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What You Need to Know About Electrical Supplies

Replacing old light switch covers or wall plates can make your home more stylish, and installing new solar panels can dramatically reduce your electric bill. The appeal of a project can be diminished, however, if you can't find the right electrical parts for the job. Having the right cables, outlet covers, or fixtures on hand can mean the difference between project completion and project disruption.

Types of electrical supplies

When considering what electrical supplies you might need for that upcoming project, there are a number of categories of supplies you need to consider having on hand, all of which can easily be found on eBay, including:

What makes solar panels "high efficiency?"

Alternative energy solutions like solar power offer a variety of diverse options. Understanding what will benefit you most is the key to making a smart purchase.

Most panel efficiency ranges from 10-20%, meaning 10-20% of the sun's light is converted into electricity. Higher efficiency panels are more expensive but, of course, provide more energy. These are better for houses with less roof space. Lower efficiency panels are better for larger roofs and are cheaper, but will ultimately provide less power compared to the sunlight they take in.

What does the different lettering on electrical wires indicate?

Electrical wire is varied for the task it performs and it’s labeled and colored as such. Most wires will have these abbreviations: THHN, THWN, XHHN, or THW, and each stands for the different properties of the wires themselves. Those different properties are:

  • H - Heat resistance
  • N - Nylon coated, which prevents damage from oil or other flammable liquids
  • T - Thermoplastic insulation
  • W - Used in wet applications
  • X - Non-nylon construction that is also flame-resistant

Should you buy a power strip or a surge protector?

Power strips provide multiple extra outlets, which is a perfect device for a task where you will need multiple plugs. A surge protector typically also provides multiple outlets, but it will protect your electronics from surges in electrical power that would otherwise fry them. A power strip is only designed to provide extra plugs, and will not protect your electronics in a surge. One last point to consider is that a surge protector's rating is in joules, and every time it stops an electrical surge, that rating decreases. This is why it's important to replace your surge protector if it gets hit with a large electrical spike.

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