Calling before you buy


I wanted to share with you a couple of recent experiences that demonstrate the importance and value of calling before you buy.

The manager of a downtown condominium called to ask for a price to connect their new water heater. Don’t picture the small round heater in your basement; this one is an 18,000-watt 600-volt booster heater serving the common areas.

He told me that they had removed a 208-volt heater and had installed a new 600-volt heater. He wanted a cost to provide a 600-volt feed to this new unit.

When I arrived I found the heater in a sub basement room that the cleaners used as a break area. The plumbers had it in place and fully connected. They had even connected the old 208-volt wiring. My next stop was the main electrical room to see where the unit was presently fed from and where the nearest 600-volt feed was located.

You may have already guessed what I found, sure enough the power came in from the street at 13,600-volts and a single large transformer converted this to 208-volts. That’s right this building did not have any 600-volt service.

As you can imagine, the manager was not too pleased when I broke the news to him. It turned out that they had selected this new heater because it was more compact and less expensive than the direct 208-volt replacement unit. While it may have been possible for us to install a transformer to raise the voltage for this single heater, this likely would have been more expensive and had the added issue of finding a suitable space for the transformer in the relatively crowded area.

This whole issue could have been avoided if the installation had been treated as a small project, putting together the cost of the heater, the plumbing and the electric connection in advance of making any purchase.

On another occasion I received a call from a printing company just north of Toronto not too far from our office. They were referred by one of their neighbors’ who have been a long time customer of Signature Electric and who had also recently purchased and installed a new Heidelberg press. They were having ongoing electrical problems and were looking for some independent advice.

While the press itself was not that large it was clearly the newest and most advanced press on the floor of this printer.  After examining the press and the electrical installation for a few minutes the problem was apparent. The press was rated on the nameplate for 240-volts and the new transformer that was installed had an output of 208-volts. The previous electrician clearly did not have the experience or expertise to confirm whether this voltage deviation was going to be acceptable.

We changed the transformer and the press ran perfectly. I’m pleased to tell you that they have become a frequent customer. They no longer purchase any equipment, not even a photocopier without first consulting with us about the power requirements.

Yours in value added and quality service,

Mark Marmer