English: Fluorescent lamp
Fluorescent lamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a day! Over the years I have come across many different problems in my line of work and I often say to myself that it never ceases to amaze me when some new problem arises. It isn’t the problems themselves but more the fact that some of them wouldn’t be problems if manufacturers and designers of equipment realised they were building them into their goods. Often no feedback mechanism exists to help in eliminating problems and to improve designs. I had two small jobs to do on Thursday morning and I expected to have them both completed within two hours but unfortunately I was away from home for more than six! A lady had bought a new light fitting and I was to install it. The existing lighting, recessed downlights did not give enough light though they were halogen lamps. The reason for that was most of them had been changed to LED lamps but of a far lower equivalent rating to be bright enough. The easy answer would have been to put higher capacity lamps in but she and her husband had decided to purchase what they thought was a twin-tube LED fitting instead. Actually they had bought a modern fluorescent lamp fitting and two LED tube lamps to fit in it. Now I have seen fittings of this type before, they look like an ordinary fluorescent fitting but are different. I gave it no thought and proceeded to install it but first I had to locate the supply to the existing recessed lights and divert it to the new fitting. That was a job in itself for the supply could have been anywhere in the false ceiling but I located it quicker than I had thought I would. It took some time to install the new light fitting and when I had finally succeeded I discovered it wouldn’t work. I checked the supply and all was well so the problem lay in the light itself but there was nothing evidently wrong. We contacted the supplier from where she had purchased it and I explained the problem. They allowed me to bring back the internal part of the fitting and have it replaced rather than having to remove the whole unit from the ceiling. I drove there with the lady as my passenger and the salesman was unable to reason why we were having problems. The manager came to the desk and we discussed things. It turns out that they had sold the lady a fluorescent fitting with LED lamps in error. It could only work with fluorescent lamps and not LED lamps. That explained a lot for I had been under the impression that its internal components were LED ‘drivers’ but in fact they were choke units, the devices normally found in a fluorescent fitting. Ironically the fitting could have been modified to use LED lamps but that would have meant cutting the internal wiring and partly rewiring it, something you wouldn’t do with a new fitting. The supplier admitted their error and offered the lady a larger fitting for the same price and she accepted it. It was an LED lighting unit that had the LEDs built into it, no separate lamps to install. It actually looks much the same as the fluorescent fitting in the picture above. We drove back to her house and I installed it. However, although the light worked first time with no problems when it came to fixing the diffuser it was a nightmare! It had been manufactured to hold the diffuser in place with 16 or so metal clips which were almost impossible to fit into place and even when I had managed to do that it was extremely difficult to clamp the diffuser in place using them. In the above picture you can see two of the four clamps of a similar nature holding the diffuser in place. A much simpler way of fixing the diffuser would have saved so much time and frustration if it had been designed that way. I took the rest of the first fitting back to the supplier as I’d promised and by chance I spoke with the manager again who confessed that he had installed the same LED fitting at home and had exactly the same problems in fixing the diffuser. The second job I had been to replace a small lamp holder and it took me a mere ten minutes by comparison! I didn’t get back home until mid-afternoon. Some days you wished you’d never gotten out of bed.

Shirley Anne



No Problem! (TV series)
No Problem! (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s all go, go, go here at Minkyweasel Electrical Services (LOL). I haven’t stopped working except for coffee breaks, even missed lunch a few times but I have been able to satisfy the needs of all my customers. All but one that is and I will get to that in a minute. My first job of the day on Tuesday had been scheduled last week and at that time was the only one I had received for the whole of this week. That of course didn’t last and I have had quite a few since. The work I was to do was simple enough but it just took a long time to execute and to add to my problems my customer left the house in order to go to the gym leaving me alone in the house with her invalided husband. This meant I couldn’t ask how I should proceed if I hit a problem which prevented me from carrying out the work as I had been asked. I did hit such a problem and had to rely on her husband to accept my alternative suggestions in the hope she would be happy with the decision. Fortunately on her return two hours later she was very happy with what I had to do and in fact, as she said, it was better than she had hoped. It is usually all about the cost, people not wanting to spend more than they have to but sometimes there is little choice. Anyway it took me almost five hours to complete all the work she had originally asked me to undertake over the phone as well as other work she presented me with on my arrival at the house including a trip to the supplier some miles away. It was around 2.30 before I could drive to the second job of the day at another house ten miles away. This job was far simpler and involved fitting replacement lighting units. Unfortunately the lady had purchased the wrong lamps for the fittings so I didn’t get to see my work all lit up! I made sure they were ready and working to receive the correct lamps when she gets them. So many people forget to purchase lamps when buying new fittings but few purchase incorrect ones when they do remember. It happens. By now it was dark and my final job for the day was to check why a power outlet wasn’t working in an apartment 150 metres from my house! A lady and her daughter had just moved into the top floor apartment in a large Victorian house which has been converted into an apartment block. There are quite a number of these type of buildings in my home town. Anyway I got to the top floor and was directed to the power outlet. Sure enough there was no power. I removed the unit from its metal recessed box and saw that the cable supplying it was too small in size. I removed another outlet nearby and discovered the same. I had expected to see a cable ready for connecting the other outlet which simply needed connecting but none was there. It appears that the circuit has been incorrectly installed with the wrong sized cables and it will need rewiring. A major job. I didn’t levy a charge for having a look and had to leave her to get it rewired by someone else as I no longer undertake such work. She may be able to get the work done for free as she has been sold the apartment on the understanding that the electrical circuits have been checked and in working order. I hope she can anyway.

