All posts by schaffhouser

Office Lighting

How to Light Your Office for Productivity

Ever wonder why you have a headache at the end of a day at the office?
It could be your boss again, but if it happens every day, there’s a good chance improper lighting is the culprit.

Somewhere along the way, we decided that bright, overhead fluorescent lights were the only way to light a common area. School and corporate office buildings are the worst offenders, and it greatly affects the productivity of everyone in the building.

So, what are some good lighting solutions for a workspace? Here are some things to consider:

Maximize Natural Light

Big windows are the best source of light available. Natural light is brighter than artificial light, but sunshine has the added benefit of enhancing workers’ moods.

Natural light also saves energy, making it the best economic choice, too.

Muted Overhead Light

Obviously, you can’t survive in an office on natural light alone.

When choosing overhead lighting, skip the big, buzzing fluorescent lights and opt instead for softer light fixtures. Not only does this add personality to your office, it reduces the harshness of overhead lights.

Task Lighting

In addition to natural light and soft overheads, task lighting for individual employees is essential. Lamps placed around an office and on employees’ desks will allow them to control the lighting they need.

Soft, But Not Too Soft

The name of the lighting game is balance.

The default of many office buildings is too much overhead, artificial light. That much light strains the eyes, but so does going too soft. Play around with different lighting options until you strike just the right balance for your employees and work tasks.

Need help designing the perfect light for your office? Give us a call a Schaffhouser Electric, and we’ll talk through all of your options with you.


Outdoor Lighting

How to Create Perfect Outdoor Lighting

Summer may be winding down, but here in middle Tennessee that doesn’t mean we stop grilling out and being outdoors. As the temperatures cool a little, it can be the perfect time to get your outdoor lighting just right for fall evenings.

Keeping the outside of your home well-lit will also contribute to the safety and security of your house and family.

There are many different areas to consider for lighting outside your home, and each one has unique challenges. Here are some of our favorite solutions for outdoor lighting.

Front Entrance

A well-lit front entrance is the the best way to greet your guests. Lights on either side of the door will illuminate the entrance area, giving your home a welcoming look.

If you have a porch, you can also consider hanging a few fixtures close the the ceiling. Recessed or chain-hung is best so the lights won’t hang too close to arriving guests.


If you have the space, hang a lantern or other fixture on either side of the garage door. Otherwise, place one fixture over the center.

Consider installing motion sensors with these lights. You can set them to turn on at dusk and off at dawn or to stay off unless they sense motion. This will conserve energy, while still giving you the security and light you need.

Paths and Driveways

Everyone loves well-lit paths and driveways.

Low level path lights, set along the perimeter of the driveway or path, will guarantee everyone’s safety as well as provide a warm welcome to guests. Many of these are solar powered and programmed to turn on at night and off during the day.

Decks, Porches, and Patios

These areas are perhaps the most used part of your outdoor living space, and there are several lighting options. Like the front door, place a lantern on each side of the door leading into the house. Then use any combination of mini-lights, path lights, and lanterns to create the perfect vibe for your outdoor living room.

Don’t forget the citronella candles to chase away those pesky mosquitoes!

Pools and Fountains

Lastly, don’t forget the pool.

Low-voltage or LED lights are popular for pools, but you can also install fiber-optic lighting in the pool itself. Floating and solar-powered lights are also nice options.

As with any electrical project, there are always building codes and regulations to think about. Contact us at Schaffhouser Electric, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about outdoor lighting.



Home Electrical Fires

How To Protect Your Home From Electrical Fires

Fire departments across the country respond to almost 48,000 fires caused by electrical failure or malfunction every year. These fires are often caused by simple fixes overlooked by homeowners.

Not all electrical fires can be prevented, of course, but there are a few basic steps homeowners can take to make their homes a little safer.

Step One: No Frayed Wires

Frayed wires happen throughout the home. Small appliances, Christmas lights, and lamps are all prone to broken and frayed wires.

While it’s easy to think a little electrical tape will keep you safe, it’s not a long term solution. You should discard and replace any frayed wires you find as quickly as possible in order to prevent potential electrical fires.

Appliance wire can be found at any hardware store, and replacing a few wires on a small appliance is an easy fix for most people. If you’re not big on DIY, though, replace the appliance rather than risk using frayed wires.

Step Two: Don’t Overload the Circuits

The easiest thing you can do to protect your home is to avoid overloading the circuits.

The circuits in your home are only designed to deliver so much energy. Using too much energy in a given outlet can cause wires to spark or break down.

Avoid power strips whenever possible, limiting plug use to the available two outlets. If you have an older home, consider rewiring your whole home to update your energy supply.

Step Three: Make Sure All Electrical Products Are Safe

This is also an easy fix. All electrical products–batteries, night lights, extension cords, and surge protectors–should have a label from Underwriters Laboratories.

