New: the L3100WVK Vu-Com Pro 3000 Series Wireless Colour Door Entry System!

This new kit from GM Techtronics – the Vu-Com L3100WVK / Vu-Com Pro Series 3000 – is a professional wireless door entry system with a weatherproof docked call station with a infrared camera for colour video transmission of the person in front of the door, with the possibility of door unlock from the handset, with two handsets with colour screen, and: proximity cards for up to 20 users!

This simple, yet comprehensive, wireless video monitoring system allows the screening of all callers from within the home, apartment or office.
Visitors can be seen clearly in colour video via a real time digital video transmission to the portable handset on a 2.4 inch ultra sharp screen and heard via the crystal clear digital audio. The stylish weatherproof backlist outside call station, with rechargeable battery in case of mains power failure, has built-in infrared lighting for night vision.  The call point also has an in-built Proximity Card Reader with the facility for up to 20 users.

The smart modern handset has electronic door lock release controls and can be wall or desk mounted via a unique docking station that also acts as a charging unit. The handset includes a monitoring function that enables the user to see outside at anytime they wish.

Each handset can monitor and operate up to two entrances and, if two handsets are operating on the same system, they can page each other and speak as an intercom. The Vu-Com Pro call station is supplied with a separate power supply which enables the system to be positioned in a wide range of locations.

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do you prefer your switches and sockets matt, polished, or primed?

This question relates not to the type of switches and sockets but to their finish. When choosing the range of wiring devices for your home or office you need to select between plastic or metal devices.
If you go with metal switches and sockets, you can have either flat plate, raised plate, stepped plate, low profile, etc. But when it comes to the finish, the look of the metal plate switches and sockets, you will need to decide between the matt finish, the polished finish, and the primed devices.
Matt or Polished Switches and Sockets
To put it in simple terms, the polished finish is the shiny one, whether in chrome, brass or nickel. Sometimes you can even see yourself in the shiny finish of the switch or the socket, and they look brilliant when you put them on the wall… This range may needs some extra care and wiping from time to time “to maintain the shininess”.
The matt finish is the metal plate which doesn’t shine / reflect the light or the image, and it can be brushed or satin style. They are more common especially because when used they don’t need to be maintained too often. From time to time they need to be wiped and dusted, but in general the prints and dirt is non-visible.
Do you prefer to Paint your Switches and Sockets?
The primed white switches and sockets stand out from all the rest – they are not matt and they are not shiny. They come with a finish of white primer which allows you to paint them with the desired color to match the decor of the room. They are specifically designed to enable total color coordination of the decor scheme with the front surface of the electrical accessories.
It is recommended that you spray paint the paintable sockets and switches, but you can also apply paint with a brush or a roller. The front plate can be removed from the module inside and painted, afterward being re-assembled very easily. The primed switches and sockets are provided by Heritage Brass and by Forbes and Lomax.
Do you prefer your switches and sockets in a matt finish, in a polished / shiny finish, or in a paintable finish? It is up to you. To find out more about the primed white devices and how it works, read here, here, and here.

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This Blog has Moved to – Reviews and Articles at Sparks

We love blogging, and we also love being organized. Therefore, we would like to announce that this blog has moved to, where you can read more about the reviews, articles, tricks, tips, and stuff about the items sold at Sparks and Lights.

This Blog has Moved to - Reviews and Articles at Sparks

Thank you for all your comments, the readership, the recommending, and the sharing, and we are looking forward to see you guys on our official blog!

We will no longer maintain this blog – all the latest news and updates can be found on the Sparks Direct Blog!

Tip: browse our blog on your smartphone or your tablet! Or better: browse our website on your iPhone, Android phone, or tablet! You will love the experience and will definitely bookmark us!

Will Mobile Phone Apps Completely Replace Light Switches in the Future?

iPhone and Android apps are encroaching on the space we reserve for light switches - could they completely replace physical switches in the future?

From CES 2013, The Verge reports on the NXP Cherry light switch – a “smart” lightswitch that operates wireless smart LED lightbulbs from a physical control system rather than an Android- or iOS-based system.


While NXP have made some excellent products in the past (and by all accounts, the construction of the Cherry switch is no different), we can’t help but wonder if such a device, wonderful though it may be, is too niche to survive?

If “smart lighting” is indeed the future, surely a smartphone control system would be more appropriate in a more connected world? We all have our phones in our pockets all the time, anyway.

However, commenter YozMan raises a good point: a lightswitch doesn’t need to be fished out of a pocket to be used.

They’ve solved the problem everyone had with Philips and and all those other smartbulb-smartphone things.

It takes about 35-40 seconds to turn on a Philips smartbulb compared to 1.5 seconds for a regular light bulb, simply because Philips requires you to pull out your phone, unlock it, find the app (possibly searching through multiple screens and folders), loading up the app and finally having it do whatever it is you want.

As opposed to: entering room, flipping/pressing light switch.


