1 March 2025
Otto's Electrical Service, Inc. 703-933-7000
serving McLean, Falls Church, Vienna, Great Falls, & Arlington
6315 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Va. 22101-4715
expert troubleshooting & correction of the problem
entire-house receptacle replacement with commercial-grade units See my article below: Common Electrical Failure...
aqua califactors (water heaters)--gas or electric, replaced or installed
code corrections made
hot tub circuit wiring
electrical distribution panels replaced
convenience switches-and-outlets installed
We only use high-quality material such as:
Square D-QO & Cutler-Hammer-CH distribution panels, and commercial-grade switches and receptacles
We at Otto's Electrical Service, Inc. offer conscientious service using quality material and workmanship!
We do quality work, putting feature and location into the design with your convenience in mind.
I, Richard S. Otto, President, can almost always be reached by telephone. I have no telephone answering delay-causing menu system–––no bureaucratic nonsense!
My competent assistant and I are available to repair or improve the electrical items or systems in your home.
I've seen or corrected just about all types of faulty, illogical work by the incompetent and/or crooked in the automotive and electrical fields; I abhor this, as I have an affinity for quality design and workmanship.
My ancestral background is Scottish and German–––engineer types. Several of my relatives were mechanical engineers including my grandfather, Richard Stuart Otto, who helped design the Norden bombsite (U.S., WWII) for Carl Norden.
No cigarette-smoking, scroungy creep with a mal attitude or incompetent, dishonest mind will show at your door–––not from my firm!
Our prices are reasonable; references are gladly given.
licensed & insured
Richard Stuart Otto
19 July 2001
When you re-lamp your ceiling or sconce fixture, table lamp, floor lamp etc., don't use passe, wasteful incandescent lamps. Re-lamp with
LEDs. LED lighting is far better in electrical efficiency and durability, and now inexpensive! The LED service life is about 5 to10 times greater––30,000 to 50,000 use-hours.
COMMON ELECTRICAL FAILURE FROM SHODDY-MATERIAL AND-WORKMANSHIP
Culpable for most common electrical failure and problems in a residence is two-fold: shoddy devices and the way that they're installed. The devices of which I'm referring are the poor quality, "residential-grade"-receptacles and -wall switches that you can buy from home centers for 99 cents. These receptacles, with their "quick-wire" provision, compromise the integrity of the branch circuit to which they're installed. This can often be noticed by the intermittent dimming of lights about the home until ultimate failure––an electrical outage in part of the home.
Quick-wiring saves labor-time thus saving builders money. The trouble is that this rapid wiring method doesn't provide a good, lasting electrical connection, and unfortunately, is permitted by local governments. Some governments, such as Florida's, don't permit the use of receptacles to link the circuit; this way, the receptacles are unable to cause failure at other outlets.
When using high-current-draw appliances, such as hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, the inadequate wiring contacts of the receptacle's quick-wire-provision heat up from electrical resistance and oxidize. This effect worsens with every use of high-current-draw appliance as the re-heating further oxidizes the brass springy type quick-wire contacts. This process fosters yet more electrical resistance until the compromised circuit employing the inferior receptacles fails completely.
The presence of these quick-wired receptacles in the branch circuit not only causes trouble at each outlet, accumulated trouble is caused relative to the number of receptacles in the circuit. From the origin (the distribution panel) to the end of the branch circuit, the available power at each outlet becomes increasingly weaker and more prone to failure as each receptacle links the circuit. So, the farther down the line from the supply origination an outlet is used to connect an appliance, the greater the voltage and "ampacity" loss is at that outlet.
After a few years the cheap, residential-grade receptacles become weak in a second way, resulting in poor contact with the blades of plugs. Not only is this a nuisance in letting your vacuum cleaner plug fall out, it also promotes electrical resistance and heat build-up. If a motorized appliance, such as a refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, or clothes washer is plugged into this faulty receptacle or its circuit, the motor's life is shortened as the motor runs hotter than normal. The circuit’s electrical resistance causes voltage loss which causes electric motors to draw more current (amperage) resulting in motor over-heating.
Spec.-grade (specification-grade) receptacles should be installed at initial construction, or to replace the residential-grade type that was foolishly installed. These high-quality receptacles have no quick-wire provision. To install these, the wires must be connected to screw or clamp terminals––a satisfactory method as long as the screws are well tightened. Installed correctly (wires connected tightly) these quality devices (switches and receptacles) will likely last a century.
