Residential 101

When you break down the electrical construction business into different market segments, the residential market is a good place to start. That's because electrically speaking, the products and systems that you or your employees install here are not all that complex, but the electrical basics and basic wiring schemes that you will use are often very similar to what you would use in much larger installations.

When you break down the electrical construction business into different market segments, the residential market is a good place to start. That's because electrically speaking, the products and systems that you or your employees install here are not all that complex, but the electrical basics and basic wiring schemes that you will use are often very similar to what you would use in much larger installations. There have been a number of important developments in this market in recent years that have changed the residential market for electrical contractors. Let's take a look at them. A robust housing market keeps the new home construction market chugging along at its healthiest level in years. While residential construction is cooling off from its white-hot rate of the mid-1990s, on a national basis it has leveled off at one its healthiest paces in years, at an annual average construction rate of more than 1 million homes. That has created a ton of demand for electrical products and has kept many electrical contractors busier with residential market than they have been for years. The growth in construction of upscale homes creates a demand for a broad array of electrical and electronic products. Consumers with more disposable income aren't afraid to spend it in their new homes on some electrical products that make their lives easier, safer or more enjoyable. Because of the trend toward larger homes and the fact that home buyers turned on by electronic gadgetry are willing to invest more in their homes, new sales opportunities exist in the residential market. Electrical contractors should work with their local home builders, general contractors and developers to alert them to any and all new electrical and electronic products that they can use to differentiate their developments. These products include the following: Dimming products. Dimmers and dimming systems offer the opportunity to sell more than just a wall switch. For instance, contractors can "sell up" on residential service calls to replace a dimmer that's burned out. Some manufacturers provide demonstration dimming systems for contractors to bring out on these service calls. Snow-melting equipment. A relatively new product that can be sold in upscale residential construction projects in the northern climates where snow and ice is a problem is a snow-melting system that's installed beneath walkways or driveways to keep these areas passable during colder weather. Energy-efficient lighting. While most of the energy conservation movement has focused on slashing electrical bills in the commercial/industrial market, it has filtered down into the residential business, too. The key energy-efficient lamps used in this market include compact fluorescent, halogen and energy-saving fluorescent tubes. With their white, clear light, halogen lamps have become popular in upscale residential lighting applications. And the more efficient varieties of fluorescent tubes are getting into the residential market, too, usually in fixtures for the workshop, garage or basement. Under-cabinet lighting. Fixtures using either halogen or fluorescent lamps are a popular item for kitchen cabinet and home office lighting. The demand for low-voltage wiring in the home grows faster than anyone expects. The home is fast becoming a hotbed for new low-voltage wiring after a few false starts. Consumers weren't wowed by the silly automated tricks that Smart House could perform. But the demand for networked computers, home-office equipment and a fiber-optic pipeline pumping in warp-speed Internet access, a gazillion television channels, pay-for-view videos and a host of other entertainment, shopping and banking options is the real deal. Changes in the National Electrical Code (NEC) call for installationsof new products for safer electrical systems. Several product areas in the residential market have caught the attention of the NEC, including ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), cable fasteners and weatherproof outlet covers. GFCIs. The biggest changes have occurred with GFCIs, which seem to be required in more areas of the home with each new edition of the NEC. These areas include bathrooms, kitchens, basements and outdoor receptacles. Check out the product offerings from manufacturers of wiring devices and GFCI circuit breakers. A related NEC rule now calls for GFCI protection of portable cords. Cable fasteners. The National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 300-4(d) requires that building wire be placed 11/4-in. from the edge of the stud to protect it from drywall screws or nails. Weatherproof outlet covers. NEC regulation 410-57 requires the use of outlet covers for outside receptacles to protect them from the elements. The move to metal-studs in some markets sparks the demand of the installation of some new electrical products. In Florida and some other areas of the U.S., metal-stud construction has replaced wood studs as the primary frame of the building. This has created new sales opportunities for the bushings required to protect the cable from the sharp edges of the stud and for special boxes for steel-stud construction. Down the road, you can expect other changes in the residential market to affect the package of products that you install in homes, particularly in the areas of computer networking, as more families install more than one personal computer system; high-end home theater sound systems and security systems. Look for the residential market