Delivering On Our Promise

As promised, we’ve donated 10% of our PPE sales to the NHS. With the donation going to our local NHS trust in Oldham, Greater Manchester. They were pleased to accept our offer as they prepare for a potential second wave.

Delivering on our promise

The Government guidance about the use of face masks is changing. As of the 15th June, they are recommending that face masks be used by all NHS workers and visitors with further details here. As supporting evidence can no longer be ignored that face masks do in-fact help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Something many of us have been saying for a while.

Face masks will also become mandatory for use on public transport, more information can be found here. This enforcement covers buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferry’s and aircraft’s. It does surprise me that this decision wasn’t made in the early days of the outbreak and surely would have helped to reduce the spread. Which would have prevented the UK from becoming one of the worst hit countries in the entire world.

The Government also released some information about how to make your own face masks which is available here. The NHS now have enough stock of PPE and we have some stock remaining with the 3 layer disposable face mask, 1 way protection face mask and the 5 layer, 2 way protection KN95 mask. For businesses who don’t have the time or materials available to make their own their PPE, we still stand by our decision to offer this in-demand product and have done everything we can to support the country while diversifying our business during these unprecedented times.

Chris Horridge

Marketing Director

Face Masks Donation

Essential Protective Equipment now VAT Free

The Coronavirus has almost instantaneously changed the way we live and ended the lives of over 200,000 people worldwide. With around 6000 deaths per day, the UK alarmingly accounts for 10% of the casualties.

As casualty rates gradually begin to decline, soon the people of the UK will begin to come out of isolation and return to work. To try to recover what’s left of the economy and get back to normal.

Sadly, the Coronavirus is now something we must get used to living with as a society.

Should we blame the government for not taking it more seriously, much sooner? Should we blame China for manifesting it and not being more forthcoming about the data?

Blame isn’t going to stop the virus from spreading and waiting for the UK Government to make a decision about PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) could cost you your life.

Although the UK government has now made PPE exempt from VAT from the 1st May to the 31st July, it’s still not officially recommending that you use it or making it mandatory. Common sense may suggest this will come but do ‘the people’ need a law to tell them how to stay safe?

On the 28th April the Scottish Government announced that it was recommending that its people wear protective face masks in public places. Slovakia and the Czech Republic have made it illegal to leave home without wearing a mask. A helpful video about this can be viewed below:

With conflicting information about the subject of face mask use, what should you do?

The more I’m researching this interesting topic, the more I’m discovering how important face masks can be. Maybe the UK are not making them mandatory because we don’t have enough to go around?

The World Health Organisation has stated that face masks should only be used for those who already have the virus. The document can be viewed here.

According to the WHO, only people who have the virus should wear a mask but you might not know if you’ve got it. Should we not equally prioritise the protection of healthy people from catching it? Preventing the spread will not only reduce the strain on the NHS but save lives.

With an incubation period of 5-6 days, and in some cases as long as 14 days, you might have contracted the virus and be unknowingly spreading it yourself. This is known as the “pre-symptomatic” period; which is when you’re spreading the virus to everyone you touch or breath on.

This is surly what happened in the early days of COVID-19 and one of the main reasons we’re in a lock-down situation.

The COVID-19 virus spreads through droplets in the air, coughing, spit talking and contact. It makes perfect sense to most people that masks provide an added layer of protection against contracting and spreading the virus.

The use of hand sanitiser is also recommended. You might touch a surface, object or person with the virus but be able to wash it off your hands before it contaminates your immune system.

In the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, I recall it was the Premier League who took the decision to cancel football matches, not the Government. The UK lock-down started on the 23rd March, but just 12 days earlier on the 11th March, the Champions League match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid was allowed to take place; this was 2 days before the Premier League’s decision to cancel the football fixtures.

This allowed around 3000 Atletico Madrid fans to travel to the game (many wearing face masks) from Spain. They were allowed to freely enter the island nation that is the UK; unchecked and un-tested. This was at the exact time when gatherings of more than 1000 people were banned in Madrid; meaning if this would have been a home game in Madrid, it would have been cancelled. The UK didn’t act fast enough which has cost lives.