Shirley Anne

One of those days

English: Wiring circuit of a semi-resonant flu...
Wiring circuit of a semi-resonant fluorescent lamp circuit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had work scheduled for Wednesday which I knew would take me a couple of hours to complete and in fact it took me four. It is the little things that cause the problems, poor connections in lighting units, not enough slack in the wiring to allow for changes, missing screws or those so tiny that they can easily be lost and a host of other things. The work itself consisted of replacing some lighting units, an extract fan, repairing a bell circuit and replacing a faulty power outlet. If truth be known the work should have taken about three hours and would have done but for some of those minor problems and the fact that I had to leave the premises in order to purchase equipment. Isn’t is always the case that if we are in a hurry to get things done problems slow us down? I am pretty much relaxed about it all though for there is no point not being so. Still, minor problems are a nuisance whatever they are. In any case I had nothing else to do other than my own domestic projects so I was in no hurry though I did have to complete the work before 1 o’clock. I completed the work by 12.30. As it was lunchtime I decided to eat out instead of driving directly home for there was a pub/restaurant along the way. I hadn’t visited this particular eatery for quite some time and I was surprised to see how few people there were inside for on previous occasions it had been full. I arrived home sometime after 2 o’clock and expected to simply relax and do nothing but I got a call from an old gentleman for whom I had previously worked. He was desperate to have his kitchen light fixed but said it was the lamp, a fluorescent tube, that was faulty. So off I went and purchased a lamp and then went to install it but he had to pay my minimum fee for doing so. I had advised him as much before I drove to the house though I didn’t charge for the tube itself. I get many days like these and more so during the weeks before Christmas when many people seem to be in a panic to get things done before the day. Why that is so escapes me but I’m not complaining, problems or not.

Shirley Anne

Light duties

English: A selection of commercially available...
English: A selection of commercially available LED lamps (“light bulbs”) with Edison (screw-type) base/ Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E and I live in a rather large detached house that was built in 1877. When people ask about our house I tell them that it isn’t that large but we’ve already lost three butlers and four maids who seemingly have gotten lost in the place. Joking apart though it is large for just two people but once, a few years ago there were seven living here. It is classed as a seven bedroom house, four bedrooms on the third level and three on the level above. There are three main lounges, a family room which serves as a dining room and a small kitchen. Other rooms include an en-suite bathroom, a family bathroom and a wet room. there are four main rooms in the cellar together with three small rooms/stores and a hallway. Three more hallways/landings are on the three other floors. Attached to either side of the house are two garages. Quite a lot of space to hide away in and quite a lot of space to fill too! On Friday E and I went out shopping for some LED light bulbs (or lamps). Both the newly built wet room and the main/family bathroom (undergoing refurbishment at the moment) have between them 16 LED down-lights (recessed into the ceiling) and we want as many of the other light fittings in the house to have LED lamps in them. Some of the rooms are fitted with fluorescent fittings as the main source of lighting, some in the cellar, some at the top of the house and of course the garages. Some rooms have large chandeliers which have six to 10 lamps in them others have less. Some of the rooms have wall lights too, each with two lamps in them. We purchased enough lamps for three chandeliers and six wall lights which amounted to 27 lamps of three different types and all of them LED’s. They cost us a little over £170. Ouch! As an exercise and to determine just how many light fittings there are in and about the house I counted them all both inside and out and discovered that there are 124 lamps of different types and sizes. Some are large fluorescent tubes, some are LED floodlights, some are chandeliers with many lamps in them and the total number of actual light fittings amounted to 84! Phew! We reckon we will need to spend quite a few hundred pounds more yet to replace all those that can be replaced with LED lamps. Even the fluorescent tubes can have LED tubes fitted. That is a lot of money to spend out in order to cut down on running costs and the payback period will be measured in years however, the LED lamps are supposed to have a 30,000 to 50,000 hour lifespan under normal usage which works out to be quite a few years too. There will be a saving on power usage of course which means less to fork out for electricity and less demand on the electricity supply system.

