When electricity problems pop up, knowing exactly who you can go to for help is useful information. You might turn to a residential electrician for old circuit breakers—but what if the problem is with your electrical supply connection outside? Your office might hire a commercial electrician—but what about if you have tenants in a duplex? Why do you need different electricians at all? At Kish & Sons, we’ve been serving the La Crosse, Wisconsin, community for over 65 years, and our team includes residential and commercial electricians. In this quick guide, we’ll discuss the differences between residential and commercial electricians, and why those differences matter. Keep reading to see who is the best fit for your next electrical repair job or project!
What Is a Residential Electrician?
Residential electricians primarily inspect, repair, and install electrical systems or appliances in residential properties. Some of the jobs they might perform include:
- Updating power outlets to comply with today’s building codes
- Installing replacement light fixtures or entirely new light fixtures
- Inspecting a home’s electrical fixtures before a house sale
Residential professionals will often work on single-family homes, condos, and townhomes. But they can also work on electrical projects in multi-family properties like large apartment complexes.
What Is a Commercial Electrician?
Broadly speaking, commercial electricians work on ‘everything else.’ Commercial and industrial buildings often work with much higher voltage levels and follow different codes and standards. As a result, commercial electricians specialize in these systems so they can safely perform wiring, repair, maintenance, and installation tasks. They might work on projects such as:
- Generators in commercial buildings like retail stores or hotels
- Lighting and security system wiring for industrial properties
- Transformers and receptacles in municipal buildings such as schools or hospitals
Differences Between Residential and Commercial Electricians
The seemingly simple answer about the difference between residential and commercial electricians is the type of property they each focus on: houses or business properties. But the most apparent distinction is the type of system (or level of voltages) they work with. Residential electricians work with single-phase systems that carry between 120V and 240V. Commercial electricians work on three-phase systems or systems that carry between 120V and 480V.
This major difference leads to other distinctions between the two types of electricians, including these considerations:
Equipment and Supplies
Because of the different voltages in residential and commercial settings, electricians need different materials and tools to safely accommodate the respective charges. Residential systems operate at lower voltages, so the gauge cabling requires less insulation, and the breakers need different ratings. Higher-level commercial components need more insulation and higher-rated components to manage the load without tripping the circuit or creating the risk of an electrical fire.
Similarly, each electrician’s safety equipment will vary to align with the voltage.
Technical Skills Required
Many of the technical skills required for both professions are the same. However, they are not interchangeable because different codes and regulations govern residential and commercial properties. It’s important to hire an electrician who is well-versed in either residential or commercial standards and is familiar with the state-specific requirements for your property.
Residential vs. Commercial Project Size
Residential projects are often smaller and more varied. Electricians might replace and upgrade outlets at one property, install a direct-wired dishwasher at another, or troubleshoot circuit breakers at another. On the other hand, commercial projects tend to be much larger in scale because of the property’s dimensions. Commercial electricians might work in pairs or require a longer timeline for project completion.
Standards, Compliance, and Regulations
Residential electricians follow strict standards regarding materials, required level of specialization, and local building codes and requirements. Commercial contractors must follow even more rigorous standards for high-voltage systems and often carry more specialized types of insurance due to the scope of damage poor work can cause.
Choose Kish Electric for Your Residential to Commercial Electrician Needs
At Kish & Sons, our team has local residential and commercial electrical work experts. We are a union organization with over 100 electricians standing by to help you with your next repair, inspection, or installation job. Contact us today to schedule a service appointment for your residential or commercial electrical project needs.
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