My main point here is to think for yourself and decide whether the cost of a face mask outweighs the risk of infection. Or you can make them yourself if you’ve got the material and spare time.

Like many other businesses we’ve decided to diversify during these difficult times. Our distribution centre and supply chains have experienced a major reduction in order volume, meaning we’re able to meet the needs of this growing demand.

Factories around the world are switching production from lighting and electrical equipment to PPE because consumers are now focusing on survival. While we try to maintain competitive prices within the marketplace and offer value to our customers, we also need to keep up with demand; pay staff and fund our logistical costs.

From the 1st May to the 31st July, PPE has become VAT free, this shows the government’s commitment to helping consumers get hold of protective equipment without taking their cut. Apparently, this doesn’t include hand sanitising gel; but thanks for the saving, we appreciate any help we can get.

After careful consideration we’ve made the business decision to relaunch our PPE range. With lower prices, passing on the factory rates we’ve managed to negotiate for the higher volumes of stock we’ve sourced. Our first venture into PPE mask sales caused some controversy with some negative feedback from some of our customer base; but we’ve listened to your valid concerns and believe we’ve found a solution that helps everyone including our business, our customers and the NHS.

NHS Donation

As an SME (Small to Medium Size Enterprise), we can only do so much to support the world’s largest employer; the NHS. We will be donating 10% of our sales to the NHS. Although we’d like to offer more, we have a business to run which needs to recover during these unprecedented and unpredictable times.

By feeding into the supply chain, we can bring in more PPE into the country. We aren’t taking away from an NHS stockpile that’s sitting around in a huge warehouse in China. We’re paying factories to produce more face masks and PPE as they diversify their production.

At these low prices, I don’t believe we’ll be able to keep up with demand but we’ll continue to re-stock as fast as we can, so that anyone who wants to purchase a protective face mask has the option to get one in a convenient and affordable way.

We have two types of face masks available:

  • The economy grade 3 PLY  mask which has 3 layers of protection and offers basic one way protection – This design blocks outoing germs from spreading but doesn’t necessarily provide protection against incoming germs and particles. Available in packs of 50s – our price works out at £1.04 each.
  • The KN95 FFP2 grade mask (shown below) offers two way protection, blocking over 95% of particles from outgoing and incoming particles – The KN95 is a more durable style of face mask. Priced at £4.50 on our 10 rate and £4.05 each for our 50 rate.

I welcome any feedback or suggestions about this article & products and appreciate your opinions regarding this sensitive and ever-changing matter.

Chris Horridge

[email protected]

Marketing Director

Electric Vehicles Set to Revolutionise the Motor Industry – Time to Take Charge!

Electric Vehicles Time To Take Charge

EV stands for Electric Vehicle; meaning a car or van powered by electricity. By 2040 the UK Government aims to ban all production of diesel and petrol-powered vehicles in favour of EVs. Whether you’re interested in saving the planet or reducing your own transportation costs, this change is coming and will eventually affect us all.

With even more ambitious targets in place from as early as 2030, the Government’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy is well under-way. With a target of a 50% and 40% reduction in the sale of traditional fuel cars and vans (respectively), 2030 isn’t too far into the future. Getting motorists to switch over to a ULEV (Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle) isn’t going to be easy as it will involve re-educating entire generations of consumers and empowering them to make the change. That’s why the UK Government has started off by pledging £1.5 billon by 2020, with lots more to come.

Types of Electric Vehicle

There are different types of EVs already on the market, such as pure electric, or hybrids which combine electricity with petrol or diesel. Hybrid vehicles are known as PHEVs, which stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

Another type of EV is the FCEV which stands for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. These vehicles have a fuel cell stack instead of a battery. They mix hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity.

Whichever type you opt for, a ULEV is a vehicle which emits 75g/KM of carbon dioxide or less.

Cleaner & Greener

If you’re thinking about going green and buying a low emission vehicle the Go Ultra Low website (found here) is a great source of information, and includes videos from some knowledgeable EV owners.