A wall-mounted switch is always there, after all, and the whole point of a good lightswitch is that it can be found and operated in the dark. We’ve lost count of the time we’ve spent scrambling to find our phone; maybe it’s not the best control option out there.

So, being an electrical wholesaler, we’re all on board with smart switches and lighting control systems. We’ve covered them on the blog before under the banner of home automation.

It’s not just lighting that benefits from a “smart system,” too – the DeviREG Touch controls underfloor heating from a touchscreen controller (with an integrated timer and thermostat) as well as from a smartphone app – so there’s the choice of control for the end user. An interesting middle-ground solution to the problem.

What do you think? Could you control all your home appliances with a smartphone? And if so, think about this: what if you lost it?

Image by Pete.r (Creative Commons)

The “Rebound Effect” Could Make Energy-Saving Lights Useless: How To Fix That

Tower of London - Olympic Illuminations and Other Such Vanity Lighting Could Make Energy-Saving Lights Pointless

Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt has good point at a LuxLive keynote recently: that the rise in LED lighting due to the energy saving costs to be had – from the living room to Tower Bridge – is leading to a higher degree of lighting overall. Which could mean more lighting as a whole.


A quote from the article follows (emphasis ours):

As lighting grows more varied and ubiquitous, the sum total of energy consumption could wipe out all the energy saved by switching to a more efficient sources in the first place.

What if, by decreasing the power consumption of each individual item, all these wonderful technological leaps we’re having lately are actually encouraging us to increase our overall power consumption?

We might get to that “tipping point” soon, and that point would render all of this innovation totally moot.


Porritt points out that the rise of ‘vanity lighting’ – such as the Tower Bridge Olympic illuminations, or just some really nice home office lighting – is one of the main offenders, and we’re probably guilty of encouraging that on this very blog.

There’s one simple and inexpensive way to combat those energy costs, though, and it lies in the Energy Management systems from Sparks Direct. The devices in our store don’t consume much power by themselves, and can actually help reduce the demand for lighting on a daily basis.

Motion sensors will activate the lighting in a room or outdoor area only when there is a person around to appreciate it, which can be a security consideration (PIR lights are known to deter would-be criminals, after all) or a one of convenience.

A low-fi approach to saving energy is a timer switch or a time delay switch to limit the amount of time the lights are actually on – either by automatically opening the circuit at certain times of day, or by limiting the amount of time a light is on once the switch has been used.

And when the weather starts to turn and the UK starts to enjoy longer days, a photocell sensor will prevent the lights coming on when they aren’t needed.

There are many more ways to ensure that the rebound effect doesn’t happen, though, and they’re not all limited to lighting – ventilation and heating are two other potential “problem areas” that spring to mind – and we’d like to hear your ideas in the comments!

Ed Davey’s “Green Deal”: What Does it Mean for Professionals?

What We Know About Ed Davey's "Green Deal": What Does it Mean for Professionals?

We talked about the DECC’s “Green Deal” just the other day and we’ve been reading about how this affects both Sparks Electrical and our friends in the industry.

The idea is that residents of domestic and commercial properties will be subsidised for “green” improvements – which will use less energy over time – and some or all of the cost will be paid off through energy bills over time.

The work won’t be carried out unless the cost-savings over time is higher than the cost of installing all the new fittings. According to the energy secretary Ed Davey, householders stand to get up to £1,000 to help with the retrofitting.

The Green Deal will officially launch in the new year, so nothing is “official” as yet, but we’ll be keeping an eye on this.


Essentially, the DECC have put aside a £125 pot of money for a national retrofit for sustainability (since the UK is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050), but the Green Deal also encourages behavioural changes on the individual level. So it’s not just home improvements – it’s also about consumer empowerment.

The official track goes: assessment > recommendations > quotes > installation. An assessor will talk to the home or business owner about their energy use, recommend any appropriate improvements, and then a “Green Deal Provider” will quote them for those improvements. A certified “Green Deal Installer” will then carry out the fittings.

Along with this, there will be a new requirement for energy companies to help poorer households to improve energy efficiency.


But what does that mean for contractors? According to the DECC’s website and its affiliates, almost all professionals in the heating, lighting, insulation, etc. industries can get involved.

On the one hand, the Green Deal could generate more work and thus income, but there’s the possibility that this could become just another “standard” that suppliers and contractors will be expected to meet at their own expense.

It’s worth mentioning that becoming a “Green Deal Supplier,” for example, involves submitting a plan for the assessment of properties, how the finance will be collected, and who will carry out the installments. For installers, it seems to be a case of meeting the requirements of the certification.

Of course, the main question is: is it enough? Will this help the UK meet its decarbonisation targets? Is the process of becoming a Green Deal installer or supplier worth it? Let it fly in the comments!

Follow “The Blog at Sparks Direct” for more news on this topic, and don’t forget to visit our online store for more energy saving solutions.