October 7, 2021

Facility Manager’s Guide to Commercial Electrician Services

As a facility manager, you hopefully have a list of contractors that you work with regularly, including those that provide commercial electrician services. From annual inspections and maintenance to building upgrades to repairs, you will likely need the services of these professionals semi-regularly. 

Whether you already have a company you use for commercial electrician services or you are currently looking for one, there are some crucial things you should know about your building’s electricity and their services. 

Commercial Building Remodels: The Dos and Don’ts

Depending on how long you manage a facility, there is a good chance that you will be in charge during commercial building remodels. There are many dos and don’ts that you should follow during these remodels to help the project go smoothly. The following are just some of those tips related to commercial electrician services. 

Don’t: Skip Hiring an Electrician

You may feel tempted to let your remodeling contractors handle all of the electric work, especially if they claim they are up to it. However, it is best to hire a separate electrician. They will have more experience and knowledge dealing with electrical components. Hiring an electrician will increase your chances that everything goes smoothly and safely. It will also prevent issues with the remodeled portions of the building. 

Do: Assess the Building Before the Remodel

Before you start the building remodel, have your commercial electrician assess the property. Help them by providing information like architectural plans and electrical wiring blueprints if they ask for them. 

This type of assessment will help you avoid damaging existing electrical structures. It will also let the electrician avoid overloading various circuits. 

Don’t: Assume What Was Compliant Still Is

Building regulations change over time as we gain knowledge and develop stricter safety standards. This means that just because something used to be compliant, that doesn’t mean that it still is. While this is not an issue if you don’t renovate, it can become a problem if you make changes. Those changes will have to be up to code. 

The good news is that if you get commercial electrician services, you won’t have to worry about compliance or looking into laws. Your electrician will handle it for you. 

Do: Consider Installing Efficient Lights

If you don’t already use them, then renovations are the perfect time to upgrade your existing lights to energy-efficient versions. At the very least, you should strongly consider installing energy-efficient lights in the remodeled portions. 

This will help you do your part to help the planet. It will also reduce your facility’s electrical bill. 

Don’t: Think of Electricity in a Vacuum—So Do Plan 

Don’t forget that the decisions you make regarding the electrical remodel affect other aspects of the remodel as well. For example, your electrician may need to talk to the design team to figure out where lighting and wiring are placed. 

Ideally, you will know exactly where the wiring goes before you even start construction. 

That planning should also include deciding where you will run electrical cords to connect appliances and lights to the outlets. 

Do: Think About the Future

As you plan the electrical needs for the renovations, think about the future of the building as well. For example, do you plan on adding more appliances to one room? Or do you plan on hosting events that may need more outlets? Thinking ahead about future uses and projects will help limit the need for future renovations. 

Do: Have Extra in the Budget

With a major project like a renovation, there is a fair chance that an unexpected issue will arise. Prepare for this by setting aside some extra funds in your budget. 

New Construction: What Type of Electrical Services Is Needed

One of the many challenges when planning new construction is figuring out what type of electrical service you need. This is the time to evaluate what happens in the building and how much energy it uses. 

A Rule of Thumb

The most important consideration for your type of electrical service is how much electricity your building is likely to consume. 

Your electrician can help you with this, but you can also use some averages as a guide. 

Start with the fact that the Department of Energy estimates that commercial buildings use an average of 22.5 kilowatt-hours for every square foot. So, you can multiply the square footage of your building by 22.5 to get your likely kilowatt-hour needs. 

Of course, this is averaged, so your facility may need more or less. The following can be your guide. 

  • Hot water heating uses about 0.5 kWh/square foot.
  • Ventilation uses about 2 kWh/square foot.
  • Heating equipment uses about 2 kWh/square foot.
  • Cooling equipment uses about 3 kWh/square foot.
  • Lighting uses about 7 kWh/square foot.
  • Refrigeration uses about 8 kWh/square foot.

