Commercial Electrician FAQ’s discussed by CMS Commercial Maintenance Services
What does a Commercial Electrician do?
A Commercial Electrician is qualified to work on larger electrical systems, installing circuits and electrical wiring to ensure commercial appliances and systems work safely and effectively in a commercial property or business.
What qualifications do you need to be a Commercial Electrician?
A commercial Electrician should have an industry recognised level 3 NVQ qualification;
- Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical Services (Electrical Maintenance)
- Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems & Equipment (Buildings, Structure and the Environment)
A National Vocational Qualification is also referred to as an NVQ. Electricians will normally qualify with an NVQ through an apprenticeship which includes classroom training and work experience to ensure they have all the skills they need when they are qualified.
How long does it take to qualify as a Commercial Electrician?
It can take anything from two to four years to become a fully qualified Commercial Electrician. An NVQ is designed to be completed at a pace to suit an individual’s needs. Most people taking an NVQ in electrics take around a year to complete level 1, a year for level 2, and then another two years to achieve level 3.
Anyone who carries out electrical work needs to be able to satisfy the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
What skills should a Commercial Electrician have in addition to their industry qualifications?
- Excellent communication and customer service skills
- Ability to work within a team
- Ability to work effectively with other tradespeople also including architects and engineers
- Ability to plan work and complete it within agreed timescales
- Ability to work under pressure and with changing plans and timescales
- Ability to read blueprints which can include; panel boards, circuits, outlets and other electrical components
- Excellent problem-solving skills
- Ability to diagnose and repair electrical problems
- Ability to respond to issues and find workable solutions safely
- Ability to find ways to fix problems and critical components safely
What is the difference between a Commercial Electrician and an Electrician?
The difference between a commercial electrician to an electrician is the type of buildings and environments they work in. Commercial electricians tend to work in commercial buildings, such as retail stores, retail developments, new housing developments, factories, schools, colleges and restaurants etc which have larger electrical systems, circuits and wiring. They will have the experience of working with larger scale electrics ensuring that the wiring and electrical components are working safely and efficiently.
What types of electrical jobs does a Commercial Electrician do?
- Commercial Office & Industrial Installations
- New Housing Developments
- Power and Distribution Installation
- Fire Alarm and Security Systems
- Correcting and repairing electrical systems and installations
- Maintenance & Repairs
- Interior and Exterior Lighting
- Inspection and Testing Services
- Electric Heating & Hot Water heating specialists
- Energy Consumption Advice
- Electrical Fault Finding
- Installing Immersion Heaters
- Installing Water Heaters
- Installing Electric Heaters/Radiators
- Commercial Kitchen Electrical Installation, Repair & Maintenance
- Installing Refrigeration Systems
- Installing Air Conditioning Systems
- Installing Extractor Fans
- Installing Electric Commercial Kitchens & Cooker Points
- Installing Lighting & Power Installations
- Installing Fuseboard/Consumer Units
- Partial or Complete Rewiring
- Compiling Electrical Condition Reports
- Earth Bonding Testing
- Position, maintain and install distribution and control equipment such as switches, relays, circuit breaker panels and fuse enclosures
- Installing data cabling
- Installing and maintaining fibre optic systems
What are the legal requirements for businesses in regards to their property electrics?
The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 states that employers have a duty of care on employers to ensure their electrical systems and products are in safe working order. The regulations cover the design, construction, operation and maintenance of these systems.
What is The Electricity at Work Regulation?
The Electricity at Work Regulations purpose is that; precautions are to be taken against the risk of death or personal injury from electricity in work activities. The regulations came into force on 1st April 1990 and to ensure compliance employers must monitor the ongoing working condition of their electrical systems through regular inspections and testing. As an employer, you need written proof that a qualified person has carried out these checks.
The Electricity at Work Regulations applies to property and locations including:
- Residential homes, hotels and guesthouses
- Public buildings such as schools, hospitals, sports and leisure centres, museums, cinemas, theatres, football, cricket and athletic grounds
- Industrial factories, farms and construction sites
- Commercial offices, shops and warehouses
Do commercial landlords have to provide an electrical certificate?
The Landlords and Tenants Act (1985) requires that the electrical installation in a rented property whether domestic or commercial has an EICR report (Electrical Installation Condition Report) to ensure that any electrical systems and wiring have been checked by a qualified and registered electrician to confirm they are in good working order and safe.
How often should you have your Commercial Electrics checked and tested?
