In commercial and residential buildings, most electrical components are hidden from sight. The only components that are exposed include receptacles and lighting fixtures since their use requires them. However, in industrial buildings, electrical Engineering systems are much more evident, since there are no dry walls or dropped ceilings to hide them. 

All in all, every building has at least one electrical component, even if electricity isn’t the main source of energy. For instance, space HVAC systems distribute air throughout the building using motor-driven fans. Also, gas-powered equipment in restaurant kitchens is fitted with electronic controls. So, although electricity is mainly linked to AC units, power outlets, and lighting fixtures, its coverage is much broader. 

Bottom line, every building, whether industrial, residential, or commercial, requires an electrical engineering design plan. That said, here are some things you should know about electrical design for buildings. 

The electrical design process for new buildings 

The electrical Engineering design process of every new building goes through various important development stages. To start, the electrical design engineer has to understand the project’s scope. After that, the electrical design plan is created, while defining each component according to the industry standards. Lastly, the specific components are organized together to create the final electrical design

  • Understanding the building project’s electrical design scope 

The electrical design of every building has its own unique power requirements depending on the project’s scope. In most cases, the scope is determined by the type of building structure and the client’s requirements. Moreover, unlike old building renovation projects, the electrical design doesn’t involve fusing the new wiring into the existing electrical system. Instead, the project requires a completely new electrical design, making its scope much bigger. 

For that, design engineers must evaluate the power needs of the building’s equipment first. This will help them specify the ideal electrical installation that will deliver power to the building at the right voltage.

Parts of electrical design for buildings

After the electrical engineer identifies and optimizes the electrical needs, the next step is to create the electrical design. However, the design may include different parts depending on the project type. According to the National Electrical Code NFPA 70, there are various requirements for each part of electrical system installation. More notably, the building must pass inspection prior to being approved for the intended use. 

That said, these requirements include;

  • General electrical requirements 

First, the electrical design for every new building must define the general electrical design requirements. This includes items such as 120c receptacle outlets installed through the building. This is because receptacles are intended for general applications like desktops, wall receptacles, or electrical devices without special power requirements. 

  • Lighting systems

Due to the complexity of lighting systems, they take up most of the development time while creating an electrical design for a new building. Besides, these systems include all lighting fixtures as well as their controls. On the same note, lighting systems for buildings involve detailed requirements and documentation indicating that they’re energy-efficient. 

  •  Power distributions systems

As the name suggests, these systems distribute electrical wiring throughout the entire building. For that, they include items like the main switchboard that receives electricity from the panelboard and the utility. After that, the system then supplies power to all necessary branch circuits across the building. 

In addition, an electrical distribution system design includes measuring the short-circuit and amperage load values of the building. These calculations determine the building’s total electricity demand according to the single components of the distribution system. 

  • Specialized electrical provisions 

Some building projects with specialty types of electrical equipment require special electrical circuitry. That way, the circuitry will only serve the specialized electrical equipment. Some of this equipment may include; network servers, vending machines, microwave ovens, and photocopiers. Also, the4se equipment may require dedicated grounding or individual wiring methods depending on the load requirements specified by manufacturers. 

How to create an electrical design for buildings 

After determining the applicable parts and different parts of an electrical design, the design starts creating an electrical plan. Initially, these plans were presented in hand-drawn blueprints. However, they are mostly drafted using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software nowadays. One major benefit of digital blueprints is that they’re easier to adjust compared to hand-drawn plans.

Moving on, these plans should also include design references for each electrical component with a suitable electrical symbol. These symbols make construction ad cost estimation easier since they’re recognizable by most people involved in the construction process. Thankfully, ANSI (American National Standards Institute) offers standardized electrical symbols to be utilized in building plans.

However, in some instances, electrical design engineers can use new symbols that haven’t been developed yet. If that’s the case, design and develop a new symbol and include it in the electrical plan. Such symbols must be added to the design plan alongside other symbols. 

Finally, electrical design plans for a building can be presented as separate documents. In such scenarios, the pages of the design plans should be numbered and labeled accordingly for easy identification. Electrical (E) sheets are usually labeled as E1, E2, and so on. On the same note, electrical design plans are often presented in a certain order. Specifically, they’re presented in the following order; Exterior electrical site plan, interior electrical plan, interior lighting plan, and documentation.

Final Word  

Electrical engineering design is the backbone of most building systems. For that reason, the design must ensure safe and efficient operation, without causing a significant increase in the project costs.

 To ensure your building in California meets these requirements, contact Innodez Design & Engineering. 

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