Figure Out the Maximum Required

When figuring out how much electrical service you need, you want to think about the maximum that you will need at any given moment. Then, you want to add a little extra just in case. 

Consult Your Electrician

The good news is that this type of estimate and assessment is included in most commercial electrician services. They will use their experience and the information you provide them to assess the type of electrical services you need. 

Electrical Panel and Service Upgrades: How to Keep Your Building Safe

From electrical panel upgrades to proper service and maintenance, there are some important commercial electrician services that will help keep your building safe. 

Regular Panel Maintenance

Even if you don’t need any other commercial electrician services, be sure to have an electrician inspect your electric panels regularly. At the very least, have them inspect the panels annually. This process should also involve checking the circuit breakers. 

As with any other maintenance and inspection, the primary goal here is to make sure that everything is working properly. The maintenance gives your electrician the chance to spot potential issues while they are still small. This can prevent costly repairs and keep your building safe. 

The maintenance on the electrical panel can be done at the same time as the rest of an electrical inspection. The inspection as a whole will involve looking at conduits, conductors, wires, and more. 

Look for Damaged Outlets

In addition to maintaining panels, don’t forget about the outlets. You want to confirm that the outlets aren’t cracked or discolored. You should also look out for plugs falling out or a burning smell. 

Pay Attention to Fluctuations

Keep your eyes out for any fluctuations in the electrical load. The most common example would be flickering or dimming lights. This type of issue can indicate a wiring short, that the system is overextended, or that there is dangerous arcing. No matter the reason, you need commercial electrician services. 

Cord Safety

Electrical safety in your building involves more than just the electrical systems themselves. You also want to pay attention to the cords that you use. 

Whenever possible, avoid extension cords. If you notice frayed cords on appliances, replace them. 

Lighting and LED Upgrades: How to Service and Save on Your Electric Bill

One of your goals as a facility manager is to stick to your budget. You can help achieve that goal by reducing your electricity bills. Switching to LEDs is one simple method of doing so, while making sure to service your lights is another. 

LEDs and Savings

To put the potential savings from LEDs into perspective, consider that they can use as much as 90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights do. Each bit of energy that they don’t use is direct savings on your electric bill. 

As a bonus, LEDs also last as much as 25 times as long as those traditional bulbs. That means less time spent searching for and replacing bulbs and less money spent on bulbs in the long run. 

Service and Savings

As mentioned, servicing your lights is another excellent way of saving money on your electric bill. Some estimates indicate that emissions, dirt, and dust building up on LEDs can negatively affect their light quality by up to 30%. In addition to reducing efficiency, the buildup can also pose a fire hazard. 

As a refresher, every light can have slightly different cleaning instructions from the manufacturer. The general rule of thumb is to clean the fixtures twice every year or if you notice buildup. 

Tenant Finishes: How to Properly Manage These Projects

While you manage the facility as a whole, you leave some freedom up to the various tenants in your property. This is just as true of a residential building with apartments as it is of a commercial building with office spaces or other types of units. 

You need to give your tenants some freedom when finishing their spaces, but you should also have guidelines in place to keep the building safe. 

At the very least, make sure that your tenant finishes all involve the use of licensed commercial electrician services. Do not let tenants handle the electrical components themselves, nor should you offer to handle it for them yourself. You can suggest tenants use the specific company that you work with or just require they use a licensed one.

It is also crucial to ensure that tenant finishes are all up to code. This tends to be easiest if you require them to use commercial electricians, as those professionals will be familiar with the codes. Remember that if there are issues with the electricity in your tenant finishes, you may be liable in addition to the tenant. 

Whether you manage the tenant finishes directly or let each tenant manage their own, make sure that your chosen electrician company works closely with the rest of the team, such as the construction managers and general contractors. This will reduce delays and help with getting the appropriate permits. 