Underwriters Laboratories is the global electrical safety standards organization. If they haven’t approved a product, it may not be safe for use.

Step Four: Replace Any Old Wiring

Finally, you can also protect your family from fires by replacing any old wires in your home.

Electrical wiring is only meant to last 30-40 years. Homes older than that were also not made to handle the amount of electricity we use in the 21st century. Too much stress on the system deteriorates the wires and puts you at risk.

If your home is older than 30 years, you almost certainly need new wiring.

Contact us at Schaffhouser Electric, and we’ll be happy to assess all of your wiring needs.



Electrical Contractor

What To Consider When Hiring An Electrical Contractor

So, you’ve decided on an electrical project for your home or business. If it isn’t a do-it-yourself project, the next step is to find an electrical contractor.

Contractors come in all shapes and sizes, and picking one can seem almost as overwhelming as the project itself.

But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few things to pay attention to when hiring an electrical contractor.

Cost and Trust

The first step to finding a contractor is to ask around for recommendations. Friends, family, and coworkers are all possible sources for good referrals. You can also find honest, anonymous reviews on contractors from websites like Angie’s List.

Once you have a few referrals, it’s time to meet with the contractors. Don’t just hire the first person you talk to. Meet with several contractors and get estimates on the work you want done. This will get you the best price, as well as ensure that you will work well with the contractor.

Safety, Safety, Safety

Cost is obviously a factor when picking a contractor, but it should never be the only factor. An unknown guy from Craigslist could end up costing you more money in the long run than a more expensive professional.

Is the contractor licensed, bonded, and insured? Do they have a warranty on their work and supplies? Will they be responsible for making sure all work is up to code?

These are basic thing that any contractor worth hiring will be able to provide. Don’t run the risk of safety and warranty issues just to save some money.


Ultimately a contractor is a small business owner. Expect them to act like it.

Being on time and respectful is important. You should also expect all contracts to be in writing and for the contractor to communicate with you about any issues that come up as the project moves forward.

Save yourself the headache of working with unprofessional or sloppy contractors. There are too many good ones out there to waste time and money on subpar candidates.

Finding a good electrical contractor should be a thorough process, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. If you pick the contractor with the best estimate for his reputation, safety credentials, and professionalism, you’ll be well on your way to a successful electrical project.

Contact Schaffhouser Electric today.


Save On Energy Costs

4 Changes Your Business Should Make to Save On Energy Costs

Now that summer is upon us, it’s a good time for small businesses to rethink their energy needs. With temperatures down South reaching into the 100s, things like air conditioning can skyrocket your energy bill.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to curb those costs.

Install Motion Detecting Lights

For years the most common energy-saving device has been to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

But, let’s be honest, no one remembers to do that!

In an office, it can be even worse. You want your employees focused on their work, not how much flipping the switch will save on your electric bill.

Motion detecting lights are the perfect solution. These lights will turn themselves off when no one is in the room, eliminating the need for everyone to remember. They work best for conference rooms and bathrooms, which are seldom used and can sit fully lit for days without anyone noticing.

Switch Up Your Other Lights

Harsh overhead fluorescent lights not only cost more to use, they also contribute to headaches and fatigue.

Do yourself and your employees a favor by switching up the lighting around the office. Try a variety of lamps around the office. Open the curtains and let in natural light.

Take some time to play with the light levels to ensure everyone’s comfort. There’s a balance between too much and too little light, and you want to find what works best for your company.

Turn Off The Screen

Everyone loves a good screensaver, but the truth is they take the same amount of energy as anything else on the screen.

Instead of screensavers, instruct employees to turn off the monitor or put it in sleep mode when they leave. This simple solution, spread across your whole company, will save a lot in energy costs.

While you’re at it, consider unplugging all devices when everyone leaves for the day. Plugged in devices still use energy, but simply switching off the power strip can reduce the amount used.

Just Go Home

This suggestion might sound crazy, but hear us out.

If employees are allowed to work from home, your in-office energy costs will obviously be lower. Many businesses enact a “summer schedule,” allowing employees half or whole days off on Fridays.

Thanks to services like Google Hangouts, employees can still communicate throughout the day and stay productive. Or, if you allow employees to work a few more hours on other days and take Fridays off, you’ll be popular as well as energy-efficient!

Schaffhouser Electric can help. Contact Schaffhouser Electric today!



4 Tips For Lighting Up Your Kitchen

Like it or not, the kitchen usually becomes the gathering place in a home. Whether it’s hungry kids waiting on dinner or guests wanting to chat with the host, everyone comes together in the kitchen.

Yet the most important room in the house is often poorly lit. Many kitchens come with just a single overhead light, which isn’t enough even when it’s attached to a ceiling fan.

