Popular Home Electrical Projects For Spring

When someone says “spring cleaning,” our minds usually go right to dusting, vacuuming, and packing away the cold weather clothes. While all of those things are important, you should also remember that your electrical system needs some spring maintenance as well. For a complete inspection of your home’s electrical system in Wisconsin and Iowa, you can rely on Westphal & Co.


Out with the Old and in with the New

If you haven’t already done so, now is the perfect time to replace all of your lightbulbs with LEDs. LED lighting offers superior efficiency with full-spectrum color options. This affords more versatile lighting at a fraction of the energy usage of traditional bulbs.

Smart Tip: Take your home lighting to the next level with smart lights that you can control with your smartphone or tablet.


Updating Fixtures

Spring and summer are remodeling season. The mild weather creates the perfect conditions for completing indoor AND outdoor projects. While remodeling your home, consider upgrading your electrical fixtures as well. Upgraded fixtures can make your home more efficient and improve its aesthetics as well. If your remodeling project involves taking out walls, have the master electricians at Westphal & Co. check that and make sure everything is up to code.

Smart Tip: Consider adding smart outlets throughout your home including USB fixtures for efficient device charging and even outlets you can turn on and off remotely with your phone.


Light Up Your Landscape

Now that temperatures are warming up, you will probably want to be spending more and more time outside with family and friends. Let your time together run late into the evening by having landscape lighting installed. You can improve curb appeal and safety outside your home with the right landscape lighting!

Smart Tip: Add lighting controls that you can monitor via phone app.


Generator Maintenance

Spring showers can often turn into spring storms, and spring storms can knock out the power to your home. Your backup generator can keep the lights on for as long as you need it, but only if it is properly maintained. With a Westphal & Co. generator technician, we’ll make sure everything is running smoothly!


For ALL of Your Residential or Commercial Electrical Needs, Call Westphal & Co!

No matter the job, big or small, the professionals at Westphal Electric will be happy to discuss your project and answer any questions or concerns you may have. We offer free in-home consultations, plus an after-hours and emergency phone line for advice or service!


5 Most Important Electrical Services for Homeowners

Westphal & Co. can help keep your electrical system in tip-top condition. We’ve made this guide listing the key services we perform for homeowners in need of a licensed electrician. Read on to discover what they are, their importance, and when exactly you need them.

1. Upgrading a Circuit Breaker Panel

A circuit breaker panel is a safety device that distributes electricity in a home. Modern panels typically provide 200 amps of power, while older ones can supply just 100 amps. Very old ones, usually in homes built from 1950 to around 1965, only provide 60 amps. If you still have a 60- or even a 100-amp panel, it’s a good idea to upgrade your circuit breaker panel.

For starters, 200 amps are now the standard capacity for single-family homes. A 200-amp panel doesn’t use more electricity itself. Instead, it makes more electricity available by giving you more electrical capacity. For example, it lets you add more circuits that can then supply new electrical appliances. Please note that only a licensed electrician can upgrade a circuit breaker panel in Wisconsin. In fact, only state-licensed electrical contractors can do electrical work in Wisconsin.

2. Electrical Repairs

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, about 347,000 home fires occur annually in the U.S. Of these, 6.8% were due to electrical malfunctions, and over 5% were due to appliances and equipment.

Please keep in mind that a single small flame can turn into a massive fire in just half a minute. This flame, in turn, can start from a faulty electrical wire or outlet. Such malfunctions can occur due to age, overloaded wiring, or even rodent damage. If you live in an older home, an aging electrical system can put you in such danger. Typical causes include:

  • Overloading outlets
  • Constantly flickering lights
  • Inoperable outlets
  • Rodent damage

If you’ve experienced or seen any of these, please take them as signs that you need electrical repairs or rewiring. Don’t delay getting these issues addressed, as they can all contribute to a house fire.

3. Electrical Updates to Bring Your Home Up to Code

The Wisconsin state electrical code is followed throughout the State of Wisconsin. As a law, it applies to every property owner, including homeowners. However, these standards often get revised now and then. As such, many homes that have already existed prior to the revision are most likely not up to code. Common code violations include wire overcrowding and overloaded or undersized circuits.

Using old wiring for new light fixtures and mislabeling circuits are also widespread. Many older homes also violate the code by not having GFCI or AFCI protection.

If you’re home might be in need of a electrical upgrade, you can start by scheduling an electrical safety inspection. These comprehensive inspections will reveal not only potential violations but dangerous situations, too. From there, our electricians will educate you about your repair or upgrade options.

4. Safety and Security System Installation

Your local licensed electrician from Westphal & Co. can help you improve security in your home. For starters, we can install outdoor security lighting to illuminate your property’s exterior. We also install safety lights and automation systems for home lighting. Our electricians are experts in installing video doorbells, too.

5. Installation of a Whole-Home Surge Protection System

Lightning strikes, grid disruptions, and tripped breakers can all cause a power surge. However, it can also result from the use of high-power equipment, such as air conditioners.

