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Electrical repairs or new installations may look simple on YouTube videos or how-to guides, but we should always remember that it takes seven years to achieve master electrician status. The time is spent on a combination of education, studying, and apprenticeships. Most electricians work in two general spheres, residential and commercial, but there are many specializations.
Education and Training
A residential electrician may install entire wiring systems in new homes, replace wiring in older houses, and perform an endless variety of electrical repairs and alterations. This work requires a comprehensive understanding of all electrical components in a home and their function and interaction with each other. Professionals know how to interpret technical blueprints and follow local and national safety regulations.
Training and experience are categorized into three stages. An apprentice is supervised by established professionals. A journeyman must have at least two years of experience as an apprentice and pass a certification exam to be licensed.
Primary electricians have the highest qualifications. They need to have years of experience working under established primaries, complete a Primary Electrician Certification program, and pass an exam. Primaries can manage teams of journeymen and apprentices, develop plans for projects, and directly assign tasks to other professionals.
Although electricians complete designated stages of training, they learn constantly throughout their careers. Technology advances so quickly that electrical devices and systems can become obsolete in less than a decade. Electricity is an integral part of almost every aspect of modern life. Global trade and interaction creates even more complex situations because there is no international standard. Equipment and devices ordered from other nations may require modification of some kind in the United States.
Ongoing efforts to develop green technology is also a challenge to professionals. The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, has designated electricians as a “Green Increased Demand occupation.” Electricians enter the picture after new green buildings and homes are constructed. It is the professionals job to install energy systems and optimize energy efficiency.
Some common efficiency measures include motion sensors to turn lights off in empty rooms and smart power strips. ‘Green’ power strips cut off electricity to fully charged devices and prevent electronics from drawing power when they aren’t being used. Professionals in Myrtle Beach, SC also install solar panels and systems in new buildings or existing structures.
Knowledge of Local and National Regulations
The National Electrical Code, or NEC, defines basic guidelines for electrical wiring and materials in the United States. It released a first edition in 1897 and has undergone many revisions since then. The NEC is meant to minimize electrical hazards. Unfortunately, NEC guidelines are just that. Local municipalities can make changes and frequently provide copies of NEC codes along with published documents explaining variations in local codes.
Electrical work in new homes or updates during remodeling projects must comply with local codes. Regulations in specific jurisdictions may require replacement of severely outdated electrical work in older homes and other structures. These codes can be confusing and frustrating for those of us without experience, but your local professional works with these codes regularly. In some cases, municipal regulations state that only licensed professionals can work on certain electrical installations. A designated authority has to approve and inspect the work.
Understanding Color Codes
Differentiating colors is an important aspect of working with electricity. The NEC first addressed color coding in the 1928 edition. Electrical wiring and hardware is usually color-coded in some way. A color-blind electrician needs to make adjustments, such as assistance from another person or carefully organized systems, to work safely.
Black wires transfer current to outlets and switches and should always be considered live. Red colors denote secondary live wires in 220-volt circuits. They’re found in some switch legs and may connect smoke detectors to electrical lines.
Blue and yellow wires carry current, but they usually function as live wires in a conduit. Most outlets don’t contain blue or yellow wires, but these colors may be used as switch legs for ceiling fans, lights and similar devices. Blue wires are more common in three or four-way switches.
White is the most common color for neutral wires, although gray may be seen as well. These two colors are only connected to each other, and they can transfer current at times. There are always exceptions to color codes, such as white wires in cables running to a switch. The white wire is ‘hot,’ in such cases.
Green wires ground circuits. These wires can also be green with yellow stripes or bare copper. They connect a ground terminal to a ground bus bar. A green wire is a safety measure to offer an escape route for electric current if the circuit touches something conductive. Safety measures aren’t always effective, so green wires should always be treated like live wires.
Three-phase system conductors in the US use black, red, and blue colors for 120/128 volt systems and brown, orange and yellow for 120/208-volt systems.
Electrical work in Myrtle Beach, SC, even in a single-family home, is not a desk job. Panels are often located in basements, while electrical lines running into a house can run over all sorts of obstacles. Wires inside walls or packed into attics are not easy to access.
Professionals have to be active, work in tight spaces, and navigate awkward positions to repair or install wiring and connect new appliances. Electrical wiring is often integrated with plumbing infrastructure or gas lines, and structural alterations may be needed to run wires or install various components.
All electricians invest a great deal of time and effort into learning their profession and keeping up with a rapidly changing world. Contact the skilled professionals at Mister Sparky of Myrtle Beach when you need electrical services.