electrical for greenhouse and garden

Electrical for Greenhouses & Gardens

Does Your Garden or Greenhouse Need Electricity?

Boost your plant growth during colder months with an electrically outfitted greenhouse and garden. Grocery prices aren’t getting lower anytime soon – that’s why utilizing a greenhouse and garden can be a worthwhile investment. 

Greenhouses can range from small sheds to industrial-sized buildings, and a basic greenhouse can work great for anyone looking to give their plants a healthy boost. 

While a greenhouse can work without electricity, you can greatly improve your yield with a well-functioning electrical system. 

Installing a garden electrical junction box can also make it much easier to power lawn mowers and hedge trimmers, along with providing power to outdoor garden lights and water features

Does Your Greenhouse & Garden Need Electricity?

Just like most things home-related, the answer to this question depends entirely on what you need your greenhouse and garden to do. 

Using electricity in a greenhouse can be helpful for tropical plants, as well as many kinds of temperate plants that need protection from the winter cold.  Lighting and heating in greenhouses are also essential for rooting cuttings and germinating plants. 

Before you decide to power your greenhouse and garden, ask yourself:

  • What do I want to use my greenhouse and garden for?
  • Do I need to extend the growing season?
  • Do my plants need to be kept frost-free?
  • Does the operating cost outweigh the value of produce my plants will provide?

While there are a variety of options to heat and light your greenhouse and garden, electricity is the best option. Unlike natural gas or liquid gas/oil, it’s versatile, easy to control, and allows you to use various types of equipment.

Why should you avoid using natural gas or liquid gas/oil?

  • Gas and oil are combustible
  • Creates high levels of gasses and condensation
  • Higher loss in heat and energy
  • Failure to remove toxic gasses can be harmful to you and your plants
  • Costs more to install and maintain

With the price of gas, using electricity in your greenhouse and garden is the most cost-efficient route. 

How To Run Electricity To Your Greenhouse & Garden

Unless you’re an electrician, always hire a professional to wire your greenhouse and garden. Hiring a professional will ensure that your wiring is up to regulatory standards, otherwise, insurance companies could refuse to cover you in the event of a claim. 

Having a power supply isolated in the greenhouse and garden can make it much easier to switch power on and off, rather than having to go back and forth to your main panel. This can be achieved with an underground conduit. 

Your power supply should be fitted with safety devices that will allow you to disconnect the power from the system in case the supply cable gets damaged or overloaded. 

Typically, powering your greenhouse and other garden appliances can be done one of two ways:

  • Installing a circuit breaker and wire each of the appliances into separate breakers
  • Setting up a number of waterproofed, fused power sockets to plug appliances into

Installing 110V and 220V outlets with the equivalent amperage of that needed to supply a normal-sized room should be enough to cover your needs. It’s best to add as many outlets as you can because it can be more of a hassle to install them later. 

The last thing you’ll want is an out-of-reach outlet while you’re gardening! That’s why it’s important to hire a professional to do the job right because they’ll know exactly how much electricity you’ll need and where.

Maintain A Steady Temperature For Your Plants

Temperature control is essential if you want your greenhouse to be successful. 

It’s worthwhile to consider these 3 forms of greenhouse heating:

  1. General heating

To achieve frost-free conditions, a thermostat-controlled fan heater set to an ambient temperature can work great.

The same heater can pull double duty during the summer months by turning off the heating element and operating as a fan only. 

Adequate ventilation of fresh air and reducing humidity can help your plants to avoid growing mold and fungi.

  1. Bottom heat

Installing a thermostat-controlled heated bench or mat can create a perfect temperature for rooting cuttings or germinating seeds. 

While you can do it yourself and construct your own beds, there are premade beds available to buy. 

  1. High-level heating

When higher temperatures are needed, use a thermostat-controlled propagator and manually adjust it to your desired temperature.

It’s important to note that all of your plugs should be waterproofed. A professional electrician will make sure of that. 

Another thing to keep in mind is installing insulation into your greenhouse. With a home or commercial building, single-pane windows can cost you in energy bills. The same goes for a greenhouse.

Installing a lining of bubble plastic or cellophane inside of the roof and walls will reduce heat loss and save you from costly energy bills. 

Find Your Light Solutions For Plant Growth

Plants need light to germinate, but natural light in your greenhouse can be lost if you have fitted insulation. An electrical light system within your greenhouse will counteract the loss of natural light and encourage plant growth.

For greenhouse lighting, fluorescent lights designed for damp conditions can be used. Fitting time-controlled fluorescent lights can supplement poor natural light during the winter months. This can be achieved with a simple adaptor that fits into a wall socket. 

With all of this heating and lighting being used, how can you avoid a spike in energy costs?

Grow lights are a perfect solution for your greenhouse. Energy-efficient LED lights will operate cooler than regular lights and guard against leaf burn on your plants. With its low heat emission and low energy consumption, investing in grow lights will help save you from costly energy bills. 

Alternatively, a light control system could reduce electrical costs by 33%. 

More Benefits of Installing Electricity In Your Garden:

Installing electricity in your garden can be beneficial in all seasons as you can power:

  • Automatic watering systems
  • Any accessories that need a good power supply to run
  • Garden lights to create a cozy atmosphere and provide a visual aid when using the garden at night

 

While there are temporary solutions available, installing permanent electricity is a longer-lasting solution to getting electricity to your greenhouse and garden. 

Gardening can be a big job. Having electricity available makes it that much more convenient. 

Kobalt Systems For All Your Garden Electrical Needs

Founded in 2015, Kobalt Systems offers expert full-service electrical, communications, and security services. 

Our professional team of highly trained master journeyman electricians offers cost-effective electrical solutions for your backyard. 

Contact us today about improving your gardening game, and so much more.

is my bathroom fan working

Is My Bathroom Fan Working Properly?

When to Replace or Upgrade Your Bathroom Fan

The bathroom is most likely the most humid room in your home. Because it’s the room where you and your family enjoy steamy showers, run cozy bubble baths and run the sinks for toothbrushing and face-washing, it’s easy to see why your bathroom would have the highest humidity level in your house.

If your bathroom is poorly ventilated, all this warm steam can cause excess moisture buildup. This extra moisture can cause:

  • Mold and mildew
  • Bad odours
  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Peeling paint or wallpaper
  • Lifting or splitting of laminated plywood vanities

In more extreme cases, this may cause structural damage by penetrating into your home’s drywall, attic insulation, and structural joists. 

Besides removing odours, the main purpose of bathroom ventilation is to remove all that extra moisture from the bathroom before your furnishings and finishings suffer water damage.

But how do you know if your bathroom exhaust fan is really working properly? 

