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High Performance Home Network

High Performance Home Network

High Performance Home Network – When it comes to home networking, there’s a soup of technical terms, LAN, WAN, broadband, Wi-Fi, CAT5e, CAT6, just to name a few. If you’re having a hard time with these basic terms, you’re reading the right post. Here I’ll (try to) explain them all so that you can have a better understanding of your home network and hopefully a better control of your online life. There’s a lot to explain so this long post is just the first of an evolving series.  Ted with Plano Texas Handyman is an expert in designing and installing High Performance Home Network systems, call us at 214-507-3415 for more information.  Visit our Technology Page for more information or our Website for more information.

Advanced and experienced users likely won’t need this, but for the rest, I’d recommend reading the whole thing. So take your time, but in case you want to jump to a quick answer, feel free to search for what you want to know and chances are you will find it within this post.

1. Wired networking
We recommend wired networking  of major components and hub devices.  A wired local network is basically a group of devices connected to one another using network cables, more often than not with the help of a router, which brings us to the very first thing you should know about your network.  Wired networking uses a LAN to connect primary devices to switches and wireless access points.  High Performance Home Network

The Router is the central device of a home network into which you can plug one end of a network cable. Plano Texas Handyman only installs high performance Gigabit routers for gaming and high speed homes.  We recommend CT56 wiring between the router and he primary transmission devices.   We also use PoE (Power over Ethernet) equipment to keep costs down and not have to wire an electrical circuit to the auxiliary devices.

 

LAN ports: A home router usually has four LAN ports, meaning that, straight out of the box, it can host a network of several wired networking devices. If you want to have a larger network, you will need to resort to a switch (or a hub), which adds more LAN ports to the router. Generally a home router can connect up to about 250 networking devices, and the majority of homes and even small businesses don’t need more than that.

There are currently two main speed standards for LAN ports: Ethernet (also called Fast Ethernet,) which caps at 100 megabits per second (or about 13 megabytes per second), and Gigabit Ethernet, which caps at 1 gigabit per second (or about 150 MBps). In other words, it takes about a minute to transfer a CD’s worth of data (around 700 MB or about 250 digital songs) over an Ethernet connection. With Gigabit Ethernet, the same job takes about five seconds. In real life, the average speed of an Ethernet connection is about 8 MBps, and of a Gigabit Ethernet connection is somewhere between 45 and 100 MBps. The actual speed of a network connection depends on many factors, such as the end devices being used, the quality of the cable and the amount of traffic.  High Performance Home Network

Rule of thumb: The speed of a single network connection is determined by the slowest speed of any party involved.

For example, in order to have a wired Gigabit Ethernet connection between two computers, both computers, the router they are connected to and the cables used to link them together all need to support Gigabit Ethernet (or a faster standard). If you plug a Gigabit Ethernet device and an regular Ethernet device into a router, the connection between the two will be capped at the speed of Ethernet, which is 100 Mbps.

In short, LAN ports on a router allow Ethernet-ready devices to connect to one another and share data.

In order for them to also access the internet, the router needs to have a Wide Area Network (WAN) port. On many routers, this port may also be labeled the internet port.

A switch will  add more LAN ports to an existing network. They help increase the number of Ethernet-ready devices that a network can host.  You can find a switch with just four or up to 48 ports (or even more). But for a medium to large home, 8 port switches are sufficient for the network.

Wide-area network (WAN) port: Also known as the internet port. Generally, a router has just one WAN port. (Some business routers come with dual WAN ports, so one can use two separate internet services at a time.) On any router, the WAN port will be separated from the LAN ports, and is often distinguished by being a different color. A WAN port is used to connect to an internet source, such as a broadband modem. The WAN allows the router to connect to the internet and share that connection with all the Ethernet-ready devices connected to it.

Broadband modem: Often called a DSL modem or cable modem, a broadband modem is a device that bridges the internet connection from a service provider to a computer or to a router, making the internet available to consumers. Generally, a modem has one LAN port (to connect to a router’s WAN port, or to an Ethernet-ready device) and one service-related port, such as a telephone port (DSL modems) or a coaxial port (cable modems), that connects to the service line. If you have just a modem, you’ll be able to connect just one Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, to the internet. To hook up more than one device to the internet, you will need a router. Providers tend to offer a combo device that’s a combination of a modem and a router or wireless router, all in one.  High Performance Home Network

2. Wireless networking

Plano Texas Handyman installs wireless access points which boosts the connectivity of your home by extending the network to all corners eliminating hot spots and dead spots.  Access points are directly wired to the router (which has a wireless antenna)  the access points are wireless signal broadcast points.

Wi-Fi range: This is the radius an access point’s Wi-Fi signal can reach. Typically, a good Wi-Fi network is most viable within about 150 feet from the access point. This distance, however, changes based on the power of the devices involved, the environment and (most importantly) the Wi-Fi standard. The Wi-Fi standard also determines how fast a wireless connection can be and is the reason Wi-Fi gets complicated and confusing, especially when considering the fact there are multiple Wi-Fi frequency bands.

Frequency bands: These bands are the radio frequencies used by the Wi-Fi standards: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz bands are currently the most popular, collectively being used in all existing network devices. Generally, the 5 Ghz band delivers faster data rates but a little less range than the 2.4 Ghz band. Note that a 60 GHz band is also used but only by the 802.11ad standard, which is not yet commercially available.

Depending on the standard, some Wi-Fi devices use either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band, while others that use both of these are called dual-band devices.  High Performance Home Network

Wi-Fi standards
Wi-Fi standards decide the speed and range of a Wi-Fi network. Generally later standards are backward compatible with earlier ones.

802.11ac: Sometimes referred to as 5G Wi-Fi, this latest Wi-Fi standard operates only on the 5 GHz frequency band and currently offers Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2,167 Mbps (or even faster with latest chip) when used in the quad-stream (4×4) setup. The standard also comes with the 3×3, 2×2, 1×1 setups that cap at 1,300 Mbps, 900 Mbps and 450 Mbps, respectively.

Technically, each spatial stream of the 802.11ac standard is about four times faster than that of the 802.11n (or Wireless-N) standard, and therefore is much better for battery life (since it has to work less to deliver the same amount of data). In real-world testing so far, with the same amount of streams, I’ve found that 802.11ac is about three times the speed of Wireless-N, which is still very good. (Note that the real-world sustained speeds of wireless standards are always much lower than the theoretical speed cap. This is partly because the cap speed is determined in controlled, interference-free environments.) The fastest peak real-world speed of an 802.11ac connection I’ve seen so far is around 90 MBps (or 720 Mbps), which is close to that of a Gigabit Ethernet wired connection.

On the same 5 GHz band, 802.11ac devices are backward-compatible with Wireless-N and 802.11a devices. While 802.11ac is not available on the 2.4 GHz band, for compatibility purposes, an 802.11ac router can also serve as a Wireless-N access point. That said, all 802.11ac chips on the market support both 802.11ac and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards.  High Performance Home Network.

If you are looking for a home network that is on steroids, look no further, we can provide the ultimate home system. Ted with Plano Texas Handyman is an expert in designing and installing High Performance Home Network systems, call us at 214-507-3415 for more information.  Visit our Technology Page for more information or our Website for more information.  High Performance Home Network

Lighting Products

Lighting Products

Lighting Products – Light your home using the same amount of light for less money. An average household dedicates about 5% of its energy budget to lighting. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year. New lighting standards took effect in 2012, and money-saving options such as halogen incandescent, CFL, and LED lightbulbs are available today. For high-quality products with the greatest energy savings, choose bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR.