How should kitchens be lit? Check out our 4 favorite kitchen lighting tips:

Track Lighting

Track lighting is one of the best lighting solutions for a kitchen. There are endless options for configuring track lighting in your kitchen, and the fixtures can be situated to shine right where you need them. And not where you don’t. You can install track lighting that uses regular bulbs, or you can find lights that use LED if you’re more energy conscious. LED track lights are slightly more expensive at the outset, but the energy savings over time will more than pay back the investment. Track lighting also comes in a variety of styles that will fit with any taste, making them a great go-to lighting source for any kitchen.

Undercabinet Lighting

Even with great track lighting, your body and the cabinets can often block light coming from the ceiling.
Under cabinet lighting is the perfect pairing with track lighting. Under cabinet lights provide more direct light to the chopping and mixing happening on the counter, which makes the kitchen safer.
Homeowners can also add their unique style with under cabinet lights by choosing the type of light, spacing, and bulb size.

Dimmer Switch

Putting your lights on a dimmer switch is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and it works just as well in the kitchen.
Changing to a dimmer switch allows you to use the highest wattage bulb your fixtures will take. Then, you have the flexibility of adjusting to suit your needs.
Thanksgiving dinner with 100 helpers in the room? You can throw the dimmers all the way up.
Small, intimate dinner party? A lower light will set the mood while still providing enough illumination for food prep.


Our last kitchen lighting tip seems so simple, but is often overlooked.
Any home is more pleasant when it’s full of natural light. If you have windows in your kitchen, use only the barest blinds or curtains you need for privacy to take full advantage of the natural light coming into the room.
Great natural light enhances any indoor lighting system, and that’s true in the kitchen, too.
Lighting a kitchen well isn’t hard or expensive. Simple tweaks can make the busiest room in your home an even better place to be.

Interested in lighting up your kitchen? Contact Schaffhouser Electric today!


Ceiling Fans

Advantages Of Ceiling Fans

Whether in a bedroom, living room, on a patio or even in a gazebo, ceiling fans are one of the most versatile and most used appliances in your home. Ceiling fans are not only aesthetically pleasing, can add style much like furniture, They can also provide comfort in all.

No matter if it is Summer or Winter, ceiling fans can aid in heating or cooling your home or office more efficiently and help you save money by running your heating and cooling less. Ceiling fans use what is called ‘evaporative cooling’, meaning by circulating air across your skin, your body is naturally cooled by the process keeping you cooler in the Summer. Likewise, in the Winter months, reverse the rotation of the ceiling fan and warm air, that naturally rises, will be pushed back down and redistributed in your room. Almost all ceiling fans come with a directional switch for you to change the rotational direction of the blades.

A Few Tips To Remember

• Ceiling fans can save up to as much as 40% in cooling costs in the Summer and save as much as 10% in the Winter with heating costs
• Location matters when choosing a ceiling fan. If your ceiling fan will be used outside, then a ceiling fan specifically designed for outdoor use is needed
• The bigger the room, the bigger the fan needed
• Fans should be mounted 8 to 10 feet from the floor. Taller ceilings will need a down rod for proper height
• Controls can be a pull chain, wall switch or even remote control
• Prices vary. You can find a ceiling fan to fit any budget

Not only do ceiling fans aid in the cooling and heating of your home, add to the décor, they also help you save money all at the same time. Schaffhouser Electric can install ceiling fans, repair ceiling fans or aid you in making the right ceiling fan decision for your home or office. Contact Schaffhouser Electric for more information.



Energy Saving Tips For Summer

If you’re like most of the population, you’re wondering how to maximize comfort and minimize cost in the sweltering sun of the Nashville summer. Though middle Tennessee’s summer may start mercifully late after a mild spring, there is little respite from the soaring temperatures once summer is thoroughly underway.  The old-fashioned methods of self-cooling like walking around naked and wrapping a frozen towel around your head are only appropriate in certain contexts; unfortunately, most of us aren’t in the position to avail ourselves of those cheap and easy means of heat relief. Relying on central AC doesn’t condemn you automatically to an expensive slew of energy bills, though. There is a plethora of convenient ways in which you can minimize your expenditures without sprouting embarrassing sweat stains as soon as you wake up.

One good place to start is the kitchen; though it may not be your intuitive first guess, the kitchen is the site of many small decisions that can have a big impact on your energy bill’s bottom line. For example, choosing to cook your meals in the microwave rather than on the stove top requires only 1/3 as much energy, thus saving you a pretty penny without much difference in result. Another counter intuitive means of energy saving is using your dishwasher rather than putting in the sweat equity of washing the dishes yourself. You actually save water with a one-time wash for all the dishes at once compared to an individual manual wash. As long as you let them air dry, you’re coming out in the black. Finally, the fridge operates on a lower energy consumption level when it’s fuller, because it does less work to return to its equilibrium temperature after being opened when there is less room for warm air to enter.