Reducing our dependency on fossil fuels like oil should be a key part of any environmentally aware nation’s medium and long-term goals. Helping to make the world we live in cleaner and more sustainable is better for everyone.

Keeping Up With the Electric Vehicle Industry

The EV industry is developing fast, possibly too fast for car manufacturers, EV equipment manufacturers and consumers to keep up with! EV developments, as well as some recent changes in Wiring Regulations (January 2019) and the forthcoming requirement to incorporate smart technology into EV Charge Points (July 2019), means the electrical and vehicle industries are constantly evolving, but it’s certainly exciting to be part of it.

EV Smart Charging Vehicle

Advances in battery technology and diminishing oil reserves means that the EV is transforming the entire motor industry, doing what LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology did for the lighting industry in recent years.

An electric vehicle is like driving around in an environmentally friendly, low energy, LED instead of an oil lantern on wheels. Newer technologies often require a larger initial investment but save you more money in the long term by reducing your energy costs.

LED Vehicle vs Oil Lantern

Within just 10 years, advances in LED technology made older forms of incandescent lighting (like halogen) totally obsolete and an outright Government-ban on the inferior lighting option was imposed. With EVs, the Government is scheduling the ban and doing it in phases – providing the affected industries with more time to change their products.

Government Funded Grant Rules

OLEV (the Office for Low Emission Vehicles) is a Government-funded organisation that allows electric vehicle owners to get a discount of up to 75% off an EV charge point socket. This also includes installation costs and materials such as cables. Terms and conditions apply with this grant – it’s capped at £500 including VAT.

OLEV was set up in 2014 and has already provided more than 60,000 grants so far. The demand for EV charge points is set to quadruple; which makes sense if the UK is going to get anywhere near the Government’s ambitious target of 50% of new cars being ultra-low emission by 2030.

There are two main types of OLEV schemes which work slightly differently from each other. One scheme is for homes and is called the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) and the other is for businesses which is called the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS).

You need to be careful when ordering an electric vehicle charge point socket otherwise you might not be eligible for a grant and you could miss out on the funding, just because you’ve selected the wrong model number or ordered it incorrectly.

EV Charge Points for Homes

To be eligible for the EVHS funding you need to purchase the electric vehicle charge point socket through a registered OLEV installer. They will take care of everything, including the installation and paperwork. In turn you pay a modest amount directly to the installer and they essentially claim the grant back from the Government on your behalf.

The EV charge point model you choose must be registered on the OLEV EVHS (approved list available here). The installer must also be registered with OLEV on their list of approved installers, which is available here.

Home owners can claim funding for a maximum of 2 charge points at the same address per eligible EV. If you’re claiming funding for more than 1 charge point, you must have more than 1 vehicle.

The electric vehicle must have been registered with the owner after the 1st October 2016. This includes new or used vehicles and company cars.

Homeowners must also have their own off-street parking. This is going to be a problem for many terraced house owners. You may need to consider getting planning permission to install a bollard EV charge point outside your property, which is going to cost more and isn’t going to be OLEV funded.

Some further guidance about this scheme can be found here.

EV Charge Points for Businesses

If you’ve got a commercial installation and want to get a grant you need to adhere to the WCS (Workplace Charging Scheme). The WCS approved list of EV chargers can be found here. The WCS works a little bit differently, the business must claim a voucher themselves. Follow this link here to complete the online form. It takes up to 5 days to get approval and the voucher is valid for 120 days after completion.

The process works like this:

WCS OLEV Guidance

Businesses are allowed up to 20 electric vehicle charge point sockets per company and can use the voucher to gain the saving of up to £500 (including VAT) per socket. A Questions and Answers document can be found here which contains some further useful information.

Unlike EVHS, you don’t need to have a registered EV to proceed with claiming your voucher. You just need to explain your reasons for needing an EV charging point, which could be for customer or staff use for example.

Further terms and conditions can be found here.

Socket Types – Tethered Or Socketed?

Tethered or Socket EV Charge point

The tethered version comes with a pre-wired cable with a male plug on the end, a similar design to a traditional petrol pump. The male plug fits into your vehicle. When it’s not in use, the cable is wrapped around the unit and the plug can be plugged into the socket for storage. The cable length is usually 5 metres but will differ by brand.

