Category Archives: Our Blog

When you say hoverboard, you think of Marty McFly, right?  Or is that just showing my age … Back to the Future was (and still is) an iconic movie.  Back in 1985 it seemed a futuristic, awesome dream to ride on a hoverboard.  And now, in 2016, it is a reality.  However, there has been a number of reports comprising users safety.  Naturally these toys are popular and it has been reported that these toys (or more specifically their batteries) have a tendency to unexpectedly catch on fire in a range of situations. There have also been house fires reported that are allegedly due to the use of lithium ion batteries which leads us to the question of: What are the risks for storing these types of batteries at home?

Lithium batteries are very popular for many devices – especially where the weight is important as they are lightweight, compact & energy dense.  This is the same chemistry that produces these qualities which also makes them very sensitive to environmental conditions such as:-

Temperature – if charged at very cold temps the lithium ions plate onto the surface of the anode.  They then “grow” out of the surface of the anode having then the potential to form a conductive path to the cathode which causes an internal short circuit.  At high temps, the internal composition of the cell breaks down resulting in uncontrollable chemical reactions which create more heat and increases the rate of reaction resulting in thermal runaway.

Overcharging & Over Discharging – Overcharging causes much the same reaction as charging at cold temps & also produces carbon dioxide gas at the cathode which increases pressure.  Over-discharging is more hazardous as copper that is included in the anode dissolves when the cell reaches a low charge (normally controlled by the anode preventing this).  When charge is restored to the battery, the copper becomes solid again & thus falls to the bottom of the cell creating a potential short circuit.

Battery Monitoring Systems (BMS) & Safety Features – A suitable BMS that monitors the voltage & temperature of cells will provide protection, however it does increase the product cost, so often manufacturers will monitor groups of parallel cells as an alternative.

Any of the failure examples above may be the reason behind the recent hoverboard fires and have been caused by substandard battery components, poorly designed BMS’s & non-compliant or faulty battery chargers.

Retailers & consumers should ensure that both the hoverboard & the charger are compliant with AS/NZS3820 (Essential safety requirements for Australia & New Zealand).  The most expensive component of self-balancing hoverboards is by far the battery and therefore this component is the natural target for cost cutting measures.  Such a fault would explain the boards that caught alight both during charging and while being used.  All battery chemistries may fail if treated incorrectly.  Therefore when using a battery type for mobile applications, it is obvious that quality batteries incorporating a suitable BMS provide reliability & performance.

Now you’ve got your safety covered – enjoy your hoverboard.  (Just watch out for Biff!) ; )

Information sourced from NECA News publication March/April 2016.

Ahhh…. Summer is coming. Whether you’re sitting out on your deck being absorbed by the colours of the sky as the sun goes down, relaxing by the pool with the kids or having a cold one with your neighbour on the front porch, it’s that time of the year where we start spending more time outside. And with daylight savings, those balmy afternoons are stretching comfortably into the evening.

I guess it depends on whether you have lights outside or not!

Having recently moved houses into an area where residents take pride in their garden, it just goes to show how outdoor lighting nicely compliments your property. Apart from looking amazing at night and allowing you to enjoy those summer nights longer, it’s also a safety option for your family & guests as well as providing a deterrent against intruders.

OK, so you’ve decided you need some lights or perhaps a bit of an update on what you have. It’s probably a good idea to start with drawing up a lighting plan, highlighting pathways, steps or side walkways. Lights around landscaped features such as ponds and pools make them look truly gorgeous at night, particularly if they’re placed to give off a reflection from the water.

Next question is which way to go – electrical or solar? Electric lights offer reliability and can be turned on for as long as you like or there’s also the very popular eco choice of solar which will run as long as their batteries allow. Or … you can combine both.

One great benefit of electrical landscape lights is that the light will be stronger, brighter, and more consistent. Some people prefer electrical landscape lighting for these reasons and would not consider anything else. However, other people prefer solar lights for their convenience of installation, ease of rearranging, and power conservation features.

Products for the garden do cost more than other lights, but they can be used in many different ways. There’s plenty of suitable lights to choose from whether it be tinted / coloured lights, interchangeable spot lights or lights that use little energy. It’s best to have a professional install them as they can be a bit tricky to put in but the results will be a fantastic, usable area that enhances your garden and your property. Don’t forget that they can be timed to come on and off automatically which is a great energy saving.

