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Go Green for Earth Day with Refurbished Equipment & Components

April 17th, 2014 by


As the world celebrates Earth Day, all industries are finding ways to conserve resources and help the environment. For electricians, this means finding ways to offer high-quality equipment without adding to the dangerous emissions created by the parts manufacturing process. By finding high-quality refurbished equipment, electricians can benefit both the environment and their customers’ budgets.

Refurbished and Used Equipment

As many electricians realize, electrical equipment and components are available that yield the same high performance as their brand new counterparts. Often these parts are removed from buildings or are left over from large projects. Supply companies purchase them after ensuring they’re still in good working condition. Once purchased, they’re refurbished to ensure every working part gives peak performance.

Electricians aren’t required to purchase parts for a large-scale operation to put refurbished parts to work for their clients. Many professionals choose to simply begin ordering from a refurbished parts supplier with one or two parts, then graduate to placing regular orders. With each order, electricians are avoiding the manufacture of new parts, helping reduce the number of carbon emissions harming the environment.

Electronic Waste

In general, electronic waste poses a serious threat to the environment, with disposal of electronic equipment and parts creating dangerous emissions. The government has attempted to reduce the amount of e-waste disposal, especially at the consumer level, but the problems are still ongoing. The biggest risk is to human health, since disposal of electrical equipment can often release harmful chemicals into the air.

The best way to safeguard the health of citizens, as well as the overall air quality, is to keep electrical parts in circulation as long as possible. In many cases, even defunct equipment can be disassembled and some of its parts refurbished. Those parts can then be either put in other equipment or used by electricians as they perform installations.

Keeping Landfills Safe

EMSCO helps keep electrical equipment and components out of landfills and recycling centers, removing governments from the burden of finding ways to safely dispose of them. The company offers to purchase equipment and parts from businesses that have excess inventory or from sites that are being demolished or vacated. EMSCO is always in need of items of various types in order to meet the demands of its many clients.

Additionally, EMSCO allows engineers and other professionals to simply place a phone call and locate the refurbished part they need. Many technicians make the refurbished supplier the first call they make when they need a part, only buying new when a used or refurbished version isn’t available. This reduces the amount of parts being sold each day, eliminating the need for those parts to be replaced by more new parts.

When companies have excess parts, they also can contact EMSCO to purchase them. Selling them to EMSCO can be a great way to recoup some of their cost on a major office move. EMSCO makes the process of offering equipment easy, allowing businesses to email a list of all parts along with pictures, if possible, and they’ll soon be provided a quote that they can accept or reject.

For more information on how you can help the environment through refurbished electrical equipment, visit our store.

Want to Get Certified? Try These Popular Electrician Certifications

April 10th, 2014 by


Certification is a requirement for any professional conducting electrical work, but with so many options available, it’s easy to become confuse. As an electrician ponders his career, he may wonder which direction is best.

As you consider your licensing options, here are a few benefits of each of the most popular electrician certifications. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so check with your governing licensing board to determine what you will have to do to reach each level.

Assistant Electrician

Many electricians start out as an apprentice, working while they achieve their certification.  An apprenticeship program is generally a multi-year process that combines work with classroom learning. Many technical schools with electrician programs offer apprenticeship programs to allow entry-level electricians to gain on-the-job experience while still learning the information they’ll need to do the job.

An electrician is required to work a minimum number of hours for completion, usually collecting industry standard apprentice-level rates for the work. The apprentice may be required to work with a local company to ensure he gets the minimum hours per week he needs to complete the program. Until he achieves his license, the apprentice will be required to work under the supervision of a licensed electrician.

Certified Electrician

Once an electrician has hundreds of hours as an electrician, he’ll qualify to supervise assistant electricians and apprentices. This level of certification also requires a minimum number of hours of safety training. Once an electrician advances to this level, he is responsible not only for his own safety, but the safety of those under his supervision.

An electrician will generally be required to pass a qualifying exam before advancing to this level, but having this certification can qualify him for more advanced jobs. This is a great way for an electrician to move forward in his career, bringing in higher pay and gaining additional respect.