The socketed version just comes on its own, with a socket outlet. You’ll need your own plug and socket set (known as a cable set) to be able to charge your vehicle. Cable sets are usually supplied with new EVs, but if in doubt, go with the tethered version. You’re never going to lose that as it’s physically attached to the charge point.

Current Ratings

Most EV charge point manufacturers have versions available in 16amp (3.6 kilowatt) or 32amp (7.2 kilowatt). The cost to purchase each version is marginal and sometimes they cost the same. The smaller 16amp charging points are designed for overnight charging, compared to the 32amp chargers which can charge 90% of the battery in 3-4 hours. The 32amp chargers require a slightly thicker cable due to the extra capacity, which can increase the overall installation costs. If in doubt, I’d recommend going for the 32amp option.

Connector Types

The Mennekes Type 2 connector has won the battle and become the industry standard for EV charge points, with many of the world’s leading car manufacturers adopting it. Other connector types available are Type 1 and Type 3. Type 2 has been chosen by the European Commission as the dedicated connector type for electric chargers and vehicles. If you’re about to purchase a new EV, you’ll most likely find it comes with a Type 2 connector – but please double check before ordering.

Type 2 EV Socket Explained

With 7 pins, the Type 2 connector (shown above) can be used with single phase or three phase supplies. With a maximum voltage of up to 480V it has a current rating of 70amps for single phase and 63amps for three phase.

You can also get Type 2 to Type 1 converters, or complete EV charge points with the less popular Type 1 connectors.

Smart EV Charge Points

From July 2019, the Government have mandated that EV chargers will need to utilise smart technology – meaning that they must be able to be accessed remotely and be able to receive and transmit data. This will allow manufacturers (and more importantly the Government) to get a clear view of usage.

Smart Electric Vehicle Charge Stations

The Government plans to gather this data to reduce demand on the energy grid and is aiming at getting customers to charge their vehicles during off-peak times. Although the main point of having a workplace EV charge point would be to charge your vehicle while you’re working, which would be during on-peak times for the majority of workers.

As part of the WCS OLEV scheme, workplace charge points must already be able to transmit data. As a result, they cost more due to the additional components that they need – such as a metering device and modem.

This ruling doesn’t allow much time for manufacturers to manufacture a smart EV charge point, or develop an app and register it with OLEV. At the time I write this article, even Rolec don’t yet have an OLEV approved smart EV charge point – it’s coming soon, but unlike many other brands, market leaders Rolec are ahead of the competition with their HomeSmart series, they’ve done the hard part by designing and manufacturing a range of smart EV charge sockets, they’re just waiting for the final OLEV approval.

Rolec HomeSmart

OLEV have also announced that as early as 1st March, 2019, new applications for funding for EV charge points that don’t contain smart technology will cease to be provided for. This really is a fast changing industry!

Smart EV chargers will have their own smartphone apps and software, which will provide users with accurate data about usage and costs. You’ll be able to monitor the status of your charge and know when your vehicle is fully charged while you go about your day.

Smart EV Charge Point Socket

You’ll also be able to switch your charge point off remotely so you can prevent random passers-by from using it without your consent. Potentially, you’ll log in with an app with your own user ID and it will monitor exactly what each user has used. The administrator will be able to easily provide access to whoever they like and decide if it’s going to be free or chargeable – important for a commercial undertaking.

Smart EV charge points are ultimately going to cost you more and, unless you don’t want to get a grant, you don’t have a choice about paying extra.

Further details about the ‘Smart Ruling’ can be found here.

Free to Use or Paid Versions

Standard EV chargers are free to use which means that any passer-by could use your charger without your consent. You can also get charge points that only activate when you insert a card, key-fob or token. As mentioned, smart EV chargers will most likely supersede these in the near future by providing users with a digital activation system.

Pricing

In terms of the Rolec WallPod series, we are now able to offer (through an installer) these models which are OLEV registered:

Rolec EV Pricing

Both are available in 16amp or 32amp versions and the price includes installation. Our flyer is available here, which contains further information. A saving of up to £375 including VAT is waiting for you. This is based on 75% off the £500 capped value.