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at www.planotexashandyman.com for more information.  Lighting Products

Lighting choices save you money. All of these light bulbs meet the new energy standards that took effect from 2012-2014. The energy-saving incandescent bulbs use about 25% less energy than traditional varieties. To save even more, choose CFLs and LEDs, which offer many choices that typically use 75% less energy.

New Lightbulbs: What’s the Difference?

Traditional incandescent bulbs use a lot of energy to produce light and are no longer manufactured.

  • 90% of the energy is given off as heat
  • That lost energy is money we are throwing away

Newer energy-saving lightbulbs provide the choices in colors and light levels you’ve come to expect. The new lights are also much more efficient — so they save you money.

What Are My Lighting Choices?

You have many choices in energy-efficient lighting. The most popular light bulbs available are halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Although they can initially cost more than traditional incandescent bulbs, during their lifetime they save you money, because they use less energy. You can find these in most hardware and home improvement stores. Lighting Products

Controls such as timers and photocells save electricity by turning lights off when not in use. Dimmers save electricity when used to lower light levels. Be sure to select products that are compatible with the energy-efficient bulbs you want to use.

If you have outdoor lighting that is left on for a long time, using CFLs or LEDs in these fixtures will save a lot of energy. Most bare spiral CFLs can be used in enclosed fixtures that protect them from the weather. CFLs and LEDs are available as flood lights. These models have been tested to withstand the rain and snow so they can be used in exposed fixtures. Also look for ENERGY STAR-qualified fixtures that are designed for outdoor use and come with features like automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors.  Lighting Products

Halogen Incandescents

Halogen incandescents have a capsule inside that holds gas around a filament to increase bulb efficiency. They are available in a wide range of shapes and colors, and they can be used with dimmers. Halogen incandescent bulbs meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard, but there are now many more efficient options to meet your lighting needs.  Energy Efficient Lighting Products

CFLs

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are simply curly versions of the long tube fluorescent lights you may already have in a kitchen or garage. Because they use less electricity than traditional incandescents, typical CFLs can pay for themselves in less than nine months, and then start saving you money each month. An ENERGY STAR-qualified CFL uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts ten times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light. A typical CFL can pay for itself in energy savings in less than 9 months and continue to save you money each month. A CFL uses about one-third the energy of a halogen incandescent.

CFL bulbs are available in a range of light colors, including warm (white to yellow) tones that were not as available when first introduced. Some are encased in a cover to further diffuse the light and provide a similar shape to the bulbs you are replacing. If you are looking for a dimmable bulb, check the package to make sure you purchase a CFL with that feature.  Energy Efficient Lighting Products

Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, and they should always be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Many retailers recycle CFLs for free. See EPA’s website for more information.

LEDs

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of solid-state lighting — semiconductors that convert electricity into light. Although once known mainly for indicator and traffic lights, LEDs in white light, general illumination applications are one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing technologies.ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace. LEDs use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer than halogen incandescents.

LED bulbs are currently available in many products such as replacements for 40W, 60W, and 75W traditional incandescents, reflector bulbs often used in recessed fixtures, and small track lights, desk lamps, kitchen undercabinet lighting, and outdoor area lights. They come in a variety of colors, and some are dimmable or offer convenient features such as daylight and motion sensors. LEDs work well indoors and outdoors because of their durability and performance in cold environments. Look for LED products such as pathway lights, step lights, and porch lights for outdoor use. You can also find solar-powered outdoor lighting.  Lighting Products

While LEDs are more expensive, they still save money because they last a long time and have very low energy use. As with other electronics, prices are expected to come down as more products enter the market.

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at www.planotexashandyman.com for more information.  Lighting Products

More links :
Smart Home Networks

 

 

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting

Kitchen Remodeling Costs

Kitchen Remodeling Costs

Kitchen Remodeling Costs – Is it possible to have an idea how much your kitchen remodel will cost before paying for a design?  While looking at a potential kitchen remodel recently, I told the homeowner the first step to remodeling a kitchen is putting plans together. She understood but wanted to know if the kitchen remodeling cost was in her budget.  Call Ted with Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities on remodeling and renovating your kitchen.  Kitchen Remodeling Costs

Unfortunately, kitchen remodel budgets are like the old chicken-or-egg question: Which comes first? It’s difficult to estimate ballpark costs without creating a design to determine the scope of work. But as a consumer, I would like to know if I could afford what I want before I invest in the design.

To help consumers understand, I decided to share some information on how much it costs to remodel a kitchen.

Remember, kitchen remodeling specifications matter, so do your homework in advance of deciding on a specification or scope of work.  Kitchen Remodeling Costs

First, we need to define some parameters. Some kitchens are large and some are quite small. For this article, I am going to use a 125-square-foot kitchen. Most kitchens we remodel are between 100 square feet and 250 square feet — so 125 square feet is right in the middle.

Second, let’s talk about the level of finishes. When talking about a kitchen remodel, I typically refer to three levels: entry-level, midrange and high-end.

Third, I’m assuming the kitchen layout will stay the same, but the renovation will bring it up to code, correcting typical plumbing and electrical issues.

Costs to remodel a kitchen
The following kitchen remodel costs are guidelines. Each remodeling project is different, but if you use these guidelines when talking to kitchen remodelers you should be on the same page as the contractor when discussing price.

The prices are broken out by entry-level/midrange/high-end. If the price stays the same for each level, there will just be one figure.  Kitchen Remodeling Costs

Kitchen Renovation and Remodeling Costs
Phase Entry Level Mid-range High-end
Plans $400 $2000 $3500
Permits $1000 $1000 $1000
Dust Control $500 $500 $500
Demolition $2000 $2000 $2000
Plumbing $3000 $4000 $6000
Electrical $2500 $3200 $4800
HVAC $900 $1500 $2500
Drywall $2500 $2500 $2500
Trim-Work $1200 $2500 $4500
Flooring $1200 $3000 $5500
Cabinets $5000 $9000 $14000
Appliances $2500 $4000 $9000
Hardware $150 $750 $1200
Counter-tops $3000 $6000 $7500
Paint $1200 $1800 $2500
Total $25850 $41 500 $68000

Call Ted with Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities on remodeling and renovating your kitchen.  Kitchen Remodeling Costs

Fiber Optic Lighting

Fiber Optic Lighting

Fiber Optic Lighting – Twilight star ceiling tiles are inexpensive to install in your Home Theatre. 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.

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.

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 Lighting

Twilight Star Ceiling Kits

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

Electric Fireplace

Electric Fireplace

Electric Fireplace – Electric fireplace’s are a safe, energy efficient, low cost and beautiful alternative to gas and traditional wood fireplaces. Don’t be misled, electric fireplaces are realistic, cutting edge technology, and really cool when designed properly.  These electric units are available in three types and offer remarkably realistic flame effects. With multiple styles to choose from, here are some of the various things you need to know when considering an electric fireplace insert.  Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 or visit our website for more information on a Wall Mount Fireplace.

Wall Mount FireplaceWall Mount Electric Fireplaces

Electric Fireplace – Clean lines in brushed stainless steel, chrome, gun metal, stone, wood, or mirrored glass finishes will add drama and warmth to any room in your home. While our superior selection includes wall-mounted fireplaces with traditional looking logs, many boast unique flamebeds of glass, rocks or a choice of decorative fill. Each wall-mount model operates with or without the thermostat controlled fan-forced heater so you can take pleasure in the dancing flames year-round. All units plug into a standard 120V outlet making installation a breeze.

