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Community and Q&A

Advice for a Green Electrician?

Daniel Morrison | Posted in General Questions on

I got a question from an electrician the other day, “What can I do to be a green electrician?”

Off the top of my head, I said:
1. Become well acquainted with energy saving switches for lights, fans, and heating/cooling equipment. Also learn about wireless switches for remodeling and programmable thermostats.

2. Learn how to pull wire through SIPs and ICFs as well as how to deal with spray foam insulation in framing cavities.

3. Don’t complain about doing things differently. Look for opportunities to learn new tricks and set yourself apart from Bubba.

4. Learn as much as you can about integrating PV, wind, and CHP.

5. Find greener alternatives in the materials you use (such as PVC-wrapped Romex), and know where to get them.

What else?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    1. Learn the lumens per watt ratios for common lighting types: incandencents, CFLs, T8s, etc.

    2. Become familiar with available fixtures with high lumens per watt ratios, to be able to present a range of good lighting options to clients.

  2. Michael Chandler | | #2

    There are a couple items right off the bat that come to mind for me.

    First, get knowledgeable about grid-tie PV and code restrictions on batteries in dwellings. You will often have specific ventilation and fire proofing requirements that go beyond the electrical code but can sabotage the whole install if not done right. Being green means being part of the team.

    Understand that there may be multiple electricians and multiple plumbers on a green project. You may have a propane generator guy, a PV or windmill team, the solar water heater team, the radiant floor team all in addition to the regular plumber, HVAC, and electrician. These all need to play well together and this goes back to the scope of work agreements in your estimate, contract, and eventually is reflected in your invoice and profit margin.

    You need to get over the urge to run BX everywhere, when you're running power to the plumber's recirculating hot water and demand water heater, solar HW and the radiant floor guys. When we are working with these systems we will frequently need to take components off-line as part of the service. Give us molded plug sets and clearly labeled switched outlets. (While we're at it is there any reason you can't give us a molded plug set on the dish washer with an outlet under the sink?)

    Learn about motion sensors and occupancy sensors and how they are used in green building. We frequently use them to control bath fans with delay off timers as well as lights and some of them aren't rated for the draw of the bath fan or for the fluorescent bulbs we like to use. Check for compatibility, don't assume a motion detector in the bathroom is for the light. It's all about being part of the team and bringing value that differentiates you from your competition.

    Don't be afraid to offer suggestions that might run the price up a little. High dollar ventilation solutions are frequently worthwhile for us, the cheapest bath fan that meets code, not so much. Offer mudroom and master closet docking stations for battery chargers with delay-off or wall switch control to help manage phantom loads.

    If you have an idea about something to save money share that with us too, green doesn't automatically need to mean that the budget is no object.

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