Things to Know Before Hiring a Commercial Electrician

If you want a socket in your home replaced that’s the sort of work that a residential electrician will undertake but if you need to install some new stadium lights or want a quote for tennis court lighting, that is the domain of a commercial electrician.

In simple terms, a commercial electrician is someone who has been trained and licensed to carry out electrical work on a much larger scale. That means they will be working in large and complex commercial buildings or settings, such as an office block, warehouse, or even a sports stadium, for instance.

Although it is fair to say that the basic aspects of a commercial electrician’s work will be pretty similar to the tasks carried out by a residential electrician, the scale of the jobs undertaken will be considerably larger.

If you are looking to hire a Clearwater commercial electrician for a new installation or to carry out a refit of existing premises, such as rewiring and upgrading an office block, or even installing new wiring in a block of apartments, there are some key points you need to know. 

Here is a look at the range and scope of electrical work that a commercial electrician will be asked to do and what sort of duties someone operating in this sphere will be expected to accomplish.

What is a commercial electrician and what work do they do?

If you are inviting tenders for installing dock lighting or want accent lighting in a retail premises these are two examples of the sort of work that requires the services of a commercial electrician.

Put simply, a commercial electrician is more geared towards completing large-scale electrical tasks. Some of these tasks may well be within the competency range of a residential electrician but they are unlikely to have the experience or the resources to deal with such a complex and detailed request.

Let’s take a look at some of the typical duties carried out by a commercial electrician.

One of the fundamental tasks of a commercial electrician would be to install new wiring or replace existing wiring that needs updating. They will also regularly install new electrical components, as well as switches, sockets, and lights. Although some of the technical aspects of this work could potentially be completed by a residential electrician there are certain aspects of larger installation projects that need commercial experience. It is also a case of a commercial electrician having the resources at their disposal to be able to install stadium lights, for instance.

Maintaining the efficiency and safety of electrical systems is also an integral aspect of the work carried out by a commercial electrician.

Building codes need to be adhered to at all times and one of the tasks carried out by a commercial electrician would be to inspect electrical systems periodically to ensure that everything is working safely and all of the wiring and components are fully compliant with the relevant codes.

They will also be regularly tasked with carrying out a fault diagnosis service to identify a wiring or electrical component fault before carrying out the relevant fix.

It is a regular part of a commercial electrician’s work to be required to read and interpret technical drawings.

They will also have the right level of competency to be able to plan a new electrical system for a brand new construction project and installation. Doing work such as installing dock lighting obviously requires a certain amount of planning and preparation beforehand.

A commercial electrician will be expected to be familiar with local and national guidelines in relation to wiring and electrical systems. If they are asked to install tennis court lighting for a new club, for instance, they should usually be able to carry out that work anywhere in the country.

A fundamental difference in how a commercial electrician operates is in how they gear up for taking on electrical work that is at a much larger scale than residential work. They will be able to lead a team of qualified electricians and apprentices so that a workforce can be put together that meets the demands of the job they are being asked to do. Quite clearly, if a large retail store wants to install accent lighting they will want it done in a hurry and within certain working time constraints, such as doing the work outside of trading hours. 

A commercial electrical company will be familiar and comfortable with this scenario. They will also have arranged to have the necessary resources at their disposal to meet the specific demands of a commercial job.

What are the requisites of a commercial electrician?

To be able to fulfill their role as a commercial electrician they will know that it usually means working in a more challenging work environment.

Working with electricity can be incredibly dangerous. That applies to both a residential and a commercial electrician. However, it is fair to say that some of the risks and challenges they will face are much harder in a commercial setting than will be required of them in a domestic environment.

Many electricians will probably spend a fair amount of time crouching down and trying to work in confined spaces. As well as trying to work in such small spaces there is also the constant threat of danger where they could be subjected to an electrical shock or sustain an injury.

Working as a commercial electrical contractor can take those risks to a whole new level. If you are trying to install dock lighting or need to be working at height to install tennis court lighting that requires observing strict site safety protocols. It also means the electrician needs to have all the right safety gear and be extremely familiar with all the relevant safety regulations.

What is the typical profile of a commercial electrician and what sort of environment will you find them in?

We have already provided a few distinctions between a residential and a commercial electrician. Installing dock lighting or accent lighting in an office or retail premises would be two good examples of where you are more likely to find a commercial electrician working.

Primarily, a commercial electrician is someone who has received specific training that is focused on industrial and business electrical systems and installations. A typical day for this type of electrician would involve working in a large room or setting where there are considerably more wiring systems and applications than you find in someone’s home.