Modern & contemporary styling
Supplemental heat for up to 400 sq. ft.
Thermostat controlled fan-forced heater
Included remote control for convenience

Choosing a Wall Mount Electric Fireplace

A wall mount fireplace is an attractive addition to any home or office. Because it provides a mesmerizing bed of glowing embers with a realistic flame effect. Nearly all models include a gentle source of supplemental heat that can be operated independently of the flame. Because it is electric, it can simply be plugged into an electrical outlet and is ready for use. All of these types of fireplaces are safe to use because they are tested to make sure they meet UL standards and are thermostatically controlled.

Making the right choice for an electrical alternative to a traditional fireplace is of great importance when customers are deciding which model to select for their homes. A wall mount fireplace or a small electric fireplace can be the best choice for individuals who have limited space or want to add a modern touch to their home or office. Not only do they provide eye-catching designs, but they can also provide supplemental or zone heat when the weather turns cold.

Accommodation For All Space And Budget Requirements

Electric FireplaceWhether an individual’s living space or business is small or large, homeowners always want to make wise use of their available square footage. These units are especially ideal additions to condominiums, lofts, apartments, single family homes or offices. A wall mount electric fireplace is a space saving device that can add the instant character of a traditional fireplace experience with a more modern twist. Customers can choose from polished or brushed stainless steel, chrome, gun metal, stone, wood or mirrored glass finishes. Also, color options are available in red, black and white. These designs will complement many décor styles. Whether you choose a wall hanging electric fireplace, a freestanding corner fireplace or a recessed built-in electric fireplace design, they will provide four season capabilities and can be operated with or without the quiet heater turned on.

A wall mount electric fireplace is not only a great space saving accompaniment to any décor, but it is economical, too. The patented flame technology allows an individual to enjoy the ambience of a real fire for 3 cents per hour without the heater on and about 8-12 cents per hour with the flame and heating element operating. It is an attractive, space saving supplemental heat source that is great for heating the rooms that are constantly used by the entire family rather than heating the entire house. Each unit provides approximately 5000 BTUs per hour of heat by using a quiet fan to force the heat generated by the alternative fireplace into the room.

Adding A Modern Touch To A Traditional Medium

Fireplaces have been a staple of homes for thousands of years. They have cooked our food, provided heat during colder seasons and have added a cozy touch to our lives. The design of traditional fireplaces hasn’t changed a great deal for centuries. However, applying new technology and modernizing an old medium is of great importance to many people. A wall mount electric fireplace is on par with wall-mounted televisions and digital picture frames. They are inexpensive to operate and easy to install, because there are no ventilation requirements. They provide a low-cost focal point to any room.

A Small Electric Fireplace For Tight Spaces

Electric FireplaceWhile a wall mount fireplace is a modern way to introduce a focal point that is also a small electric fireplace is another great choice if you prefer a more traditional look. It is the perfect solution for tight spaces, yet homeowners do not have to compromise on the heat output. Each unit produces the same amount of heat as their larger counterparts, and they come in a small, space saving designs. They can also be operated with or without the heater. A small electric fireplace can be plugged into any 120 volt electrical outlet, and most units come with remote control capabilities.

Choosing the best alternative of fireplace model for your unique lifestyle is an important decision. A wall mount electric fireplace is the ideal solution for individuals who have little floor space and who want to add a modern touch to their home or office. In the technological world in which we live, they provide eye-catching designs that supply zone heating when necessary. For individuals who want to add the cozy touch of a traditional fireplace but live in tight quarters, a small electric fireplace is the perfect solution without compromising on the heat output.

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 or visit our website for more information on a Wall Mount Fireplace.

Why do Circuit Breakers Trip

Why do Circuit Breakers Trip

Why do Circuit Breakers Trip

Why do Circuit Breakers Trip – Circuit breakers play an important part in every home’s electrical system.
Acting as a safety net, a circuit breaker protects the home from an electrical overload, which could cause damage to appliances and ultimately result in a fire.

Why do circuit breakers trip?

A circuit breaker is designed to break circuits so that electrical shorts, faults or excessive power draw on a system doesn’t cause fires or put homeowners at risk.

Newer breakers will trip for two reasons, overload and short. Older breakers that are 15-20 years old can get weak and trip during normal usage and can be easily checked with an amperage meter to verify.

What appliances trip electrical breakers?

Vacuum cleaners are a big one. A lot of times we’ll get a call from a customer who will be vacuuming around the house and that will trip the breaker. Heaters are the main problem in the winter. Or, it could be that you actually have a fault on the circuit or in the actual appliance, whatever that may be. There could also be a short circuit where the hot wire becomes grounded and causes the breaker to trip.

Window A/C units. We have so much old construction and a lot of places just don’t have enough circuits. A lot of the properties were never designed for the appliances that are being used.

Appliances that are old or damaged can pull more power than usual and even cause an short within its own circuitry. Or it could be any of the large appliances — toasters, coffee pots, microwave, air conditioners, dish washers and especially central air units — that people run 24 hours a day.

What are some homeowner solutions?

The No. 1 thing, even though it’s rarely done, is to replace the circuit breaker. Basic maintenance is important and so making sure you don’t have frayed chords lying around.

The best thing a homeowner can do is have a panel that is properly labeled and try to keep large appliances away from other large appliances.”

Keep appliances in good working order, and remember each appliance has a usable life, so keep records of how old an appliance is and how long it has been in use

What kind of home damage does it cause?

If you didn’t have the circuit breaker there, an unlimited amount of current would flow and then you could have a fire.

It’s the safety net between your house and an over-amperage condition.

There is no damage. The breaker is the safety item to protect the circuit and the items on them.

If a homeowner wants to hire an Handyman, is it a quick fix or a major job?

To replace the breaker is relatively inexpensive. The issue is if you get in a situation where the panel can’t accommodate the new breaker because it’s obsolete. If it’s a standard panel, it’s relatively inexpensive. In my opinion, it would be a smart thing to do, even at my own house.

Changing a breaker is relatively easy. It’s rare that a breaker actually fails. There’s usually some other contributing factor that’s causing the breaker to act strangely.

Changing a new breaker out is not a big or expensive job, but the older ones that have gone out of business years ago can be expensive, $50-$60 each plus the cost of installation. Panels that old should be inspected for safety and upgraded as needed.

 

More Plano families adding smart home technology

More Plano families adding smart home technology

Amazon’s Alexa is the aide invisibly running most tech savvy homes today.  More Plano families adding smart home technology.

More Plano families adding smart home technology – Through Amazon Echo speakers deployed in each room, the Alexa assistant dims the lights, turns them on or off on command, powers on the television and reminds them what’s on their calendars for the day.  But that’s not the only smart home technology at work in their home.  More Plano families adding smart home technology.

Your Honeywell thermostat allows you to check and adjust the temperature setting using your phones, whether you’re lying in bed or out of town.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities.

And their Canary security system allows you to remotely check on your home. They haven’t needed its footage because of any break-in, but they have used it to see what their four cats are up to while they’re away.”We just made the leap,” Ted from Plano Texas Handyman said of their tech-savvy home, “because we’re kind of gadget freaks.”

Home automation is becoming more common in Plano, both in the tech service industry as well as among the do-it-yourself crowd, according to Andrew Hartley of Tech Allies.   The owner of the Plano-based company said much of this expansion comes as technological advances have added inter-operability and prices have grown more affordable.  Installing home automation and home theater systems makes up 50 percent of the work for Tech Allies, which started 5½ years ago.  More Plano families adding smart home technology.

“It used to be more complicated,” said Plano Texas Handyman. “You’d spend a whole day programming things.”  Now simply pairing up voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home with other smart devices can be done quickly and with the help of a professional can be done quickly, he said.   “You can have it start your car, start your sprinklers,” he said.
Since the Amazon Echo debuted in 2014 and upgraded its offerings, more and more tech is geared toward automation, he said.