3 Ways to Order

Although EV charging points are available to purchase online, through local wholesalers or direct with some manufacturers, it’s not advisable to just go and buy one like you would with other equipment. This is because you might miss out on the grant.

Here are 3 ways of purchasing an EV charge point for your home:

  1. Purchase your EV charge point as a complete, fully installed package through a registered OLEV EV installer. This is our recommended option. If you’re eligible for the grant, then get it. Our fully accredited OLEV EV charge point installer covers the Greater Manchester area. He is called Dan and can be contacted directly via email at [email protected] or by telephone on 0333 0508274. Dan can arrange a site visit or provide you with further information about an EV charge point installation.Alternatively, please contact us directly for any other geographical area and we will coordinate with another authorised installer within the nationwide Rolec network. Additional costs may be incurred if the property isn’t within 75 miles (150 miles round trip) of an approved installer.
  2. If you’re already an OLEV registered installer, you can purchase an EV charger from our website here. These versions are OLEV registered for domestic use under the EVHS.
  3. If you don’t qualify for the OLEV funding, you can also buy a non-OLEV registered charge point here.

To order an EV charge point for your business or workplace please contact us to arrange a site visit. We will then be able to guide you through the EV charge point selection process, discuss grant funding and assess the installation.

Becoming an OLEV Registered Installer

This can be quite a lengthy process that takes a few months to complete. Firstly you need to register with an EV manufacturer such as Rolec. Then you need to attend an OLEV approved EV charging course like this, which you have to pay for. Then you need to complete the Rolec form and get approval, which also involves purchasing their EV charge point tester socket shown below:

EV Socket Tester

Finally you need to complete the OLEV form here and send all your documents to them to get on their official approved installers list (available here) which now includes Dan from DTE.

When you’re ready to start installing you can purchase an EV charger from an electrical wholesaler, such as our good selves. The Rolec WallPod and EV accessories are available to buy online here, or contact us for further information at [email protected] or via telephone on 01706 860011.

How to Select the Correct Safety Switch

Choosing the right safety switch for your guard, gate or machinery is vitally important. Without sounding too dramatic, it could be a matter of life or death! As a distributor of Mechan Controls safety products we are able offer a large selection of safety switches but choosing the correct one isn’t always easy.

The Mechan Magnasafe range shown below is an exceptional offering of non contact safety switches that is available in a large variety of options. The options include different materials, contact configurations, cable input types and physical sizes.

Mechan Magnasafe

Safety Categories

Some machines are more dangerous than others and need to be protected by safety equipment with a safety categorization of Category 2, 3 or 4. Category 2 or 3 is based upon whether the machinery has the potential of inflicting non-life threatening injuries such as a cut or bruise.

Category 4 is for more dangerous machinery that has the potential to inflict more serious life threatening injuries, decapitation or loss of limbs. It is important to know which category your machinery falls under.

Materials

We offer safety switches in ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) or stainless steel grade 316 versions, both are sealed to IP67 making them fully resistant to dust and water. If you’re looking for a non-contact safety switch for the food industry then we’d recommend the stainless steel version.

The advantages of using a stainless steel safety switch over ABS are:

  • More durable – will withstand impact in the harshest of environments
  • Less prone to overheat – The stainless steel body acts like a heat-sink
  • Stronger fixing holes – ABS version can be over-tightened and damaged on install
  • More hygienic for the foods industry

The downside of stainless steel versions is the cost; they cost almost twice as much as ABS. All Mechan non-contact safety switches are built to last, the robust design makes them ideal for harsh environments.

Cable Input Lengths

We have various cable input lengths to choose from which range from 3 to 10 metres. Or we have QD connector versions which have a socket for use with separate plug in cables. Or finally we have the LQD version which is a leaded connector device version. LQD connectors are generally used on the smaller safety switches and have a input cable which is around 150mm and a plug-in connector attached to it.

Contact Configurations

We offer various contact configurations for each type of safety switch ranging from a 1 normally open contact to 2 normally open and 1 normally closed.

