How is the role of the electrical contractor changing with today’s technology?

by Brianna Crandall — September 14, 2018 — The latest survey of the nation’s electrical contractors shows that lighting work now earns the highest revenue at 30 percent — outranking traditional electrical power transmission/distribution at 25 percent, plummeting from 69 percent in 2004. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine’s biennial 2018 Profile of the Electrical Contractor also shows an upswing in nontraditional electrical work including communications/data systems, building automation and control systems and building systems integration.

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Publisher Andrea Klee pointed out:

Our survey demonstrates electrical contractors’ fast-changing roles in design and specification, their high influence in brand selection and growth outside of traditional electrical work.

The Profile attributes the rise in lighting work to the rapid growth of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and related control systems, and LED technology becoming the standard option for new and replacement lighting installations.

Indicative of the findings, the 2018 National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) Show will launch its first Lighting and Controls Theater September 29-October 2 in Philadelphia.

Additional key findings in types of work performed and sources of revenue include:

  • Across the residential and commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sectors, 93 percent of firms worked on traditional power and lighting, 91 percent on lighting, and 86 percent on traditional power.
  • LED lighting and ballasts/LED drivers showed significant increases as lamps and lighting controls declined.
  • Just 33 percent of firms’ revenue came from new construction, as the industry faces a critical skilled labor shortage.
  • Low-voltage work remains high: with integrated systems, 63 percent both specify and install lighting — more than twice those who just install equipment.
  • Communications systems/connectivity: data centers increased as fiber optics or networking decreased.
  • 74 percent report a high or medium influence on electrical designs and specifications.
  • 73 percent report receiving incomplete plans and specifications in 2017.
  • Availability is still the No. 1 reason for original brand selections and substitutions, followed by price.
  • Sustainability: electrical vehicle charging increased, while cogeneration and geothermal posted small but significant declines.
  • Automation/control systems: 72 percent work on some aspect, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) controls declined.
  • Growing work areas include: pre-assembly/prefabrication of electrical components, HVAC mechanical, water utilities/waste water treatment plants, electrical maintenance/service/repair.

The full 2018 Profile of the Electrical Contractor report with a highlights video is available on the magazine’s website.