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Spark Busters: Halloween Hall Of Horrors!

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 27th October 2015

Can you believe it, Halloween is upon us again. Last year we published our Electrical Hall of Horrors and we thought this would make a great annual post. So this Halloween, keep your eyes peeled to see if any of these horrors are lurking in your house. Like all nasty creepy Halloween horrors you are most likely to find these in dark places such as your loft, under stairs cupboard or basement. If you spot any of these in your home scream at the top of your voice and run a mile, or call an electrician to carry out an inspection and rid your home of any of these ghoulish horrors.

1. One of the most common dangers in the home is probably lurking behind your TV. Overloaded daisy chained sockets can be lethal, add to the mix some random paper and it won't be long until you could be in trouble.

2. Do you rent your home? If so you should make sure your landlord has had a recent inspection. This landlord ended up paying a hefty price when he was fined £15,000 earlier this year. He had tried renting out a house whilst still renovating it which meant dangerous unfinished electrics were exposed in the building.

3. Does your basement look like this? We hope not. This homeowner needs a full rewire!

4. If you see any signs of burns or over heating on your consumer unit get it fixed straight away. Recent changes to the wiring regulations mean you will now need to replace it with a metal one, however this is going to be much cheaper than rebuilding your house.

5. Classic signs of a proper bodge job will be poorly taped connections. Who knows what's lurking inside and who carried out the work in the first place.

6. They say it's good luck if a black cat crosses your path, however in this case I would be worried about the cat surviving in this flat.

7. If this is your under stairs cupboard then you will want to look into upgrading to a new consumer unit. Make sure you get an experienced sparky to do the job as this is not so straight forward.

8. This picture is from Trip Advisor. A hotel in Malta is responsible for this bit of shocking workmanship.

9. Exposed wires even in the loft can still be dangerous.

10. If you don't lift your floorboards you have no idea what is lurking underneath. In this case some really bad jointing. 

 

Some of the above really is quite scary, plus it's not made up like ghosts and ghoulies, it's all real and could be making an appearance in your home any day now. If you want to be sure your electrics are not shocking then get an electrician to carry out an EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) which should pick up on any issues that need to be resolved asap.

 

 

 

Categories: halloween

The Benefits of Electronic Invoicing for Electricians

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 16th October 2015

When it comes to invoicing, it is essential that you are able to keep an accurate record of invoices sent out to clients.  Not only does help to ensure you get paid for the work you do, but also enables you to complete your tax return at the end of the year without getting into a pickle.

Why consider electronic invoicing?

For small businesses, electronic invoicing makes perfect sense for the fact it will save you time.  Time is what most business owners and certainly electricians struggle with so electronic invoicing will free up time to do other important business tasks such as marketing.  What type of software you opt for is up to you, but whichever type of invoicing programme you opt for, you will save time and money and run your business more effectively.

Some Free Electronic Invoicing Websites

It's amazing what you can get for free these days and you will be surprised just how good some of the free online invoicing websites are too. Most will do everythign you need but you may find paying a small fee is worth it to ensure the best possible service:

Wave Free Invoice Software

Invoiceable

Zoho (Free up to 5 invoices per month)

Hiveage

Express Invoice (Downloadable software)

Time Saving

The old paper based or traditional system is also more expensive.  The cost of paper and ink plus the postage can quickly add up and there is no guarantee your client will receive the invoice.  Electronic invoices can be sent instantly via email.  Electronic invoicing is not expensive to set up – some programmes can be set for free.  Express invoice is one such programme – you can send invoices for free and set up a clients list.  It is possible to upgrade and purchase the programme for a small one off fee which opens up the full programme features.  Other invoicing software is subscription based which allows you to invoice in return for a monthly fee.  Such subscription programmes often include other items such as quotes, estimates and a diary.

Accuracy

In times gone by a book keeper would have been responsible for compiling each invoice and working out the figures accurately ensuring the VAT and other expenses were accounted for and billed correctly.  This leaves a lot of room for human error especially after a hard day and you have no book keeper!

Electronic invoicing has pre filled fields which ensures you won't forget important detail and can be updated and amended in seconds.

If you don't have a printer can you imagine how boring it would be writing out a template each time you wanted to send out an invoice? Electronic invoicing would be worth it's weight in gold!

Getting paid quickly

Small electrical contracting businesses rely on good cash flow to survive.  It is essential that invoices are paid in a timely manner especially when the work has been completed to the clients satisfaction.  Electronic invoicing clearly lists payment options allowing your client to make payment instantly using one of the methods shown.  There will be no waiting around for cheques to clear or cash which could get lost.