Furthermore, unlike cheap receptacles, the spec-grade receptacle bodies are made of nylon; they won't break apart when bumped with furniture. You'll notice more physical resistance when inserting a plug; this is normal for the higher-grade receptacles. This is because of the plug blades being tightly held so as not to cause undesirable electrical resistance at the receptacle-plug connection. To overcome this physical resistance, just push harder when plugging into these receptacles. Remember to mind the polarity of the plug relative to that of the receptacle––wider blade to the wider slot. The receptacle won't permit incorrect insertion/polarity of the modern, polarized plugs.
If you are remodeling or building a residence, make sure that you specify the installation of specification-grade receptacles and -switches. It is well worth the small, added cost, for convenience and for the reduction of future repairs. If building a commercial or an industrial structure, the concern is almost moot, as building codes generally require the use of commercial, specification-grade devices in non-residential applications. As nearly all homes (houses and apartments) had residential-grade receptacles installed, a great improvement is accomplished by complete replacement of the poor-quality receptacles.
As all residential builders fit their outlets with the cheap-grade receptacles, nearly all homes (houses and apartments), are greatly improved by a complete replacement with commercial-grade receptacles–––the remedy. By the way, there's no need for the replacement of the whole outlet-unit, only the receptacles. Wall switches are not as important to replace, as they don't cause as much trouble as do the cheap receptacles.
––Richard S. Otto 17 July 2005
Use LED lamps & lighting products to replace your inefficient incandescent lamps.
I've been using LED lamps for 5 annums; they're great, and the purchase costs are lowering! LED lamps save replacement cost––and the labor-time of replacement, and save in the cost of electric power, and are hardly contradictory to cooling in the summer.
Ninety percent of the energy consumed by the conventional incandescent lamps result in heat, leaving only ten percent to light. With LEDs it's the other way round, ninety percent to light production.
Fluorescent lamps are almost as efficient but have several negative characteristics such as the breakable, delicate glass, shorter lifespan, and mercury content.
––Richard S. Otto, 22 April 2015
LED lamps are great; they'll save much on your electric bill, and as most of the energy consumed goes to light production, not heat, as do conventional incandescent lamps, they'll hardly contradict summertime cooling, saving electric cost. Also, there is no glass to break or toxic material i.e. mercury as the fluorescent lamps have. And, they last for many use-hours saving money and labor in re-lamping (replacing burned-out lamps). With incandescent lamps, approximately 90% of energy consumption goes to heat–––only 10% to light; with LED lamps it's the other way around, 90% to light!
––Richard Otto, 17 June 2017
The above photos are of residential-grade receptacles that we replaced after dangerous failure.
National Fire Protection Association (National Electrical Code authority)
This critique is to not only to note the benefits of LED lamps, whether they be screw-in, push-in, bayonet or tubular, it is to alert you of the types of tubular replacements for T8 & T12 fluorescent lamps. There are two replacement types available and often are not well labeled. There is the "replacement" type which requires the ballast (in operating condition) to be left in the fixture. This type is marketed boasting a facil conversion of fluorescent fixtures to LED type by simply replacing the old T lamps with the new LED tubes. But there is a caveat, as mentioned, the fixture's fluorescent ballast, which wears out, must be in operational condition.
Much of the reason to switch to LEDs is to rid your fixtures of the problematic fluorescent components, the ballast and the lamp(s). So, I commend the LED conversion-switching by using the tubular LEDs labeled "direct wiring" or "ballast bypass". With this type, the ballast is eliminated so, the new LED lamp(s) are wired in directly to the line voltage: 120 volts or the variable type: 120 to 277 volts. This direct wiring is made either thru the "tombstone" lampholders or, depending on the LED manufacturer, via a line-voltage cord attached to one end of the lamp.
With the direct-wire LED conversion made, you now have a much more reliable luminary fixture–––no ballast and no glass-constructed, mercury-containing lamps! The LEDs are more durable, circa 50,000 use-hours–––30,000 more than the tubular fluorescent lamps!
