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What is Electrical Estimating?

Electrical estimators with a background as an electrician are familiar with the details of work on the ground, including the length of time it takes to do different kinds of jobs, costs that can crop up, and so forth.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Electrical estimating is a process used by electricians, construction managers and engineers to determine the amount and cost of electricity required for a specific location or process. There are two general methods of creating accurate electrical estimates: computer software or manual calculations. Both methods have value, benefits and risks. Original electrical estimating software options were quite clumsy to use, but recent enhancements have vastly improved this tool for electrical estimation.

Electrical estimating computer software has increased in popularity as it has improved in quality and performance. This tool is designed for use by electricians, architects and electrical engineers. There are different versions available for residential, commercial or prototype development.

The residential versions of this type of software often require room sizes, room purposes and the total building layout. The software is preprogrammed with all the safety limits and requirements surrounding electrical wiring. These settings will ensure that your estimates take these rules into account. A standard program simply calculates the electrical requirements based on distance from the power source and the number of outlets. Some of the rules surrounding residential wiring require the use of longer paths and dedicated circuity. In these cases, the shortest distance between two points is not always the suitable option.

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In commercial electrical estimating software, the software is more flexible, and can calculate requirements at different voltage levels, as would be common in a manufacturing plant. Prototype software is completely open and often designed to interface with other design programs. The level of integration available varies, but it can save significant time in generating accurate electrical estimations.

Manual electrical estimations are typically used for very large or very small projects, as these types of projects have many unique aspects that do not comply with standard features. This method of electrical estimating requires someone with additional skills in electrical estimating, as all the calculations are based on measurements and professional judgment. Many professional electrical estimators, often also electrical engineers or electricians, can provide an accurate estimate by simply walking around a space and determining the customer’s needs.

A licensed electrical estimator will complete an inspection and then provide a drawing and written quotation. This quotation should include a breakdown of labor and materials costs. It is often suggested that one receive multiple quotes to ensure you are getting a fair price for a proper installation.

In manufacturing, many electrical consultants will provide estimates of the total electrical demand, based on the current equipment and layout. They may be able to make adjustments or recommendations to reduce the total electrical expense through the use of load sharing or other techniques.

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