A second convenient site for energy saving in summertime is the air conditioning system itself. Setting the thermostat to an ideal target range of 78 degrees when you’re in the house and relying on it, and then turning it up to 85 degrees when the house is empty, can keep you in the range that is both comfortable and affordable. Paying attention the air conditioner filters as well can ensure that the system is operating as efficiently as possible without wasting energy pushing past debris that has accumulated. Speaking of filters, checking the filters in your washing machine and swimming pool (if you have one) are two more easy ways to make sure you’re trimming unnecessary costs and saving all your money for the pure cost of temperate comfort. Best of luck, and remember, a glass of lemonade goes a long way!



How To Prevent Lightning Damage To Your Home

Lightning may seem like a completely random act of God that is either going to strike you dead or spare you, but fortunately, you have a lot more control over the situation than you think. By following some simple advice on how to protect your home, you can spare yourself from joining the thousands of houses that are damaged by lightning storms every year in the United States. Extremely expensive damage in the form of blown off shingles, fried electronic apparatuses, and burnt rake boards, corner boards and window trimmings can wrack up quite a bill when it’s time for repairs. An efficient lightning protection system can avoid such a snafu entirely. But keep reading, because the answer to how to best protect yourself is not as simple as you may think.

Lightning poles are a common sight on top of many American homes today, and have been for the past century. Conventional wisdom holds that the poles attract the lightning by virtue of being the highest relative point, and that the lightning goes from the pole to the ground without damaging the house or anything else valuable along the way. Things are not quite that simple, though. The pole in fact neither attracts nor repels lightning, but rather channels it if lightning happens to strike it. Therefore, on the off chance that your pole happens to be the target of the lightning, then your home is safe. Otherwise, having it there is more for your own peace of mind than for any real protection. Not to fret, though; an equally convenient but far more secure system for lightning protection exists and can be installed by most home repair companies.

An efficient lightning protection system is like a network of roads that safely direct lightning to the ground, regardless of its initial orientation. A combination of copper and aluminum rods, cables, and connectors make sure that the lightning avoids not only your power lines, but your neighbor’s as well. And along that line of thinking, it is best to get arrestors on all of your incoming lines in case the neighbors themselves are struck without a protection system, and you’re exposed to the risk they chose to take. An uninterrupted circuitry to several grounding points is the ideal model of lightning protection systems, and high standards of quality exist to ensure that any system you purchase has been certified and approved. If you take the chance of buying one without certification, you might be no better off than if you pulled a Ben Franklin and stuck a kite up in a storm.


Protons Electrons

How Electricity Works

Electricity is a major part of your life, so you might as well be one of the few people who understand the system of currents and charges to which we are so indebted. First of all, electricity exists in nature regardless of humanity´s ability to harness it. Lighting is the most well-known instance of naturally occurring electricity; its voltage adds the danger to its otherwise fantastic aesthetic. The powerful current of a lightning bolt carries 30,000 amps, and is so hot that it turns the air molecules it comes into contact with from gas into plasma. That material change is what makes the sound we know as thunder.

Static electricity is another form that we experience in everyday life without analyzing it or even acknowledging it. When a balloon at a party pulls your hair out of its normal style into random spikes that is static electricity. The negatively charged hairs are all repelling each other and creating space around them in the process. Same goes for the walk across your living room carpet that leaves you with a shock when you reach for the door knob. Your body has a net positive charge, but as you walk across the carpet and gather electrons via the friction of your feet, your body’s charge becomes net negative. Upon reaching out to touch the door knob, electrons jump from your negatively charged body to the neutral knob in an attempt to restore balance, and the resulting sensation is a shock.

Our own bodies use electricity to perform every single function they carry out. The reason your body even has a charge, as mentioned above, is because of the aggregate effect of the charged atoms that comprise it. Each atom is comprised of a negatively charged electron, a positively charged proton, and an eponymously neutral neutron. The fluctuation in the net charge of an atom as it attempts to make whatever adjustment is necessary to reach neutrality involves the transfer of electrons from one atom to another. The neutrons and protons are not as easily dislodged. Therefore, the human body’s mass of atoms constantly exchanging electrons is perfectly capable of conducting electricity.

Fortunately, our bodies make good use of the electrical currents running through them. The electrical impulses jumping from cell to cell are not empty of content; rather, they contain vital messages about everything from how fast your heart should be beating to what diameter your pupils should contract to and which finger you want to move to scratch your nose. Without the rapid fire tool of electricity to monitor everything, regulatory systems and empirical actions, our bodies would never be able to survive in the complex, dynamic environments we inhabit, nor operate at the level of multitasking we sustain. Luckily for us, we don’t have to fully understand the workings of the voltage that keeps us going- so long as we know the basics of not flying a kite in a lightning storm.