When Does Your Bathroom Exhaust Fan Need Servicing?

One of the biggest mistakes is thinking that just because your bathroom fan is making noise, that must mean it’s working. 

Is your bathroom exhaust fan actually pulling out humidity and moisture, or is it simply making noise?

If you’re finding excessive moisture on your mirrors and walls, this can be a major indicator that your bathroom ventilation isn’t working properly. 

If your bathroom exhaust fan is making a lot of noise, is slow to start, or is failing to remove moisture, your bathroom fan needs to be cleaned or replaced. 

It’s important to note that if your bathroom fan starts to smell like burnt plastic, this is a fire hazard. This means your fan is failing or there are problems with your electrical wires. This should be replaced immediately to avoid any bathroom fan fires. 

The best way to tell if your bathroom fan is in need of servicing or replacement is the “toilet paper test”. 

To do the toilet paper test:

  • Take 2 pieces of toilet paper
  • Turn on the fan and place the toilet paper against the fan cover
  • The fan should suck up the toilet paper and stay attached to the fan
  • If not, your bathroom exhaust fan isn’t working efficiently

Typically, your bathroom ventilation should be cleaned at least 1 or 2 times a year. If you keep up with routine cleaning and maintenance, your bathroom fan can last up to 10 years or more. 

It’s possible to clean your bathroom fan yourself. But for a more thorough cleaning, it’s recommended that you hire professionals.

How to Clean Your Bathroom Fan

A quick inspection and cleaning may be the solution to the poor ventilation in your bathroom. 

How to clean your bathroom exhaust fan:

  • Shut off your electrical circuit to your bathroom to avoid shock
  • Remove your bathroom fan cover
  • Use a damp cloth, or an upholstery brush or crevice tool on your vacuum
  • Remove any dust, cobwebs, and other debris from the fan and housing
  • Replace your bathroom fan cover
  • Turn your electrical circuit back on

While it is possible to remove the motor and clean it as well, it’s highly recommended that you leave that to the pros.

Once you have completed these cleaning steps, try the toilet paper test again. If it holds this time, your bathroom exhaust fan is working efficiently.

If not, it’s time to replace your bathroom ventilation. 

What should you consider before upgrading?

Airflow Rates For Your Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Airflow rate is an important factor when considering a new bathroom fan. 

Air movement is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). This is the standard measurement of fan airflow in a bathroom. 

According to the Home Ventilating Institute, following proper guidelines will ensure efficient ventilation. 

  • For bathrooms under 100 square feet, the basic rule is to exhaust at least one CFM (cubic foot per minute) for every square foot of the bathroom area. 

For example, an 8’x10’ bathroom (80 square feet) would require a minimum of 80 CFM. 

  • For bathrooms that are over 100 square feet, the calculations are based not on square footage, but on the number and type of fixtures in the bathroom. 

Consider an allowance of 50 CFM for each standard toilet, bathtub, and shower. 

More importantly, you should allow 100 CFM for whirlpools and hot tubs because these generate the highest levels of humidity. 

Besides finding the right airflow for the right space, what else should you look for?

Finding the Right Noise Level

Sound levels in bathroom fans are rated in sones, not decibels. The sones rating is a measurement of how sound is perceived by the listener.

The lower the rating, the quieter your fan will be. If the bathroom fan doesn’t carry an HVI rating, chances are the fan will be noisy. 

Typically, a good sone rating is 1.5 or lower. But it’s important to note that if the level of noise is too quiet, you may forget that it’s on!

Always look for that “Energy Star” rating to ensure energy savings and superior efficiency with far less noise. 

Basically, two of the most important features of a bathroom exhaust fan are quietness and removing moisture and odours. Now that you have a good idea of what you need, you have some choices between models and innovative features for your new bathroom fan.

Features of Modern Bathroom Ventilation

Typically, bathroom fans vent out through a duct running up to the roof.

Choices of bathroom fans include:

  • Simple box fans that are installed in the ceiling
  • Combination bathroom fan/light fixtures
  • Combination bathroom fan/light/heater fixtures
  • Wall-mounted bathroom fans to avoid much ductwork

Bathroom exhaust fans come in a variety of selections, depending on your style and needs. 

Additional features of modern bathroom exhaust fans include:

  • A timer switch
  • A nightlight
  • A humidity sensor
  • A motion sensor
  • Adjustable fan speeds
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • A speaker to play music
  • Thermal heat protection

There are also fan/light fixtures available with decorative globes and finishes to suit any bathroom style. 

Keep Your Bathroom Space Free From Moisture

Unless your bathroom fan motor stops working entirely, it can be difficult to know whether or not your fan is pulling moisture out of the bathroom.

If your mirror is steamed up after a shower, or if there’s a buildup of condensation on your bathroom walls and ceiling, it may be time to service or upgrade your bathroom ventilation. 

Ideally, you should only have to run your bathroom fan for about 20 minutes after a shower. If you’re finding there’s still excessive moisture in your bathroom, it’s time to contact the professionals. 

Kobalt Systems offers expert full-service electrical, communications, and security services. Founded in 2015, our professional team of highly-trained master journeyman electricians offers the most cost-effective solutions for your home or property. Contact us today about replacing your bathroom ventilation, and so much more.

Electric Vehicle Charger

Electric Vehicle Chargers for Homes

What You Need to Know About Electric Car Charger Installation at Your Home

Electric cars are becoming commonplace, and more homeowners are opting to have electric vehicle chargers installed at their homes. According to Stats Canada and the Toronto Star, there’s an estimated 200,000 electric and hybrid vehicles on the road in Canada as of December 2021.  

That number is only predicted to rise, as gas prices soar year over year and the BC Government offers tantalizing rebates for home EV charging stations as well as the purchase of a new electric battery powered vehicle, hybrid vehicle, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. There’s also a rebate for replacing a highly polluting vehicle with a new or used electric vehicle. This means that a new electric or hybrid passenger vehicle could end up being a very sound financial investment. 

In addition to the incentives offered by the BC Government, there’s also the Federal electric car rebate for Canada which offers point of sale rebates of up to $5000 for a purchased or leased electric vehicle. The CleanBC rebate program is also offering a $350 rebate on the installation of eligible Level 2 EV charger models.

Do I Really Need an Electric Vehicle Charger at Home?

EV chargers are being added across the country and the infrastructure is changing, especially as the Canadian Government offers incentives to large corporations like 7-Eleven to have EV chargers installed. However, there are still not enough EV chargers to ensure that you can head out in your electric vehicle and know for sure that you’ll be able to find an electric vehicle charger on your way. What’s more, you’ll need to figure out which one of several apps to use to charge your car.

