The role and importance of electrical contractors in modern society is only growing as the world becomes increasingly dependent on electricity. It is thanks to their work that electrical systems are able to run smoothly allowing power to be easily accessible everywhere from homes to libraries to manufacturing plants. Though the phrases electrical contractor and electrician have similar connotations, they are not the same. Furthermore, there are different types of electrical contractors and electricians that tackle different types of electrical work, which is relevant as depending on the tasks they handle workers may need different education and certifications. Commercial electrical contractors typically take on projects in public locations, for instance malls and business locations, but can work on residential properties with complex electrical systems.
Electrical Contractors vs. Electricians
An electrical contractor is a business or business person that employs electricians and does work related to the designing, installing, and maintaining of electrical systems, though it is worth noting that electricians can self-employ as electrical contractors. However, depending on the location there may be different licensing requirements for the electrical contractors and electricians considering their jobs are not the same. The job of an electrical contractor involves overseeing projects, for instance managing budgets and distributing resources as well as planning the project and giving input into its design. Electricians, on the other hand, are people trained and licensed to do electrical work.
Electrical contractors hire a variety of electricians at different skill levels, which allows less experienced electricians to receive training and guidance from more experienced veterans, and this increases the number of capable employees. They also employ project supervisors and estimators for the business aspect of the job.
Types of Electrical Contractors and Electricians
Electrical work is a highly specialized field that requires a lot of specific knowledge, and that is why there is great emphasis placed on the different types of them. It is important for clients to know who exactly they’re hiring so that the tradesman or tradesmen showing up have the necessary qualifications. Even given this, there is not one type of electrical contractor or electrician that is better than the other, rather there is one more suited for a particular job than another. Despite their many differences, the two are similar in the fact that they should both be licensed and insured.
Classifications of Electrical Contractors
There are three main categories electrical contractors are sorted into based on the work they do: Outside/Line, Inside, and Integrated Building System (IBS) or Voice/Data/Video (VDV). Outside or line electrical contractors work in the outdoors with high-voltage power transmission and distribution lines. Their work ensures electricity runs safely from power plants to buildings. Inside electrical contractors take jobs that involve providing electricity within a property, such as cabling and installations, including within its boundary lines. This means that their work is not limited to projects inside a building but can also extend to tasks such as outdoor lighting. IBS, also known as VDV, electrical contractors work with low-voltage installations, such as security systems and wireless networks, and they are in charge of making sure these systems work together in a way that uses energy as efficiently as possible and that the building’s overall performance is maximized.
Other types of electrical contractors that fall into these categories include low voltage contractors, electrician contractors, plant contractors, and high voltage air conditioning (HVAC) contractors.
Classifications of Electricians
Electricians are generally sorted as residential, commercial, or industrial. Residential electricians, sometimes referred to as domestic electricians, work with residential properties, for example homes and apartments, as their name suggests. Their work ranges from installing lighting fixtures to repairing and maintaining electrical appliances to wiring new homes.
Commercial electricians share similar tasks, except their area of expertise is with commercial buildings, meaning buildings generally used for bringing in profit like malls and offices. Thus, the type of electrical appliances they might be fixing or the lighting they might be installing differ from the ones a residential electrician would be dealing with.
Because the equipment they deal with tends to be more complicated, they tend to be more experienced and skilled than their residential counterparts. The same goes for industrial electricians who work in plants or production facilities, and their jobs often require specific knowledge of the industry they’re in—for instance automotive or chemical.
Electricians can be further sorted based on experience and skill. Apprentices are electricians in an apprenticeship program receiving training and instruction from journeymen or master electricians. Journeymen are those who have finished their apprenticeship and are in possession of a journeyman license. Master electricians are journeymen who have received additional training and passed a test proving their proficiency in and understanding of more electrical concepts.
So, What Are Commercial Electrical Contractors?
Commercial electrical contractors can be Outside, Inside, or IBS, but what makes them commercial is the fact that they employ electricians that specialize in serving commercial properties. To illustrate, a commercial electrical contractor handling “inside” work might have their team of commercial electricians and other staff members working on installing electrical outlets or heating devices within an office building.
Hiring a Commercial Electrical Contractor
Commercial electric work is not something that can be DIY-d. There are simply too many risks involved, for example injury to an employee or damage to a building’s electrical system, when electrical work is not handled by a skilled professional. In fact, there are strict industry regulations when it comes to commercial electrical work that include safety standards, levels of insurance, and even the type of electrical equipment that can be used for a project. To work as an electrical contractor, one must be licensed to prove that they or their business have the base skills and knowledge to operate safely.
Hiring a commercial electrical contractor means hiring a team of trained tradesmen with the knowledge and experience for a quick and successful job. Most commercial electrical contractors employ tradesmen who are capable of handling a wide variety of projects, meaning that there is little they will not be able to accomplish. On occasion, commercial electrical contractors are even able to provide fast access to the parts and supplies that an electrical project will require and will even recommend materials.