With a large percentage of the American workforce now remotely working at home instead of their place of business as a precautionary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, chances are you will be reading this blog from your home office. The problem is that most home offices do not have all the necessary features to facilitate and promote successful and productive long-term telecommuting. Whether you are practicing social distancing or have been required to shelter in place, this blog outlines three essential products you should consider to make your home office electric-ready.
Essential #1: Back-up Power Supply
Most business offices employ a combination of back-up power strategies to protect critical data and to keep staff productive during a power outage. This typically includes an uninterruptible power supply or uninterruptible power source (UPS) at or in the vicinity of computers and servers, or in many cases, a back-up generator to supply the entire office building or select loads within the building. While laptops, tablets, and smart phones typically have enough battery life for normal household use, connecting these devices to webinars, streaming video, and other online applications will quickly consume battery capacity if they are not connected to a charging dock or cord. To ensure your home is resilient to power outages or other energy disruptions during work hours, consider installing a UPS at your workstation to connect your computers, laptops, tablets, smart phones, and any other office equipment essential for daily activities. You may also want to consider a whole-house optional standby generator or electrical energy storage system to ensure you have power to supply air conditioning, lighting, your WIFI system, and other work-critical appliances in your home. Back-up power supply is a home office essential.
Essential #2: Surge Protection
The changing of the seasons brings spring thunderstorms and hazardous lightning to many regions in the United States. Lightning and other disruptions on the utility power grid can introduce damaging transient energy into your home negatively impacting all of your sensitive business equipment. To ensure your home is resilient to lightning and other transient conditions on the premises wiring system, consider installing surge-protective devices (SPD) at your home’s electrical service, branch-circuit panelboard, and at the outlets supplying sensitive home office equipment. For homes located in the southeast United States, a Type 1 SPD should be installed at the service equipment having a nominal discharge current (In) rating of at least 20 kA 8/20 µs per phase. For regions of the nation where thunderstorms and lightning are less frequent, the Type 1 SPD located at the service should have a nominal discharge current (In) rating of at least 10 kA 8/20 µs per phase. Where your service equipment also includes the dwelling’s branch-circuit overcurrent devices, a Type 1 or Type 2 SPD is suitable for protection at this location. A Type 3 SPD receptacle should be installed where you connect your home office business equipment. Relocatable power taps or other after-market surge protection should only be considered a supplement to the permanently connected SPDs mentioned above. Surge protection is a home office essential.
Essential #3: Lighting Quality
The lighting in office buildings is designed to provide a balance of intensity and color to create a productive and enjoyable work environment. This is mainly achieved by overhead, diffused lighting. The lighting in a typical home is designed for an entirely different purpose and may not provide the correct type of lighting to best support home office functions. The best source of light is from the Sun. A workspace near a window, sliding glass door, or under a skylight will give you the best lighting for a working environment. Where daylight is not possible, consider installing light sources that produce a color temperature between 5000k and 7000k (the Sun produces a daylight temperature of 5600k at noon). Much like your business office space, diffused overhead lighting with specialized task lighting at your home office workspace along with plenty of daylight will keep your eyes fresh and focused and will help you avoid fatigue and other visual distress. The quality of lighting is a home office essential.
Working from home in a time of stress can be a challenge. To prevent future frustration, downtime, or an unpleasant experience working at home, consider implementing the essentials outlined in this blog to bring you one step closer to having an electric-ready home office. These features will not only serve to improve your telecommuting experience but will continue to improve and enhance your home’s premises wiring system long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.