Gary Fann of Fann Electric Services gives us some insight into home lighting trends. We talk about how to save BIG on energy costs and some bonus material on why it’s so important to hire a licensed contractor.
(Transcript has been cleaned up for clarity.)
Anja: Today we’re speaking with Gary Fann, owner, founder, and master electrician of Fann Electric Services. Welcome, Gary!
Gary: Thank you for having me.
Anja: Gary, how long have you lived in the Upstate, and what’s your favorite thing about living here?
Gary: I have lived in the Upstate for 35 years. I was born and raised here in Greenville, in the surrounding areas. I tell you, one of my favorite things about the Upstate is the parks, believe it or not. I have two small kids, so one thing I found out after having the kids was we have an abundance of parks, of state parks, around here, and then just county parks and playgrounds and stuff. And to me that’s one of my favorite things about the Upstate; it’s the parks.
Anja: I think that’s such a great point. I spend a lot of time in our parks too. I think we have such an abundance of natural beauty around here.
Anja: The city county and state level all do a great job of showcasing that for us.
Anja: How long have you been an electrician?
Gary: I get asked that question quite a lot and I still haven’t really found out the answer yet. So, I’m a third generation electrician. My grandfather was a master electrician. My uncle and my father are both master electricians, so I kind of have been doing it for a long time.
Anja: So it’s in your blood then.
Gary: I was just born to do that.
Anja: What made you start your own electric services company?
Gary: At the time I was working for another electrical service company, and, although it was a great company, I kept finding certain ways I would like to do things and really form a company that can spend more time catering to the customer, and whereas at Fann Electric Services we don’t visit a customer and repair a problem and leave. We like to ensure their safety. We do a little more than… We tend to go above and beyond what we came to do, and that’s what kind of jump started me to go out on my own is customer focus. And I felt like that was something that lacked, and that was something that I could carry the torch in around here.
Anja: Gary, what does it mean to be a master electrician?
Gary: To become a master electrician you’ve got to have a lot of experience in the field, take a test by the state, and, after that, to start your own business you’ve got to have a contract. There’s a license as well.
Anja: Do you feel like a master’s license is an important qualification for an electrical services company? In other words, is that something that consumers should ask about…
Anja: […] when they’re hiring an electrical contractor?
Gary: Absolutely. I really believe strongly in the licensing. Really important for the consumer that they have somebody that has the most extensive knowledge that they could get. And, you know, it’s not a question I get asked a lot; if you’re licensed. And, you know, I get insurance; if you’re insured. I get that question a lot.
Gary: But people really…
Anja: Which is almost a given. If people know anything about our industry. When I say “our”, I mean we’re kind of in separate industries.
Anja: But they are sort of home services industry.
Anja: It’s sort of… I shouldn’t say. I mean, it’s not always a given. I mean, if someone comes up in a laddered truck and is doing any… like, they’re clearly professional, then they’re going to be insured.
Anja: It would be very hard logistically to get to that point in business without being insured.
Gary: Right. Absolutely, absolutely.
Anja: But I do think this sort of question of the licensing has fallen to the wayside at least in South Carolina.
Anja: And it’s something I know in our company we’re very vocal about the licensing.
Gary: Right, and there’s a lot of unlicensed contractors out there, especially in South Carolina.
Anja: I think a lot of it is just consumer education. Consumers don’t know that they even have to ask that question.
Anja: Because they would take it for granted. I might sort of assume that if you’re out there advertising yourself as an electrician or a plumber, that you would be licensed.
Anja: But that’s not actually the case.
Gary: You know, usually, things like that happen after somebody has had a bad experience with somebody. Then they found out that this person wasn’t even licensed in the first place.
Anja: Gary, what I’d like to sort of pick your brain about today is lighting. I think it makes such a huge difference, or it can make such a huge difference in a home. It can make an impact on not just quality of live, but also sort of just the look and the feel of a home.
Anja: Talk to us about the trends that you’re seeing in residential lighting right now.
Gary: Well, the biggest trend right now is recessed light, and, in fact, that’s one of our biggest areas that we do is adding recessed lighting in all the home; a lot of LED lighting. A lot of people may already have recessed lighting in their house and we’ll go through and put in a brand new LED trim kit that are all in one. And what that does is really reduces energy costs with moving to this LED lighting. The LED lights you can use in almost any lighting in your house, in ceiling fans or lamps. They have bulbs now.
Anja: So you can buy an LED light bulb that goes into your old regular lighting fixture that you already have in your home?
Gary: That’s right.
Gary: And these LED lights are saving as much as 85% energy cost compared to the standard halogen light bulb.
Anja: Wow! So what’s the upfront investment on something like this?
