The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the rise of home office projects worldwide. Many companies were forced to transition their employees to homes, and kids were either homeschooled or opted for online classes.
Now that things are back to almost normal, Same Day Pros are still continuously receiving inquiries or service calls regarding electrical issues in home office setups. Why? Having a home office is not just having a computer/laptop, a good and sturdy desk, office chair and printer, but it actually involves your electrical system.
There are a lot of times that households are not actually equipped to handle additional electrical loads, especially those who are living in older houses. Overheating of power cords, tripping circuits after having a home office set up, need for electrical upgrades and many more issues that have to be addressed.
In addition, remote offices are most likely here to stay or is a preferred new norm by many employees.
So, with this, whether you just have a dedicated space in your living room or bedroom or a full home office, here are some tips to make your home office electrically safe and conducive:
1. Have a plan
You may have heard these “failing to plan is planning to fail” and “An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing” — take these sayings to heart, as it could make or break any projects or goals that you may have.
You may be surprised how a home office or a dedicated working space can require a lot of items depending on the type of work that you do. From your computer devices, printers, additional lighting, receptacles down to power bars.
You will also have to plan your layout and check if you have enough electrical outlets.
Armed with a device list and layout of your space, consult a licensed electrician so that your electrician will be able to determine if you will need additional outlets, or power to avoid system overload (you wouldn’t want your workflow interrupted with outages).
Always take the safe course. You will need to call in the pros so that you will know if your system can handle the extra demand and of course for installations if needed.
Additional tip: If you want to save up, always hire an electrician near you. Consider location as it affects the service charge. If you currently do not have a go-to licensed electrician, here are some tips on finding the right electrician for you.
2. Install new outlets and circuits if needed
Your electrician will be able to identify if you need more outlets and switches. Most likely, you will need to have one installed to avoid opting for power boards or extension cords (safety hazards).
You could also consider getting outlets with USB charging ports for your tablets and smartphone. You are also not limited to having those outlets installed on your walls. You can ask your electrician to fit sockets in table sides, drawers and even in cabinets for easy access.
In addition, make sure to request for a dedicated circuit (this will most likely be recommended by your electrician) for your computer to avoid extra strain on other circuits in your home office.
Note that when installing additional wires in your home office setup, it should be similar to the standards of an actual workplace for extra protection.
3. Protection against power surges
Make sure that your devices are protected from power surges. There are a lot of possible triggers on power surges (e.g., lightning, electrical overloads).
Power surges can cause permanent damage to your devices and it will be costly to repair or buy a brand-new device, so prevention is your best course. You can consider having a whole home surge protector installed. This will provide better protection for your investment than having an outlet surge strip.
4. Go for smart lighting
If your extra outlets have been installed, you could not focus on your home office lighting. A good lighting is essential in any home office because it reduces eye strain from working long hours in front of your computer and of course it creates a more conducive working environment.
Make sure to choose LED lights not only for a well-lit space but to also help in reducing your electricity bills. It also generates less heat plus there are LED lights that could be combined with smartphone apps or have a lighting control system, which allows users to adjust the color or light intensity according to their liking and mood. There are also LED lights that can automatically detect if less or more light is needed and will adjust accordingly.
Additional tip: To hit two birds with one stone, you can also consider adding a ceiling fan with a lighting fixture to provide better air flow and illumination.
5. Have a power back up
Make sure that you have a back-up plan when working at home, and this includes anticipating possible power outages caused by blizzards and the likes.
Make sure that your computer has an uninterruptible power supply or UPS (this will give you some time to save your documents etc). If you have extra budget, consider having a generator that could accommodate the needs of your home office. Ask your electrician for recommendations.
6. Ask your electrician if then can set up a hardwired Ethernet
Wi-Fi is great but having a hardwired Ethernet on your home office will definitely boost your productivity, as it is more reliable and has faster speed than Wi-Fi.
If you think that cables are an eyesore, consider having a network router as an alternative.
If your home office is all set, make sure to also follow electrical safety practices to avoid accidents. Here are some quick tips that you can apply:
1. Always unplug your appliances when not in use (not only in home offices).
2. Avoid overloading your outlets (so having extra outlets is a must)
3. Extension cords are big no no’s and should be limited to temporary use.
4. Be smart when plugging in your devices, meaning cords are cot tripping hazards and they do not run under carpets, doors, etc.
5. In case you have a heat source in your office, keep any combustible materials at least 3 feet away.
6. Regularly check your cords for possible damages and make sure that your outlets are not warm/hot to touch.
Are you ready for a home office upgrade? Click here to find the right electrician for you.