The Illusion of a Wireless World

We live in a wireless world – or so it seems. Technologies like Bluetooth allow us to talk on the phone hands free in the car or the office without the static of a speakerphone. Free Wi-Fi signals are virtually obligatory in any restaurant, retail store, library, or school. Despite the personal security risks associated with connecting to public Wi-Fi signals, they are a tempting resource.

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Entertaining and Inspiring with Light

Encoded within light are the secrets of the universe. Yet, nothing is more intrinsic to our modern way of life than light, as easy to take for granted as the air we breathe. Somewhere between the unfathomable and the practical lies the inspirational. From fireworks that take months to choreograph to psychedelic light shows set to classic rock to a fierce round of Laser Tag at a child’s birthday party, light does more than simply illuminate our entertainments.

Light can actually be our entertainment.Laser-light-showLaser-tag

If nothing can impress like excess, Las Vegas is one of the most impressive cities in the world. That is the home of the Fountains of Bellagio, where light, water, and sound are mingled into one of the most complex fountain choreographies ever conceived. The Dubai Fountain, the largest dancing fountain system in the world, is equally impressive and in a city that is every bit as excessive. Watch for the skillful integration of light with the jetting water streams, which suggest a cadre of dancers flitting across the surface of the lake.

Click here for Fountains of Bellagio

Click here for The Dubai Fountain

Of course, most people will not be using light as whimsically on such a grand scale. However, everyday uses of inspirational lighting is more important in the long run. How people choose to accentuate the environments of homes, businesses, and public places has a significant and enduring effect on day-to-day life – especially compared to the fleeting, albeit amazing, performances of light in a dancing fountain or a fireworks display. That is why, at Steiner Electric, accentuating environments is one of our specialties.

Fountain Chicago-LightingAn energy audit from our proud Lighting Applications Group is capable of evaluating every lighting concern imaginable, whether residential, industrial, or municipal. While our lighting assessment includes security, efficiency, and productivity considerations, our design professionals are also experts in the aesthetics of environmental lighting. In addition to providing you with the many practical benefits of an energy audit from Steiner Electric, we can also advise you how to best coax your space to excite, inspire, or simply impress. And when we have a child’s birthday party as an excuse, some of us will even play a round or two of Laser Tag.

Milwaukee Tools Delivers Unparalleled Cordless Solutions

Batteries have become integral to modern life. Since the first time a patrolman aimed a flashlight into the dark corners of his moonless beat through city streets, people have hungered for portable electricity. But the effort to mangle the laws of physics into power on demand has taken feats of scientific savagery.

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Early battery-powered flashlight

Lithium-ion battery technology is the culmination of those feats.

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from smart phones to smart cars. Continue reading “Milwaukee Tools Delivers Unparalleled Cordless Solutions”

Vigilance in Consumer Safety

Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) enjoys a Underwriter-Laboratoriesstellar reputation for their protection of consumers through extensive product testing. Recently, UL expanded their commitment to consumer safety with the launch of a new website called Safebee. Like UL’s primary website, Safebee includes information on product safety, but the majority of the site’s articles focus on consumer behaviors and how people can protect themselves at home, the outdoors, when using technology and more.

UL’s roots are in electrical safety, something that requires both reliable products and informed consumers. Fortunately, to those ends, UL is not alone. The National Electrical Code (NEC) was also established early in nationwide electrification efforts. It has continued to be relevant for over a century by revising safety standards for products and installation procedures every three years. Though local regulations may vary from state to state, the NEC has been widely adopted throughout the nation.

The full NEC guidelines are understandably long and complex, but the most recent mandates regarding electrical outlets are intended to be simple enough for most homeowners with a basic level of do-it-yourself skills to adopt. While the mandates technically apply only to new builds and renovations, the NEC recommends everyone retrofit non-compliant outlets.

For example, Tamper Resistant Receptacles are outlets with an internal shutter mechanism. They are designed to keep children from inserting small objects into an outlet. The shutter requires equal pressure from the prongs of a plug to release and allow access to the circuit.

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Another product mandated by the NEC is the Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter, designed to sense a potential for arcing, in which it will then cut power to the circuit. Arcing is major fire hazard that can occur due to hot, damaged, or overtaxed wires or devices.

A wide range of NEC-compliant electrical outlets and components and can be found here at Steiner.

 

Electric Cars Storm Detroit’s Annual Auto Show

This year’s automobile expo in Detroit, Michigan was bathed in its customary glitz as car manufacturers around the world gathered to showcase the best of their new-fangled and their fantastic, their jaw-dropping and their completely impractical. Especially sparkling this year was the electric and hybrid vehicle niche. Despite the recent downturn in oil prices, the electric vehicle market continues to enjoy the attentions of manufacturers both large and small. While some companies may be suspected of dabbling in electric and other alternative fuels as a means to placate government imposed fleet-wide emission standards, most such forays appear passionately legitimate – particularly concerning those working in the battery-powered sphere.

Boutique auto-maker Tesla Motors continues to reign supreme in the high-end electric vehicle market.