In any case, power spikes can cause internal damage to electronics and appliances. They can fry circuit boards and even destroy LED lightbulbs. Even smaller power surges can cause slow deterioration of your pricey devices. A whole-home surge protector guards your valuables against these effects of power spikes and can cost a fraction of what you’d otherwise pay to replace appliances and electronics damaged by power spikes.

Keep Safe and Secure With Professional Electrical Services

There you have it, five of the most crucial electrical services that can help keep your home safe and secure. From panel upgrades to wire repairs, a licensed electrician from Westphal & Co. can safely carry them all out for you.

Ready to make your Wisconsin home safer and more secure? Then please know that our team here at Westphal & Co. is ready to help! Connect with us now, and we’ll be more than happy to assist you with all your electrical needs.

9 Tips for Whole Home Surge Protectors

Summer thunderstorms will be here before long and with them comes a lot of lightning. In fact, despite not being in Tornado Alley, Wisconsin is still a Top 20 state for cloud to ground lightning strikes each year. Which means Wisconsin homes are more susceptible to direct strikes and power surges that can be lethal to home electronics.

The cost of replacing a refrigerator, televisions, computers, air conditioner, or other major electric appliance can be thousands of dollars. It’s enough to make you nervous every time the forecast calls for heavy rain. The good news is that a whole house surge protector can keep them safe. Your expensive home appliances don’t have to be at risk of being damaged by electrical surges.

To help you understand more about power surges and how to protect your home, here are the most common questions we hear about whole-home surge protector installations.

1. What Is an Electrical Surge, and Why Is It a Threat to My Electronics and Appliances?

An electrical surge is a brief voltage spike in an electric circuit. This blast of extra current can overwhelm the electrical elements inside an appliance or electronic device like a computer or television. The surge can cause an arc of electricity within the device, generating heat that damages the circuit boards and other electrical components.

2. Is Lightning the Only Thing That Causes Electrical Surges?

There are two sources of power surges, external and internal. Lightning is one type of external power surge.

Power grade failures, downed power lines, and line maintenance can all disrupt the even flow of current on the lines that bring electricity to your home. As a result, external power surges can enter your home and affect every electrical device inside it.

3. What Are Internal Sources of Power Surges?

More than half of all power surges are caused by issues inside your home. Some internal causes of power surges include tripped circuit breakers, short circuits with damaged or frayed wiring, and defective appliances.

They can affect every device that is drawing power from the affected circuit.

4. What Does a Whole House Surge Protector Do?

A whole house surge protector safeguards your home’s entire electrical system; unlike smaller surge protectors, which only protect the device plugged into it, a whole house surge protector shields every outlet in your home.

When a power spike or surge tries to enter your home through the power lines, the whole house surge protector redirects the excess power to the ground. This effectively prevents the power surge from reaching any outlet or appliance inside your home.

5. Are the Electric Lines the Only Way for an External Power Surge to Enter a Home?

No. An external surge, like lightning, can follow any line leading into your home. That includes your phone line, cable TV feed, fiberoptic cables, and satellite TV cables.

This is one of the reasons a small surge protector hooked to a single device can’t protect your whole home.

6. What Types of Surge Protectors Are Available?

There are basically three types of surge protectors – whole house surge protectors, wall-mount surge protectors, and corded surge protectors.

A corded surge protector often looks like a plug strip and also serves that purpose. It is plugged into an electrical outlet, and the device you want to protect is plugged into it.

A wall-mount surge protector is similar, except there is no cord. It plugs directly into a wall outlet, and electrical components or appliances are plugged directly into it.

Both of these types of surge protectors only protect the devices plugged into them. In contrast, a whole house surge protector shields the entire electrical system, including hardwired items like smoke alarms, garage door openers, and jacuzzi tubs.

7. I Already Have a Surge Protector for My Computer; Do I Really Need a Whole House Unit?

There may have been a time when your computer may have been the only sophisticated electronic device you owned. That is likely not true today. Modern appliances like refrigerators, washers, ovens, and dishwashers contain complex electronics. Home entertainment equipment like Smart TVs and smart speakers are also susceptible to surge damage. A whole house surge protector safeguards them all.

Severe power surges can damage your home’s wiring and cause electrical fires. The small surge protector your computer is plugged into can’t protect you from that.

8. Where Is a Whole House Surge Protector Installed?

Unlike wall-mount and corded surge protectors, a whole house surge protector is hard-wired into your home’s electric panel. Because your electric panel is the central hub of your home’s electrical system, installing it there makes it possible for the surge protector to shield your entire home. Sometimes all of the components are inside the panel box. Sometimes there is a smaller, secondary box installed.

9. Is Whole House Surge Protection Installation a Do-It-Yourself Task?

Since a whole house surge protector is installed on your electric service panel, it’s a job that is best left to professionals. A licensed electrician has the expertise to safely access and work inside your main power panel. They know how to properly ground the surge protector so that spikes in electricity are safely carried away from your house.