Shirley Anne

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The wind blows

When the Wind Blows (1930 film)
When the Wind Blows (1930 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The wind blew cool as the day grew old
The sun was shining, so I’m told
But outside I was not to stray
For inside I was meant to stay
And the old wind still blows come what may.


Saturday was spent totally indoors as E and I did more work on the wet room. E managed to escape for a while as she had to visit the main Post Office in town but she soon returned. While she was out I lifted a floorboard on the landing above the wet room and installed another cable alongside the cable I’d installed for the shower in the family bathroom if and when we start its refurbishment. The final pieces of plasterboard went up on the ceiling then we measured the position of the six lights. With a hole saw in the drill I soon had the six holes cut and the wiring coming out of them. While I was doing that E unpacked the light units and partly dismantled them for me to fit into the ceiling. In less than an hour the lights were working. These lights are each 4 watt LED, a total of 24 watts but the actual light output is far in excess of the 60 watt tungsten light that was originally fitted. The actual amount of light from a tungsten lamp represents only about 7% of the 60 watts of power consumed, the remaining 93% is heat! The LED output is about the reverse, 93% light and 7% heat! Similarly, fluorescent lamps give out far more light than heat and that is why ‘economy’ lamps can be lower in power to give out the same light as the tungsten equivalent though they are not as efficient as LEDs. The downside is their cost but the upside is their lifespan. Anyway, that’s why we chose the LED fittings. Now the walls in this room have seen many changes in the lifetime of the house and the patchwork plaster is proof of that. I had added to it. Most of the plaster that needed patching up was where we had removed the wooden skirting boards so I used mortar instead of plaster and similarly I used mortar for filling holes in the brickwork that had been exposed. As the walls will be tiled top to bottom it doesn’t matter that mortar was used instead of plaster. One of the things we needed to buy was a vanity unit for the hand basin to sit upon and E had found a supplier of bathroom furniture who were far less expensive with their prices. When we priced the unit at Homebase it would cost a minimum of £104 without a top, doors or legs and with them supplied it would cost more like £340. This supplier had a similar unit for less than £80! We bought on online and went to collect it on Sunday morning. The store was in another town but it was worth the journey to go there. I also got to leave the house!

Shirley Anne

Busy week

English: A remote control for an automatic gar...
English: A remote control for an automatic garage door opener – showing the outer case and inner circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week saw me gainfully employed doing something every day, work, rest and play! I was kept rather busy at work especially which has come at just the right time, not that I am desperate for money, I am not but rather than having to dip into my savings I found myself with the cash to fund the various projects I had planned at home. Those things are now catered for as well as getting E’s car back on the road. E and I actually dined out together for the first time in six months on Wednesday and had a thoroughly good time. We are now closer than we’ve been during the last six months. Some things need to change yet though before I can say we are back totally to where we were six months ago. It is good however that we are talking once again.
Two weeks ago tomorrow we had the roller door fitted to the new garage and E has enjoyed the fact that her car can rest securely overnight and out of the weather too. A thought came into her mind regarding the use of the garage when it is dark. There is a floodlight over the garage that is controlled by a motion detector but it doesn’t illuminate the inside of the garage which remains pitch-black unless the internal light is switched on and therein lies the problem. She can operate the roller door by remote control from her car but would have to get out of the car to switch on the light. I needed to come up with a system that switches on the internal light when the door is opened but only during the hours of darkness. I had the necessary components to construct a control box. I bought a proximity switch for the door and a photo cell detector to monitor the ambient light conditions and I constructed the control box on Friday morning. I plan to complete the installation today, Sunday. As the door reaches it’s fully open position it will operate a switch which in turn operates a relay. A switch on the relay is wired in series with the photo cell switch and on to the fluorescent light inside the garage. Both switches must be closed for the light to work so although the door may be fully open and operating the relay the light will remain off if it is still daylight. The light naturally has a manually operated wall switch too for use when the door is closed. This is a two-way switch that enables the supply to the light to come from a manual operation or the automatic operation but only one or the other. This is to prevent the light being accidentally left on manually. It all sounds complicated but in real terms it is quite simple. Well it will keep me out of mischief for a few hours whilst I am installing it all! Here endeth the electrical lesson for today… LOL.
I spent a few hours in the pub on Friday afternoon and evening and met up with quite a few people, some new to me and some well-known. I didn’t much feel like going to bed early and ended up staying up far too long consequently I didn’t get out of bed until a little later than I would normally do on a Saturday morning so I decided to forego my early morning session on the treadmill. I decided to take that exercise later in the evening last night instead. Now am I fit for work or fit to drop? Well after that exercise I had a good night’s sleep and am rearing to go as they say.

Shirley Anne