26 March 2012

Are you stealing Electricity without knowing it?

In April 2010 we come across a home that had an illegal mains connection to access free Electricity.  If you did not get to read this blog, here it is again.  I thought that was amazing until last Friday when I was called to a home in Epping to repair a fault in the Slab Floor Heating.  After some initial testing, we discovered the Off-Peak Meter was not turning when the Floor Heating Elements were energised.  We knew this could only be the result of a few situations. 

1/  All the Slab Floor elements were damaged.  (Open Circuit)
2/  The Meter is not operating correctly or has been tampered with.
3/  The Off-Peak Meter had been illegally by-passed.

We tested the elements and used an Amp Meter to measure if there was current flow.  There was 12Amps on one element and 8Amps on another.  These high loads really make the old Meters spin quite fast, well not in this home!

The family of six had lived in the house for over 4 years and did not seem to be the type of people to be involved in this sort of activity.  I asked the home owner if they think the Slab Floor Heating is expensive to run during winter, she said "yes, my electricity bill is always around $300".  I asked if this was the monthly bill or a quarterly bill.  It was quarterly!!!  Clearly the home owner has no idea what the bill for Electricity should be with Slab Floor Heating.  The fact that she did not say the bills were higher in winter rang the alarm bells even louder. 

I told the owner that I suspected they were not being charged for the Slab Floor Heating.  She showed me her last bill, as expected it showed 0 KWH (KiloWatt Hours).  From the home owners perspective the bill had always been like this. 

The home owner asked me to look further to determine if there was any sign of illegal wiring.  I first looked behind the Switchboard Panel, this is what I found!

Two enclosures were mounted behind the panel, one was made to look like it was legitimate with the words "Heating Timer Control - Danger 415V".  The lower enclosure had some gear un-mounted, another example of dangerous and illegal wiring.  After removing the covers, I discovered the illegal mains connections and traced them back to the Floor Heating controls.

The owner was horrified to see this in their own home.  All relevant authorities have now been informed of this situation and have commenced their investigations.  They will go back to all the past bills to determine when the last time Off-Peak Electricity was used.  This will allow them to identify the owner at the time to possibly lay criminal charges.  Unfortunately for the current owner, all rectification costs will be charged to them in order to have their Electrical System returned back to the normal state.  This will not only mean removing the illegal wiring but will also include mandatory works to bring the Electrical Switchboard & Meter Panel to the current regulations.      

If you suspect your home to have any illegal or un-safe wiring, call Epping Electrical on 1300 232 796 today.

Geoff Connor
1300 232 796
0431 232 796

19 March 2012

Are Home Solar Systems in Melbourne Worth the Investment?

I am frequently asked by customers if Solar Systems in Melbourne are a good idea.  The answer is not easy as there are so many factors to consider.  If the customer's only objective is to help the environment, then thats other story.  But for most people (I would say) who install a Solar System, its all about the savings!!!

Well what are the savings?  What factors will limit the savings and most importantly how many years will have to pass before I have saved enough to offset the initial outlay to actually start saving money.

If you are interested to know if its all worth it, drop me a line and I'll work it out for you.

Here are the details I need from you.

1/  The size of the proposed system in Kilowatts (KW).
2/  How much you are paying for electricity per Kilowatthour (KWH)
3/  What your Feed-In Tariff would be.  This is what you are paid for Electricity passed back to the grid.
4/  How many KWH's you use on average every 3 months.
5/  Total cost of the Solar System (after any govt rebates) plus any meter change charges.

Epping Electrical

16 March 2012

Smart Meter Safety

There has been a lot of media reports recently about the Safety of Smart Meters. It would seem from the reports that some Smart Meters could be un-safe if exposed to an Electrical surge. Other reports suggest that the installation of the Smart Meters could cause Electrical connections to become loose, this can then result in an Electrical fire particularly in older homes with old Switchboards.
A fire was found behind a Meter panel in a house in Epping, this occurred a few weeks after the Smart Meter was installed. In this case the fire was caused by a loose connection, its possible that the movement of the wiring during the Smart Meter installation may have caused the connection to become loose. 
If you have a concern about the safety of your Electrical Switchboard or Meter, call Epping Electrical on 1300 232 796 to book a Safety Inspection or Switchboard Upgrade.

Epping Electrical
0431 232 796