5 Reasons Retrofits are Booming for Electricians

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As progress marches forward, an electrician will always encounter existing, outdated electrical systems. Here, are some of the most in-demand electrical retrofit opportunities available today and the best electrical products for them. 

Retrofitting existing buildings is one of the most environmentally friendly, economically competent, and efficient solutions to prolong the life of existing buildings.

For example, a study from the MacArthur Foundation found that retrofitted multifamily buildings can save each tenant potentially hundreds of dollars per year on their electricity bill, a strong selling point for everyone involved.

In addition, retrofits allow scalability. Electricians and building management can strategically plan updates in stages, providing flexibility on time and cost. Building management can also often avoid the complete shutdown of a facility.

Below are some of the most popular areas where electricians help bring buildings into the future.

1. Wiring, Outlets, and Circuit Breakers

Keeping the avenues of power in top condition with the latest tech solves many current and future problems. Electricians help protect against fire, inclement weather, wasted energy, and more.

Electricians replace loose, corroded, and exposed wiring with better-insulated wiring for more efficient electricity transfer. They also upgrade ungrounded outlets and those lacking GFCI. To handle increased energy demand overall, technicians swap out old fuse boxes with circuit breakers and add subpanels to over-wired panels.

Upgrading panels, wiring, and outlets are some of the most common electrical retrofit jobs in the field, so it’s always important for electricians to find the products they need to get the job done right.

2. LED Lighting

From the new homeowner to a several-hundred-thousand-square-foot production facility, LEDs provide all the benefits. Electricians increasingly design custom lighting solutions, resulting in better-lit areas with less energy usage.

LEDs don’t just last many times longer than other options, either. An LED’s lifespan stretches even further when paired with automatic motion sensors, dimmer switches, and other smart lighting products.

According to City Electric Supply District Manager Don Corbett, “Commercial and industrial markets are where our customers see the fastest return. Many utility companies offer rebates that offset lighting costs, and some are immediate if the distributor is a trade partner.”

Corbett suggested starting LED conversions where power usage is highest as well as where it is most difficult to relamp. He mentioned churches, where pews block access, and parking lots, where maintenance requires lifts.

3. Smart Tech

If you want to learn more about smart tech opportunities in the electrical field, here’s an in-depth look at why smart tech is a smart move for electricians.

With a smart tech electrical retrofit, companies and homeowners can track and adjust their electrical output in real-time from virtually anywhere. New options to increase control and energy management seem to appear daily, so electricians need to know how to install smart products such as the Lutron Caseta or Hubbell iDevices.

4. Solar

People who have experienced extreme outage situations desire a cleaner, longer-lasting backup power source than a gas-powered generator. From rural areas to cities, many consumers see solar as the key to becoming self-sufficient. Dropping solar panel prices, rebates, and tax deductions grant an affordable opportunity to make the switch, increasing residential solar jobs for electricians.

In fact, to meet the US’s clean energy target goals for 2035, the entire solar workforce must grow an estimated four times greater. With over 154,000 solar installation and developer jobs in 2020, that is potentially over 600,000 jobs by 2035 — including many specialized electricians.

Outside of the one-time install, homeowners can also continue to scale up their system, providing electricians further job opportunities. Electricians may also see increased demand for maintenance and inspections to ensure that each installation is to code.

“In the future, we expect to see more distributed utility systems and even homes that are completely off the electrical grid,” said Corbett.

Are you an electrician interested in seeing what it takes to enter the solar field? The Renewable Energies Division at City Electric Supply can help coordinate solar training classes.

5. Storage

Clean energy is a necessary step toward energy independence, but so is energy storage. According to Wood Mackenzie, the second quarter of 2021 saw energy storage purchases “increase of 162% over the same quarter in 2020, making Q2 2021 the second-largest quarter on record.”

That 162% is just a taste of the booming opportunity for electricians. As solar demand increased 42% in the last decade, and as material costs drop and harnessing efficiency increases, consumers are increasingly likely to pair solar and storage.

Electricians can easily upsell energy storage on several points. Harnessing excess energy for later allows consumers to save it for when they need it most. Storage could also help meet demand during higher-than-average consumption periods that strain electrical grid systems. Install solar paneling and storage all at once can clinch the deal.

Building owners inevitably must decide when and how to upgrade existing electrical systems. An electrical retrofit increasingly continues to win out as the option to meet demand. Electricians will provide those solutions to meet the demand through increased job demand and specialization.

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