to continue to offer electrical contractors even more new business opportunities in the next few years, particularly in the area of wiring for home offices and sound and security systems. When you break down the electrical construction business into different market segments, the residential market is a good place to start. That's because electrically speaking, the products and systems that you or your employees install here are not all that complex, but the electrical basics and basic wiring schemes that you will use are often very similar to what you would use in much larger installations. There have been a number of important developments in this market in recent years that have changed the residential market for electrical contractors. Let's take a look at them. A robust housing market keeps the new home construction market chugging along at its healthiest level in years. While residential construction is cooling off from its white-hot rate of the mid-1990s, on a national basis it has leveled off at one its healthiest paces in years, at an annual average construction rate of more than 1 million homes. That has created a ton of demand for electrical products and has kept many electrical contractors busier with residential market than they have been for years. The growth in construction of upscale homes creates a demand for a broad array of electrical and electronic products. Consumers with more disposable income aren't afraid to spend it in their new homes on some electrical products that make their lives easier, safer or more enjoyable. Because of the trend toward larger homes and the fact that home buyers turned on by electronic gadgetry are willing to invest more in their homes, new sales opportunities exist in the residential market. Electrical contractors should work with their local home builders, general contractors and developers to alert them to any and all new electrical and electronic products that they can use to differentiate their developments. These products include the following: Dimming products. Dimmers and dimming systems offer the opportunity to sell more than just a wall switch. For instance, contractors can "sell up" on residential service calls to replace a dimmer that's burned out. Some manufacturers provide demonstration dimming systems for contractors to bring out on these service calls. Snow-melting equipment. A relatively new product that can be sold in upscale residential construction projects in the northern climates where snow and ice is a problem is a snow-melting system that's installed beneath walkways or driveways to keep these areas passable during colder weather. Energy-efficient lighting. While most of the energy conservation movement has focused on slashing electrical bills in the commercial/industrial market, it has filtered down into the residential business, too. The key energy-efficient lamps used in this market include compact fluorescent, halogen and energy-saving fluorescent tubes. With their white, clear light, halogen lamps have become popular in upscale residential lighting applications. And the more efficient varieties of fluorescent tubes are getting into the residential market, too, usually in fixtures for the workshop, garage or basement. Under-cabinet lighting. Fixtures using either halogen or fluorescent lamps are a popular item for kitchen cabinet and home office lighting. The demand for low-voltage wiring in the home grows faster than anyone expects. The home is fast becoming a hotbed for new low-voltage wiring after a few false starts. Consumers weren't wowed by the silly automated tricks that Smart House could perform. But the demand for networked computers, home-office equipment and a fiber-optic pipeline pumping in warp-speed Internet access, a gazillion television channels, pay-for-view videos and a host of other entertainment, shopping and banking options is the real deal. Changes in the National Electrical Code (NEC) call for installations of new products for safer electrical systems. Several product areas in the residential market have caught the attention of the NEC, including ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), cable fasteners and weatherproof outlet covers. GFCIs. The biggest changes have occurred with GFCIs, which seem to be required in more areas of the home with each new edition of the NEC. These areas include bathrooms, kitchens, basements and outdoor receptacles. Check out the product offerings from manufacturers of wiring devices and GFCI circuit breakers. A related NEC rule now calls for GFCI protection of portable cords. Cable fasteners. The National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 300-4(d) requires that building wire be placed 11/4-in. from the edge of the stud to protect it from drywall screws or nails. Weatherproof outlet covers. NEC regulation 410-57 requires the use of outlet covers for outside receptacles to protect them from the elements. The move to metal-studs in some markets sparks the demand of the installation of some new electrical products. In Florida and some other areas of the U.S., metal-stud construction has replaced wood studs as the primary frame of the building. This has created new sales opportunities for the bushings required to protect the cable from the sharp edges of the stud and for special boxes for steel-stud construction. Down the road, you can expect other changes in the residential market to affect the package of products that you install in homes, particularly in the areas of computer networking, as more families install more than one personal computer system; high-end home theater sound systems and security systems. Look for the residential market to continue to offer electrical contractors even more new business opportunities in the next few years, particularly in the area of wiring for home offices and sound and security systems.

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