Few could doubt Tesla’s commitment to the electric vehicle market. From aesthetics to engineering, Tesla knows how to make batteries sexy. Their top production vehicle, the Model S P85D shown below, is not only as sleek as it is lovely, it can embrace you against its bucket seat as it accelerates from 0-60 in just over three seconds on battery power alone. But that embrace is costly. The base Model S P85D starts in the high 90’s, and that’s with incentives.Tesla-Electric-Detroit-Auto-ShowTesla-Electric-Detroit-Auto-Show

Fortunately, Tesla knows the rest of us need love, too, if they ever want to grow beyond a boutique brand limited to a few privileged early adopters. In fact, their desire to establish a presence in the mainstream may have contributed to last year’s release of their technological patents into the public domain. A bold move, indeed. Yet, it is in their best interest to encourage a vibrant, competitive market, because that will lead to industry innovation as a whole, as well as the growth of the infrastructure required to support their products.

Charging stations, like those available here at Steiner, will be as commonplace as gasoline pumps. Did you know you can charge your EV at our Rockford, Elk Grove and St. Charles locations?

EV-hero-550x305 Steiner-Electric-Charging-StationsReleasing their patents into the public domain isn’t the only way Tesla hopes to disseminate their brand throughout Middle America. One of their contributions to 2015’s Detroit Auto Show was more hints regarding the latest iteration of the Tesla Model 3, due in 2017, with an expected retail price of $35k. Along with its relatively affordable price tag comes an all-electric sedan that will probably seat five and get up to 200 miles per charge.

But will Tesla lag behind competitors at this price point?

Among a fleet of noteworthy at the Detroit show this year was Chevy’s freshly debuted prototype model called the Bolt (not to be confused with the Volt, which is Chevy’s gas-electric hybrid). Like the Model 3, the Bolt is also expected to reach consumers in 2017, and it also boasts a strictly battery powered engine that can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge. It will seat four, and it certainly won’t have the sensual aesthetics of Tesla’s designing, but the Bolt’s most impressive feature is its price tag: a respectable $30k.

chevy-bolt-ev-concept 2015 Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept all electric vehicle – rear extWhile it is clear that internal combustion engines will be with us for a long time to come, many will soon be able to fill up their car for the week’s commute by simply plugging into the solar array adorning the roof of your home or workplace. Not only will such sustainable transportation make our wallets a bit heavier, it just might help our children and grandchildren breathe easier as well.

Solar Power Experts Promote Rigorous Standards of Quality

Solar power has come a long way since the summer of 1878, when Augustin Mouchot harnessed sunlight at the third Paris World’s Fair to make a block of ice. It was an impressive feat for his time, but Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator was technologically akin to a child’s naughty wielding of a magnifying glass to assault an anthill. He simply funneled the sun’s heat. Instead of using the heat to roast innocent ants, he used it to fuel a modified steam engine which powered a condenser, essentially turning sunlight into ice.Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator Mouchot’s Solar Concentrator

Today’s photovoltaic technology works on a much different principle. Basically, a solar cell photovoltaic technologyis made from material such as silicon that release electrons when struck by photons of light, causing the material to polarize. This is called the photoelectric effect, and describing it won Albert Einstein a Nobel Prize. If you arrange these cells into a circuit and expose them to sunlight, an electric current is born. Modern research and development into photovoltaics is geared toward increasing efficiencies in power generation, transmission, and storage – while at the same time bringing down costs through advances in manufacturing techniques.

Advanced technologies require advanced skills.

For Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL), electrical safety from the industrial to the personal has been a cornerstone of the organization’s existence. UL has been fundamental to worldwide electrification for over a century, with a commitment to quality and safety that is as active and vibrant as ever. In 2013 alone, UL evaluated over 90 thousand products and nearly 22 billion products were manufactured bearing their stamp of approval. Along with product evaluations, UL develops professional accreditation and certification programs that set industry standards, including the expanding solar power industry.

For example, UL offers a Photovoltaic System Installer Certification. The qualifications to even attempt this certification demonstrates UL’s rigorous professional standards. An applicant must have passed the OSHA 30-hour construction safety program and be recognized as a Qualified Electrician, which requires an apprenticeship, classroom training, and state licensure. This reflects thousands of hours of real world experience (roughly 2 – 4 years, depending on individual state licensing guidelines). Once the certification is achieved, the installer must earn six continuing education credits in photovoltaic technology within three years in order to retest, which is when the certification expires.

Clearly, you can expect a UL certified installer to be the embodiment of competence. Keep that in mind when you consider adding or upgrading a solar system for your home or business.

Steiner Solar Installers

Metalworking Traditions Inspire Artists around the World

Artistic metalworking has come a long way since the late Neolithic era. Today’s artists benefit not only from a mountain of past culture and experience, but also from continuing advances in technology and unprecedented access to materials. From basic crafts that groups of children can do to mind-boggling industrial projects that require teams of architects and engineers to envision and years of labor to complete, the practice of metalworking has become intrinsic to societies across the modernized world.

The work of individual sculptors likewise continues to impress.