The speed and charge time can also vary with different EV charging stations. If you haven’t planned your trip to a T, you could very well be stuck 4-6 hours waiting for your vehicle to charge at a level 2 charger. What if there’s a line and you want to be able to drive to another station, but don’t have enough juice to make it? You’re stuck waiting, potentially a very long time. Not so convenient.

Until hyper speed electric vehicle chargers become widely available, fully charging is a bit of an event. Some Level 2 and 3 charging stations are also charging for use now. Why pay a third party for electricity when you can charge your car at home, on your terms? It’s much simpler than you may think.

What are Level 1, 2 and 3 Chargers?

Level 1 EV chargers 

Perfect for daily drivers that don’t need to cover a large range. Think to and from work, to the grocery store, school drop off, etc. This is the slowest charger that works on a standard 120-volt outlet. Level 1 EV chargers work very well for hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles with small batteries. These generally come with the vehicle and are plug and play, meaning installation isn’t needed unless you need an outlet added or moved. 

Level 1 chargers take around 16 hours to replenish an empty battery and offer 0-16 kilometres per hour of charge time.

Level 2 EV chargers 

The next step up and are the chargers most often used in public spaces like shopping malls and workplaces. They are also highly suited for residential use because they work on 208-volt to 240-volt power supply. Level 2 charges vehicles, including Teslas, much faster than Level 1, charging an empty battery overnight. Level 2 at 40 amps is the sweet spot for most homeowners because a 40-amp charge is plenty without requiring significant electrical upgrades, heavier wiring and hardwiring the charger.

Level 2 chargers take between 6 and 8 hours to fully charge an empty battery and offer 16-32 kilometres per hour of charge time.

Level 3 EV chargers

Offer the fastest charging (think Tesla Superchargers, DC Fast Chargers or CHAdeMO Chargers) with a minimum requirement of 400 volts. These are not often seen in residential installations because the cost of the charger and installation (not to mention the required electrical upgrade, if possible) can often exceed the cost of the electrical vehicle!

Level 3 chargers take only 30 minutes to charge a battery to 80% and in just 10 minutes it offers 65-80 kilometres of range.

Electric Car Charging Station for Home – What are the Benefits?

Having an electric vehicle charger at home is extremely convenient

It’s like when you plug your smartphone in before you go to bed. You plug it in, knowing that it’ll be fully charged and ready for another busy day tomorrow. The same goes for your vehicle. You can keep a basic daily charging schedule. You can plug it in when you get home from work and let the battery recharge for your morning commute. You never have to worry about running out of gas or having to scout out a charging station when your battery level drops lower than you’d planned. Of course, since your battery charges while you’re at home living your life, you’re not stuck waiting in a public space for your vehicle to be ready to drive again. Also, most electric vehicles have a proprietary app that let you monitor battery usage.

Having an EV Charger at Home Can Protect Your Battery

When you charge your batteries (whether it’s your laptop, your phone, tablet, or any other device) partially for an extended period of time, the battery is eventually not going to be able to hold a charge well. As with a combustion engine, if you’re putting in $10 of gas at a time, your engine isn’t going to be too happy with you. If you’re visiting public charging stations and only charging for long enough to drive the range you need, the battery in your EV can become less efficient and have a shorter life span. When you can charge your vehicle in full every time, your battery will charge more effectively and more efficiently.

Having an EV Charger at Home is Economical

We know that having a whole other electrical component installed can seem daunting. However, being able to pay a flat fee (for installation) and never again pay for a charging station will save quite a bit in the long run. You’re using the same power source that runs your home appliances, so your bill may increase a little bit. This is to be expected and can be remedied by finding new ways to lower your cost of power and energy consumption. One simple way to save is to let your EV charge overnight and take advantage of off-peak utility pricing.

There are many ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint and energy consumption and it can often be as simple as making your home work smarter, with smart thermostats, smart lighting, Energy Star appliances and more. 

At Kobalt Systems, we have a whole laundry list of energy saving solutions to help offset any spikes in power consumption caused by charging your EV at home. Having an EV charger and having other energy saving solutions is also great for your home’s resale value.

Having an EV Charger at Home is Safer

You get to charge your vehicle in the privacy of your property instead of in the public eye in a parking lot, exposed to potential vandalism, theft, poor weather and more. The actual charging process is completely safe too, since our master electricians will recommend the most suitable EV charger for your home, solve any issues that could prevent having enough voltage for a charger, complete the installation and of course, educate you on how to use it safely and efficiently.  We can recommend the level of charger best suited to your needs. In most cases, we recommend level 2 EV chargers for residential use. These need a 240-volt circuit, which is the same voltage level needed to run the chest freezer in your garage.

How Much Does It Cost to Have an Electric Car Charger Installed at Home?

The cost for installation will vary depending on the charger you need, what needs to be done, where the charger is to be installed and whether a dedicated circuit is required. It can also depend on whether your home’s electrical service needs to be upgraded. 

Generally, a charger installation includes the charger, materials, permit and labour. For many homeowners, we can install the EV charger directly in the garage. This is the easiest and most cost-effective way. 

There are a few things that determine the individual pricing, including where the electrical panel is located, the type of breakers your electrical panel requires and where you’d like the charger to be installed. The length of cable needed will also influence the overall cost, since the cable is very expensive. 

Can my Electrical Service Handle an EV Charger?

To determine whether or not you will need an electrical upgrade, our experts can do an electrical load calculation and take into account the current and future power requirements for your home.

What Brands of EV Chargers Can Be Installed? What Type Should I Buy?

At Kobalt Systems, we sell Flo brand EV chargers with a universal J-plug. These level 2 chargers are Canadian made and built to withstand the elements and wear and tear. 

We will also install Grizzl-E or Tesla EV chargers that you have purchased yourself. The Flo and Grizzly brands can now be used with adapters to charge Tesla vehicles. As well, Tesla has now added an adapter to be able to charge other electric vehicles, so there are some really great options out there. 

Can an EV Charger Charge Two Cars at Once?

If you own more than one EV, you can charge two cars at the same time as long as you have a charging station with more than one plug. Grizzl-E offers a great dual charging station for home use, with “intelligent power sharing.” 

Flo offers the Flo Home X5, which allows you to add a second EV charging station on the same breaker. However, you will always need to take power consumption into account. No two installations are exactly alike, so if dual charging is your goal, this is something we’d be happy to discuss with you.

Contact Kobalt Systems in Victoria BC For All Your EV Charger Needs

When you’ve made the investment of switching to an electric vehicle, it makes a lot of sense to complete the package with an EV charging outlet for your home. This will eliminate time spent waiting in line for public chargers, time spent waiting for your vehicle to charge and eliminate any fees for charging, depending on which electric vehicle charger you’ve opted to use. 

