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Home offices have become much more common over the past decade. The number of people working from home in Wilmington, NC, has also grown by leaps and bounds since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Offices, regardless of location, need a steady, reliable source of electric.
Make sure everything you need in a home office will function correctly by planning ahead. Draw a rough sketch of the chosen room and mark locations of existing outlets. Add desired positions for desks, chairs, lighting, and storage space. Use your sketch to decide where electrical devices and equipment, including accessories, should be.
It’s easy to overlook a necessary item during initial planning stages. Go over your sketch several times and think about equipment you’ll need. Almost every home office needs a computer and online access. You need a monitor for a desktop PC, and you’ll probably want chargers for cell phones and other personal devices. A USB hub is a convenient space-saving device to charge multiple devices simultaneously.
Printers aren’t always a necessity anymore. If you do need a printer, consider a multipurpose machine that functions as a copier and scanner as well. Cellphones are ubiquitous in our modern age, but it’s a good idea to have a landline as a backup. Other office equipment depends on profession. Don’t rush through the planning stage. Spending more time in the beginning is much less frustrating than realizing you’ve forgotten something later.
Update Your Electrical System
Consider all relevant factors, such as comfort, sufficient lighting, and adequate workspace, of an effective office environment. Consult an electrician to inspect your home’s electrical infrastructure before making any big changes. If you live in an older home, there is a good chance your electrical infrastructure isn’t ideal for a modern office space.
An electrician can rewire your home and update the main service panel. Upgrading the electrical system requires advance scheduling, but some electrical issues can’t wait. Warm outlet covers need to be addressed immediately. Frayed or burnt wires are also an urgent problem.
Do not repair damaged wires. Frayed or broken wires are common causes of electrical fires. The Electrical Safety Foundation International states that over 50,000 electrical fires occur in homes every year. Sadly, these fires result in an average of 500 deaths annually. Your electrician may install a dedicated circuit to safely accommodate increased electrical loads.
Ask your electrician to install additional outlets for equipment and appliances in your office. Multiple outlet extenders and extension cords aren’t safe solutions to a lack of outlets. An electrician may also replace existing outlets with new 3-prong designs.
Products and Appliances
Pay attention while purchasing light bulbs, switches, and similar items. Look at reviews and check sources to ensure you’re reading credible information. You can also ask your electrician for recommendations. Poor quality products may seem cheaper at the point of sale, but they can cost much more in the long run. In the best case scenario, shoddy products wear out too quickly. The worst case scenario is a faulty product that starts a fire or damages your electrical system.
Overloading outlets is a very common problem in home offices. You need to know how much power your outlets are able to provide. Ask your electrician if you’re not sure. Appliances that use a lot of power, such as microwaves or toasters, should have their own outlets. Powering two appliances from the same outlet can trip your breaker.
You may not want appliances in a home office, but some people choose to have microwaves, coffee makers, and even espresso machines within easy reach. Climate control is also a concern. Ask your electrician to set up heaters or air conditioners. Heating and cooling units use a lot of power.
Protect Your Investment
Wilmington, NC, has unpredictable weather at times. Storms capable of causing power outages occur at least a few times each year. Most businesses have some sort of backup system to prevent lost data or preserve current work in progress when an outage occurs.
Expensive electronic equipment has to be protected from power surges and irregularities as well. Many people were used to their workplace taking care of protective devices and back-up power. Unfortunately, protective devices are often overlooked entirely until a problem occurs and damage is done.
Outlet extenders are not always surge protectors. Some products advertised as surge protectors are only minimally effective and leave your electronics at the mercy of voltage spikes, power surges, and blackouts. Surge protectors, also called surge suppressors or diverters, are rated in joules. Read labels carefully and choose a device capable of handling your equipment and appliances.
Combination surge protectors and outlet extenders plug into a wall outlet and protect devices plugged into the strip. Whole-house or panel-mounted suppressors are installed directly into the fuse box to protect the entire home. Transient voltage surge protectors, or TVSS, are integrated into outlet boxes and protect everything plugged into the box. TVSS models have lights or alarms to provide notification when a surge has occurred.
An uninterrupted power supply, or UPS, supplies backup power when utility power is suddenly lost. It switches from the main power source to a battery back-up instantly so you can save current work and back-up data. A UPS protects hardware as well. Sudden shut-downs are hard on computers and other sensitive electronics. Although UPS batteries only last for a short time, it is sufficient to save data and turn devices off correctly. Some UPS devices automatically power off computers or servers when the battery is almost dead.
Contact Mister Sparky of Wilmington if you’re planning to set up or upgrade a home office. Professional electricians can help you construct a safe, productive environment with everything you need.