Master of Electrician

Eventually, an electrician may choose to advance to “master” level in order to oversee projects and earn a more lucrative paycheck. A minimum level of experience is necessary to qualify for this certification, as well as an extensive education in worksite safety and building regulations. A master electrician is often required to oversee a project, as well as supervise other electricians.

Not all electricians will choose to advance to master level. Some electricians are born leaders, while others prefer to work as part of a team. Once he has his master certification, an electrician often takes on greater responsibility.  Some masters decide to open their own business, employing electricians and apprentices, while other masters work directly for contractors.

At any level, an electrician tackles challenges with ease, keeping worksites safe and working in collaboration with other electricians. Whether an electrician chooses a residential or commercial career, he has many opportunities for advancement within that career. With so many career paths available, the life of an electrician can include the exact types of jobs he wants. An electrician should check with his local governing boards to determine the exact requirements he’ll be expected to meet before he can achieve certification.

Square D Circuit Breakers Recalled

March 25th, 2014 by

Square D Circuit Breaker RecallThere’s been a recall issued for approximately 28,400 Square D molded case F and K frame circuit breakers. The recall has been issued over concerns that the affected breakers won’t trip when an overload occurs.

The affected breakers were manufactured in 2013, so odds are we don’t have any used ones on our shelves here at EMSCO. However, if you’ve purchased a new Square D breaker in the last year, it’s wise to check and see if it has been recalled. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission:

“This recall involves Square D brand models FA, FH, FI and FY one-, two- and three-pole circuit breakers rated 15 to 100 amps, and model KI two- and three-pole circuit breakers rated 110 to 250 amps. The F model breakers were manufactured May 8, 2013 through June 10, 2013 and have date codes 13193 through 13241. The K models were manufactured May 2, 2013 through June 21, 2013 and have date codes 13184 through 13255. The date codes are YYWWD format (example: 13184 = year 2013, week 18, day of the work week 4/ Thursday). The circuit breakers have a yellow label with the words “Square D” or the Square D logo. Model information can be found on the faceplate.”

If you do have one of the affected units, you’re urged to call the manufacturer, Schneider Electric USA, at (800) 634-8730.

Are You Protected Against an Electrical Fire?

February 13th, 2014 by


Each year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission expects more than 140,000 electrical fires, causing injuries, deaths, and damage to personal property. The real tragedy is that these casualties could have been prevented with just a few safety measures.

By understanding what causes electrical fires, both businesses and homeowners can put measures in place to protect against them. Here are a few things everyone should do to keep themselves and their loved ones as safe as possible.

Upgrade Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets can experience issues as they age, but homeowners and business owners shouldn’t assume that this only applies to structures built more than half a century ago. Experts actually say that older buildings tend to hold up well over time. Residential and commercial properties can often have problems related to sloppy wiring that overloads circuits and causes frequent problems.

To be as safe as possible, consumers should have a professional electrician inspect their home for any electrical problems. This should also be done prior making a purchasing. Sometimes these inspections uncover problems that could be potentially dangerous, even in newer construction.

Don’t Overload Outlets

In an age of power strips, it’s easy for electrical outlets to become overloaded. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 5,300 fires each year are caused by overloaded outlets. Consumers should make a concerted effort to evenly distribute the power they’re using, choosing separate walls and minimizing the number of items plugged into each power strip. Strips should never be “daisy chained”—the process of plugging a power strip into another power strip in order to add more outlets.

Discard Old Appliances

That toaster with years of burned-on food debris can be more dangerous than you realize. If an appliance begins to malfunction, discard it immediately, even if some time must pass before you can use it. Experts also advise against purchasing appliances at flea markets or other “used” venues, since there could be problems not identifiable at first glance.

Don’t Try to Do It Yourself

Many home and business owners often undertake DIY projects to save money and feel a sense of accomplishment. While these projects can be rewarding, it’s important to avoid taking on the electrical work unless you have the training and certifications necessary. Bring in a licensed electrician and have them do the electrical portion of the work, then complete the rest of it on your own.