Keep your eyes on sales to slowly build their smart home according to Plano Texas Handyman.
It’s helped them run an efficient home, though they haven’t kept strict tabs of any major savings on utility costs, for example, she said.

Often, when the two attorneys don’t expect anyone to be home from the office at the usual time, they’ll keep the home at a more uncomfortable temperature, depending on the season, and set it to adjust when they do arrive.   You would like to get the Ring doorbell that allows homeowners to see “who’s there” on their smartphone and talk back.  More Plano families adding smart home technology.

For Tech Allies, installing a Ring doorbell is a common project, and Plano Texas Handyman even has one at his home.
A trend he’s seeing more and more is smart door locks systems, like the August Smart Lock, that use sensors to remotely secure and unlock a home via phone or allow it to be unlocked for someone for a specific period of time.
Robotics seem to be the next frontier for smart homes.

Plano Texas Handyman regularly helps set up Roombas, the robotic, self-propelling vacuum cleaner, and he has helped two customers set up the lawn-mower equivalent.
They may become more popular as the price continues to drop, he said. His most recent customer purchased the Worx robotic lawn mower for $910.
It mows every day, and the homeowner just touches up the edges with a weed trimmer.
“That’s definitely a lot less work than mowing” manually.

Sometimes the Internet connection bringing everything together drops out, and the couple temporarily loses the ability to lean on their automated comforts.
Customers can sometimes asks for Alexa to turn the lights on at work, where she doesn’t have an Echo.
During an early February weekend, Elliott wanted to watch TV.
But the cats had messed with the router, and after a moment, he realized Alexa was out of commission.
“I said, ‘All right, I’ll just turn the TV on myself.”  Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 or visit our website for all our capabilities.  More Plano families adding smart home technology.

Interior Painting

Interior Painting

Interior Painting

Interior Painting – Painting your homes interior is like washing the walls and cleaning the environment.  The proper application is critical for the right look.  Plano Texas Handyman is your perfect choice for painting and interior remodeling.  Call us at 214-507-3415 and visit our website for all your capabilities.  Interior Painting

Choosing paint colors
Just as with exterior painting, picking the right color scheme for interior spaces requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. Simply thinking about what color would look best on a wall isn’t enough to ensure a positive paint job. Virtually any color will look good on a surface as long as it is applied correctly, but choosing the right color involves looking at an interior space with a very critical eye.

The floor and ceiling surfaces cannot be ignored, as they are crucial elements of color combination. Most ceilings are traditionally painted white for a number of reasons — particularly for their ability to keep rooms looking bright and to avoid taking attention away from the walls. Lighter ceiling colors can also help to make a room appear larger and more open.  Interior Painting

Deviating from white ceilings is a great way to change the overall appearance of a house, but since darkening a ceiling can steal some of the light and visually shorten the height of the room. Ceiling colors should offset and complement the walls and the floor instead of calling attention above.

The easiest way to choose a color scheme is to look through color catalogues or at paint samples. Most hardware stores and paint depots keep catalogs handy for customers to take home. Painters should take their time looking at the spaces in these catalogs and comparing colors to their existing floors, carpets, curtains, blinds, furniture and decorations. It’s important to look at fabric and upholstery first and then look at the other aspects to see if they coordinate with your color choices. Consider the prominent color in this coordination for the walls.

Of course, if you’re getting ready to sell your house, realtors advise against bold colors. But if you plan to stay and just want to make your home cozier, do what pleases you.  Interior Painting

Each color has certain properties and psychological effects that can influence the mood of the interior occupants. Some of the most popular colors used for interior painting include:

Black and gray

While black is usually associated with somberness and malignity, it can also represent sophistication, reverence and physical attraction. Interior designers have traditionally shunned black paint, but homeowners increasingly choose it for trim and accents that are meant to be dramatic and striking. Black is the perfect match and contrast for white, and the amount used can range from trim areas to an accent wall. With the right furniture and décor, black is ideal for living rooms, bedrooms and ultra-modern kitchens.

Gray is a timeless color, but it could also be considered drab if not accessorized with bold colors. Anyone who has grown tired of looking at white paint on walls for years should consider gray tones. Gray paint is cooler than its white counterpart and more versatile, as it manages to blend well with most decorations. It is an ideal color for all interior spaces and provides the perfect backdrop for color bursts.  Interior Painting

Brown

Brown denotes a personality that is earthy, realistic and trustworthy. This classic earth tone can be applied to living and work areas alike, as it evokes a feeling of being well-rounded and connected with nature. Terracotta and dark mustard brown combinations are perfect for Latin American and Santa Fe-style décor. Brown hues are great for interior spaces that get a lot of sunlight. Lighter shades of brown, such as beige and taupe, are neutral colors that particularly work well in homes that are being shown to potential buyers.

Green

The psychological effect of green is largely dependent on the tone or hue. Some green hues create a positive, natural atmosphere. However, darker hues or pale olive green can seem militaristic or ill. Multiple shades of green can serve different purposes and set different moods. Maritime greens are ideal for studios and offices as they inspire concentration, while cool forest greens can be used in bedrooms and bathrooms.

Red and pink

Unlike pink, red is the color of passion and can create drama in any space. In the past, interior designers mostly chose red as an accent color, but it is now increasingly used in stylish living rooms and bedrooms. Flat red is modern and inviting, cherry red is youthful and darker red conjures up feelings of warmth and loyalty.  Interior Painting

Pink is also a soft romantic color, but it can also denote innocence. This is the traditional color for baby girls, but it’s also used in women’s spaces, such as in makeup rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms. Hot pink must be used with care in spaces that get a lot of sunlight, as it can make the room feel dark.

Yellow

Yellow is generally a happy color that increases confidence. Similar to gray, yellow can be very versatile. Pale yellows used in sunlit rooms with flowery decorations are very inviting, especially in the morning time. Darker yellows can add warmth to a room even in the winter time. Bright yellows help reduce the amount of illumination needed in a space and are ideal for any room in the house.  Interior Painting

Orange

Emotionally speaking, orange is a very stimulating and happy color. Pastel oranges are irresistible and great for interior spaces where skin is more likely to be exposed, such as bedrooms and bathrooms. Bright orange is the antithesis of gray and can be lively, while darker and burnt orange tones have a similar effect as the brown hues and go along great with southwestern décor.

Blue

Blue is the color of calmness, productivity and masculine sophistication. Baby blue will always be a popular color choice for young boys, while different hues of cyan can be used to great effects in children’s bathrooms to create an underwater mood with the right decoration. When applied to a ceiling, a light blue can conjure images of a cloudless sky and increase the sense of space. Pale and medium blues can be painted around the house to achieve a cooling effect.

Shopping for the right paint should go beyond collecting paint swatches or choosing a shade from the catalogue. Purchasing inexpensive paint samples and small brushes to bring home for testing is the best, because it’s the only way to really ascertain whether a color suits the décor. The goal is to paint a small section of the wall — a square with an area of just a few inches is sufficient. Allowing the small painted patch to dry and observing how it looks under the lighting conditions at different times of the day should clear up any painter’s color dilemma.  Interior Painting

Wall painting ideas include painting one wall to create a focal point in a room.

Types of interior paint
Once you’ve picked the perfect color, you still have to decide on what type of paint you want for the space. Whether you’re looking for an elegant, refined finish or a material that will wipe clean after an impromptu mural from your little one, there are paint types to suite every situation. When it comes to selecting interior paints, several popular options include:

Primer:  While technically not paint or a finish, the use of primer is crucial in interior painting. Failing to use primer on a porous surface, such as wood or concrete, can lead to imperfect paint coatings that could end up peeling away from the walls. Primer is also a must if covering up a darker color, as it will take fewer layers to cover the old paint.  Interior Painting

Matte:  This is a flat paint that has a calming, non-reflective effect on color. It is generally not washable or recommended for bedrooms. Flat enamel is more durable and it can be used in highly trafficked areas such as hallways.

