Ask an Electrician

As some of you know from my Instagram, my lovely husband Aaron is an Electrician by trade. I get the odd question for him on my social media so thought I would pin him down and get his opinion on some commonly asked questions, a few questions my followers have put to us following a recent Q&A and his opinion on current lighting/electrical trends.

At what point in a renovation/ remodel should lighting be considered?

I think a common mistake people make is considering lighting options too late. It can be very disruptive wiring lighting points, so preparation is key to getting cables in place and positioning of lighting just right before any final decorative work is carried out.

I get alot of questions from my readers about underfloor heating. Based on your experience, what is your opinion of underfloor heating?

I think underfloor heating serves a purpose, however in my honest opinion and experience underfloor heating is not only expensive to install but can be extremely difficult, if not impossible to maintain. You should always have a professional install this type of heating system, as there is a risk to the delicate heating system becoming damaged during the instillation process. It is also recommended to have each section of the electrical heating system checked and tested before instillation, it has not been unknown to be damaged in transit or faulty at manufacturing stage due to its delicate make up. The most important factor when choosing this heating option is that once the final flooring is down, should there be a problem with the heating system later on, the only way to replace damaged or faulty parts is to pull up an entire section of floor. I have seen and heard of cases myself where someone had underfloor heating throughout their downstairs, the floors were fully tiled, a fault then occurred, tripping the electrics and in the end there was no option but to pull up the entire tiled floor to gain access! For me personally this has put me off using it in my own home. However if you are sure you want underfloor heating, my advice would be to choose a specialist installer so any issues are covered by them.

Lets talk about current lighting trends… what trends are you loving and why?

For me personally lighting can make a room. I am pleased to see the return of a more classic, glamorous style lighting, I just love the wow factor. I am also seeing a lot of antique lighting that has been restored, you can find some amazing lights on sites like Ebay and have your electrician re wire these to suit modern day electrical systems.

How has the trend for open plan living affected the way lighting is used currently?

Open plan living can sometimes result in large areas needing lighting with minimal reflective surfaces due to walls being removed etc. This therefore needs taking into consideration when planning your lighting. The most popular way to get around this in an open plan space such as kitchen/diner are downlights, as these tend to give uniformity. One thing to be careful of when using downlights is the quantity per area and the lighting output, it can be all to easy to over do it and install too many. If you are more into a vintage/ classic look it may be worth considering wall lights or over counter lighting.

How can I enjoy fancy lighting while keeping the running cost down?

In this day and age we all know utilities are becoming more expensive, therefore my suggestion would always be to use LED lamps (bulbs) or fittings wherever possible. These do cost more to purchase than standard lamps, but will pay for themselves time and time again with both the efficiency and long life duration. Another way to lower your electrical usage is by using a dimmer switch, this reduces the power being drawn whilst also conveniently allowing you to choose your own lighting level to create a more ambient feel.

Some of my readers are considering smart lighting systems for their homes. Any advice?

I am all for futureproofing and using the latest technology however I believe we are at early stages of this technology, therefore these systems tend to be very costly. It may be worth holding off a couple of years until this becomes more mainstream. However if you have the budget then go for it! Make sure you do your research into different systems and look at reviews.

What electrical items is it worth splurging on and why?

Most definitely sockets and switches, these are all over the home so I think it is really important that they look stylish. There are so many options available now, to suit all types of styles from modern chrome to antique brass. One thing I believe to be worth spending on are the USB sockets, I recently installed these near our bed sides and it is a game changer! One other tip, most sockets will have a 25mm back box in the wall, therefor make sure that if this is the case you do not exceed the depth of this when choosing your socket as otherwise this will not fit in the wall. Another thing I cannot recommend enough are security and outdoor lighting. These can come with 2 options, dusk/dawn sensor or motion sensor (PIR). Not only do they transform the look of your property at night but they also add valuable security and deterrent. Definitely worth splurging on in my opinion!


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