For millennia, individual artists have created phenomenal works of art out of various types of metal. Museums overflow with collections made from gold, silver, bronze, and steel. But advances in steel manufacturing have resulted in a significantly weather-resistant medium, which is embraced by English artist Robin Wight. Take a look at his amazing sculptures, which he painstakingly forms using galvanized and stainless steel wire.

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The wire’s workability, coupled with the artist’s practiced hand, results in the sensual fluidity of the various fairy poses, as well as the illusory sense of motion as the wind seems to rip through the dandelion seeds. Much of Wight’s sculptures have been commissioned for the gardens at the Trentham Estate in the United Kingdom, where you can view more of his work.

Of course, metal only truly becomes fluid at very high temperatures.

That is why it makes an excellent medium for these stalwart yet elegant tree sculptures, also crafted from wire from American artist Kevin Iris.

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Finally, for the ultimate in upcycling, there is scrap metal and yard art.

Examples of scrap metal art range from the simple to the stunning. They can be found at flea markets, farmers markets, and craft shows throughout the world. This is the type of project almost anyone can do using supplies found in typical kindergarten classrooms, like repurposing aluminum cans to make bird feeders, lanterns, and toys.

But not all scrap metal art is so basic.

A studio in Thailand called BanHunLek shapes and welds scrap metal scavenged from junk yards – particularly defunct automobiles – to create models that would make any comic book or science-fiction geek drool. His work includes models of everything from Disney characters to characters from the Terminator, Predator, and Alien movies. One of his most impressive, however, is this Hulk, which virtually ripples with power.

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Of course, Steiner Metalworking Solutions is a bit different than the art above, but not as much as you might think. Precision is still a necessity. Efficiency is key. Increasing productivity is essential. From abrasives to sawing solutions to precision instruments, our Metalworking and Industrial Supplies Division is awaiting your call!

Steiner Metal Work

Surveillance for Business

Criminals Nabbed Due to “Selfie”-Surveillance

As important as video surveillance is for protecting your home and business, sometimes criminals will supplement your efforts with the surveillance device in their pockets. Like these two shoplifters who stole dozens of video games and DVDs from a retail chain store. They decided to record themselves boasting about the theft when one pocket-dialed 9-1-1. They kept talking about the robbery until Police found them as they left the store.

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Factory Efficiency and Innovation

Through the practice of “lean manufacturing” techniques, today’s manufacturers are realizing increased value in their businesses due to reduced material and labor costs. Lean manufacturing techniques are geared toward increasing operational efficiencies, primarily through the reduction of waste, and are generally most effective when implemented before a plant has ever broken ground. Continue reading “Factory Efficiency and Innovation”

Giving Back to Our Community

For all of us at Steiner Electric, giving back to the communities we work in is more than just “something we do”… it is a part of who we are. That is why we are humbled by a recent honor bestowed upon us by Affiliated Distributors. There are so many Distributors and Suppliers who were also honored for their community work and for all of us here at Steiner Electric, we want to say “thank you” to them for all they do!

Below is a video of the awards presentation as well as photos from a recent Christmas party for homeless children in the greater Chicago Area. These children and their families deserve all of our support and we are proud to be able to serve them!

Steiner Electric Company honored with the 2014 Affiliated Distributor “Giving Back Award”

On October 8th, Steiner Electric was presented the Affiliated Distributors’ (AD) Giving Back Award, during the AD National Meeting in Chicago. The “Spirit of Independence” awards banquet, recognizing those Distributors and Suppliers who have achieved outstanding performance during the previous calendar year.The Giving Back Award was created in 2010 to honor the many distributor and supplier community service, charitable and human interest projects throughout the industry.

Steiner was presented this prestigious award for their many years of dedication to the Chicago area homeless community through the creation of “The Greater Chicago Area Electrical Industry Friends of Comic Relief back in 1991. What began as a local Comic Relief fund raiser, for health care for the homeless, was preceded by an afternoon Christmas party for over 300 homeless children. Even though the last fundraiser was in 1998, the children’s parties have continued for the past 22 years.

Today, Al Rzeczkowski and The Electrical Association of Chicago organize the Homeless Children’s Christmas Party. The entire event is fully financed and supported by annual donations from the electrical industry with additional Santa helpers from Boys Scout Troop 64 of Northbrook Illinois. The homeless children and their parents are bused in from seven different Chicagoland area homeless shelters and treated to a full turkey dinner, entertainment, and gifts for every child and parent, plus special gifts for each participating shelter ranging from new beds and linens to computers and printers. The Christmas party is an afternoon full of joy and hope among the families and volunteers.

“We recognize this award on behalf of our original co-founders, Jack Caveney Jr, past CEO of Panduit Corp. and Chuck Currie Jr., VP of Bill Casey Sales.” said Rick Kerman, CEO of Steiner Electric. This significant acknowledgement is accepted on behalf of the many electrical distributors, rep agencies, electrical contractors and manufactures who participate each year to provide this special heartfelt event. Many of us are competitors but when it comes to supporting our communities we stand together.”

About Affiliated Distributors

Affiliated Distributors is a group of over 500 are independent electrical, Industrial, Plumbing, PVF, HVAC and drywall distributors, with over 3,600 locations in three countries. Their accumulative annual sales exceeds $28 billion.