Eggshell:  This is a more attractive version of matte. It can be cleaned and has just a tiny bit of shine.

Satin:  This is a favorite of doors, playrooms, trim decorations, kitchens, bathrooms and other spaces that get a lot of traffic and usage. If applied correctly, satin finish paint can withstand washing.

Glossy:  This finish is highly reflective and dramatic. It is preferred for modern-looking décor, and it requires careful preparations, as it does little to hide imperfections.

Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 and visit our website for all your capabilities.  Interior Painting

Tips for Furniture Refinishing

Tips for Furniture Refinishing

Tips for Furniture Refinishing – Identifying an Old Finish – If you don’t know what the finish is, you could end up damaging a perfectly good finish or wasting your time on a technique that won’t work. This knowledge is also essential in repair work; determining the finish is especially helpful when you’re matching one finish to another.

Please Visit Plano Texas Handyman website to view and read about all of our capabilities and Tips for Furniture Refinishing. These instructions can get daunting and may seem beyond your  capabilities, call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman, Contact Us @ 214-507-3415 Visit our about us Page for more information on Ted

For restoration purposes, the only distinction that really matters is the difference among the three basic natural, or clear, finishes: shellac, lacquer, and varnish. The pigmented finishes, such as paint or enamel, are easy to identify. The only other finishes you may encounter are oil, wax, and penetrating sealers, identifiable by touch and the absence of a high gloss. These finishes can be restored only by reapplication. On most furniture, a clear finish is one of the basic three: shellac, lacquer, or varnish. Before you do any work on the finish, you must identify it. First, test the finish with denatured alcohol; rub a little alcohol onto an inconspicuous finished area. If the finish dissolves, it’s shellac. If it partially dissolves, it’s probably a combination of shellac and lacquer. Test it again with a mixture of denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner; this should completely dissolve the finish. If alcohol doesn’t affect the finish, rub a little lacquer thinner on an inconspicuous finished spot. If the area turns rough and then smooth again, the finish is lacquer; if the finish crinkles and doesn’t get smooth again, it’s a type of varnish. If neither alcohol nor lacquer thinner affects it, the finish is varnish.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

After identifying the finish, you’re ready to restore it. Whether the problem is dirt, cracks, discoloration, or overall wear, it can often be solved by the following restoration techniques.

Cleaning Techniques
The easiest restoration process is cleaning; what first appears to be a beat-up finish may just be dirt. Over a period of years, even furniture that is well cared for can acquire a dull, sticky coating of wax and dust. In many cases, this coating can be removed with an oil-based commercial wood cleaner/conditioner. These cleaners will cut through layers of dirt and wax. They are available at furniture stores, supermarkets, and paint stores.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply the cleaner generously with a soft cloth and let it stand for an hour or two. Then wipe off the cleaner with another cloth. Repeat the process, using plenty of cleaner, until the wood is clean and lustrous — this may take up to four or five applications. Buff the clean wood lightly to remove excess oil.

If a commercial cleaner/conditioner doesn’t do the job, remove the built-up grime with a mild solution of warm water and liquid detergent. Use sparingly and work quickly; don’t soak the piece of furniture or pour the solution over it. Water can cause a white haze to appear on a shellac or lacquer finish, the same haze that appears when a glass leaves a white ring on a table. When the furniture is clean, rinse off the detergent with water and then carefully and thoroughly dry the wood with a soft cloth or a towel.

Let the wood dry completely. If there’s a haze on the finish, you may be able to remove it with steel wool. Buff the surface lightly, with the grain of the wood, with No. 0000 steel wool. Then apply a commercial cleaner/conditioner and lightly buff the wood again.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

If detergent cleaning doesn’t work, use a solvent — depending on the type of finish — to clean the wood. Solvent cleaning is the last resort to consider because it may damage the finish. Use mineral spirits or turpentine on any finish; use denatured alcohol on varnish or lacquer. Do not use alcohol on shellac or on a shellac/lacquer mixture. Working in a well-ventilated area — outdoors is best — apply the solvent with a rough cloth, such as burlap or an old towel. Then wipe the wood clean with another cloth. Finally, apply a commercial cleaner/conditioner, and buff the wood lightly.

Detergent and solvent cleaning can also be used to rejuvenate wicker and rattan furniture. Use the same techniques mentioned before, but be especially careful not to use too much water. Let the piece of furniture dry thoroughly; if possible, set it in the sun to dry. If the old finish is very thin or worn, apply one or two coats of spray varnish, spraying carefully to cover the wicker or rattan evenly. Let the new finish dry for several days before using the furniture.

If your furniture finish is cracking, scratched, or showing an alligator-type texture, you’ll find another option to make it look like new in the next section.

Reamalgamation of an Old Finish- Reamalgamation is a grand revival technique that can make alligatored, crazed, cracked, and scratched furniture look like new. Basically, reamalgamation is the near-liquefication of a marred finish so that it dries solid and unblemished. It works like magic, it’s easy, and it can eliminate the need for a refinishing job. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t spent too much time and effort trying.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

Alligatoring, crazing, and cracking are all basically the same thing. They’re all caused either by sunlight or by temperature changes, and they can all be eliminated by reamalgamation. Alligatored finishes have lots of small lines intersecting into a rough pattern; crazed finishes have erratic lines running everywhere; and cracked finishes have larger lines, or just one line, running across the surface. Scratched finishes can be reamalgamated only if the scratches don’t go below the finish. If the scratches are in the wood itself, you’ll have to refinish the area.

The type of finish on the furniture determines the solvent used for reamalgamation: shellac is reamalgamated with denatured alcohol, lacquer with lacquer thinner, and a lacquer/shellac mixture with a mixture of three parts alcohol and one part lacquer thinner. Varnish usually can’t be reamalgamated.

Before you work on the finish, clean the piece of furniture thoroughly with mineral spirits or turpentine to remove all wax and dirt. Don’t work on a very humid day if the finish is shellac; the alcohol used to liquefy shellac can draw moisture out of the air and into the finish, resulting in a haze or blushing.

The secret of reamalgamation is to work fast, especially with lacquer. Start with a small area to get the feel of it; once you’re satisfied with your results, go on to reamalgamate the entire finish. Apply a moderate amount of solvent with a brand-new, absolutely clean natural-bristle brush. Purchase a store-bought amalgamator or mix your own. Use denatured alcohol on shellac, lacquer thinner on lacquer, a three-to-one mixture of alcohol and lacquer thinner on a lacquer/shellac mixture.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

To reamalgamate the finished surface, apply solvent along the grain of the wood in quick, long strokes; work quickly, and don’t let the brush get dry. Don’t try to brush out all the cracks or scratches at this point; many of them will disappear as the finish dries. If you work on individual marks too much, you may actually be removing the finish instead of liquefying it.

As the solvent dries, the finish will have a high gloss, and then, after 30 minutes or so, will become very dull. If the reamalgamation was successful, the scratches and nicks will have disappeared, and the finish will look solid.

Reamalgamation is not always a one-step process. If the cracks in the finish are deep, it may take two or three applications of solvent to remove them. If repeated reamalgamation doesn’t work, the problem is probably in the wood; you’ll have to refinish it.

