Glenco is a family owned and operated award-winning company that has been bringing electricity, air conditioning and security to homes and commercial businesses in Sydney since the 80s. They truly raised the bar in the industry, especially when it comes to their customer relations. So, they delivered once again, providing the readers of Furnishing International with valuable expert advice concerning electrical works when designing your dream home. Here’s what they had to say.
Words: Chloe Taylor
Q: Planning the electrical layout when building or remodelling a house looks like a small issue in the grand scheme of things but is it really something we should leave for the very end of the house building plans? What needs to be included in the electrical layout?
A: An electrical layout is extremely important and should be considered from the beginning. After all, the electricity is what keeps the home functioning. Unfortunately, if the layout is not done correctly then things get missed that are a lot more difficult to implement or fix later on. You want to make sure that everything that the client wants to use their home for is on there. Switches, powerpoints, data outlets, TV and Foxtel outlets, smoke detectors, ceiling fans, two-way switching, weatherproof powerpoints, garden lighting etc, etc. If any of these items are missed, then there is a very good chance you will have bigger problems later on. Once all of the gyprock walls get put up, then it is very difficult to run additional cables. You want to make sure everything is done beforehand.
Q: Are there any differences between planning electrical layouts for bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms? How do these differences reflect the workload?
A: There is no major difference as long as everything is on the plan. You may have to consider things like ‘wet zones’ in bathrooms and kitchens, where electrical outlets will have to be a minimum distance away from a tap or wet area. Also, kitchens may involve thinking of making the space as useful as possible. For example, you may want to plan for under bench lighting for a kitchen workspace so you can see what you’re doing when cooking. Or you may want to consider USB power points for the kitchen space so you can charge your devices easily. It is a good idea to consult with Glenco from the beginning to figure out what will be best for a space based on what you will use it for.
Q: Safety is a critical factor for all homeowners. How does Glenco address this issue? What needs to be done to ensure that there won’t be major electrical malfunctions in the future?
A: It is all in the way that you install it. As electricians, we know what our rules are. We are able to make sure that all electrical cables are installed in the correct manner. This could be a certain distance away from phone and data cables. We ensure they are installed in such a way they cannot be damaged in any way in the future. When installing switchboards, it is important to make sure you install the correct product. The most common causes of issues when it comes to switchboards are high resistance faults. It is important that the switchboard is installed correctly and the correct materials are used. One of the most crucial elements is making sure you install the correct cabling for wet zone areas. At Glenco, we would always recommend that switchboards be upgraded to current Australian Standards, and include safety switches. This is the safest electrical system for a property as any faults detected will cut the power supply off before anyone is injured.
Q: What is your stand on energy-efficiency? Is it a sought-after feature among your customers? Do you recommend it when designing a home and why?
A: Energy efficiency is crucial to think about when designing a new build. This can save you money from the moment your electrical infrastructure is installed. We highly recommend the installation of LED lighting in all properties as these are an easy and cost-effective way of saving energy and helping the environment. LED lighting has revolutionised the energy efficiency sector, with a lot of rebates now available for some properties to make the change to LED. At Glenco, we can help with this process. There is also the installation of the correct meter that means you can take advantage of peak and off-peak rates. This is something a lot of our customers ask us about and we have a number of different solutions we can offer. We can also install ceiling fans as a cheaper alternative to running air conditioning. However, air conditioning can be quite cost effective for heating and cooling in the long run if utilised and installed correctly.
Q: Features, such as motion detectors with cameras, electric blinds, control of individual lights and dimmers, door-to-door communications, multi-room audio systems, heating control, and kitchen appliances now can be centrally managed from a smartphone. How can they improve the quality of life? Are they worth considering when remodelling or building a home? What are the preparations that need to be done to implement them?
A: My personal opinion is yes and no. Whilst it is very “cool” to be able to manage these things from a smartphone, there can be a Wi-Fi or communication problem which can become frustrating. In these cases, simplicity is a good thing. There are a number of advantages to these systems though when they work well. With regards to motion detectors with cameras and electric blinds I believe these are a good option individually. Whilst it will mean additional remote controls, they can be very efficient and handy.
Q: Designing a lighting plan for a home sounds like a daunting task. What are the things we should pay attention to when considering our lighting options?
A: When designing the lighting for your home, the effect this can have should not be underestimated. Lighting can change the whole look and feel of a room and a home overall. You should think about things like up-lighting that can highlight a specific feature or piece of art. There’s also the type of lights you’d like in your home (our recommendation is always LED). Additionally, there are features like dimmers that you can add as additions easily to existing lighting, so you have control of the brightness of the room and can change the mood. When carrying out your lighting plan consider what the room will be used for. Do you want to use lamps or would you prefer wall switches with dimmers? What do you want the ‘mood’ of the room to be? Will the room require ‘task lighting’ which is lighting used for when you’re carrying out tasks like that you may find in a home office or a kitchen? Reading lights over your bed space can be considered when in the planning stages, as well as sensor lighting for outdoor spaces and enhanced security.
Q: When we are talking about lighting we usually refer to the interior. What are the challenges of designing an exterior lighting plan? Which solutions are the best for the outdoor space?
A: The challenges with outdoor lighting is often to make sure it is adequate. On one side you want there to be enough light should you want to “light up the area for a party. On the other side, there is also the mood lighting which would involve a darker space which is still lit effectively. When thinking about the use of the space, it is important to think of how versatile you want it to be. Also, if there is a specific garden or outdoor feature you may want to illuminate, like a wall fountain or some outdoor piece of art. This is where thinking ahead comes in handy. You also want to make sure that you buy the right product. It can be very frustrating to install a big flood light at the top of a house, but then have a globe that continually blows that you have to try and change up there. The right product (LED) means less maintenance for these spaces. There are some really great outdoor lighting options available. Speak to us here at Glenco to find out more.
Q: When should in-wall vacuum systems, exhaust fans, and vents be considered? How do we decide on their position and outlets?
A: This all comes down to cost. These systems can be highly convenient, but obviously they do cost more to implement. Again, positioning is all about use. What are the rooms that get the most use in the property? These are the ones you may want to consider having in-wall vacuums installed in. Exhaust fans can be necessary in some bathrooms that don’t have good ventilation to ensure you are preventing mould.
Q: What sort of permits are required for work that involves installing or relocating electrical wiring? Should the homeowners attain them or is it the job for electricians?
A: There are no major electrical permits required. If Glenco is carrying out work for a property, then our license is all that is required. That being said it depends on what type of build the home owner is doing. If it is a large build that has gone through the council then certain requirements are needed but this is usually provided by the builder. Always ensure you are using a licensed electrical contractor such as Glenco. We are qualified to work an electrical, air conditioning and security and alarm technicians and have all of the necessary permits, licenses and insurances.
Q: Are there any things that you would always advise against when it comes to home design and electricity?
A: The great thing about technology is that is can often provide endless possibilities. So, I don’t think there are major things that we would advise against, apart from doing it yourself. As long as you have a qualified electrician carrying out the work then almost anything is possible. The situations that we have found that cause the most issues are when someone has tried to ‘do it themselves’ that is not qualified. Very often we have to come in afterwards and fix these issues up. In the long run it ends up causing more mess, headaches, and more money for the homeowner. The right thing to do is leave it to the experts.
For more information, please head to http://www.glenco.com.au/