Workplace environments should have an Electrical Installation Condition Report conducted a minimum of every 5 years, however, regular and routine inspections should be conducted every year to ensure your electrics are in safe working order.
What is an EICR?
An EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) is an assessment of the electrical installation within a property which is carried out by an experienced and qualified electrician or approved contractor. An EICR assesses the condition of existing electrical systems and installations to find out if there are any defects against the national safety standard for electrical installations. An EICR will tell you if any of your electrical circuits or equipment is overloaded which will then be deemed as unsafe and recommend the work that needs to be carried out to make it safe and in good working order.
What is an EICR certificate?
An EICR is a formal document that is provided by a qualified electrician or approved contractor after they have assessed the condition of electrical installations and systems within a domestic or commercial property. It will identify and prioritise any deficiencies or defects against the national safety standard for electrical installations and advise you of any electrical work that needs to be carried out to ensure it remains safe.
Why do you need an EICR Certificate?
UK law requires businesses to meet specific codes and standards regarding electricity in the workplace to keep their electrical systems safe and in good working order. Many of these regulations are set by the Landlords and Tenants Act of 1985 to protect tenants of rented domestic and commercial buildings.
A commercial EICR Certificate demonstrates that you are compliant with these regulations which ensure that a building is safe for tenants and employees.
What does an EICR assessment include?
An EICR will detail anything that you must correct with your electrical system and this can include;
- Any out of date electrical systems that are not compliant with safety regulations
- Any defects and deterioration in your electrical equipment
- Any damage to your electrical systems, circuits and wiring
- Any electrical equipment which may need repair or replacement
- Any observed damage
- Any dangerous electrics
If you don’t have an EICR report completed a minimum of every 5 years and if you cannot prove you have had the assessment completed as you are legally required then you could be liable under UK law for any damage or injuries caused by an electrical fault.
Who can issue an electrical safety certificate?
There are a number of ‘Registered Electrician Schemes’ that will tell you if an electrician is qualified for the work you need doing, some of these include:
- Registered Competent Person Electrical
- NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting)
- SELECT (The Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland)
There are electricians and companies out there who say they are members of schemes when they aren’t so you should always check by going into the scheme’s website and enter their company name which will validate if they are qualified.
Does all electrical work need certification?
We would advise that an Electrical Installation Certificate or a Minor Electrical Installation Certificate is provided by a qualified electrician if electrical work has been carried out to certify that it meets British Standard BS 7671. You should be issued with a BS7671 certificate after electrical work has been completed.
What should I ask when I am looking for a Commercial Electrician?
- Do they carry out all electrical work to British Standard BS 7671?
- Are they authorised to self-certify that their work is compliant with current Building Regulations?
- Do they have their work regularly assessed to ensure ongoing competence and by whom?
- Are they legally able to issue a BS7671 certificate?
- Do they have valid insurance including public liability insurance and to what amount?
What are the signs or Electrical Problems?
- A burning smell from switches or outlets
- General burning smells
- Dimming or flickering lights
- Small electric shocks or sparks when touching electrical appliances or switches
- Circuits tripping
- Fuses blowing
- Wall plates that are warm or discoloured
- Buzzing or humming type sounds from switches or appliances
- Tiny sparks when plugs are switched on
What should you do if you have a problem with your Commercial Electrics?
You should contact a commercial electrician straight away. A good commercial electrician will understand the importance of checking your electrical system quickly and will be able to come and assess it the same or next day and they should also advise you if you need to action anything immediately.
What should you do and look for if you are thinking about getting a Commercial Electrician?
Ask for recommendations from other local businesses. Do your research and look for businesses that offer installation, repair, maintenance and emergency call out services. Look for customer reviews, good and bad. Look at their website to see if it looks professional.
Check that they:
- Carry out all electrical work to British Standard BS 7671
- They are authorised to self-certify that their work is compliant with current Building Regulations
- They have their work regularly assessed to ensure ongoing competence and by whom
- They are legally able to issue a BS7671 certificate
- They have valid insurance including public liability insurance and to what amount
Which Commercial Electrician you should choose?
- A company that carries out all electrical work to British Standard BS 7671
- A company that is authorised to self-certify that their work is compliant with current Building Regulations
- A company that has their work regularly assessed to ensure ongoing competence and by whom
- A company that is legally able to issue a BS7671 certificate
- A company that has valid insurance including public liability insurance and to what amount
- A company that offers installation, repair, maintenance and emergency electrical services
- A company that can tell you who they have worked for in the past
- A company that has good customer reviews
- A company that has been recommended by another business
- A company that has a good website normally shows they are professional and have the resources to always ensure your electrics are safe and well maintained
What can cause an electrical fire?