Voltage & Current Ratings

The voltage range that we offer on our website is predominantly 24V DC which is the most popular choice for machine safety in the UK. If you need another voltage such as 110V AC or 230V AC we can offer this in many of the Magnasafe versions.

The current ratings vary from 0.2 amps to 3 amps but if you need something with a higher current rating, just give us a call on 01706 860011 and we’ll see what we can offer.

Coded

The Mechan Magnasafe range is non coded meaning they can be reset using a magnet. This is apart from the MS5 which is tamper resistant. If you require a coded safety switch we would recommend the S-Type range which is electronically coded. Or the HE-Series which is solid state coded.

Cross Reference

Do you currently use another brand such as Allen Bradley (GuardMaster) but want a more economical solution? We have cross references available on most of our product listings that compares Mechan safety switches to the popular Allen Bradley range.  Mechan safety switches have the same dimensions and fixing centres so changing to Mechan is simple and saves you money – savings as much as 35% can be achieved on some models!

Dimensions

If you’re replacing an existing safety switch you’ll want something that is either identical or similar in size that’s why we offer so many different variations of safety switches.

Mechan Controls

Mechan Controls are a UK based manufacturer of safety equipment with over 30 years of experience within the industry. Producing high quality and reliable products that are built to last. They offer a range of products that provide solutions from simple gate safety to automated machine safety systems.

Special Requests

If you’re looking for something really specific or unsure about which safety switch to choose, please contact us to discuss your requirements. We’re sure we can always provide the best safety solution for your application even if it involves a site visit or designing something totally bespoke just for you.

Expert Electrical Supplies is much more than just a website, we have been trading for over 12 years and understand that customers need the right product at the right price.  We’re happy to hold stock for any ongoing projects to ensure you receive your order as and when you need it.

Feel free to browse our selection of products or if you’re unsure about which product to choose give us a call on 01706 86001 or email us at [email protected].

Schneider Electric Signs Groundbreaking Partnership Agreement

Global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric, has entered into a sales and implementation partnership with top Cloud E/CTRM vendor Aspect Enterprise Solutions. This will allow SMEs to access a complete risk management software solution, offering the most comprehensive Commodity Trading and Risk Management (CTRM) solution to the energy trading and risk management space.

schneider-electric

Schneider Electric is the leading provider of market information and the largest provider of proprietary news, weather and analysis. They are a huge company that sell a wide range of different products and services; you can find their industrial boxes with us here.

Aspect Enterprise is the market leader for ‘Software as a Service’ solutions in the global energy and commodity physical trading sectors and offers the only web-based, multi-commodity, integrated risk management solution.

The partnership will create a holistic CTRM solution.

The cloud-based system is relatively cheap so SMEs can manage trading operations with a full view of what’s going on.

“This opportunity to work with Aspect is one we firmly believe will bring new value to our customers in our core energy businesses. We have a strong customer base, and proven sales and account teams that can deliver tremendous value by working with Aspect and levering their ability to quickly deploy and deliver accessible, affordable Cloud solutions to the mid-market, like no other company in the world today,” said Michael Browne, Vice President, Analytics and Trading at Schneider Electric.

Aspect President and CEO Steve Hughes said, “This is very exciting. We’ve been working towards this goal for a long time as part of our Aspect Partner Program. Our customers will benefit from this terrific new partnership. Schneider Electric has deep knowledge and understanding in the industry, and complements our processes and solutions. It’s a recognized brand that we can grow with. There’s huge cost efficiency savings in this for end-user companies looking for a solution.”

About the Author: Chris Horridge

A New Way to Generate Electricity?

A new way to generate electricity could mean electric cars and electronic gadgets run longer.

Four years ago, researchers in Michael Strano’s chemical engineering lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) coated a short piece of wool made out of carbon nanotubes with TNT and lit one end with a laser. It burned like a fuse, demonstrating a new way of generating electricity, and one that produces a phenomenal amount of power.

So How Does it Work?

Strano says that at the time, no one understood how it worked, and it was so inefficient that it was no more than a “laboratory curiosity”.