Working in a shopping mall, office, industrial unit, warehouse, restaurant, or even a government building, would be the sort of environment that they find themselves in on a daily basis. Some of the tasks they will be required to perform include maintaining and improving the wiring system. That might involve removing inadequate circuits or they could need repairing or replacing.

It is often the case that once someone qualifies as a domestic electrician they will expand their knowledge so that they can tackle a much wider variety of jobs with far greater complexity than the tasks they would perform in a residential setting.

The majority of commercial electrical work is time-critical. That means a commercial electrician needs to be business-orientated with an understanding of the demands this type of work involves. Being able to respond quickly and fulfill the requirements of a client’s request, often at short notice, is necessary if their electrical contracting business is going to expand and earn a reputation in the commercial arena.

Training and licensing requirements for commercial electrical contractors

Let’s take a look at the level of training and licensing required to operate as a commercial electrician.

Training and licensing requirements are an area where there are noticeable differences between a commercial and a residential electrician. The majority of states operate a separate licensing system for commercial and residential electricians.

One of the fundamental reasons why there is a clear distinction is down to the fact that the wiring systems and power used in a commercial setting are vastly different from a domestic setting. Basically, power to domestic properties is one-phase. Commercial buildings such as factories and warehouses use three-phase electricity. 

A commercial electrician is required to complete training to understand the difference between the two and to be competent in their ability to work with three-phase electricity.

Different types of electricians

As well as there being a clearly defined difference between the work and experience levels that distinguish a commercial electrician from a residential contractor there are also recognized levels of qualification.

The number of hours you must complete to reach a certain qualification status does tend to vary between states. However, there are some basic levels of entry that are usually constant and recognized across different state lines.

To work as an electrician you may well need to be issued with a state license issued by the relevant electrical contractor’s board.

A so-called journeyman electrician achieves that status by completing around 8,000 hours of experience covering a number of key disciplines. These include installing electrical wiring, setting up electrical apparatus or equipment, and installing heat, light, or power supplies.

You will have had to pass an electrical exam as part of the qualification process to be called a journeyman electrician.

To be classed as an electrical contractor you will normally be required to have not only completed 8,000 hours of work experience but the electrician will also indeed to have held a managerial or supervisory position dealing with commercial, industrial, or residential electrical work.

Some states recognize a specialty dual license. To be granted this license the electrician will have to demonstrate that they have completed a minimum of four years of electrical work. In addition, it is a requirement of this status to pass a trade and business exam before being licensed for both residential and commercial work.

Some states recognize someone who has extensive electrical installation experience as a master electrician.

A master electrician will normally mean that the person will have had to obtain a degree in electrical engineering and completed a minimum of two years of experience in a construction environment. A combination of construction industry experience and a minimum term of two years as a journeyman electrician could also be sufficient to be approved as a master electrician

In some states, there is a classification of contractors. This is a requirement for an electrical license if you are going to carry out work that is greater in value by around $25,000. To achieve contractor status the electrician will need to demonstrate three years of experience trading as an electrician. They will also need to pass a trade exam and business law exam.

This stringent licensing requirement to be recognized as a contractor in some states is a demonstration of the fact that a commercial electrician is required to operate at a different level of experience and have a business-orientated outlook to meet the demands of clients in this sphere.

A final note on the subject qualifications and certification. It is possible that some commercial electrical contracting firms will use supervising electricians and inspectors who hold national certification.

The voluntary national certificate issued should not be confused with individual state licensing and legal requirements. The commercial electrical inspector certification scheme is a voluntary professional credential issued by the International Code Council. It is issued to an electrician who has been able to demonstrate a high level of competence and experience in relation to commercial electrical code and safety protocols.

It is feasible that a commercial electrician will have both local and national credentials that verify their competency.

Duties and responsibilities of a commercial electrician

A commercial electrician is expected to operate at a very high level of diligence and professionalism. The amount of experience they need to be able to achieve the right level of certification and insurance cover to undertake commercial work is a confirmation of status that they have worked hard to earn.

It is understandable that many states operate a strict licensing and qualification procedure together with a vigorous vetting process when you consider the type of work they are going to be undertaking.

A commercial electrician will be installing and maintaining the electrical workings of some huge commercial structures. Wiring a massive office block or fitting out a retail mall requires a certain level of competence and experience. A commercial electrician also needs to have a clear understanding of the inherent risks that come with the territory.