When you factor in the government rebates off the equipment and installation of an EV charger, it’s well worth this initial investment to create your own EV charging station right at home.

An electric vehicle charger is an important investment for your home and for your new vehicle. If you’re considering adding an electric vehicle charger to your home, contact us today. Our team of experienced electricians at Kobalt Systems will be happy to take care of everything needed for your new electric vehicle charger.

residential electrical

Designing a Residential Electrical System with Room for Future Growth

Future-Proof Your Residential Electrical System for Safety and Optimal Performance

 

Residential electrical systems should always be designed to account for future growth. This is because when you design your electrical system, you are also planning your family’s needs for the next 5-10 years.

Most older homes start with 100 amps. In many homes, this doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether you’re adding more appliances or smart devices, your residential electrical usage will inevitably increase as your family grows and changes. Newer, average-sized family homes are often designed with a full 200-amp system to accommodate any future changes.  

Why Would My Home Need an Electrical Service Upgrade?

Adding a suite is a popular change for many homeowners. Whether it’s a mortgage helper or a space for your in-laws, the addition of a suite can really strain an already cramped electrical system. With the addition of a suite comes appliances, like an electric hot water tank, electric washing machines and dryers, electric ovens and electric dishwashers. There will also be lighting, a tv or two, a computer or two and small appliances to consider. All these items draw from the main power source, so it’s easy to see how quickly a residential system can become overloaded.

This overload can (and will) cause the breaker to trip on a regular basis. You might start noticing that the breaker for your hood mount microwave is tripping when you use your hair dryer, or your bedroom lights turn off or flicker when the washing machine starts up. Not only is this frustrating for all occupants, an overloaded system and the resulting voltage drops can damage your valuable electronics and appliances. Major appliances should all be on their own dedicated circuit which should prevent breakers from tripping.

When your home needs a residential electrical service upgrade, it can be daunting. At Kobalt Systems, our journeymen electricians and other industry experts are here to make sure your residential electrical upgrade is done perfectly and professionally. We will work tirelessly to make the whole process as seamless as possible for you and your family.

Preparing for a Residential Electrical Service Upgrade 

We’ll make sure that your system meets all current codes, standards, and safety requirements. This includes making it compliant with the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). An example of this might be installing arc fault circuit breakers in your home’s breaker panel or installing GFCIs in bathrooms where water could potentially come into contact with an energized electrical device. If you own an older home, you will need to have any knob and tube or aluminum wiring or anything else out of code upgraded before work can proceed. This is because this type of wiring can’t handle increased loads. 

How Does Kobalt Systems Upgrade a Residential Electrical System?


We start by…

-Determining your wants and needs

When you contact us about an electrical upgrade, we’ll discuss in detail where branch circuits or receptacles should be added around the home. We’ll also work with you to map out where they should be located. If you’ve been finding that you’re using extension cords and multiple power strips, you’ll be much better off with a handful of new outlets. We can recommend where outlets may best suit your needs, depending on the appliances and items you want to use.

-Getting permits and upgrade requests

Once you’ve approved our estimate and are ready to schedule, we’ll make sure we have all the necessary permits and upgrade requests from the City of Victoria, the TSA (Technical Safety Authority) and BC Hydro. We’ll also arrange for a thorough inspection and sign off on the completed work.

– Adding a sub panel

First, we install a sub-panel in your basement or other infrequently used space. Sometimes electric panels will be installed in a garage, in a guest room or in the den. We will label the main breaker switch at the top of the sub panel as “main power.” In some cases, we may just install a larger panel. It will all depend on your specific needs and what will make more sense for your home.

– Rewiring the house

Yes, we are going to need to get into your walls. We try to be as minimally invasive as possible, but since your wiring is in your walls, we need to open the walls in the areas that require upgrading. We recommend having your electrical system upgraded during a renovation. If you’ve planned to upgrade your kitchen, for instance, it will already be in shambles. Perfect time to get this job done! 

Some homeowners opt to add on their desired renovation after they’ve decided to upgrade their electrical service. They figure, the walls are opened, let’s go for it. A renovation combined with electrical service upgrade is a really great way to minimize disruptions while increasing the value of your home. 

– Distributing wiring to the rooms

Depending on what you’ve requested and what we’ve mapped out, the new wiring will be distributed to the rooms of your home and connected to new and existing switches, outlets and fixtures. If you’re working from home these days, you might want additional outlets for extra computers, lamps, modems and more. Rather than cram all these devices into the rooms’ only two outlets, we can do it up right with strategically placed outlets.

How Much Does a Residential Electrical System Upgrade Cost?

Because a residential electrical system upgrade is an undertaking involving time for labour, tools, construction and careful planning, the cost starts at a low of about $3,000 and can reach $20,000 or more. 

The cost will depend on the scope of the project, whether any attics or crawl spaces are involved, or if it’s just a much larger than average home. 

The good news is that Kobalt Systems offers a way to finance your electrical wiring upgrade through FinanceIt. With ZERO down and options for monthly or bi-weekly payments, you can have these important electrical upgrades taken care of sooner than you think.

Is your home struggling to keep up with your family’s increased demand on the electricity supply? Do you experience any of the following?

  • Circuit breakers tripping or fuses blowing
  • Flickering or dimming lights when another appliance is turned on
  • Outlets or switches are warm or sparking
  • You need to keep adding more power bars or extension cords because there aren’t enough outlets

If you can relate to any of these, give our team at Kobalt Systems a call at (250) 213-3788 or send us an email any time. Our fully licensed and ticketed team serves Victoria and the Capital Region as well as southern Vancouver Island. We’ll be happy to evaluate your home’s electrical needs and get you set up for future growth. 

digital lighting control system

The Benefits of Digital Lighting Control Systems

How Modern Lighting Control Systems Can Improve Employee Morale and Productivity

 In the world of business when you’re trying to run a company or get things off the ground, custom lighting may not be at the top of the list of priorities. However, proper lighting holds more value for your business than you might realize, and it is something to take into careful consideration. 

Studies have shown that the right lighting control system can hold many benefits, particularly for your employees and teams. Read on, and we’ll tell you all about these systems and why you should get one installed.

What Is a Digital Lighting Control System?

A lighting control system is a smart, network-based control system that allows your lights to be managed via communication between various system inputs and outputs. This is done using one or more central control devices. They are mainly used for indoor and outdoor lighting of commercial and industrial buildings, but can also be used for residential homes as well. 

These systems help to ensure that the right amount of light is used when and where it’s needed. Due to their energy-saving nature, they are sometimes also referred to as Smart Lighting.