Faulty electrics and electrical systems and appliances can and will cause a fire. Faulty circuits, appliances, electrical outlets, outdated appliances, light fixtures, lamps, light bulbs, overloaded electrical systems, extension cords, space heaters and wiring can all cause electrical fires which can be devastating to property and people. This is why it is so important to have your electrical systems checked annually, serviced regularly and an EICR completed a minimum or every 5 years.
How do you safely and legally maintain Commercial Electrics?
You should employ a qualified commercial electrician who will carry out routine inspections annually and repair any electrics that are faulty or need updating as well as completing your EICR every 5 years.
Why have your Commercial Electrics checked?
Legally you have to have your commercial electrics checked, an EICR report completed every 5 years and be able to prove that you have had this done and carried out any recommended work. Faulty electrics can cause a fire resulting in injury and damage to your property and can be devastating to your business and livelihood.
How can my electrics be tested without impacting my business?
A good commercial electrician will be able to complete their tests outside of your businesses operating hours or isolate their electrical tests to certain areas to ensure your business is not impacted.
Do commercial electrical works and testing cause a lot of disruption and loss of power?
Commercial electrical tests and work should not cause your business any disruption as they will be able to plan their tests and work around your business needs, isolating tests areas and circuits so you are never fully without power.
Do my electrics need to be tested legally after work has been completed in my commercial property?
Yes, any electrical installations or work should be fully tested to ensure they are working safely and you should be given a certificate to confirm this.
Do I have to have my commercial electrics tested for my business insurance?
Some business insurance will ask you if you have had your electrical systems and appliances tested and some will ask to see the certificates to confirm this. It depends on who you are insuring with as to what their requirements are. If there is an electrical fire or anyone is injured from an electrical fault then you will need to prove you have had your EICR completed every 5 years and you have carried out any recommended work.
Is electrical testing mine or my landlord’s responsibility?
A commercial landlord has a legal duty of care to any commercial tenants who lease their property, and by UK law they are liable to ensure that all electrics installed within the property pose no risk to a tenant’s health and safety. We recommend that in order to comply with The Landlords and Tenant Act 1985 that you get a registered electrician to carry out an Electrical Condition Report (EICR) on your property before a new tenant moves in.
The Landlords and Tenant Act 1985 requires landlords of properties with short leases to keep the electrical wiring in repair and in proper working order, however, you should always check this in your tenancy agreement as if you have a long term tenancy then this responsibility may legally be yours if it has been included in your tenancy contract.
Who should and can carry out a periodic commercial electrical inspection?
Periodic electrical inspection and testing should be carried out only by a qualified electrically competent person and a business who is a registered electrician.
When does a periodic inspection need to be carried out?
We recommend that periodic inspection and testing is carried out every 12 months and an EICR report completed ever 5 years which is a legal requirement.
What do Commercial Electricians do in Industrial or Commercial Properties?
A Commercial electrician will be able to repair, maintain, plan and install new electrical systems, circuits, wiring and appliances in larger industrial commercial properties.
- We have more than 30 years of experience in the building and facilities services and offer a full spectrum of trade services with our own in-house team
- We are a 24/7 operation so if you have an emergency in your commercial business or property then we can help you quickly
- We carry the highest industry best practice accreditation including OFTEC
- We have £10,000,000 public liability insurance
- We have a team of over 100 qualified engineers who are based at our engineering hubs across the UK so wherever you are we can get to you quickly
- Our client base is commercial and we offer services to both small, medium and blue-chip companies including some of the UK’s leading and best-loved brands
- We offer the highest quality reactive, planned and preventive maintenance support through our team of highly skilled and accredited engineers making sure your electrics are safe and compliant
- We design, supply, install, service and maintain commercial building electrical services and systems
- We work directly for building owners and third party operators
- We offer inspection and certification services making sure that your electrical installations are compliant, fit for purpose, and operating correctly within current Health & Safety legislation
- We offer planned electrical maintenance ensuring that your building systems are functioning correctly and operational when you need them most, reducing incidences of electrical failures which can impact your running costs
(All the answers in this article are for guidance only)
Martyn works for CMS Ltd as a marketing specialist. He takes great pride in creating quality content regarding commercial property maintenance.