Please Visit Plano Texas Handyman website to view and read about all of our capabilities and Tips for Furniture Refinishing. These instructions can get daunting and may seem beyond your  capabilities, call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman, Contact Us @ 214-507-3415 Visit our about us Page for more information on Ted

After the reamalgamated surface has dulled, lightly buff the finish with No. 0000 steel wool, working in one direction along the grain. Don’t exert much pressure, just lightly polish the finish. Then wipe the surface clean with a clean cloth. If the reamalgamated finish is very thin, clean the surface with a tack cloth and apply a new coat of the same finish, right over the old one. Let the finish dry, buff it lightly with No. 0000 steel wool, and then wax the piece of furniture with a hard paste wax. Buff the waxed wood with a clean cloth.

Salvaging a Discolored Finish
Blushing, a milky discoloration in the finish, is a common problem with shellac-finished furniture and can also be a problem with lacquered wood. Varnish finishes are not affected by blushing. Blushing is caused by moisture — prolonged high humidity, exposure to water, or just age. If the haze isn’t too deep in the finish, you may be able to remove it with No. 0000 steel wool and oil or by reamalgamating the finish. Deep-set blushing, however, can be eliminated only by refinishing.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

When blushing is present in an alligatored or cracked finish, try reamalgamation first; this may remove the blush as well as eliminating the cracks. If the finish is not cracked, or if reamalgamation doesn’t remove the blush, use steel wool to remove the discoloration.

Before you start, make sure the surface is clean. Remove wax and dirt with mineral spirits or turpentine. Then dip No. 0000 steel wool in mineral oil, linseed oil, or salad oil, and rub it gently along the grain of the wood. Work slowly, and make sure the steel wool is always well oiled. The abrasive is removing the top part of the finish, leaving a clean finish behind. Dry the wood with a soft cloth and polish it with a hard paste wax. If the blushing is only in the top part of the finish — and it often is — this steel-wool rubbing will remove it. Otherwise, you’ll have to refinish the wood.

Overcoating Old Furniture Finish – Any material wears down over a period of time, and furniture is no exception. Sometimes the entire finish is worn, sometimes only heavy-use spots; worn spots are most common around doors and drawers. On an antique, wear is part of the patina of the piece and is used to date and determine the value of the furniture; it should not be covered or restored.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

The same consideration applies to almost any piece of furniture: Wear and tear adds a certain character. But a thin, old finish can be recoated. And where refinishing is the only alternative, you may be able to repair the worn spots.

First, clean the surface carefully with mineral spirits or, for lacquer or varnish, denatured alcohol. If the entire finish is worn, clean the whole piece of furniture; you must remove all dirt and grease. Then apply a new coat of the finish already on the wood.

If you’re touching up worn spots rather than recoating an entire finish, clean the worn surface, then sand the worn spots very lightly with fine-grit sandpaper. Be careful not to exert much pressure.

Once the wood is bare, it must be refinished. If the piece of furniture isn’t stained, this is easy; if it is stained, you’ll have to restain the bare spots to match.

To touch up the worn spot, use an oil-base stain that matches the stain on the piece of furniture. You may have to mix stains to get a good match. Test the stain on an inconspicuous unfinished part of the wood before working on the worn spots.

Apply the stain to the damaged area with an artists’ brush or a clean cloth, covering the entire bare area. Let the stain set for 15 minutes, and then wipe it off with a clean cloth. If the color is too light, apply another coat of stain, wait 15 minutes, and wipe again. Repeat this procedure until you’re satisfied with the color. Let the stain dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lightly buff the stained surface with No. 0000 steel wool, and wipe it clean with a tack cloth. Apply a new coat of the same finish already on the surface — lacquer, shellac, penetrating resin, or varnish — over the newly stained areas, feathering out the new finish into the surrounding old finish.

Let the new finish dry for one to two days, and then lightly buff the patched areas with No. 0000 steel wool. Finally, wax the entire surface with hard paste wax, and polish it to a shine.  Tips for Furniture Refinishing

Decoration Alternatives for Old Finish
Restoration — cleaning or reamalgamating, spotpatching or steel-wooling — is the easiest way to make old furniture look better, but it isn’t always a success. If the old finish is basically in good shape, you can often salvage a dull old piece of furniture with decorative accents or special finishing effects. If the old finish is damaged, you can cover it completely with enamel instead of refinishing. Before you remove the old finish, consider the alternatives; you may not have to refinish to give an old piece of furniture new life.

Special-effect finishing can do a lot for a dull piece of furniture. Antiquing, flyspecking, stencils, decals, and painting stripes can add interest and charm to many pieces and are especially effective for country-type furniture. Where you want a bright, distinctive accent piece, an enamel finish may be the answer. Enamel can be applied over an old finish, and it hides a lot of flaws. It also lends itself well to further decoration.

Hardly anything we do is 100 percent successful. But if you try some of the techniques mentioned in this article, you will find an easy way to restore the old finish on your furniture.

Please Visit Plano Texas Handyman website to view and read about all of our capabilities and Tips for Furniture Refinishing. These instructions can get daunting and may seem beyond your  capabilities, call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman, Contact Us @ 214-507-3415 Visit our about us Page for more information on Ted

CES Show

Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

Z-Wave Alliance makes further inroads into the smart home

CES ShowTop Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018 – Before there were home automation solutions like Belkin’s Wemo and Apple HomeKit, there was Z-Wave. Introduced back in 2001, Z-Wave is a wireless communications protocol used for home automation. Designed as a mesh network, it utilizes low-energy radio waves to communicate from appliance to appliance. This facilitates wireless control of a huge number of residential appliances and other devices, such as lighting, smart thermostats, locks, windows, and garage door openers (just to name a few). Today, there are approximately 2,400 products on the market that support the Z-Wave protocol. Despite the enormous breadth of Z-Wave device support, few consumers are aware of Z-Wave. Companies such Google, Amazon.com and Apple dominate the brand awareness landscape, though that’s a little misleading—those solutions focus on the user interface dimension of home automation, while Z-Wave supports the “glue” that provides the actual connectivity to your smart home network. Check out Z-Wave’s web page for more information and an overview of its wealth of supported devices.

Contact Plano Texas Handyman to talk about installing the latest in Home Technology and Home Automation.  214-507-3415.  Visit our website for more capabilities.  Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018.

Comcast steps up its game in the wireless, home automation, and home security spaces

 

Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018 – Comcast currently boasts the best user experience (in my opinion) for accessing premium video content. At CES, Comcast doubled down on its commitment to the smart home by extending its home automation services to approximately 15 million customers, by facilitating significantly faster WiFi throughout the home and enabling control via its X1 voice remote.

As I’ve commented before, while the smart home offers numerous advantages to consumers, it can also be a highly confusing undertaking. There are so many players, products, services, and ecosystems involved, many of which don’t often cooperate well with each other. Given its footprint in millions of homes, Comcast is in a powerful position to bring order to the chaos—its expanded “Works with Xfinity” program is designed to make sure that devices interoperate with each other. You can read more about Comcast’s announcements at CES via this link. Time will tell if Comcast’s efforts pay off, but I applaud the company for its continued commitment to the smart home, and its drive to provide best-in-class user experiences.  Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018.

Xeros Technologies reinvents the home laundry

Water conservation is obviously an important issue, and I was genuinely pleased to see a UK-based company called Xeros Technologies announce XFiltra, a radically new technology designed to remove microfibers from home laundry wastewater. Approximately 60% of our clothing contains synthetic fibers, which can pass through wastewater treatment centers and cause environmental risks. Xfiltra filters out these harmful microfibers, and is compatible with any home washing machine. In addition to the environmental benefits, it actually protects garments by guaranteeing they are always washed with cleaner water. Here’s a video that shows this technology in operation.