So, simply put, a basic commercial lighting control system will enable the user(s) to determine the light output, turn on the light in specific areas when or where it’s needed, and turn them off when no one’s there anymore. But they can also be more technical than that! 

Technology has now advanced to where you can control details such as the exact colour of the light for a specified space, so you can have one setting in the break room and a completely different one for the working area with computers. You can also set your lighting to automatically dim or turn off when an area is unoccupied.

Not to mention you can monitor your energy usage, provide performance reports, and set off alarms if levels aren’t correct, among other settings. It can be completely customized!

Why are Digital Lighting Control Systems Important? 

Not only do digital lighting control systems conserve energy and save money by only being used when they’re needed, but it turns out that the right lighting can actually boost the productivity of your employees, too.

According to Buildings.com, Purdue University and JLL conducted a two-year study that looked into the effects of customizable indoor environment conditions.

First, the researchers installed sensors in the workplace of study that measured the temperature, light level, and occupant actions as the employees/participants went about their eight-hour day.

The participants were split into two separate groups: one used Purdue-designed customizable desktop computer controls that gave them individual control of the light and temperature, and the other group was left with the typical thermostat and light switches mounted on the wall.

The study found that the first group, who were given the customizable controls on their laptops or computers, were more engaged than the second group with the standard controls. They relied more on natural daylight than artificial lighting, and with the temperature and lighting just as they needed, they also reported stronger levels of productivity and performed better in cognitive tests than the other group.

It’s a fascinating study, and a simple search online will lead you to many other articles that study this topic and back the claim, such as this article from FacilityManagement.com, and the work of Jennifer Veitch. Ultimately, a customizable lighting control system is crucial and a worthwhile investment, and a win-win for everybody involved. Who doesn’t want that?

Other Benefits of Digital Lighting Control Systems

In case you’re not quite convinced, here are some other benefits of a control system that you might not have thought about:

  1. Increased safety. Think of a bathroom that switches on the lights when you open the door and walk in, allowing you to see the large puddle of water on the floor and prevent you from slipping. Appropriate lighting around computers can also help prevent vision damage, migraines and headaches, and improve overall mental health and morale.
  2. Change the appearance of a space. Adjusting your lighting can change the way a room looks and feels, change the atmosphere, reduce glare and overall, match the chosen functions of the space. 
  3. Enhanced efficiency with LED lighting. Most commercial lighting systems use LED, which is much more energy-efficient. This can lead to a 60% reduction in electrical overhead costs for medium-to-large size businesses, and a 30% decrease in lighting costs.
  4. Increased security in the workplace environment. This is particularly noteworthy if you’re in a high-crime area. Automated lighting is proven to deter thieves, and prevent other crimes from happening. A thief won’t want to be identified when the light suddenly turns on above them!
  5. They’re flexible to use with very user-friendly controls. A digital lighting control system might seem to be a hefty undertaking, but it is worthwhile when you consider the positive impact it will have on your employees and the business overall. It’s simple to adjust the lighting to your preferences, just turn the lights ON and OFF with a switch or adjust light up and down using a dimmer. 

If you’re looking to install a commercial lighting system for your business, contact us today at Kobalt Systems. We are your electrical and lighting experts in Victoria, BC, and we offer fast and friendly service with top-tier products. Learn more about us and check out our services page to see what we have to offer, or you can call us directly at 250-213-3788.

residential exterior lighting for deck

Choosing the Right Exterior Lighting and Motion Sensors/Timers for Your Home

Outdoor Lighting is an Integral Part of Home Security

Exterior lighting is an important aspect of the design of any building. Lighting not only enhances a property’s appearance but also its security. Outdoor lighting is a key element in making the building look welcoming. It also plays a significant role in deterring theft and ensuring safety for your home and family. At Kobalt Systems, our experienced exterior lighting installers are also journeymen electricians specialized in installing:

  • Landscape Lighting
  • Stair and Pathway Safety Lighting
  • Pool and Hot Tub Deck Lighting
  • Motion Sensor Lighting 
  • Garden Shed Lighting
  • Outdoor Kitchen & Barbecue Lighting

In this post, we’ll explore the different kinds of exterior lighting options that are available and explain why the right outdoor lighting system can make all the difference.

Active and Passive Outdoor Lighting

Did you know that there are two types of occupancy sensors?  

Passive Outdoor Lighting

The most common kind of motion sensor lighting is passive. These passive exterior lights are ones that “see” motion by detecting changes in infrared energy. When a sensor that’s attached to an outdoor lighting fixture senses a change in the environment and its temperature, it triggers the light to turn on. Warmer objects like animals, people, and cars are particularly easy to detect this way. Most of us are familiar with this type of lighting fixture.

Active Outdoor Lighting

Active motion detectors have a transmitter and receiver. They measure motion by detecting the amount of sound or radiation reflected back to the receiver. A transducer within the sensor acts as a sort of meeting point for the signal, and this is where the pulse is sent off and the echo is received back.

Where Should I Put Motion Lights in My Yard?

Where your motion lights are installed will depend on which areas you want to secure and the design of your home. It’s typically best to mount motion sensor lights six to ten feet above the ground, positioned so movement will be picked up across the sensitivity zone instead of directly at the detector. 

For instance, you could have the sensitivity zone cover a portion of your front lawn to have intruders detected long before they get to an entry point of the house. 

Exterior motion lights are most effective when they are positioned to cover the walkway(s) leading up to your front or back door, and your driveway. You want those lights to come on when you arrive home at night so you’re not going from your vehicle to your house in the dark. It’s also a good idea to light up your decks or patio, and any other potentially unsafe locations, such as an outdoor stairway or a swimming pool.

To be extra secure, we recommend placing a motion light at every approach/entrance to your home, whether it be your fence gates, dark corners of your lawns, or even around bushes and trees. Proper outdoor lighting is one of the best and most inexpensive ways to discourage intruders.

Motion Detectors vs. Timers

There are two options for your exterior lighting: motion detectors and lights on timers set to go on at intervals you choose. Both have their advantages, but here we’ll break it down into a pros and cons list for both.

Pros for motion sensors:

  • Highly energy efficient. They only turn on when needed, so there’s no need to go and turn off the lights before you go to bed.
  • Hands-free.
  • Easy deterrent against crime. An intrusion is far less likely to occur or continue when all the lights suddenly pop on.

Cons for motion sensors:

  • Lack of control.
  • If you have pets or there are animals nearby, you may notice your exterior lighting on a lot more than you had planned.