Richard Stuart Otto,19 June 2018
From Washington Checkbook–––
"We really don't like these plans. These policies, which typically cost $500 or more per year, aren’t really warranties, but rather insurance to protect against repair costs of major appliances, heating and cooling systems, plumbing fixtures, circuit breakers, and a few other systems. They don’t cover the most expensive repairs you might need (roof repairs or replacement, leaky windows or skylights, basement moisture, or chimney repair). Some policies even charge extra to cover plumbing, heating systems, or central A/Cs. Even for the systems covered, much is excluded, and most require you to pay a $100–$125 deductible for each service call. The worst part: You don’t get to decide who does the work. Plus, we find the best repair services don’t work with home-warranty companies".
Otto's Electrical Service donates periodically to worthy causes: American Red Cross; ASPCA; Virginia State Police Association; Maryland Troopers Association; McLean, Va. Volunteer Fire Department; PETA; St. Judes Children's Hospital; Wikipedia; Rip-off Report .com; various veterans’ non-profit agencies; Fairfax County Animal Shelter; and Charity Navigator
portable electric generator instructions example–––
HOOK-UP INSTRUCTIONS FOR PORTABLE, 7 kW GENERATOR
(TO BE POSTED ON THE DISTRIBUTION PANEL)
• To operate the electric generator upon and during electric utility power failure:
• Shut off the main (200-amp) circuit breaker in this distribution panel. This prevents energization of electric company’s supply lines (the other side of the meter).
• Unplug clothes dryer and plug in the generator’s supply cord to clothes dryer receptacle.
• Switch off the clothes dryer circuit breaker at the distribution panel in the laundry room.
• Make sure that generator’s supply cord is plugged in at the generator
using the twist-lock plug and receptacle.
• Start the generator.
• Switch on the clothes dryer circuit breaker.
• Now, the house should again have electric power. Try not to exceed 7,000 watts consumption---the generators normal output.
• When the electric company’s power is restored:
• Shut off the generator.
• Unplug the generator’s supply cord from the clothes dryer receptacle, and plug in the clothes dryer.
• Switch on the 200-amp, main circuit breaker in this distribution panel.
• Now, the house is back on the normal power from the power company.
Richard S. Otto, 2 March 2013
We guarantee any Otto's Electrical-provided product that we install i.e. switches, receptacles, circuit breakers, motion-sensing or other luminaire fixtures. If failure occurs within 18 months, Otto's Electrical Service, Inc shall replace the failed item at no cost, labor or material. No further guarantee is implied or expressed.
I was contacted–––hounded many times by Angie's List soliciting my advertisement. The following reveals their dishonesty to their subscribers. They've named their branch offices, chapters, to appear as a non-profit, consumer-advocate organization. They've boasted on TV ads stating that no company can appear on their list by paying, that companies only appear thru consumers' critiques. What they don't tell their subscribers is that those listed companies would be placed primarily in the lists if they pay Angie's List to advertise. Therefore, the consumer was misled as to quality-ranking among the listed companies. I see by this latest news, that they're under new owners and still corrupt. I say that if you're searching for a reputable company, tradesman, or professional, search the Internet; there are several avenues by which to find consumers' critiques without signing up or paying.
Richard S. Otto, 1 May 2019
When Checkbook’s undercover shoppers paid for 12 home inspections we were astonished by how poorly many of them performed. Of the 28 problems we deemed that any inspector should catch, as a group they caught them only half of the time. But what really surprised us was how little work many inspectors bothered to do. For instance, few performed up-close inspections of the roof, several didn’t test all the windows, outlets, or fixtures, and the reports supplied by some were brief and cursory.
So, before you hire an inspector, ask what exactly they’ll do and how long it will take them to do it. You can often determine the thoroughness of inspectors’ work by looking at sample reports that they should readily supply if requested. Have you already a concern about the home (house or apartment)? Make sure that your inspector will check it.
Also, look at customer critiques from homeowners that we surveyed–––we receive very mixed critiques for them. Ask candidates about certifications that they hold and inquire about their backgrounds. This is a field where experience truly matters. And because we found big price differences among companies, and little relationship between work quality and price, make sure that you don’t overpay for an inspection.
If you’re buying a new house, definitely get an inspection. Inspectors and real estate agents with whom we spoke, repeatedly warned that builders and DIY remodelers frequently create lots of defects.
–––from Washington Checkbook, 4-2019
6315 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, Va. 22101-4715
some of our distribution panel installations
OTTO-FAMILY HISTORY & PHOTOS:
Richard S. Otto, Otto's Electrical Service, Inc..