This technology, along with the company’s XOrb Polymer and XDrum InDrum announcements, could potentially change the way we think about washing clothes in an environmentally-conscious manner. It will be interesting to see how the big, more recognizable companies in this space embrace what Xeros Technologies is doing. Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

3M’s Filtrete brings “smarts” to the home air filter

In another practical example of making something most consumers take for granted “smart, announced new Filtrete Smart Air Filters—the first-ever Bluetooth-enabled HVAC air filter for the home. The smart air filter can do a number of things via a smartphone app: it can pass along valuable information such as size and filter type, provide real-time indoor air quality readings, and notify when it’s time for replacement. Most consumers forget to replace their HVAC air filters on a timely basis, which can have negative health consequences and cause extra wear and tear on HVAC systems. In short, this is the type of smart home capability that can have a dramatic effect on improving the lives of families from Day One. The best news? According to the press release, these filters will be affordably priced in the $21.99 to $29.99 range when they hit the market this spring.

Samsung’s new 146” TV has an interesting twist

Samsung’s breathtaking new 146” 8K wireless TV (dubbed “The Wall”) was certainly the talk of the show and has been heavily reported on. I won’t dwell on it too much, except to comment that I was intrigued that its new MicroLED display technology (which the TV is based on) is apparently user configurable—meaning that consumers can expand the size of their screen post-purchase as their needs change. When I pressed Samsung’s officials at CES about how this process would work in a practical sense, without the edges of the added modules being noticeable, they kept mum. Regardless, kudos to Samsung if it can pull this off without degrading the video quality of the TV itself, which looked magnificent (to say the least) at the First Look press conference.  Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

From a smart home standpoint, Samsung also announced that all 2018 Smart TVs going forward would include Bixby support (Samsung’s rival voice assistant to Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple (Siri). Samsung sees the living room TV as the centerpiece of the smart home; a “hub” for syncing and managing other all other connected devices. With Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa showing up on scores of other devices in the home and Apple HomePod finally shipping in the next several months, Samsung has its work cut out for it. Bixby will have to rise above the noise in a very crowded group of intelligent voice assistants.

iHome makes a big splash with its Amazon Alexa-enabled clock radio

Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018
Google, Microsoft, And Amazon Place Bets On AI In The Enterprise and Google could not have been more noticeable at the event. While Google has done a reasonably good job trying to catch up to Amazon over the past 18 months despite Amazon’s 2 year head start, my personal observation is that Amazon Alexa is still winning the battle for device placement. This was perhaps most evident in iHome’s booth at CES 2018.

iHome, as many consumers know, made its mark in the home years ago with the first affordable clock radio “docks” with integrated Apple iPod (and ultimately iPhone) functionality. Committed to “winning the bedside” battleground and maintaining its strong presence in consumers’ homes, iHome announced an impressive Alexa-enabled clock radio called the iAVS16B. I could easily see consumers placing a clock radio like this in multiple rooms to facilitate Alexa coverage throughout the home. Additionally, since the iAVS16B also includes Apple HomeKit support, you’ll have access to your Apple iTunes library from any HomeKit-connected device.  Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

AXIS brings the window shade into the 21st century

Finally, in the department of “why didn’t they think of that first?” comes AXIS Gear, an affordable device that allows you to automate your existing window shades. While automated window shades have been around for some time, existing solutions almost always involve replacing the entire window shade—often cost prohibitive for many consumers. Additionally, one must factor in the complexity (and incremental cost) of adding a AC power outlet to accommodate the motor at the top of the shade.

AXIS’s “eureka” approach mounts a small motorized device near the drawstring loop at the bottom of an existing window shade. What’s more, the motor is controlled by a smartphone app that manages the raising or lowering of the window shade (even in groups) on a schedule basis. What is particularly forward-looking about AXIS’s solution is that it includes a solar panel that charges the motor battery when not in use. Best of all, Gear is affordably priced at $249 per window motor and is designed to be installed without professional assistance.

If you’re like me, it’s too much of a hassle to manually raise and lower my blinds every day and I’m unwilling to pay $5,000 to replace my blinds and make the necessary electrical outlet changes. I would imagine that automating the raising and lowering of blinds would also have a non-trivial cost-saving impact on electricity bills. This will likely to appeal to a lot of consumers.  Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

Contact Plano Texas Handyman to talk about installing the latest in Home Technology and Home Automation.  214-507-3415.  Visit our website for more capabilities.   Top Smart Home And Home Automation Products From CES 2018

Reprinted from Forbes

home energy

Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home – Learn how to save money and cut your utility bills with these simple -household energy saving tips.  Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 for more information on a Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home or visit our website to see our full capabilities.

Home energy savings are indeed possible, particularly if you pay attention to your household appliances. So roll up your sleeves, and take a look at these energy-saving steps recommended by the Department of Energy.

Who knows? This may be the year you finally log some dollars in the plus column, instead of making alarmingly high “contributions” to the utility company.  Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Water heater savings
Take a bite out of the 18 percent the average homeowner pays for water heating. Here’s how to save on water-heating costs:

When replacing your water heater, invest in a high-efficiency system. Set the water heater to 120 degrees. (Most systems are pre-set to 140 degrees.) Wrap insulation around the first few feet of pipes that come in and out of the water heater. The insulation will reduce energy loss as hot water flows through the pipes.  Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Water conservation
You can save on water heating bills and water bills by adopting a less-is-more mindset. You can adjust your patterns of usage around the house, for example, by taking shorter showers, but it also helps to install low-flow showerheads and aerators throughout the home. These devices reduce the flow of water through them. When you turn on the hot water, the demand is less, reducing usage.

Here are a few other water saving tips:

• Run only full loads when using your dishwasher or clothes washer.

• Avoid using longer-running cycles on your appliances, which will use more water. Opt for shorter washing cycles, but be sure to test these cycles to see if they do as good a job cleaning the dishes as the appliance’s “normal” cycle.  Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Kitchen money saving tips
Dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves — these are all appliances people use in the kitchen that can contribute to high energy bills — unless you know how to switch on the energy savings:

• Consult the dishwasher manual, and make sure it’s set to the lowest temperature possible (which is generally around 120 degrees).

• Before loading the dishwasher, dry-scrape food off of the dishes, instead of running them under water. You’ll save on water and you won’t have to run the system as long to remove food buildup.

• Avoid using the dishwasher’s soak or pre-rinse features.

• When you can, stop the dishwasher before it reaches the drying cycle, and open the door a bit instead to let dishes air dry.

• Use ideal refrigerator settings to lower energy consumption. The freezer should be kept at 0 degrees, while the ideal temperature for the fridge is between 37 and 40 degrees. If your fridge doesn’t display the temperature, place a thermometer in the space to get an accurate reading.

• Keep an eye on the fridge door’s seal. Leaks increase energy consumption.

• Use a properly sized pan on the stovetop.

• Opt for the toaster when heating food up or even cooking smaller food items. It uses less energy than the oven.

• Regularly clean the stovetop; the burners will work more efficiently when they’re clean.  Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Laundry energy saving strategies
Keep energy costs down by following these strategies for laundry:

• Hang-dry clothing when you can.

• If you must wash or dry a small load, make sure the settings match the size of the load.

• Always remove lint from the lint trap after drying a load of laundry. A clean lint trap promotes optimal air circulation in the dryer, which will improve drying times.

• If the dryer has a cool-down feature, use it. This feature shuts off the heating element a few minutes before the cycle is expected to end, but the heat in the dryer will remain.