Adornment lights for the garden or rope lighting is a fast method of decorating an area. Rope lights are made up of a sequence of LED bulbs in a plastic conduit, which serves as protection from the weather.

If entertaining is your thing, then lighting for your deck or pergola is a must! A lot of different products are accessible including everything from recessed lighting to pole lights, which offer additional safety on the stairs and for the deck edging, which might have been missed in the dark.

Once you know what kinds of lights are out there for purchase, and the pros of each style, it won’t be too hard to decide which lights suit your individual circumstances.

Clearly there are many different options when it comes to outdoor lighting so decisions should be made with great care. When you are considering your garden lighting options, weigh up the information discussed and decide on what best suits you.

And if you need some professional help, please call Spectra Electrical & Communications on 1300 665 587 whereby our friendly staff are more than happy to discuss your options and provide an obligation

Following the comfortable form and function trend so evident over the last year, modern trends will continue with the “old is new” attitude into 2012, while blending in a bit of traditional and 21st Century influences.

All places, all spaces

Previously, it was unusual to see decorative chandeliers and pendants anywhere except in the power positions of the home – they were often reserved only for grand rooms, such as ballrooms, sweeping foyers and dining rooms.

Today, however, they are staking their claim throughout the modern home – they can add drama to the kitchen, the guest bathroom, the living room, bedrooms, reception rooms and hallways, and even patios can go upscale by adding some chandelier sparkle – perfect for South African style summer entertaining.

To most people, their home is their sanctuary, which is why they work hard at making their spaces as luxurious, comfortable and beautiful as they can – and nothing can quite match the grandeur, glamour and elegance of a crystal look chandelier or pendant,

Check out below the gorgeous chandeliers that are the latest trends for 2012 lighting

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There are a number of simple steps home owners can take to protect personal safety, preserve electrical equipment, and deal with potential damage to the home’s electrical system.

Follow the checklist below to help get yourself and your property ready ahead of storm season.

1 – Put safety first
Don’t attempt do-it-yourself repairs if your property suffers storm damage, including your home’s electrical system and any electrical appliances affected. Call a qualified electrical contractor to help.

2 – Protect the system
Ask an electrician about having lightning protection installed in your switchboard to protect all appliances. A small investment in surge protection could save you thousands of dollars to replace electrical items.

3 – Go offline before the storm
Unplug all sensitive appliances, such as computers and TVs, and disconnect the telephone and TV antenna before the storm arrives.

4 – Don’t connect during the storm
Don’t use equipment directly connected to electricity, including the stove, during a severe storm.

5 – Be wary of wires
Don’t go outside to check the damage before an electrician arrives, especially during a storm, as fallen power lines are easily concealed and can be deadly.

6 – Call an electrician before your energy distributor.
If the wires have been torn down in a black out, most houses will require internal repairs before the power can be reconnected. In those cases, you need to contact an electrician before the distributor is called out, as your electricity distributor will be unable to assist until the wiring is fixed.

7 – Be confident in your contractor.

Concerns over high electricity costs are leading consumers to switch off appliances, with beer fridges, televisions and freezers the first to get the flick. According to independent research from the consumer survey group Canstar Blue, 1 in 2 consumers are adjusting their appliance use because of concerns over electricity prices and the approaching carbon tax.

“Consumers are hearing from every direction that living costs are likely to increase over the next twelve months and managing their energy costs is one of the ways they are responding,” said manager of Canstar Blue, Rebecca Logan.

“Interestingly, our survey showed 56 per cent of respondents have started turning off key household appliances designed to be kept on constantly as a way to combat rising electricity costs.”

However, while consumers are switching off some products (with Gen Y respondents the most likely to turn off appliances), the power-hungry air conditioner has escaped the cut. According to the Canstar Blue survey, 1 in 5 respondents have recently cut back on household spending in order to offset air conditioning costs.

“We might switch off our beer fridges and TV to conserve energy but many Australians won’t budge when it comes to their beloved air conditioner, with 35 per cent of respondents relying on their air conditioner to sleep properly in summer,” said Logan.