Safety Inspections and Electrical Consultations: Always Talk to an Expert

Out of everything that facility managers need to know about commercial electrician services, the absolute most important thing to know is that you need to leave the electricity to the experts. Working with electricity can be incredibly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. On top of that, an error may not be immediately obvious but can pose a serious safety risk or just damage property in the future. 

The Point of Inspections Is to Have a Professional Look at the System

If you are considering trying to do the safety inspection yourself, think again. After all, the main goal of this inspection is to ensure that everything is fully functional, but you won’t have the experience or knowledge to see all the fine details. You are only likely to notice obvious damage. 

By contrast, professionals will know the specifics of what various components and circuits should look like. This means that they will notice tiny variations and warning signs that you may not. 

Remember that a trained electrician can spot electrical overloads, potential threats, defects, bonding issues, earthing issues, fire hazards, and other electrical risks. 

Experience and Knowledge 

When it comes down to it, the main reasons that you will want to talk to an expert about inspections and during consultations are their experience and knowledge. As mentioned, that experience helps them spot potential problems much more easily than you would. 

In the case of commercial electrical services, from installations to wiring to repairs, their experience also lets them work more efficiently and deliver better results. Professionals are significantly less likely to incorrectly install something and create a fire hazard or malfunction. 

Efficiency 

That experience also means that professionals will also work more efficiently, minimizing the amount of downtime required to fix something. Working more efficiently can also reduce the costs of labor. 

High-quality Systems

The experience that professionals have also means that they are better able to recommend the best systems or products for you to incorporate into your building’s electrical system. They likely can even get the necessary items, from wiring to lights, for you. This saves you the time you would have spent figuring out the best parts and finding them. It also ensures that you get the best parts with ease. 

Suggest Improvements

The ability to suggest the best parts and products also extends to improvements. Professionals will likely suggest ways that you can improve your electrical systems or their efficiency. 

Knowledge of Codes

We’ve mentioned the importance of following building codes throughout this guide, and this is yet another area where those are important. Simply put, commercial electrician services will be familiar with the most recent codes. This lets you easily comply with regulations so you don’t get into legal trouble. 

Focus on Other Tasks

Of course, there’s also the fact that if you hire a professional electrician, you won’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to learn how to perform a task and try to complete it. Remember that even a simple task may take you hours or days. 

Given your responsibilities as a facilities manager, you definitely have better ways to spend your time. 

Create a Working Relationship

Hiring professionals will also give you the chance to develop a working relationship with them. To start, you will already have their contact information if you need their electrician services in an emergency. Furthermore, they will already be familiar with your property, making it easier for them to correct problems in emergencies or non-emergency situations. 

Stay Safe

It is also worth repeating that hiring professionals keeps you, your team, and everyone in the building safe. There is much less of a risk of electrocution during the services, as they know what they are doing and the appropriate safety precautions to take. Then, once their services are completed, everything will be installed properly, reducing the risk of fires or other issues. 

Low-voltage Services: Internet, TV, and Phone

Low-voltage commercial electrician services are those that require much lower voltage than traditional electricity, such as the internet as compared to lights. 

Generally speaking, low-voltage refers to anything with 50 volts or less. 

Why Low Voltage Is Different

Compared to other types of wiring, low-voltage wiring is much more delicate. Someone not familiar with this type of wiring could easily break it. 

Additionally, low-voltage wiring requires more loops, as you can’t bend it 90 degrees like you could with traditional wiring. There are also different cable types involved. 

Examples of Low Voltage

The following are just some of the most common low-voltage services your commercial building is likely to need: 

  • Wi-Fi
  • Telephones
  • Security systems 
  • Fire alarms
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Paging and intercom systems 
  • Cloud-based conferencing for collaborative workspaces 
  • Cable

Conclusion

When it comes to the electrical aspects of managing properties, facility managers should always consult experts. Commercial electrician services will be ready to help you with renovations and new construction projects, as well as inspections, maintenance, and repairs. They will ensure you receive high-quality service and allow you to focus your efforts on your other responsibilities. 

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