• Make sure the dryer vent is clear, and have a professional inspect and maintain it every year or two. Lint buildup in the dryer is a fire hazard, too. Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

With these tips for saving energy, you’ll be set to keep more of your hard-earned dollars over the year, and every year thereafter. When your entire family adopts energy-savings strategies, you’ll also get peace of mind, knowing you’re contributing to a greener environment and conserving natural resources. Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home – Learn how to save money and cut your utility bills with these simple -household energy saving tips.  Call Plano Texas Handyman at 214-507-3415 for more information on a Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home or visit our website to see our full capabilities. Energy Saving Strategy For Your Home

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to Use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting

5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting – First lets look at the benefits of installing energy efficient lighting and later we will examine the up-front cost to upgrade and then the annual energy savings.  Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at www.planotexashandyman.com for more information.  Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

It’s no secret the cost of electrical energy continues to rise and will inevitably continue to do so in the future. At the same time, the demand for electricity continues to increase, taxing our existing electrical infrastructure to the margins of their design limits. We need more power, but in order to get it, we need new transmission and distribution infrastructure — but that’s just the beginning.

Efficiencies need to improve. Smart grid and microgrid strategies need to be deployed, and energy storage needs to be maximized. The list goes on and on. The problem is all of these propositions require a large amount of capital, which seems to be in short supply these days. Therefore, the quickest and least expensive way to generate more electricity is to not consume it in the first place. One way to use less energy is to install newer and more energy-efficient lamps, luminaires, and controls. Even lighting systems that were deployed just five years ago could benefit from newer lighting technologies and/or better control strategies.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that about 461 billion kWh of electricity were used for lighting by the residential and commercial sectors in 2011. This was equal to about 17% of the total electricity consumed by both of these sectors and about 12% of total U.S. electricity consumption. Residential lighting consumption was about 186 billion kWh — or 13% of all residential electricity consumption. The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings and public street/highway lighting, consumed about 275 billion kWh for lighting — or 21% of commercial sector electricity consumption in 2011.  Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

The good news is lighting has become more efficient over the last decade and continues to evolve. Not only have lamps and luminaires become more efficient, but so have lighting control systems. Installing new luminaires and lamps — or retrofitting existing luminaires and lamps — is standard practice for the electrical industry. However, installing lighting controls to save energy has sent many electrical contractors and technicians back into training mode.

1.  Energy Savings – Lamp/luminaire and lighting control strategies are driven by the need to save energy and by the adoption of energy codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1, or state standards like California’s Title 24. As lamp efficacies improve, energy codes are driving down the number of watts per square foot used to light any give space within a building. Add in effective lighting controls, and you can drive down energy consumption even further. On the voluntary side, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), has had a profound impact on driving energy-efficient lighting design as well.  5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

There are other benefits for installing a well-engineered lighting system. Although the following benefits may appear to be less quantifiable, in reality, they are no less important than saving energy. First is the effect that a lighting system has on improving the productivity, recruitment, and retention of the customer’s employees. The second is green and zero net energy branding opportunities. A 2009 research study, “Green Goes Mainstream: How to Profit from Green Market Opportunities,” authored by Jerry Yudelson, Yudelson Associates, Tucson, Ariz., found an average 3.2% increase in productivity from lighting improvements. The same study also revealed that a 1% increase in productivity equates to 100% reduction in energy costs.   5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

2.  Large choice of lighting technology – Lamp and luminaire choice is usually driven by customer request in consultation with an architect, lighting designer, or both to meet occupancy requirements. However, in some cases, the electrical contractor may become the specifier of the lamps and luminaires to reduce costs for the customer (value-engineering). Electrical contractors involved in design/build projects have greater influence over lighting selection. Because most design/build electrical contractors are not lighting designers, learning something about basic lighting design benefits everyone involved.

Just like the lighting designer, the electrical contractor needs to understand the customer’s lighting requirements. In the case of value-engineering or design/build scenarios, realize that the customer may be relying on your expertise when it comes to lamp/luminaire selection, layout, and control. Some basic questions to ask the customer include: What is the major task(s) that will be performed in the space (e.g., task lighting)? What surfaces or objects need to be lit (e.g., focal lighting)? What types of fenestrations will the space contain (e.g., daylighting)? Is any lamp/luminaire going to be used as an architectural or decorative feature (e.g., decorative lighting)? What is the mood of the space, or what are the navigation requirements within the space (e.g., ambient lighting)? In some designs, energy savings and increased productivity may be gained by separating task lighting from ambient lighting and using innovative control strategies.

3.  Lighting has become understandable – The proper selection of the lamp and luminaire begins with understanding something about the qualities of a light source, which are determined by the method used to produce the light. Light sources range from incandescent and halogen to fluorescent and HID to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Lamps are rated in lumen output, watts, and lumens per watt or efficacy. Lumen output is the total light output of the lamp. This does not include fixture lumens only lamp lumens. (It’s important to understand the difference when evaluating LED lamps and luminaires.) Efficacy is the measure of how efficient one light source is when compared to another. The more lumen output per watt of power consumed, the more efficacious the lamp is. When purchasing lamps, think lumens, not watts.

4.  Quality – The quality of light is also a measure of its color accuracy and the color of the light itself. Color accuracy is a measure of how well the light source can render the colors of an object. This is known as the color rendering index (CRI), which is measured on a scale of 0 (very poor rendering) to 100 (perfect rendering). The color of the light the lamp produces (whether the light appears warm, neutral, or cool) is a function of its color temperature. The lower the color temperature, the warmer (more red) the lamp appears; the higher the color temperature, the whiter or cooler the light source appears (more blue). This is known as the correlated color temperature (CCT), as shown in the Figure.  5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

Other areas of concern when selecting a lamp are its operating temperature range, lamp life, lumen maintenance (how much light output diminishes over the life of the lamp), directionality, dimmability, starting time, and life-cycle costs. All lamp qualities need to be understood to provide the customer with the desired end result. This implies that you, as the electrical contractor, understand how all lamps generate their light and what their operational characteristics are. Control strategies will be predicated on the operational characteristics of the lamp and occupancy requirements.  5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.

The goal is to have a better understanding of the nature of light — not necessarily to become a lighting designer. However, if you are providing design/build services or value-engineering a lighting system, understanding some basics of lighting design will help a great deal. Many lighting and lighting control manufacturers provide basic online training with regard to understanding the nature of light, lamp characteristics, luminaire selection, and the correct switching or dimming control devices and topologies. Many lighting manufacturers also offer webinars and training courses, some of which are free. Staying on top of the latest training resources in the lighting arena will go a long way toward maximizing your next energy-efficient installation.

The annual savings to upgrade to energy efficient lighting

5.  Energy Savings – Assuming you have a 2500 square foot home, with a total of 25 – 60W incandescent bulbs (lamps, fans and bath fixtures), 15 – 65W BR40 spot lights (can lights), and 4 – 4′ 40W t40 fluorescent bulbs (closets and laundry).

The total out of pocket cost to replace these bulbs with LED lighting would be approximately $485.00, including professional installation.  Installing Energy-Efficient Indoor Lighting Systems

The total annual savings realized based on .11c/kwh would come to $240.00 annually in energy usage, up-front, the payback seems to be 2 years!  However, you must consider the longevity and useful life of the asset, LED bulbs last on average 14.7 years compared to 2.1 years for standard incandescent.  Essentially, you will have to replace incandescent bulbs 7 times.  The bottom line is that over the life of the LED product (14 to 15 years), you will save over $3200.00 in energy usage and bulb replacement.

This analysis is done for a 2500 square foot home, do the math, many homes in Plano Texas are much larger.  Your savings could be enormous.

Call Ted at Plano Texas Handyman 214-507-3415 to discuss the installation of your Drip Irrigation System. Visit our website at www.planotexashandyman.com for more information.  Installing Energy- 5 Reasons to use Energy Efficient Lighting.