Gary: That’s a tuff one to answer. There’s a lot of different light bulbs. And with the LED bulbs they have all color range, from soft white to a warm yellow, all the way to like a bright while, almost blinds you kind of light. What we have found lately is people want to do the LED bulbs to conserve energy, and they want it to match their old-school incandescent bulbs, which are usually like that soft yellow kind of color. And now when the LED’s first came out, they were bright white. Now they have them across the whole spectrum. A lot of people just want to match that incandescent. A lot of people are upset that they were getting rid of the incandescent bulbs and they’re not a big fan of the fluorescent. A lot of people are going to the LED’s, the warmth of LED’s.
Anja: So there’s really three types as far as the kinds of bulbs that you could put in a regular, say, ceiling fan—the halogen…
Gary: They have the halogen, incandescent, and LED.
Anja: And the LED is the most energy-efficient?
Gary: It’s the most energy-efficient, however, the most expensive upfront cost. Now, every two or three months they’re going down in price. It’s something that’s really being pushed now for energy, for conserving energy, so the prices are really fair now. I’ve noticed the last time that I really investigated the light bulb out is that there’s more and more LED’s, so I see the future being… Eventually you’ll get nothing but LED’s.
Anja: How long does an LED light bulb last in comparison to, say, the old-school incandescent that we’re used to?
Gary: Most of the time…
Anja: If everything goes well.
Gary: Right. In a perfect world, the LED’s do last considerably longer, somewhere between 65 and 75% longer…
Anja: Oh, wow! Okay.
Gary: […] than an incandescent bulb.
Anja: So you’re certainly getting that return on multiple ends.
Gary: Right. You actually come out better in the long run with LED bulbs as far as money…
Anja: You’re just putting a little more of an investment and upfront.
Gary: It’s just that spending the money upfront, which a lot of is which consumers see. That’s the money they see; it’s what they’re spending upfront.
Gary: So they don’t really pay attention on the backend and what they’re saving in cost.
Anja: Other than the LED light bulbs, when it comes to energy savings, do you have any tips or recommendations for home owners that really want to try to make their home as green as possible from an electrical standpoint?
Gary: Yes, and, again, I get this asked a lot. And, believe it or not, every answer I have is really old school; is kind of just taking it back. One of the things, this really… ceiling fans… running ceiling fans doesn’t hardly pull any electricity, and it really circulates a lot of airflow. You know, I think appliances have come a long way over the years and conserving energy, and especially the AC/AC unit, having an efficient unit, is key.
Anja: Awesome! Well, Gary, thank you so much. I do have one final question for you, and it has nothing to do with electrical world…
Gary: All right.
Anja: […] but it is about the Upstate. I love to ask people what their favorite best-kept secret of the Upstate is, because I think that sharing those, especially someone like yourself, who’s actually from around here. I’m hoping that you have a good one for us.
Gary: You know, I have one that I thought a lot of people knew about, but there’s a lot of people that have been in this area all their lives and never been to the Campbell Bridge, the Covered Campbell Bridge. That is one of my favorite places to visit. And also the Poinsett Bridge is another one.
Anja: I’m familiar with Campbell’s Covered Bridge. That’s up near like TR, right?
Anja: Off of… Is it off of 11? No, it’s off of 25.
Gary: Right, 25.
Anja: Where is the Poinsett Bridge?
Gary: So the Poinsett Bridge is off of 25 as well. Do you know where Camp Old Indian is?
Gary: The boy scout camp.
Gary: It’s on the way to there; so when you fork off the 25, going toward that way, it’s out there.
Anja: Very cool. I like that Gary Fann is bringing a little bit of a local history to the podcast. That’s great! Well, Gary, thank you so much for giving your time to the 864Living Podcast today. Tell our listeners how they can get a hold of you, should they need electrical services.
Gary: Yes. Well, thank you so much for having me, and this is great. I’m really glad to see you doing this. This is really exciting. My name is Gary Fann, Fann Electric Services. You can find us on the web at fannelectric.com, and you can find us on Facebook—Fann Electric Services on Facebook. And we’re on Instagram and Twitter and all that stuff. You can also reach us on telephone by 864-363-7028. We do specialize in residential electrical work. That’s our expertise, so we love helping home owners. And we would love to help out your customers in the future, so if anybody ever needs some electrical work done, we would certainly appreciate the phone call.
Anja: Now, do you still specialize or at least have a soft spot for the older homes?
Anja: Wasn’t that sort of your…
Gary: That was kind of my thing, and we specialize in older homes. We’ve become really familiar with a lot of how they’re built, and we found that we had been able to do things a little bit faster than some other companies or some other people, and just from our knowledge, and just from our work in the older homes.
Anja: Awesome! Good tip for anyone who’s got a historic home in Greenville that needs someone who is three generations into it.
Gary: Yes, three generations, and we have the soft touch. And, you know, we could do a lot of work in older homes and keep everything preserved.
Anja: That’s awesome! Well, thank you again, Gary, and we look forward to using your services for many years to come.
Gary: Yes, ma’am. Thank you so much.