Commercial Electrical Regulations

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Municipal and state agencies regulate commercial electrical installation and maintenance. Town and country building code enforcement inspectors will determine if electrical installations meet all codes while state officials monitor performance and safety records for commercial facilities. Violations can lead to citations, the need to change or upgrade an electrical system and possibly fines and other penalties for repeat offenders. Commercial electrical systems can carry much more current than typical household circuits and failure can lead to injury, fire and possibly interrupting service to other locations in the same area.

Breakers

  • Electricity enters a facility off the electrical grid (the power plant and wires) into the circuit breaker box. The circuit breaker is designed to handle specific electrical loads. Electrical surges and power disruptions can lead to the breaker tripping off line and stopping incoming current. This process reduces the chance of surges overloading machines, lights and other outlets causing damage or fire.

    The breakers are inspected for adequate amperage (how much power the breaker can accommodate) and if the facility has sufficient breakers for each installed electrical line according to codes and regulations. Overloading a line can lead to constant breaker interruption and possibly breaker failure leading to electrical problems.

Line

  • The actual electrical line (wires and cables) are inspected for insulation, installation and routing. Lines must be rated for the amount of current carried (thicker, heavier wires carry more than thin wires) and how the lines are directed through the facility. Lines must avoid hazardous materials and cannot be installed without proper grounding (grounding directs electrical current to a safe outlet as opposed to another location where someone could be shocked or causing heating and fire.) Electrical regulations will dictate clearances and the manner the line is routed.

    Conduits are also inspected for installation and adequate strength. A conduit is a pipe or tube used to carry line throughout the facility. Regulations determine acceptable conduit material such as steel, plastic or aluminum. The conduit protects the line from adverse conditions such as moisture, heat or cold and from the line being inadvertently touched or cut. Commercial facilities running machinery must have all lines protected from interference.

Outlets

  • Commercial facilities may use standard 110-volt outlets (as in the home) larger 220-volt or even much larger voltages for operating machinery. The outlets can be typical sockets or hard-wired connections to motors, pumps, heating and cooling units or other types of commercial use. Proper equipment installation to the power supply is also subject to regulations and inspection.

    Inspectors will determine that all electrical outlets are sufficient and not overloaded. Hardwired connections will need proper grounding and adequate line strength for the current. Inspectors will also calculate the total amount of power the facility will use regularly and determine if the installed electrical power installation is not only installed correctly but also sufficient for all the power needed for the business to operate properly.

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  • Photo Credit electricity image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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