Strano has now figured out the underlying physics, which has helped his team improve the efficiency by 10,000 times and created a path for continued improvements. The aim is to produce generators that use this method of generating power and could make electronics last longer and make electric cars as convenient as conventional ones, allowing refuelling in minutes and extending their range.

Strano calls it a thermopower wave. The standard way to generate electricity by burning a fuel is to use heat to cause expanding gases to drive a turbine or piston. Strano’s way is much more direct. As the fuel burns along the nanotubes, the wave of combustion drives electrons ahead of it, creating an electrical current.

Because it runs on liquid fuels, which store more energy than batteries, it has been suggested that this nanogenerator will allow electric cars to go much further.

Improving Efficiency

However, the efficiency of the devices still in the lab are low compared to conventional generators at the moment. Strano’s device is little over 0.1 per cent efficient, whereas conventional generators are 25 – 60 per cent efficient.

Strano has said that they could be useful in niche applications at the moment, but as his team work on the efficiency of the device, broader applications will soon be feasible. They recently discovered that switching from nanotubes to flat sheets of nanomaterials improves efficiency, as well as shaping the sheet to direct the energy of the thermopower.

About the Author: Chris Horridge

carbon-nanotube-2040

Solar Roadways

We’ve known about the effects of global warming and the importance of going green for
years, and it seems that now that this ethos has reached our roads. Solar powered roads may seem like a futuristic idea but they are something that have been being developed for quite some time. Solar powered roads quite simply mean the replacement of asphalt and concrete roads with solar panels. Of course there have been plenty of considerations to make and challenges to overcome, such as what happens when it’s icy or snowy, and ensuring they will be durable enough to allow them to be driven on. We’ve put together this infographic to help you find out more.

Expert Electrical - Infogram Solar Roadways - 379857

About the Author: Chris Horridge

How to Find a Good Electrician

Finding an electrician is not difficult, it’s finding one that is qualified, won’t rip you off and will do a good job. Going by price won’t work, because however much you pay you can never guarantee good quality workmanship. So we’ve put together a guide to help you find a good electrician.

MAINPIC

Word of Mouth

The first port of call to finding an electrician is to ask around. Whether it’s your friends and family or a shout out on social media, a recommendation from someone else is like gold dust. If someone you know has used an electrician and they were good enough to warrant a recommendation, then you know they’re good, especially if you can go and look at their handiwork themselves.

There are also sites like mybuilder.com where you can post a job online, and you’ll get responses from local tradesman. You can review their profiles, work history and customer reviews.

Electrical Competent Person

If you nobody has anyone to recommend, then you need to head to the Registered Competent Person Electrical search facility here. All electricians on this register have been assessed for the quality of their work, so this should be the next step in your search for a reputable electrician.

The Trustmark register is another good indicator of a good electrician. Trustmark also assess those electricians who want their badge for competency.

Get a Quote from at Least Three Electricians

Obtain at least three quotations from at least three different electricians, and make sure that your quote is broken down into the actual work that the electrician will be doing, the amount of time it will take to do the job and the material costs for any parts.

When you’re with the electrician, take this time to analyse them. Think about:

–          Do they look relatively smart?

–          Do they have relevant certification of their qualifications?

–          Do they turn up on time?

–          Do they have a van with a logo and telephone number?

–          Is it a written or verbal quote?

–          Do they give a guarantee for their work?

Remember, if your gut is telling you something is wrong, then walk away, and look for someone else.

Leave Them Feedback

If you’ve found a great electrician, make sure that you leave them a good recommendation, both online and in person. This means that when someone else is need of a good electrician, they’re more likely to choose the same one you did.

So if you’re in need of an electrician, then follow these simple tips for a reputable workman who’s going to be proud of their work.

About the Author: Chris Horridge

UK Green Power Hits Record High in 2013

The UK generated almost 15 per cent of its power from renewable sources in 2013. Record levels, and up from 11.3 per cent in 2012, according to Government statistics released in July. More than 900 new wind turbines were built at land and sea and the annual bill for subsidies reached an estimated £3bn.

