What is Electrical Contracting?
Electrical contracting is the business of bringing lighting, power, and communications to buildings and communities across the United States and around the world. In the U.S., it is an industry valued at over $130 billion annually made up of over 70,000 electrical contracting firms employing over 650,000 electrical workers. Learn more > An electrical contractor is a business person or firm that performs specialized construction work related to the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical and communication systems.
Electrical contractors are classified the work they do.
“Outside” or “line” contractors are responsible for high-voltage power transmission and distribution lines. Line contractors see that electricity generated at power plants is safely carried through high-voltage lines and substations before it’s used to power any facilities, buildings, or homes.
“Inside” electrical contractors provide electricity to buildings and structures. Inside electrical contractors can serve as prime contractors for all electrical and cabling design, installation, and maintenances in commercial, institutional, and residential buildings.
“Integrated building systems” (IBS) or “Voice/Data/Video” (VDV) electrical contractors work primarily with low-voltage installations, including back-up power, climate controls, wireless networks, energy-efficient lighting, telecommunications, fiber optics, and security systems. IBS contractors integrate these system controls for maximum energy efficiency and building performance.
Working With an Electrical Contractor
How to Choose a Contractor
Selecting a qualified electrical contractor for your home or business can be challenging. It’s a little like taking your car into a car dealer or going to the doctor. You know something is wrong, but you lack the expertise to diagnose the problem yourself – and you are at the mercy of the supposed expert. You also might have difficulty describing your problem completely, or be confused by the jargon used by the professionals. We can’t help you with the auto mechanic or the doctor, but NECA would like to take a little of the mystery out of selecting and dealing with electrical contractors.
Questions to Ask a Contractor
Inquire about the contractor’s warranty and insurance, and get it in writing.
- Does the contractor guarantee that the work will be installed to meet code?
- Will the contractor correct work that does not meet applicable standards?
- Insist on a written estimate and a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate.
- Make sure that the proposal or contract specifies that the work to be performed will comply with the NEC and NEIS.
Define Your Needs
Most electrical contractors are specialists to one degree or another, so it helps to identify your particular need before you start calling.