Archive for April, 2010

HDMI Cables in Gold?

As an electrician, my neighbor thought I could answer this question for him.  So here goes.  “Are the $20 HDMI Cables the same as the $100 ones found at Best Buy?

If they are of equal length, the quick answer would be, “Yes”.  But now a little explanation, the typical conductive coating on the less expensive cable is replaced with an ultra thin conductive coating of gold on the higher priced version.  Why? Because gold is the best electrical conductor there is and it won’t corrode.  What does this mean?  Low static or “noise” interference during playing of your video and sound media would be minimal or even eliminated on cables with the gold coating.  Should you buy only the more expensive cables all the time?  If you live on the ocean with the salt air or plan on using this cable for the next hundred years or more, than the answer is “Yes.”  If not, the cheaper cables will work fine with the typical home installation for a number of years and your eyes and ears probably won’t tell the difference anyway.  Besides which, for the $100 cable, you can buy five of the cheaper ones and have spares around for when they are needed!



Are they really this ignorant?

I’m referring to this YouTube Video called: “Uninformed Protester Says Obama Is Not Raising Taxes“.  Is it just that some lazy protestors choose to repeat falsehoods they hear as fact or is it just because they are too stupid or unwilling to verify the facts in the first place? Maybe they want to spread falsehoods in the hopes that some others will accept their lies statements as fact, as in the recent notoriety of one Oregon school teacher’s website carrying out ongoing verbal (and since proven false) attacks against The Tea Party. The more irrational the times, the more irrational the people*.


* Quoted from Dennis C. Marsh

An addendum to the last post

In addition to my last post I’ve had a further request concerning exhaust fans, both range hood and bathroom. Maintenance on a range hood consists of the obvious, turn off the circuit breaker and than wash/wipe down as much of the underside of the hood that is accessible. Don’t forget to do the outside (the topside) daily or monthly with the underside as well. While I’m at it, don’t oversize the wattage of the light bulb when you need to replace it. Only use what is specified on the Maximum Wattage Label and no more, the wiring won’t handle it long or safely. If no label, then err on the safe side and go with a 40 watt bulb as this is typical for range hoods.

Bathroom exhaust fans should be cleaned annually at a minimum. This also involves turning off the circuit, then typically two or four screws and one electrical plug from the motor. Two if you have a heat lamp. If you can’t remove the fan blade easily from the motor, then using a damp but not dripping rag, gently wipe clean the fan blade. Using a “real soft” bristle paintbrush gently “sweep” clean the motor itself. This includes the motor shaft, the coil windings, etc. Don’t get the paper cover on the motor windings wet as this could cause it to dissolve or loosen, not to mention electrical problems from shorting out. Let them dry thoroughly before reinstallation. Now turn your attention to the fan housing in the ceiling and using the paintbrush again, along with the soft bristle attachment connected to your vacuum cleaner, do a complete cleaning of the interior of the housing. Keep in mind that with hot showers and normal dust found in the air, the alternating layers of condensation and dust accumulates and when dry can set up hard as concrete! Then you need to also look to a putty knife or scraper of sorts to break this “crust” loose to complete your cleaning job. Don’t forget to let dry completely, reassemble and turn back on the circuit breaker. Well, now you’re done! Until next year. Now on to the fridge.


When should I change the smoke detector?

To answer this question, first I must ask you one. Have you been cleaning yours at least annually? This is usually done with a vacuum cleaner with the soft bristle attachment. If you don’t, the dust will accumulate to the point that you will get false alarms. With this in mind, now I’ll answer your question. I make it a habit of replacing battery and hard-wired smoke detectors in every residence when I first move into it and a maximum of every ten years after that I’ll change them again. That is a maximum, sometimes I will change them in as little as every five years. This also includes Carbon monoxide detectors and all the fire extinguishers in the home. As for electrical outlets, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), dimmers and switches, also when I first move in and then as needed. Such as when they fail, break, wear out or are being upgraded as in a remodel. This answer your question? 


What’s the best light for reading?

“What is the best light for reading?” She asked. Thinking of my “standard” answer for many years as an electrician, I would normally have said, “Incandescent light bulbs.” But in recent years flourescents have advanced in many ways. They now have many “colors” of the light spectrum, along with different wattages and multiple configurations. Useful for floodlighting, spotlighting, striplighting, general illumination, accents and yes, even reading. Keep in mind this isn’t all that’s available either. There are also halogen and other types of low-voltage lighting available as well. Regarding the latter, I’m sure you have seen the familar halogen “desk lights” popular for the last few years as an example. For fluorescent, consider viewing what’s available at your local lighting store and while you’re at it, remember to buy your spare light bulbs there also. Don’t buy light bulbs at the grocery store. Why? Do you buy your groceries at the lighting store? The light bulbs sold in the check-out lane at the local store can have a markup of  1,000 per cent! So buy them from the lighting store to get the best price and while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the other options available for your lighting needs.