Bluffton Electric : Making Over Lighting
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
The Bluffton Electric Crew
(from left to right) Brian Cartmel, Hunter Irwin, Carl Strong, Logan Rivera, Jill Sherrod, Keith Fisher, Sandy Kenney, Rigo Orozco, Jordan Szady, David Lopez and Brian Meade
Declarations like fantastic, professional, knowledgeable, outstanding, punctual, reasonable, and polite have been used consistently throughout the reviews and testimonials shared by customers of Bluffton Electric since their doors opened in 2004. Providing full-service residential and commercial electrical services, owner and Lowcountry native Keith Fisher, a master electrician himself, knows it is his team that makes it happen. “We pride ourselves on customer service,” he said.
Manned by either a master electrician or a journeyman, along with at least one helper, the company’s four, fully-equipped service vehicles are sent into the field every day with a licensed professional-to-helper ratio far exceeding state standards, resulting in work that garners plenty of accolades and lots of referrals. “In South Carolina, you can have one master electrician run a company of 50 [helpers],” Fisher said. With a ratio of licensed professionals to helpers closer to 1:1, word has gotten around just how great this team is: “We rely on our customers to tell people about us.” And they do.
Fisher’s team includes Brian Meade, master electrician; Brian Cartmel and Carl Strong, journeymen; and helpers Hunter Irwin, David Lopez, Rigo Orozco, Logan Rivera, and Jordan Szady. Supporting the team are longtime office manager Jill Sherrod, and newer to the office, Sandy Kenney, along with Kristin Schlabs, Fisher’s sister and Bluffton Electric’s marketing pro.
The collective efforts of Fisher’s crew result in superior work, where passing inspections the first time is the goal; however, they do welcome critical feedback to help fine-tune their skills. “I remember failing [an inspection] one time,” Fisher said. “Out of the entire 3,000-square-foot house, the only thing found was sheet rock dust in the electrical panel, which is a combustible. We didn’t vacuum it out.” More than happy to take care of the issue, Fisher said they learned something valuable and have used that lesson going forward—one of the ways Bluffton Electric gets better with every job.
Beyond repairs, emergency calls, and opportunities to share safety-related information, Fisher sees trends in LED lighting as one of the most impactful ways in which his company is currently benefitting both residential and commercial customers. “We’re doing a lot more LED lighting. The market is constantly changing and growing,” he said. “We’re changing out old incandescent [can lights], because the can trims tend to yellow. I will meet with a client and pop one [LED light] in, and their mouth just drops open; they can’t believe it’s possible to get that much light out of it.” LED lighting options are better and more varied today than when they first came out, when the resounding complaint was that the output was cold and glaring.
Nearly any incandescent lighting fixture can be changed out or retrofitted to accommodate cooler-to-the-touch, more energy-efficient, longer lasting LED lights, and ambiance options range from a warm yellow effect, to clear, bright white light. “It’s all about the Kelvin value,” Fisher said. “A 2,700 K is your warmer, soft whites; it’s pretty much a standard incandescent light bulb. As you go up the spectrum, the color changes; 3,000 K would be equivalent to a halogen light. The higher you go, 5,000 K to 6,000 K, it’s when they turn into the BMW headlights and you get that blueish or purplish hue.”
With the ability to transition to LED lighting, including converting fluorescent bulbs with something called a ballast (the technical term for the brains of the conventional fluorescents) bypass, where the volt conversion required in these bulbs is eliminated, even the most dated lighting is a good candidate for a makeover. The Bluffton Electric team is expert at evaluating and installing new lighting options that transform the look of a space—casting a beautiful glow or making it more user-friendly—where the fixtures and bulbs are installed to create a cohesive, balanced, transformative effect.
There’s a very good reason why cinematographers win Academy Awards for their lighting expertise, and the Bluffton Electric team understands that, in the hands of an expert, translating a mood, transforming a location, or improving function can be achieved via lighting.
“We are installing a lot of under-counter lighting for clients,” Fisher said. “Under-counter lights started out as fluorescents; we’ve gotten away from those. Halogen lights were brought into play, which are great, except they get extremely hot. With LED under-counter lights and their slim line, we can line them inside cabinets and do some really cool stuff.”
Another recent innovation that Fisher’s clients are embracing is Lutron Pico® wireless switches. “There is a wireless controller that looks just like a wall switch. It has a plate that can actually go in place of a switch,” Fisher said. Utilized as a wall switch or an independent controller, the units can also be surface mounted, eliminating the need to cut into sheetrock or damage papered wall surfaces. With a companion app, Pico customers can also program lights to go off and on for safety, cosmetic, or convenience reasons from their telephones.
Smoke detectors and generators became frequently discussed topics following Hurricane Matthew in October. “Smoke detectors are a safety concern,” Fisher said. “If you have a battery in your smoke detector and you lost power for four or five days, it’s going to greatly reduce its longevity because it was operating the smoke detector for those days on battery power alone.” In addition to recommending having your smoke detector batteries replaced, Bluffton Electric recommends the installation of lock-out kits on all generators. “With the installation of a lock-out kit, generator power cannot be brought into the panel until the generator breaker is on, making it safe for anybody else down the system.”
With Fisher’s skilled crew and dedicated support staff, customers find it easy to describe their Bluffton Electric experience as fantastic, professional, knowledgeable, outstanding, punctual, reasonable, and polite… and then some.
For more information, please call (843) 757-9522, visit blufftonelectric.com, or follow them on Facebook.