11 Electrical Upgrades Everyone’s Asking for Right Now, According to Pros

published Oct 22, 2020
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There are endless things to consider when building or renovating a home. You’re thinking about budget, sustainability, practicality, and of course, how to make sure it feels like you.

But have you given much thought to your electrical upgrades? I’ve always taken the good ol’ light-switch-on-the-wall for granted, but in 2020, electricians can do so much more than that.

I spoke to a few pros to learn what requests they’re getting most this year and why.

1. Smart switches

Every electrician I talked to said smart switches are the number one request right now.

Xavier Sinchegarcia from Xpert Electric in North Bergen, New Jersey, says these are replacing traditional lighting timers—such as those on flood lights—for outdoor lighting. The smart switch allows more flexibility than a simple timer, and means that you can control the lighting from your phone even if you forget to set it up before you leave home. It’s not only convenient, but also adds a sense of security for people.

“They can control it from their phone and make it look like someone’s home,” he says.

Credit: Minette Hand

2. Remote-controlled ceiling fans

“A lot of fans now come with remotes that let you control the light and the fan,” says Sinchegarcia.

He says this is different than before because they used to be wired separately, but now you don’t even have to get out of bed to turn off the light and turn on the fan.

3. Remote-controlled shades

Noticing a trend here?

Ilya Ilin, an electrician in New York City, says many customers are requesting electric shades that are controlled from a remote, as well. That’s especially handy for tall windows that would require a ladder to reach.

4. Outlets directly behind wall-mounted TVs or projectors

As far as creative electrical outlet placement, Ilin says they now usually fix outlets directly behind wall-mounted TVs or projectors so that you don’t have to worry about unsightly wires trailing down your wall.

5. Baseboard outlets

Much like hiding outlets behind TVs, placing your regular wall outlets on baseboards instead of the wall creates a cleaner, more polished look, explains Russ Kinnear from TE Certified Electricial, Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in Roswell, Georgia. 

Credit: Samara Vise

6. Chandelier lifts

Yes, you read that right.

“If you have a taller ceiling and a heavy chandelier, a chandelier lift gives you the ability to lower the light to floor level,” says Kinnear.

This comes in handy for cleaning, changing light bulbs, and for the initial installation.

7. Smart outlets

“USB outlets are a big thing, especially in the kitchen, laundry rooms, by the bed. It just cleans up the space,” says Kinnear.

Installing USB outlets cuts down on the need for charging blocks, since you can plug USB cords directly into the wall. In an age when phones, tablets, and other smart devices all rely on USB charging, it’s a clever upgrade.

8. Home automation

Kinnear says that home automation is a very big trend right now, especially when it comes to setting up a network of appliances on a smart home device.

Not only can you control devices one by one through your phone, he says—you can also interconnect your devices with voice commands to your smart home device that trigger a set of automated home “events.” For instance, you might tell your smart home device “good night,” which will cause it to lower the lights, lower the thermostat, and turn off the TV. Or, you could say “entertain” to have it turn on a favorite playlist. These touch-free commands are particularly impactful during pandemic times, when there’s an increased awareness of germ transmission.

Home automation upgrades also encompass smart thermostats, which help regulate energy output to save money in the long run.

9. Energy consumption monitors

If your energy consumption is important to you, Kinnear says you can now monitor it through an app.  While several companies provide this type of service, he says it is a request people are becoming increasingly interested in.

“It’s an app so you can see what’s going on,” he says. “It tells you your usage, what’s running, and what time of day.”

10. Backup generators

This one’s especially handy in areas that are hit by hurricanes or other strong storms, since it will save you from blackouts.

“If the power goes out, the backup generator automatically goes on and will run all the things in the home as long as need be,” says Kinnear.

11. Car chargers

Hello, 2020. Kinnear says he’s also getting many requests for Tesla and other car charging stations in clients’ garages, coinciding with an increased interest in hybrid cars.

So when you’re considering upgrades to make to your house this year, don’t forget about electrical ones. They are guaranteed to make your life easier.