However, despite all the efforts to go green, the UK relied heavily on burning coal – one of the dirtiest form of power plants. More than a third of electricity came from coal-fired plants according to the statistics, and two-fifths of the coal imported to the UK was Russian.

Gar generated 27 per cent of Britain’s electricity while nuclear reactors provided 20 per cent of the whole.

The increase in green power came from more wind farms being built, with wind power producing 9 per cent of UK electricity. The wind industry body, Renewable UK, said that more than 900 onshore wind turbines were installed over the course of the year.

The amount of power generated by offshore wind farms increased by 53 per cent as 279 turbines were installed at sea at four different sites.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the figures showed that “the Government’s investment in renewable energy is paying off”.

“This massive investment in green energy is accelerating, with 2013 a record year, with almost £8 billion invested across range of renewable technologies,” he said. “Having a strong UK renewable sector helps to reduce our foreign imports of energy, improving our energy security, as well as helping us tackle climate change and creating new hi-tech green jobs.”

Many energy companies are complaining that the government drive for wind farms are leaving some gas plants barely running and having to be abandoned, as Britain chooses heavily subsidised wind power, pushing up household electricity bills.

Coal, gas and nuclear plants all receive the market price of power for the electricity that they generate. Onshore wind farms, on the other hand, receive roughly double the amount for any energy they generate, and offshore wind farms get treble. The difference is subsidised by consumers through levies on their energy bills. Official statistics state that subsidies for green electricity cost consumers around £37 a year on a typical energy bill in 2013. The forecast suggests that this will increase to £85 by 2020.

The Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity critical of the costs of energy subsidies, estimates that annual subsidies were running in excess of £3 billion per year. Separate government statistics show that British consumers paid more than £2.5 billion in subsidies to renewable electricity projects in the year to March 2013. £2 billion of that was to large scale projects, while the rest was on a smaller scale, such as solar panel installation.

The crisis in Russia has driven ministers to argue that there is a need to develop more energy sources in the UK, rather than relying on imported gas. Imported gas accounted for half of the UK gas demand in 2013. The majority came from Norway at 58 per cent, while the rest was from various places including the Netherlands, Belgium and Qatar.

About the Author: Chris Horridge

Should We All Follow Warrington’s Example?

For years now, we’ve been on the search for cleaner, greener energy. From wind farms to solar roads to recycling to wave power, we’re now slowly getting there, but what else can we do? Well, Warrington Borough Council is aiming to reduce light pollution, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by replacing 27,000 of the borough’s street lights. Should we be following their example?

What’s the Plan?

Over the course of the next 3 years, a monumental 18,000 street lights will be replaced at a total cost of £25 million. As part of the upgrade, however, it isn’t just the bulbs that will be replaced, the columns and lanterns will also be upgraded with the aim of lowering both emissions and energy consumption and reducing light pollution.

The pioneering scheme will see LED lanterns replace the current SOX lamps, producing a whiter, brighter light as a result. It is thought that because LEDs produce whiter light even at lower levels that the new lamps will be especially useful for the elderly and the visually impaired.

At present, street lighting in Warrington is incredibly inefficient. It is estimated that, throughout the borough, around 60% of street lighting stock has been in place for 25 years or longer. Overall, the council pays £1.4 million per year for street lights and they account for 17% of the authorities total carbon dioxide emissions. For this reason, the scheme is essential, as the savings it will create will be massive, but who else will follow suit?

Is Anyone Following Suit?

Liverpool is a good example of a city following Warrington Borough Council’s lead. Spending £7 million over the next 2 years, Liverpool City Council hopes to replace 12,000 SOX street lights for LED ones, brightening the city in the process.

The city’s mayor Joe Anderson said that “We have decided to bring LED street lighting to Liverpool to improve the lighting across the city and make our streets safer…this will help to make our city greener and a better place to live by saving over 1,400 tonnes of carbon [dioxide] emissions each year”.

A Good Idea?

Obviously, the upfront cost is substantial, with both councils paying over £30 million combined. Long term however, it seems as though the quality of the light produced will be higher, bills will be lower and carbon emissions will be drastically reduced. So, the only question is, should we all follow suit?

About the Author: Chris Horridge