Any electrician needs to be vigilant and incredibly safety conscious when you consider the dangers posed by electricity. The risk of an electrical shock and fire are ever-present when working with a live feed. However, a commercial electrician will be operating at a higher level of intensity and danger due to the surroundings they are working in and the conditions they face.

Understanding the need for using protective gear is one example of the added responsibility of being a commercial electrician. Mitigating the risks requires a good comprehension of health and safety rules. Knowing how important it is to use an entry point such as a fire-rated access panel for plaster would be a good example of how a commercial electrician needs to handle more complex challenges.

The scope of work undertaken by a commercial electrician is much wider than the challenges faced by a typical residential electrician.

Electrical maintenance and repair work will feature just as heavily in a commercial electrician’s workload as installation tasks. There will also be a fair amount of inspection work carried out as it is often a case that a commercial electrician needs to be proactive in anticipating potential problems and hazards.

If a warehouse or production line has to cease functioning for even a few hours because of an electrical fault it will be costing that business lost revenue that they can’t easily recover. One of the big responsibilities of being a commercial electrician is to help their clients meet tight deadlines by keeping every aspect of their electrical system in good working order 24/7.

What is the typical workload of a commercial electrician?

An electrician who is qualified to carry out commercial electrical work will carry out a number of installation, repair, and maintenance tasks in a commercial setting.

A commercial electrician can expect to be working on generators, industrial motors, and transformers. They will also be attending to power circuits, maintaining internal and external conduits, and could even be involved in dealing with switchboards on a regular basis.

They will be required to be competent when it comes to inspecting a building’s electrical system, checking that the system meets the necessary industry standards in terms of functionality and safety

Diagnostic skills are required by a commercial electrician as they will need schematics to analyze issues with the electrical system. The sort of issues they will contend with include dealing with troublesome circuits and switches. They will also be required to deal with faulty fuses, ballasts, and non-functioning fixtures.

In addition to dealing with installation, maintenance, and repair tasks, a commercial electrician is expected to have the skills to be able to create an electrical system plan for a new construction project.

What are the differences between a residential electrician and a commercial electrician?


To summarize, let’s review some of the key differences between a residential and commercial electrician.

Commercial and residential properties use different power loads. Commercial buildings often use a three-phase supply. That means the electrician needs to be familiar with this type of wiring design and the characteristics of a three-phase setup.

A typical residential electrical installation will involve fitting the wiring at the early stages of construction as the wires and pipes are hidden behind a plastered wall. Conduits or ducting are commonplace with commercial installations. A commercial electrician needs to have additional installation skills to meet these challenges.

Different types of wiring and equipment will be used for residential and commercial installation projects. A notable difference would be the fact that commercial electricians have to be familiar with using commercial cables. These are more heavily insulated in order to provide protection from the threat of corrosive gasses and liquids.

A commercial electrician is required to have a much deeper level of technical knowledge compared to a residential electrician. An electrician working in a commercial setting may well be asked to deal with a variety of different challenges. They might be required to work with industrial equipment and complex security systems, for instance.

Using a commercial electrician will give you access to a level of experience and skill that will be needed when dealing with challenging electrical installations and maintenance tasks. As you would expect, a trained and licensed commercial electrician will have the required skills to deal with any number of unique challenges.

You need to know that the electrician you are using has the knowledge and training to be able to understand exactly what is required and how every aspect of the wiring system and building design works when it comes to using the available power source.

Health and safety is clearly a primary concern for any business. That is why there is a need to work with a commercial electrician who has the tools as well as the training to deal with issues safely and competently.

It could be argued that one of the most compelling reasons for using a suitably qualified commercial electrician would be the fact that they will have all of the necessary licenses and insurance to be able to guarantee the standard of their work.

Using a commercial electrician offers a number of clearly defined advantages. You know you will be getting sound professional advice and their work will be carried out to a high standard as a result of their experience and know-how.

Whatever the challenge, a commercial electrician will not be fazed by the scale or complexity of an industrial electrical installation. Now that you know what they are trained to do and how they have put in the groundwork to get to their position, you can plan a project safe in the knowledge that your electrical requirements will be in good hands.

In Need of a Clearwater Commercial Electrician?

East-West Electric has a staff of 80+ qualified electricians who have handled jobs on grand scales. If you have a commercial or industrial project in mind, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of electrical contractors & construction engineers has the knowledge and skill to assess your project and provide an approximate cost and timeframe needed. Call us now at (727) 771-9403.

For commercial lighting projects, you can use our online form to receive a quote.

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