The survey also found that Australians are increasingly concerned with the environmental impact of their power use, with “39 per cent of respondents reading the levels of greenhouse gas emissions on the back of their bills and 18 per cent having changed to solar power”.

Spectra Electrical would like to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and New Year. Enjoy your break with your family and friends.

If your lights are incorrectly used or do not comply with Australian Standards they could leave your festive season in ruins.

To have a safe and happy festive season, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind.

If you don’t already have a safety switch on your switchboard it is worthwhile having one installed or at the very least using a portable safety switch to connect your Christmas lights. While a circuit breaker is designed to protect your property, only a safety switch is designed to protect your life. Find out more about safety switches and how to recognise one.

If you have any doubts about the electrical safety of any Christmas lights, decorative lighting, other electrical equipment or your electrical installation, contact a licensed electrical contractor. You can find them in the Yellow Pages, White Pages, your local newspaper or by contacting an electrical industry association.

The Electrical Safety Office brochure ‘Decorative lighting safety hints’ explains important things you need to know about buying, using and storing Christmas lights. For a copy of the brochure visit

Christmas lights safety tips

Before you get started

• Choose the right type of Christmas lights for the location.
• Always take normal precautions when buying, installing, using and storing them.

Things to consider about the Christmas lights you will use

• Are the lights for indoors or outdoors?
• Will the lights be left outdoors?
• Will the lights be used near children?
• Will the lights be installed on metal fencing or near other metal objects?
• Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for more information.

Purchasing your Christmas lights

• Christmas lights require an Australian certificate of approval before they can be sold in Queensland. When buying new Christmas lights, look for an approval number (e.g. Q12345; V12345; N12345; NSW12345;) or the regulatory compliance mark logo, which indicates compliance with Australian Standards. These marks must be on the Christmas lights and are normally found on a plastic tag near the supply plug, or on the transformer body if it is an extra low voltage type. The markings may also be printed on the packaging.

Only buy lights that have an approval mark. Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for additional information

Only buy lights that have insulated pins on the supply plug.

Only buy lights that have insulated pins on the supply plug .

• Buy your lights from a reputable dealer. Buying your lights from a retailer who has been in business for a long time, or has a well known brand, will give you some confidence that the retailer knows the electrical equipment safety requirements for selling Christmas lights in Queensland.
• Beware of buying Christmas lights online from other countries. Other countries have different electrical systems and safety standards and the products may be unsafe for use in Australia. Remember, if it doesn’t have an Australian type plug, the Christmas lights will not be approved for use in Australia.
• Buying Christmas lights at markets or second hand may increase the risk of buying unsafe Christmas lights which are not approved for use in Australia.
Safety requirements for Christmas lights have changed in recent years so second hand lights may not meet the latest safety requirements. (A good way to check the condition of old Christmas lights is to see if the plug has “insulated pins”. If it does not have insulated pins then the Christmas lights may be very old and may not meet the latest safety requirements.)

If you buy second hand Christmas lights you should have them checked by a licensed electrical contractor before you use them.

Visit the Electrical Safety Office website for more information on:

• Installing your Christmas lights
• Using your Christmas lights
• Packing lights away

Warning! Look up and live.
Keep yourself, decorative lighting and other equipment well clear of overhead power lines.

Never attempt to do your own electrical work – it’s dangerous, illegal and can be fatal. Always get a licensed electrician to do any electrical work.

For more information about electrical safety or Christmas lights, visit the Electrical Safety Office website

Festive lights can do more than fill a room with Chrismas cheer- they can short-circuit the power, electrocute the family dog and burn the house down.

Firefighters have issued a warning about over enthusiastic light decorations over the Christmas/New Year period.

Fire and Rescue NSW was called out to 673 residential fires between December 1 last year and January 31 this year.

“Getting into the spirit of Christmas with lots of lights and other accessories is great fun,” Commissioner Greg Mullins said.

“But over-enthusiatic decorating can lead to over-loaded electrical circuits.”

Let’s hope everyone will be safe this Christmas/New Year

If you are interested in finding out more about how the Energy ratings work check out the below link.

Interesting Facts

A guide to appliance Labelling