Knowledgeable, reliable service is the hallmark of Cifelli Electrical Inc., which has been a mainstay on the Princeton business scene for 40 years.
Located on Airport Drive, right by Princeton Airport, the company handles every size of job, both residential and commercial. From minor repairs to service installation and replacement and renovations, Cifelli Electrical provides customers with the help they need.
“This work is never boring,” reports co-owner Anthony Tallone, who went to work with previous owner John Cifelli in 1987. “I’m an ‘honorary’ Cifelli,” he says, smiling. “Both my co-owner, Mike Twarkusky, and I started at Cifelli then, and we became owners in 2004. I was still in high school when I began working for John. Then, I went to Mercer County Vocational School for five years to become an electrician.”
From the time he was a young boy, Mr. Cifelli had always been interested in understanding electrical systems and how things were put together. “My father was an iron worker,” he explains, “and when he finished our basement, I enjoyed watching this process. I liked seeing how things all came together. What I like most about the electrical work is the combination. You not only have hands-on, but you’re also building something. And, it’s a thinking man’s job. You have to figure things out, and there is also trouble-shooting. It has everything.”
Cifelli truly covers every kind of situation, including setting up electrical systems in new houses, replacing old wiring in existing houses, installing smoke detectors, and dealing with emergencies, adds Mr. Tallone.
“We’ve had calls from people when half of the house is without power, and 40 people are coming to dinner! Also, sometimes, people have trouble with space heaters. They don’t realize how much power they take, and people overload the circuit.”
Regarding safety issues Mr. Tallone notes that “with older homes, the best bet is to change the devices; that is, the plugs and switches. You want to be sure there is a tight connection. Loose connections and old frayed cords are potential fire hazards. If it’s an old beat-up cord, throw it out.
“When it comes to extension cords, there are three things to be mindful of: (1) The number of cords to use on one spot, don’t overload; (2) The type of cord, whether it is for indoors or outdoors, and (3) The proper wire gauge for the application, that is, use heavier duty cord for heavier duty needs.
“Also, the newer LED technology has helped with cutting wattage down for holiday lighting consumption.”
Mr. Tallone has seen many changes in the business over the years, especially in the area of technology. “The technology has changed so much in every way, he points out. “With smart phones, there is now instant access. It has changed our business. You can take a picture of something on site, and send it back to the office. I remember when people just had beepers!”
“Because of all the changing technology, we have continuing education. Keeping up to date is the biggest challenge, especially with the code book changes. I am very excited, though, that the lighting quality and technology is constantly progressing. It keeps us on our toes. It evolves and changes all the time. We can be in a small house fixing a light one day and be on a ladder on Nassau Street installing electrical tubing in a building the next day. Every year, we do the holiday lighting for the Lewis School too.”
In addition, notes Mr. Tallone, with the advent of the recent severe storms, including Irene and Sandy, Cifelli is doing a lot of business with generators. “This has really taken off. People want to be prepared for an emergency. They are afraid of losing power. We are a Kohler dealer, and we do the most business with automatic generators, although we have portable ones too. In any case, it is important to have maintenance by a professional to avoid glitches. It is true that an automatic generator will increase the selling value of a house.”
Interestingly, he adds, “We had always done work with generators on a larger scale for businesses, but now homeowners want them. In many cases today, houses have become small businesses in terms of power, because of the technology and the amount of power they consume. Houses used to take 100 amps; now they take 200 to 300 amps.”
Mr. Tallone emphasizes that Cifelli is ready to take on any size job, and when possible, even solve problems over the phone. For example, “We’ll talk with people on the phone and learn about the problem. I can usually give them a price, depending on the time needed and the materials. And sometimes, if it’s a minor situation, I can help them fix the problem over the phone.”
Cifelli’s busiest season is from October to January, he adds. “Homeowners are getting ready for the holidays. They’re buying new light fixtures and often want help hanging chandeliers, etc. Then, things slow down for us from January to March, before it picks up again.
“Mike and I have been in this business for more than 25 years, and there is always a surprise. I’ve seen houses that have a basketball court inside! We go from a two-bedroom house to a nine-bedroom mansion, and everything in between. It’s all across the board, and in this town, there is always something out of the box. We meet all kinds of people with different backgrounds and experiences. It’s a great job!”
Cifelli has been given the highest rating by the Better Business Bureau, and is a member of the Central Jersey Electrical League, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and the National Electrical Contractors Association.
It is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (609) 921-3238. Website: www.cifellielectrical.com.