is located outside our homes especially the front yard is very important to be decorated especially with lights. Lights are the best things to be used for outdoor decoration as they illuminate the front yard and make your home inviting for all of those who are going to celebrate Christmas at your home. There are countless outdoor Christmas lighting ideas that are presented every year to make your home sparkle during the holiday. Here are the top 10 outdoor Christmas light ideas that are presented for 2015 to decorate your home and make it inviting. Plano Christmas Handyman Service

A handyman, or handyman service, usually charges clients an hourly rate, plus material costs, regardless of the task. Many homeowners compile a list of repairs and hire a handyman to complete the list in a single visit.

The term “handyman” is loosely defined. Some are self-trained, while others have formal training in various aspects of construction and home repair. A home handyman might specialize in a few types of home maintenance, such as painting, carpentry, or tiling, while others may have additional skills such as plumbing and electrical expertise.

There’s no national standard or regulation for handymen. Licensing and regulation vary by state. New Jersey, for example, requires handymen who work for a profit to register with the state and carry insurance. California requires handymen to carry a license from the State Contractors License Board to work on any project that exceeds $500 in labor and material costs. Find out before you hire the handyman if he or she has the skills needed to complete your project.

Do you need a handyman or contractor?
The scope of the job and level of skill required to complete it should determine whether you hire a handyman or contractor. Christmas Handyman Service

“When trying to determine who you should hire for a particular job, consider the task,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “If it’s a specialized trade, be sure you hire that tradesperson like a plumber or electrician, for example. If it’s little things that you can do yourself, a handyman is probably the right way to go.”  Plano Christmas Handyman Service

A handyman is not the best option for a large or complicated project that could take a long time to complete and requires the help of multiple workers. You shouldn’t turn to a handyman either if you need an emergency service for plumbing, electrical or appliance work, unless the handyman is licensed in that trade. If an unlicensed person does plumbing or electrical work, you have no guarantee that the work has been done to code, which could affect your homeowners insurance policy or any claim related to the work. Use a contractor or specialist for remodeling work, room additions and projects that require heavy-duty equipment or licensed professionals like electricians.

Why hire a handyman?
You’ve got an ever increasing to-do list of home improvements like changing out a bathroom faucet, replacing missing shingles on the roof and painting a kitchen wall. You could hire a plumber, roofer and painter who have conflicting schedules and their own service charges, or you could hire a handyman to complete all three projects in one day for one hourly rate.  Christmas Handyman Service

Because many handymen charge by the hour, a homeowner can save time and money on home improvement projects by hiring one to complete a wide range of projects at an hourly rate. A service charge from a plumber or roofer to come to your home could equal or even surpass the cost of hiring a handyman for a few hours.

You’re also less likely to be overcharged if your hire a handyman. Unlike a general contractor or specialist who is more likely to price a job based on the estimated amount of time it will take to complete, you only have to pay a handyman for the hours he works, unless you agree on a flat rate. Handymen can keep their rates low because they don’t have to pay additional workers, so they have lower overhead costs than contractors or large companies.

Although handymen have less overhead, they do supply their own tools, so there’s no need to invest in extra equipment you won’t use often or at all. However, you will need to supply the materials.  Plano Christmas Handyman Service

When you hire a contractor or specialist, they usually supply the materials, and often at a markup. If they don’t provide the materials, they may not guarantee a repair, or your choices are limited to what they have in stock. When you choose your own materials, you know how much the product costs, and you can stay within your budget. You also get to choose the manufacturer, finish and register any warranty agreement.

Handymen have been known to do all types of work, from setting up playground equipment and gas grills to hanging holiday lights and decorations.

Ideal jobs for a handyman
Handymen are best utilized for small, “honey-do” types of home repair work. The following projects are ideal for most handymen:

Minor plumbing work: Many handymen are capable of completing small plumbing jobs like installing new fixtures or repairing a leaky faucet. However, complex projects that require relocating plumbing within the home should be left to a licensed plumber.  Plano Christmas Handyman Service

Caulking: Adding a fresh application of caulk to gaps between windows, doors and siding is a great way to improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs.

Decks and porches: Over time, weather can take a toll on wooden decks and porches. A handyman can replace broken boards, apply a finish or sealant and improve or upgrade your deck or porch’s safety and appearance.

Home Automation: We can fully integrate your home into a “smart home”.  We have extensive electrical engineering experience and can automate your home easily.  Christmas Handyman

Home exterior repairs: If you have minor damage to your home’s exterior, such as a loose piece of siding or a missing shingle, hiring a handyman to repair those items may prove to be more cost-effective than hiring a specialist.  Plano Christmas Handyman Service

Painting and touch-ups: If you have a small painting job, like a wall, garage door, touch-ups of scuff marks or the repair of small holes with spackle, consider a handyman. But remember, a handyman typically charges by the hour, so larger jobs are better suited for a professional painting crew.

Hanging window treatments, pictures and mirrors and installing light fixtures: These small tasks can be easily accomplished by a homeowner. But if you hire a handyman with the right tools and experience, these wall-mounted items will likely be hung correctly and without damage.  Christmas Handyman

Tips to hire a handyman
Interview several candidates before hiring a candidate. A handyman works closely with you in your home, so you want to pick one that you feel comfortable being around. Use the following tips to help you choose the best one:

1. Define the project. Start by compiling a list of the home repairs you want completed. Remember, a handyman is best used for small jobs such as installing light fixtures, patching drywall and interior painting. If the job requires pulling a permit, or moving plumbing or electrical wiring, consider hiring a licensed contractor.

2. Shop around. Check Angie’s List reviews and interview at least three handymen. Ask how many years of experience they have and their areas of specialization. Request references from homeowners who have hired them. Make sure the potential handyman has the skills and experience to complete your project.

3. Watch out for scams. Avoid handymen who contact you with unsolicited phone calls or visits to your home. You should also avoid any handyman who refuses to guarantee the price of the job or asks for payment upfront. Reputable handymen don’t expect to get paid before the project is completed.  Christmas Handyman

4. Get it in writing. Insist on a written agreement laying out the job details, costs and payment schedule. Be clear about the times you expect the work to be started and completed. It’s extremely important to get all guarantees in writing.

5. Ask for a guarantee. Many handymen will guarantee their work for up to one year. Ask about guarantees before you make a hiring decision, and of course, make sure the guarantee is in writing.

6. Inspect the work. Inspect the completed work before paying the handyman. Make sure that everything has been done to your satisfaction and at the agreed upon price. Most handymen will be happy to explain the finished work because they want you to be satisfied.  Christmas Handyman

Plano Texas Handyman is truly a jack of all trades with an engineering background and master fix-ologist.  Call Plano Texas Handyman today at 214-507-3415 for more information or visit our website to get a full perspective on our capabilities.  Plano Christmas Handyman Service