Pros for lighting timers:

  • Convenience. By setting your lighting to only be on for a certain amount of time and time of day, you’re wasting a lot less energy (and money!).
  • If your hours and schedule are consistent, this can make a big difference for efficiency and hands-free, worry-free lighting.
  • Safety. Setting your lighting to be on starting at dusk can give you a bit of peace of mind, and keep your home safer. 

Cons for lighting timers:

  • Not as energy-efficient. Lights may be on when nothing is happening and no one is outside, so they might not be needed.

Either of these options for security lights are very useful. Of course, LED lights are very energy efficient compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. When in doubt, you can always get the best of both worlds by setting up a variety of both motion-sensing lights and timed lights. 

Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Lights

These lights get their name, “dusk to dawn,” because they are placed in your yard or garden and turn on after the sun has set and turn off once it rises again in the morning. Along with the time-controlled and motion-activated lights, there are two other types of fixtures to make note of.

Photocell and solar outdoor lights

Photocell lights are ignited by the changing of natural light, meaning that they automatically change when daylight shifts to night. They also adjust when the nights get longer or shorter with the seasons. Some contain motion sensors, as well, so they sometimes count under that category.

Smart/connected outdoor lights

These are just like the time-controlled lights, as you can set the time you want them to turn on or off. The difference is that with smart lights you can control and schedule your exterior lighting with an app on your smartphone or other devices, like a smart home system. Smart lights can be controlled via Bluetooth or WiFi, so you can have complete control no matter where you are or what device you happen to have with you. All you need is the adjoining downloadable app. (This is also the case for smart light bulbs.)

Exterior Lights Provide Style and Security

By now, you probably have an idea of what kind of exterior lighting you want for your outdoor space. While security is your number one priority, the light fixture you choose can also add some extra style and curb appeal to your house, day or night. Depending on what light levels and light coverage you’d prefer, what power source you’d prefer to use, whether you’d like a built-in timer or smart functions to have complete control of your lights, there are many options for outdoor lighting.

Here at Kobalt Systems, we are experts in home lighting and smart technology. We can help you with the installation of a complete custom outdoor lighting system for your home in and around Victoria, BC. We also offer residential alarm systems with the option for indoor / outdoor security cameras, motion sensors, smart locks and more. No matter the size of the job, our team of highly trained professionals are here to help and we take pride in our integrity and expertise. Check out our reviews page to see what our clients are saying, then contact us today to get started on your innovative new exterior lighting project.

Home Security Add-Ons

Boost Your Home Security with Our Wide Selection of Innovative Features

In a previous post about home and business security, we discussed how important it is to keep your residential and commercial properties secure and walked you through the security packages that we offer.

Did you know that we also provide hardware add-ons that you can include in your residential security package? In addition to the basic cameras and motion detectors that we all know, these add-ons are great gadgets that will further protect your family and your possessions, and while they are affordable, they are worth the additional investment. Many of these are devices that you may not have considered before, so we’d like to walk you through them and tell you a bit about these products so you can get the most out of your residential security system.

1. Window and Door Sensor

Window & Door Sensor: Know when every entrance is open or closed

We’ve all been there. We left the house in a rush and thought to ourselves, “wait, did I close the door, or shut the window?” It’s easy to keep an eye on your home when you’re not there with a quick check on your home security app on your phone. One look and you’ll know if every entry point is open or closed.

2. Smart Thermostat

Remember that heatwave this summer? It was a struggle for many of us to keep our homes cool, and oftentimes a fan just won’t cut it. Or, as winter approaches, maybe we want to ensure that our house is warmed up for when we arrive home after a long day. In either case, the smart thermostat will allow you to control your home’s temperature from anywhere. (This is also a great relief for our pets in the summer while we’re at work!) 

3. Smart Lock

The smart lock will allow you to set up a code that you can use to provide access to your home while you’re away. Coded doors are a great solution if you have a friend, family member, or a neighbour who might require access to your home, or maybe even your shed in the backyard.

4. Smart Garage Door Opener

Garage_Door

Smart Garage Door Opener: Close your doors from anywhere and feel reassured

If you can’t remember whether you closed your garage door earlier, this door opener can do that for you, no matter where you are. With the click of a button, you can rest assured that your garage and your home are secure.

5. Motion Sensor

This handy gadget will detect activity around your home, and it will alert you whenever something suspicious comes around. So, when you hear a strange sound, you’ll know it’s not just you!

6. Glass Break Sensor

With this sensor, you’ll be alerted right away if a burglar attempts to break into your home by breaking or smashing any windows or glass. With this device and a security camera, you’ll be equipped to deter or even find the perpetrator and keep your home safe. This is a great option for securing sliding glass doors.

7. Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is one that many don’t think about, but it’s an important one. Carbon monoxide is an unseen hazard that can creep up in any home, and this carbon monoxide detector will protect you from that. This device will alert you if it detects any carbon monoxide in your home, so you don’t have to worry.

8. Flood Sensor 

This flood sensor will notify you of any emergencies that could result in damages to the property. You might consider putting one near your hot water tank to let you know if the tank started to leak or fail.

9. Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera

OutdoorCamera

Outdoor Wi-Fi Security Camera: Have a full view of your home

Have full range of view to the outside of your home with this little add-on. You’ll be able to see who is walking up to your door, such as the delivery person, or you can even check on the kids as they play outside on the driveway or the lawn.

10. Smart Smoke Sensor

Maybe the kids are baking or cooking something at home on the weekend or after school. This smart smoke sensor will help to give you some peace of mind, as you will get an alert as soon as any smoke is detected.

11. Slimline Wi-Fi Doorbell Camera

Not only will you be able to see who is at the door, but you also have the ability to have a two-way conversation from wherever you are. So, you can talk to the pizza or Amazon delivery person and tell them to leave your items wherever you wish!

12. Siren

With the siren, you’ll be able to hear the alarm from any room in the house—so you don’t have to worry about missing it if you’re in a certain part of the house, like the attic.

13. Touchscreen Security Panel

The touchstone security panel will allow you to easily control your security system and connected smart home devices, all in one spot. Now you don’t have to worry about complicated buttons or techie jargon when you’re in a rush or in an emergency.

14. Hardware Panel

This panel will connect your existing devices and sensors seamlessly. 


While this list contains many of our products, you can see our full list of available security add-ons and see what they look like by checking out our
products page.

Contact us today at Kobalt Systems, and we’ll be happy to get you started with a new residential security system and the add-ons you need for your home. Based in Victoria, BC, we have highly experienced staff who will provide top-quality service and make sure your system is properly set up and ready to go in no time. For more information, learn about our services or call us directly at (250) 213-3788

solar panel installation victoria bc

Solar Panel Installation Can Lead to Big Savings

Advantages of Installing a Solar Energy System


Solar energy is a great way to reduce your electricity bills. Installing solar panels on the roof of your home or business will allow you to generate free, clean and renewable power for use in your house. The savings from this are significant as it reduces your monthly bill by up to 70%! If you’re looking at ways to cut down on your electric costs, then solar could be an ideal solution. Here we look at how solar works, what benefits there are, and why people choose to install them.