Getting a Surge Protector for Your Own Home

A whole house surge protector safeguards every outlet in your home. It protects all of your smart devices, as well as your electrical system. If you are looking for an electrician in Janesville or Madison, WI or Dubuque, IA, the experts at Westphal & Co. are licensed electricians with over 90 years of experience. Contact us today to learn about the whole-home surge protection options available for your home.

8 Most Common Reasons to Hire an Electrician for Exterior Updates

There are so many different projects we work on for homeowners on a daily basis, but our most common visits for exterior updates are often overlooked. Here are the biggest reasons homeowners call Westphal to take care of their exterior wiring and electrical needs.

Add Outlets
Homes are often built with a limited number of exterior outlets and aren’t usually laid out to meet the homeowners needs. We get invited out to add specific GFCI outlets for exterior use in many places on the perimeter of the home. Sometimes it’s to solve one specific need, and other times people are asking for our advice on placement which can include a discussion about basement or crawlspace access.

Smart Doorbell or Cameras
We are in the age of smart devices – homeowners added more than 5 million smart doorbells in 2021 alone. We install doorbells in many different situations including replacing an existing low voltage doorbell, replacing a battery operated doorbell, or adding a doorbell in a new location.

Update Exterior House Lights or Add New Light
Design trends change and many home exterior lights are getting updated. We help make sure the wiring is run properly and you are able to have the controls you desire for a new exterior light update. Most of the time, we can also add a new or additional switch if you’d like to add one.

Generator Connection
Following the Texas power grid challenges of 2021, we’ve seen an uptick in requests to wire generators to a homes circuit breaker box in order to provide power when electrical service is interrupted. Usually, we are installing the generator and wiring at the same time, so we’re able to make a seamless setup for the homeowner.

Outdoor Landscape Lighting
We don’t provide landscape lighting, but we will get power where it needs to go so when your landscape lighting contractor arrives, they’ll be able to get you up and running without issue. Often homeowners request that we run service to a landscaping island in a yard or an outlet for tree uplighting or downlighting or even in soffits for can lights.

Outdoor Living or Outdoor Kitchen Wiring
One of the more popular projects in home improvement has been outdoor living updates, especially outdoor kitchens. For a complete kitchen, you’ll need exterior rated outlets and plan to get power to your outdoor space. From refrigerators to outlets for small appliances and lighting, our team is experienced and ready to help.

Heat Tape/Ice Melt
In the upper Midwest, our freeze/thaw cycles have continued to challenge home gutter systems. In order to avoid major ice issues, many homeowners request exterior outlets that can carry the necessary power to supply a heat tape system. We’ll often add a new breaker and run a new line to a new outlet to minimize exposure for the system.

Holiday Lighting Connections
Some homeowners have really taken their holiday lighting to the next level in the past few years. We’ve had many calls asking for specific outlet in just the right place so they can up their exterior lighting game.

These are just a few of the many ways we work in residential exteriors. For all your electrical needs, you can count on Westphal & Co. Contact us to receive a free quote for your renovation project and any other electrical system needs you may have.

How to Extend Your Electric Vehicle’s Range in Winter

EV Car in Winter

Electric vehicles are great cars that function all year round. However, if you live in the parts of the country that experience cold winters, you will notice your driving range reduces when the temperature goes south. This loss in the range is significant because it affects how long you can drive before charging the battery.
In this article, we consider six steps you can take to extend your electric vehicle’s range in winter. However, we will first examine why an EV’s range reduces during winter.

Why does an EV’s range reduce during winter?

Most modern EVs use lithium-ion batteries. Inside these batteries, charging and discharging result from the movement of electrons. However, when the weather is cold, the rate of movement of the electrons slows down, causing inefficiencies. This is why your range goes down as the temperate drops. For similar reasons, charging the car takes longer during the cold.

How to extend your electric vehicle’s range in winter

While you can’t do anything about the weather, there are steps you can take to alleviate the effect of the temperature on your battery.


Heating the car during winter takes a lot of energy. However, you can limit how much of your battery goes to heating by running the heater while still plugging into the charger. Some models allow you to precondition or warm up the battery before driving off, which will net you more driving range.

Park the car in a garage

The temperature in your garage will be slightly warmer than outside which will help your car hold battery charge for longer period and help it charge faster. If your garage is equipped with a heater, you will see a big improvement in battery holds and charging times.

Use localized heating

Instead of heating the whole car, turn on the seat heater if your vehicle has it. Also, warm your hands by heating the steering wheel. This will help you consume less battery and stay warm during your drive.

Adjust your driving habits

Instead of rapid acceleration that drains the battery, drive steadily. Also, use regenerative breaking as much as possible, or switch to low-power Eco mode. Avoid towing cargo behind your EV during winter.

Always carry a charging cable

If you have your charging cable with you, you can take advantage of any charging point you come across as you move about during the day. Some EVs have a frunk (front trunk) convenient for storing a charging cable.

Use winter tires

Winter tires are specially made to have more grip on the road when the temperature is low. Switch to a set of winter tires so that your electric car handles better the slippery conditions and assure the tire pressure is correct for more efficiency.
For all your electrical needs and garage EV charging station installation you can count on Westphal & Co. Contact us to receive a free quote for your project.