Have a Plan

Every home and business should strategically place fire extinguishers where they can be accessed in an emergency. An evacuation plan should be drafted, with regular drills conducted to ensure everyone is prepared. This goes for both workplaces and homes. If possible, purchase a smoke detector that connects to an alarm system to ensure the fire department is notified as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.

Electrical fires are dangerous, but by taking a few precautions, both residents and businesses can be as safe as possible. A fire extinguisher and smoke alarm are essentials for any building and occupants should ensure smoke detector batteries are changed regularly.

Circuit Breaker Maintenance: Molded Case

January 28th, 2014 by


Circuit breakers are an electrical necessity, used in business, residential, and even electrical utility facilities. They’re an important part of most electrical systems, allowing for routine switching as well as protecting our systems from damaging overcurrents and short circuits. But without proper preventative maintenance, your breaker can fail to operate, causing electric transmission system breakups or equipment destruction. This becomes even more important when buying used or reconditioned circuit breakers.

Understanding your circuit breaker’s construction, operation and maintenance needs are key to proper usage. In our series on Circuit Breaker Maintenance, we’ll go over basic components and operation of the most popular types of circuit breakers. In this (part one of the series) we’ll be talking about molded-case (MCCB) circuit breakers.

Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB)

MCCBs contain five components:

  • Frame (houses and supports components, provides insulation to contain the arc)
  • Operating Mechanism (opens and closes contacts)
  • Interrupting Structure (arc chutes and all current-carrying parts excluding the trip unit)
  • Trip Unit (spots abnormal current flow and “trips” the operating mechanism to open the contacts)
  • Terminal Connections (provide connection from breaker to conductor)

Exercising Your Breaker

By design, molded case circuit breakers typically require little or no routine maintenance in a normal lifespan. This means, the need for preventive maintenance varies depending on operating conditions. Most preventative maintenance needs are the result of breakers remaining idle, either open or closed for periods longer than 6 months.

Because accumulated dust on latches can affect circuit breaker operation, if your breakers have been idle (open or closed) for 6 months or longer, it’s important to maintain them by  “exercising” them. You can do this by opening and closing latches several times in succession. This allows you to check that they are working properly and to remove any dust or foreign material that may have settled on all moving parts and contacts.

In addition to exercising your breaker regularly, you can perform the following routine tests.

Circuit Breaker Maintenance: Routine Testing

Routine trip testing should be performed every 3 to 5 years and allows you to verify if breakers are performing their basic circuit protective functions.

NOTE: The following tests should only be made on circuit breakers and equipment that are de-energized.

Insulation Resistance

Use a megohmmeter to test:

  • between phases of opposite polarity
  • from current-carrying parts of the breaker to ground
  • between the line and load terminals (with the breaker in the open position)


  • Be sure to disconnect load and line conductors from the breaker when performing insulation resistance tests, in order to achieve accurate results.
  • Any resistance value below 1 megohm is considered unsafe and would require further inspection of the breaker for possible surface contamination.


Circuit breaker connections should be inspected regularly to ensure that a good joint is present and that overheating is not a problem. If you spot discoloration or signs of arcing, overheating is present and your connections should be removed and the connection surfaces cleaned.

Milivolt Drop

Want to check for abnormal conditions like eroded contacts, contaminated contacts, or loose internal connections? The millivolt drop test is what you need. Testing should be made at a nominal direct-current voltage (50 amperes or 100 amperes for large breakers) and at or below rating for smaller breakers. Your results should be compared to breaker manufacturer’s data.

Overload Tripping

To verify proper action of your circuit breaker’s overload tripping components, apply 300 percent of the breaker-rated continuous current to each pole. Pay close attention to the automatic opening of the circuit breaker as this tells you more about its state than tripping times, which can be significantly affected by ambient conditions.

With a small time investment, you can make sure your MCCB circuit breakers remain in good working condition and serve you well for years to come.

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