Electronic invoicing can also be done in seconds and sent to your client at the touch of a button.  Many electricians send the invoice before they drive away from their clients home it is so simple and straight forward.

Produce duplicate invoices at the touch of a button

Electronic invoicing programmes allow you to save the details of each customer you enter into the system.  This means that for repeat custom or on going work, your clients details can be retrieved within seconds and another invoice sent out.  This saves the time of having to enter customer details every time an invoice is produced. All you have to do is select the products or services being charged for and the invoice programme will automatically calculate the taxes, due date and when the payment is received.

It is worth including a line or two to explain to the customer how to make payment whether this is a direct bank transfer, card payment or by PayPal.

Does electronic invoicing really save electricians money?

Electronic invoicing makes perfect sense if you run a small electrical contractors or work for yourself.  For the outlay of invoicing software or a small monthly subscription, you will get your money 'back' within a short time of using it.  By the time you have calculated the outlay of paper, ink (plus printer), envelopes, postage and your time in producing the invoices themselves, you will be quids in very quickly.

Anyone who is not using electronic invoicing is missing a trick and you are throwing money away as well as wasting valuable time you could be using on getting more work!

 

Review: IET Books Now Available Electronically (17th Edition, Guidance Note 3 and more!)

Posted by Christos Panayiotou on 9th October 2015

A quick check on the Amazon website will show that the IET books don’t always have the biggest rating from the buyers. Many electricians believe that the regular updates appear to be a money making enterprise. Whilst we understand their concern it is clear that the IET really have consumers and electricians safety at heart when updating the regulations. Some of the reviews can be seen below:

Well it seems that people would prefer an electronic copy but are not aware that these have been available for some time. In fact since the start of 2015 the IET has been publishing books online via a special electrical standards portal. The great thing about this service is you will automatically receive updates and changes to the regulations across all key books that you subscribe to at no added costs.

Key benefits

The IET have been working hard at getting this right and the online books have some big advantages over the paper ones:

You can search in various ways for different sections or topics saving time thumbing through the paper book to answer your queries. This is probably the biggest advantage of having an electronic subscription.

You will always have access to the most up to date information. When amendments come along you will have access to both the new and the old content.

You are able to download whole sections to be viewed offline so if you are going to be stuck in a basement somewhere with your electronic version you won’t be left in the dark.

You can print sections out for use offline too.

You can even compare the latest amendments to the old ones other and view the information side by side.

The biggest complaint most people have about the book is finding the right information and it appears that the online books more than deal with this issue. You can choose to search across all titles you subscribe to or just one book. You can then filter your search results by topics, titles and locations as well as view results in the old and new amendments. See the screen shot below to see a search result for “Special Locations”:

Overall we feel this a great solution and clearly in demand, however at present we don’t think many electricians are fully aware this is available. With cost clearly a big issue you can possibly save money buy going online and improve the service too especially if you are a large company who buys hundreds of books.

How much does it cost?

The IET offer a free, Bronze, Silver and Gold packages. The gold is usually reserved for larger companies who will have a large number of subscribers. This is possibly where the biggest saving of time and money is likely to be made. You can see a table of the packages below:

Most elecricians will take up the Bronze package covering BS7671 wiring Regulations, On Site Guide, Guidance Note 3 and Guidance Note 1. This will set you back £60+VAT per year (£72 per year) compared with roughly a one off £160 for paper copies. However we have noted that the Electricians Guide to the Building Regulations is only included in the Silver Package which seems odd especially if you are just doing domestic installation. As such most domestic installer will probably opt to stay offline until a new package is created or the Bronze package is improved.

So after 2 years you will have spent the same as the books (nearly 3 if you can claim the VAT back), however you must remember the extra benefits above. The portal is accessible via your mobile, table and pc meaning you can have it wherever you are especially if you have 3g or 4g connection.

A word of warning for students

However if you are going to train with Trade Skills 4U and are thinking about buying one of these packages please hold fire. Unfortunately most exams prohibit the use of electronic equipment. In fact you are not even allowed to take in a programmable calculator into most exams so a laptop of tablet or smartphone is definitely not going to be allowed.

If you have already trained and are out there working then the e-books are a good option, however once you enter an exam environment hard copies will be required. This is a huge issue however we are looking into ways to overcome this but are yet to come up with a simple solution. Watch this space for more. If you would like more information on the packages available please visit:

https://electrical-standards.theiet.org

https://electrical-standards.theiet.org/?subscriptionMatrix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: books