Solar Energy Definition

What Is Solar Energy and How Does it Generate Power?

The sun provides us with all our energy needs – without its rays we would not survive. However, most of that energy comes in the form of heat rather than light which means that only around 5-10% of sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface. This leaves 90-95% of the available energy trapped within the atmosphere where it cannot reach ground level. The photovoltaic cells in solar panels can gather and store this energy for immediate or later use.

What Type of Solar Panel Do I Need?

It’s your choice. All solar panels are made up of tiny cells, called solar cells or photovoltaic cells. There are two main types of photovoltaic cells in solar panels: crystalline silicon and thin film PV. Crystalline silicon cells have been used since the 1970s and were originally developed for military purposes. They consist of a single layer of semiconductor material sandwiched between two conductive electrodes.

Thin film technology was introduced in the 1980s and uses multiple layers of different materials including metals, oxides, nitrides and polymers. Both technologies work using the same principle – when exposed to sunlight, electrons move from one electrode to another creating an electric current. Solar panels made of thin film PV are the most popular today, since they’re more economical and easier to install. However, with the lower cost comes a lower efficiency. To learn more, take a look at this excellent post on the types of solar panels at Solar Reviews.com

Why Do People Install Solar Panels on Their Homes or Businesses?

There are many reasons why people decide to invest in solar panel installations. Some may want to offset rising fuel prices while others see it as a long-term investment option. Whatever the reason, if you’re considering investing in solar, it pays to know exactly what you need to consider first. You should also take time to research the best options available and find out about any incentives offered by local authorities. Once you’ve decided to go ahead, it’s important to get quotes from several companies who offer solar installation services. 

How Much Can I Save By Having Solar Panels Installed?

Generally speaking, the return on investment is very good. Thanks to the Canada Greener Homes Grant, you could even be eligible for thousands of dollars in rebates for the purchase and installation of solar panels and energy-storing batteries. 

You could also be eligible for a rebate for improving the energy efficiency of your home through the Better Homes BC and Better Buildings BC programs when renovating or building a home or business. Renewable energy products are PST exempt too. Own a business? You could be eligible for tax credits as well. 

Best of all, you’ll see continued savings after installation, since BC Hydro will credit you when your energy production exceeds the amount of energy used. Combined with the use of smart home products, today’s solar panels go a long way towards creating a net-zero building that generates more power than it uses. 

Solar Panels Can Help Save on Home Maintenance Costs Too

Did you know that solar panels can increase the life expectancy of your roof? Roof replacement is a major project for many homeowners and one that comes with a high price tag. 

A longer life span for your roof can generate additional savings that many people don’t realize. In our opinion, it’s another tick mark for the “pros” column when you’re trying to decide whether to invest in solar. 

The reason is simple: UV rays degrade traditional roofing materials, so having the solar panels cover the roof and absorb the sun’s rays translates to a longer-lasting roof. If you absolutely can’t have solar panels mounted on your roof, you can still use a ground-mounted solution, as directed by a geotechnical specialist and photovoltaic technician, who can advise on the optimal placement to take advantage of all that clean energy.

Will My Solar Panels Work Even When It’s Not Sunny?

The amount of energy produced depends on factors like location, weather conditions and other variables. With the changes in our climate in Victoria BC and increased hours of summer sunshine, it’s a good idea to start harnessing all that solar energy to power your home or business. Even if it’s cloudy, your solar panels will still be working hard for you. 

Today’s solar panels are up to 3x more effective than earlier models and have much better low-light performance than they used to. On a rainy Victoria day, you can expect about 20% of peak output, which is just fine when you have stored solar energy as well. This 20% can drastically reduce your energy consumption and your average cost on your electric bills. 

Solar panel installation at your home or business is a smart economical decision, provided you have the right conditions and adequate sunlight. Not sure if you want to go full-tilt on a whole-home solar power set up? Some of our clients have chosen to use solar energy to heat their pools and hot tubs, reducing the impact these creature comforts have on their energy bills. As highly experienced electricians, we can take care of the installation of your solar panels, so you can start saving on your energy bills immediately. For more information, email Kobalt Systems or call us at (250) 213 – 3788.

home and business security systems

Is Now the Time to Rethink Your Home or Commercial Security Setup?

Security Systems Provide Protection and Peace of Mind in One Package

One of the pride and joys of our business is our advanced security systems that we offer for local residential and commercial properties. We believe that a home is a precious place where you and your family should feel safe and relaxed, and it should be protected by only the best! The same can apply to one’s business, too. As a small business ourselves, we know how hard you’ve worked to build your business from the ground up – no matter how big or small it may be. A strong security system is a smart investment to protect what you’ve grown and to stay in control, even if you’re miles away.

We are partnered with Alarm.com to offer the best and most trusted service in the industry, so you can trust that you’ll be getting a top-quality system installed by one of our friendly and professional technicians.

Let’s start with the residential security system. Here are some of the features:

Indoor and Outdoor Home Security Video Monitoring

One of the prime features included in our home security system is video surveillance for outside and inside your home.

This enables you to see exactly who is ringing your doorbell, and provides you with custom alerts to focus on people, vehicles and animals, and also specific areas of your property. You only have to get alerts for what you want. You can see when your kids or family members get home, or even check in remotely with a video call through your phone or tablet.

It also allows you to not only see but talk to any visitors at your door, so you can allow them access and unlock the front door for them through your phone’s app. A very handy feature for when keys might go missing, or you want a delivery brought inside.

Hear something outside in the night? You’ll be able to see if it’s an intruder or simply a raccoon looking for scraps.

A Security System with Easy Home Automation

Other features include easy home automation that you can control no matter where you are. Not only can our system provide video surveillance and lock control, but you can also control temperature settings, lighting, fire safety controls, and water usage/protection. So you can rest assured that your home is always running smoothly and operating at its safest, most environmentally friendly (and cost-effective) levels.

A Unique, Stress-Free Home Security System

You may be thinking that this is a system that involves multiple apps and complicated systems that are hard work to stay on top of, but we have good news for you! Our custom home security system makes it simple with an easy, all-in-one system that is a breeze to control and does all the monitoring for you, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Along with your control panel, the Alarm.com app is all you need to set your controls; and no matter how advanced you want to get, it always remains uncomplicated and straightforward to use.

