5 Common Challenges in Commercial Building Projects
Electrical exposed connected wires protruding from socket on white wall. Electrical wiring installation. Finishing works in renovated apartment.

Electrical engineering is a complex field. You could receive hundreds of different answers if you were to ask “What problems do electrical engineers face?” Let’s focus on just a few examples that will give you some understanding of the multifaceted challenges electrical engineers have to overcome while they’re working on commercial buildings.

1. Wiring Issues

A commercial building’s wiring may be suboptimal for several different reasons. Very old buildings often have outdated wiring, which is typically characterized by fraying, insufficient grounding, and obsolete circuit breakers. When wiring is crowded, it is exceedingly difficult to figure out which wires lead where. (Picture a plate of spaghetti. Now imagine trying to identify two ends of the same noodle without touching anything.) And whether it was defective from day one or became that way gradually over time, faulty wiring can result in anything from flickering lights to electrical fires.

2. Voltage Issues

Voltage is electric pressure. When any issue causes low voltage in an electrical system, insufficient current will reach its lighting, computers and machinery. A voltage sag is any temporary drop below 90% of nominal voltage level, and may be caused by issues in utility transmission (which are beyond commercial property owners’ control) or issues within the facility itself. Determining whether the source of voltage sagging is external or internal is just one of many issues an electrical engineer can face.

3. Control Panel Issues

Electrical control panels govern intricate industrial processes: monitoring systems, analyzing their feedback, and responding with detailed instructions that ensure smooth operation while simultaneously increasing efficiency. Control panel efficacy is gravely impacted by inadequate and interrupted power supply. Faulty wiring frequently leads to control panel issues as well. And because a control panel contains a delicately interconnected network of switches, contactors, relays, and programmable logic controllers, it is essentially a microcosm of things that could go wrong.

4. Installation Issues

If a piece of machinery’s installation requires anything more sophisticated than inserting a plug into an outlet, then there are many ways said installation could go awry. Amateur installation may leave behind exposed wires that are at risk of corroding, starting a fire, or causing severe injury. It may also make one or more junction boxes inaccessible, which greatly complicates future inspection and maintenance. And if an amateur chooses the wrong circuit breaker, a short circuit or overload is highly likely to follow. A competent electrical engineer can address all of these issues, although it is far easier and more cost-effective to engage their expertise on the day of installation rather than after the fact.

5. Grounding Issues

Without adequate grounding, anything which is hardwired or plugged into a commercial building’s electrical system is at risk of becoming damaged during a power surge. In extreme cases, a power surge can even cause insufficiently grounded machinery to emit sparks that start a fire. Ground loops, which occur when an electrical system possesses multiple connections to the ground wire, are an especially common problem in commercial buildings. Rather than allow excess electricity to safely disperse into the ground, a ground loop can cause electric current to transfer from one piece of equipment to another, damaging the latter in the process.

Whether your project involves design, construction, installation, troubleshooting, maintenance or repair, we welcome you to contact Mid States Electric!