Richard S. Otto's FATHER, Henry Stuart Otto
Henry S. Otto, 70, of Arlington, Va. died 18 June 1987 after an infirmity with prostate cancer. Born 10 March 1917 in New Rochelle, New York, he was the only son of mechanical engineer & real estate developer, Richard S. Otto.
In 1937 he moved to Washington, D. C. from Tampa, Fla. with his mother and step-father. He was then employed by the Times-Herald newspaper. As a news photographer, he worked for the Paper before and after WWII. In the 1950's he worked for the then-named Army Map Service in photographic laboratory work, and later as a transliterator of Russian-Soviet intelligence. With the onset of WWII, Mr. Otto enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941. As a B-17 pilot, he made 28 bombing missions in the European theater. In the 1960s & '70s, he worked as a photo-lithographer in the printing industry. In 1968 He bought 18 acres near Deep Creek Lake in McHenry, Maryland, and with his 2nd wife, son, and two daughters, built a vacation resort business consisting of several chalets of his design.
He is survived by his 2nd wife, Lois Lee; 3rd wife, Mary Bibb; son, Richard, and 2 daughters, Freja and Tempe.
HIS FATHER, Richard S. Otto I
Richard S. Otto, 68 who named and developed Baywood Park and for years was its most colorful and controversial resident, died Friday in a Santa Barbara hospital.
A widely-known engineer, he ran unsuccessfully for U. S. Senator from California in a 1940 primary against the late Sen. Hiram Johnson.
Six years earlier, he managed Upton Sinclair's famous but unsuccessful End Poverty in California campaign for governor.
Mr. Otto moved to Montecito in 1964 after residing permanently in Baywood Park for 15 years.
But he had developed the community many years before, and had grown many of its Monterey Pines from seed in a Los Angeles apartment box-window.
Son of a wealthy Eastern family, Mr. Otto was born 24 March 1897 in East Orange, N. J. He was educated in private schools in this country and in France, Germany, and Switzerland.
During World War I, he worked with noted military inventor Carl Norden and later did the engineering for the Norden Bombsight.
It was considered one of the most significant Allied secrets and technical masterpieces of World War II.
About 1920, Otto was sent by his father, a New York banker, on a month-long mission to the court of Chinese warlord Wu Pei Fu, to discuss a huge loan. He decided against granting it.
In 1921, realtor-historian Walter Redfield, long of Baywood Park, sold Otto his first Baywood Park lot for $165. Otto became interested in the San Luis Obispo County and became sales manager of Redfield's Los Angeles office.
Then Otto, with financial backing from his father, purchased all the remaining lots in the townsite.
Because of a conflict in the names El Moro and Morro Bay, Otto changed the name to Baywood Park and began development in 1924.
At one time, he owned about 1,000 acres in the community, but over the years had sold most of them. He still owned the Baywood Lodge and Restaurant, and the Cambria Quicksilver Mine.
In the early 1930's, Otto met Socialist Upton Sinclair--noted muckraking novelist and author--at a meeting of the Bellamy Society. He, Sinclair and others conceived the idea of the EPIC campaign, and all registered as Democrats.
Sinclair was defeated in 1934 by Frank Merriam in one of the most famous gubernatorial campaigns in California history.
When it was over, Otto bought an 85-foot yacht, the Coquet, and lived on it four years, making several trips to the South Seas.
As a Democrat, he was one of several unsuccessful candidates for U. S. Senator against Sen. Hiram Johnson in 1940.
Over the years, Otto published the Baywood Observer, a newspaper, "spasmodically", in his words.
Mr. Otto had undergone surgery in January and had a succession of illnesses since. Arrangements are under the direction of the Channel City Funeral Society.
He had asked that in lieu of flowers friends donate to a peace organization.
His survivors include his widow, Mrs. Shirley Otto of Montecito; a son by a previous marriage, Henry Stuart Otto of Arlington, Va., and a sister, Countess Editha de Beaumont of New York City.
from the San Luis Telegram-Tribune 12 March 1966
Richard & sister Freja
Otto Family home in Arlington, Va.: 2918 So. 2nd Street just after purchase in 1958
HIS BROTHER, Henry S. Otto
THEIR PARENTS: Albert T. Otto and Rose Kroll (at far left):
Rose Kroll, Albert Otto's wife
HER FATHER, Capt. George Fred Kroll