In the event of an emergency, your monitoring service will alert your local police, fire department, and/or an ambulance. It can also detect smoke and carbon dioxide levels, and will alert you if they become unsafe.


Ok, so that’s some of the features of our home security system. Now, let’s talk about a commercial security system for your business.

Why Consider a Business Security System?

The better question is why wouldn’t you? A security system will not only protect you and your staff from potential dangers such as theft and other customer incidents, but you’ll be able to monitor and control your settings from wherever you are, just like the residential systems. By being able to manage your settings at all times, you’ll actually be saving costs in addition to keeping an eye on your business.

Commercial-Grade Systems for Multiple Locations

Our commercial security systems will grow along with you, so if you have multiple locations or you’re a larger corporation, never fear. We have custom plans for both small business and larger scale companies. You’ll be able to view the cameras for all your locations at once, and you’ll be able to control the settings for each of them on the Enterprise Dashboard, which you can access on either your app or web dashboard. Once there you can manage everything from system status and video feeds, to employee access and temperature monitoring.

Secure Platform

Our alarm systems have advanced technology that updates software automatically, and provides end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication. Therefore, you can trust that the system is completely secure.

Costs for Residential / Commercial Security Systems

The price is dependant on the size and scale of your home or business, and whether or not you decide to enter into a contract with us—but you can check out both our plans and pricing and services page to get an estimate. We’ll be able to give you an exact quote during a consultation, and we can work with you to establish a payment plan that works for you.


Hopefully, this has inspired you to get the ball rolling and set up a security system for your home or business. It may seem like a costly investment, but so was your business, and it’s worth it to know that your loved ones and your home is safe and protected. Contact us at Kobalt Systems today to inquire and book a consultation, and we’ll be happy to get you set up!

wiring a hot tub - electrical

Wiring a Swimming Pool, Hot Tub or Spa? Our Electricians Can Do It All

Trust your Hot Tub Wiring or Swimming Pool Wiring to a Professional

Yes, we do swimming pool / hot tub wiring. In the last few years, pools and hot tubs / spas have become more popular than ever for homeowners. As we spend more time at home than ever before, we begin to rely more on our homes for those extra luxuries, like having swimming pools and hot tubs right in our backyard. Having your own pool is like having a party spot ready to go all the time.

It’s also an excellent way to wear the kids out on those endless summer days and to float your way through heat waves, like that intense heat dome we experienced in late June. That one will go down in the memories of British Columbians everywhere as everyone flocked to the rivers, lakes and ocean.

Heat wave aside, if you’re reading this, you’re either shopping for a pool or hot tub, or you’re approaching the installation stage. Whether you’ve chosen an in-ground pool, above ground pool, plug and play hot tub, or an extra large, extra luxurious spa model, electricity and water is a sensitive combination. It’s crucial to have the swimming pool / hot tub wiring done by professionals.

Do I Really Need a Professional for the Electrical Wiring of a Hot Tub or Pool?

Knowing what extra electrical safety precautions to follow means that a licensed electrician can install your pool or hot tub in the safest way possible. Note that in some municipalities, permits are required to install ANY type of pool or hot tub. Your local electrical inspector may require you to hire a licensed electrician.

It’s important to consider whether your home can support the additional load of a swimming pool or hot tub. Particularly for older homes or commercial buildings that could require an electrical service upgrade. This is something that will need to be taken care of to prevent disappointment and to prevent your new pool or hot tub from overloading your service. We can also take care of any connections to electrical components and extra amenities like solar panels used to power water heaters or lights.

For larger hot tubs or pools that require a 50-amp, 240v feed to power the motors, lights, to link to solar panels or other amenities, they’ll be hardwired to a junction box. The junction box is usually mounted in an access panel on the side or underneath the hot tub unit. 

Even though you can simply plug in a smaller, no-frills, hot tub to any standard 15-amp, 120v Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet, we can make sure the outlet is properly grounded, then we can fix it if it’s not up to par. You’d be surprised how often we discover an exterior outlet that isn’t up to electrical codes and is unsafe for use anywhere near water.

What is a GFCI Outlet?

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is used around the home and around any places where water is present (bathroom, spa room, swimming pool, etc.)

This can be in the form of a breaker feeding a circuit of outlets, or a separate device in your home. They often look like a regular outlet you’d have around your home, but with a reset button and a test button. The device can be connected to your house wiring differently from your normal outlets, protecting itself and other outlets downstream, electrically. The GFCI can block power during a ground fault in less than 1/40th of a second. This means that if you’ve accidentally dropped your radio into your hot tub, the power will be cut immediately. For best results, replace your GFCI outlets every 5-10 years since their useful lifespan is a max of 15 years. Another safety feature is the Disconnect Switch.

What’s the Disconnect Switch?

This all-important switch is located at least 5 feet away, usually in the form of a timer that lets you turn power to the hot tub or pool on or off.

You’ll see these in rec centres or resorts, usually in the form of a digital or analog timer on an adjacent wall. Ever noticed that you have to interrupt your soak to change the timer? That’s a safety feature because if anyone came in contact with part of the circuit while in the water and while operating the switch, they could potentially be electrocuted. This disconnect switch might be something that a general handyman or a DIY electrician may not know about. 

Regulations for Pools and Hot Tubs

Pools and hot tubs are often the hit of any neighbourhood and are the perfect addition to any block party. Regardless of whether the pool or spa is in-ground or above ground, certain municipal regulations need to be followed. Any overhead electrical lines or telecommunications lines must be a minimum clearance distance of 25’ (7.5m) above the water level and any ladders or diving boards, etc. 

If lines are lower, something as simple as a pool skimming net with a long metal handle could be dangerous. If you’ve got the option to install the pool away from these lines, that’s your best bet. In some cases, BC Hydro may be able to relocate the hydro lines for an additional cost.

What About Underground Wires?

You’ve got plans for the most feature-loaded pool deck money can buy. You’re planning for deck lighting, surround sound, maybe even a stunning waterfall lit up with LED’s. Electrical installations for these types of amenities need to be run at least 5’ from the outside edge of the pool or hot tub. Any wiring for the pool pumps, pool heater, interior lighting or filter can be attached to the pool or spa itself with no issues.

Wiring hot tubs, swimming pools and spas is a lot more complex than it looks. At Kobalt Systems, our technicians have combined decades of experience with pool and hot tub wiring, and they know exactly what your new swimming pool or hot tub needs.

From the gauge of wire to how to bring your vision for your new pool space to life, you can trust us to take care of your new investment and your safety. Contact Victoria-based Kobalt Systems today to inquire about the wiring of your new commercial or residential pool, hot tub or spa.