10 Lighting Project Tips for New Electricians

– By LED Lighting Supply

If you’re just starting in the world of electricians, there’s a long way to go until you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with the knowledge of veterans who have plenty of time and experience ahead.

There are a few tricks and advice that would’ve been helpful when many of us started our careers, so here at LED Lighting Supply, we wanted to shine a light on 10 tips we wish someone had given us when we started.

1.  Understanding the Basics of Lighting

Types of lighting

  • Incandescent or traditional light bulbs: Heats a filament in the bulb until it glows. It consumes more energy and has a short lifespan.
  • Halogen: An incandescent light that uses halogen gas to increase efficiency and lifespan. It’s more energy efficient than standard incandescent bulbs but still has a shorter lifespan than LEDs.
  • High-Intensity Discharge (HID): Produces light by creating an electrical area between two electrodes in a gas-filled tube. These are better for the outdoors and large spaces.
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED): Creates light through electroluminescence, where electrons move through a semiconductor material. They are energy efficient and have a long lifespan.
  • Fluorescent: Uses electric current to stimulate mercury vapor, producing ultraviolet light which then causes a phosphor-coating glow. It’s energy efficient but contains mercury which is known to be highly toxic.
  • Compact Fluorescent (CFL): A type of fluorescent light designed to fit in standard light bulb sockets, they contain highly toxic mercury. LED bulbs should be used instead.

Basic components of lighting systems

Circuitry: Provides the path for electrical current to flow from the power source to the fixtures. The proper design and installation of the circuits provides the safety and efficient functionality of the lighting projects. The key elements of the circuitry are the wiring, switches, and breakers/fuses.

Programming logic: Involves controllers and smart systems to manage the lighting. This includes timers, motion sensors, and many other smart home integration devices to result in a more energy-efficient project.

User interaction: Allows clients to control and adjust lighting according to their needs and the consumption needed at the time. This includes manual switches and dimmers to control intensity, remote controls to adjust lighting without touching the switches directly or enabling control through smartphones or other smart devices.

2.  Calculate the Right Lighting for Any Room

If you’re having trouble assessing the lighting needed for a space, let’s simplify the math for you with these simple steps.

Step 1: Measure the room

Measure the length and width of the room in question in feet. To do that, multiply both numbers to get the room’s square footage.

If the room is 20 feet long and 15 feet wide, multiplying those two will give you a result of 300 square feet, which would be your square footage.

Step 2: Calculate General Lighting Wattage

To determine the wattage needed for general room lighting, multiply the room’s square footage you calculated before by 1.5.

Following the example, 300 sq multiplied by 1.5 leaves is 450 watts.

For example: If there are two wall sconces with 60-watt bulbs each, that equals only 120-watts. Using the formula above, it’s proven that more lighting is needed.

3.  Safety in Electrical Work

  • Work in a dry environment: Before getting all hands-on deck, the work area must be dry since water and electricity is a dangerous combination.
  • Turn off the power: Double-check if the power is off using a voltage tester before getting to work. By turning off the power, you make sure that you won’t get in contact with live wires or short circuits that could be harmful or even fatal.
  • Wear protective gear: Investing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the first things you should do to protect yourself from electricity and its related dangers. Some must-have items for an electrician are hard hats, safety glasses, insulated gloves, safety boots, and dielectric overshoes.
  • Be prepared for emergencies: Prevention is better than a cure. Having a first aid kit nearby in case of accidents can help in cases of minor injuries or burns and can provide quick care in case a medical visit is needed.
  • Ask for the location of the main breaker: before starting to work, always ask for the location of the main breaker. The main breaker should be turned off in case of an emergency to prevent a more dangerous situation.

4.  Essential Tools for Lighting Projects

Having the right tools is crucial for any project. This applies to different areas and fields, not just electrical work. Correct tools make the work easier, more efficient and ensure the safety and integrity of the electrical system being installed.

Here are a few we consider crucial.

  • Non-contact voltage tester: Allows detection of electrical voltage without touching the wires. It works by simply holding it near a wire or outlet, if it detects voltage, it will alert you through sound or light indicators.
  • Multimeter: This might be the most used tool in an electrician toolkit! It helps identify voltage drops, continuity problems, or faulty wiring, which makes it indispensable for troubleshooting.
  • Insulated tools: Insulated tools protect from electrical shocks. (Do we need to say more?) As metals are highly conductive materials, an electrician needs insulated alternatives for screwdrivers, pliers, and cutters since they’re used a lot during electrical projects.
  • Fish tape: Fish tape is used to pull wire through conduit or behind walls. It’s a flexible and flat metal that can go in tight spaces. This is really useful in retrofitting old buildings with new lighting or installing lights in places that are hard to reach.
  • Wire strippers: This tool is used to remove insulation from electrical wires without damaging the wire, which makes them useful for clean and safe connections.

5.  Overview of Electrical Codes

The most common cause of house fires is faulty wires and connections; therefore, it’s important to know the National Electric Code Guidelines to ensure a proper and safe electrical system or repair. This guideline is enforced in all 50 states in the U.S. and provides the minimum requirements for safe electrical installations for different rooms and areas in one source.

By knowing the electrical code guidelines, you can ensure your work will be safe and avoid faulty installations. Code guidelines also ensure the project follows the compliances and basics required by each state.

You can get it here.

6.  Basic Wiring Methods

Casing and capping wiring: One of the most used methods in residential and commercial buildings. It involves running electrical cables through wooden or PVC casing that will be capped to protect the wires.

Cleat wiring: This method is often used in industrial settings or during construction projects It involves running electrical cables on cleats, porcelain, plastic, or wood supports. It’s important to note that this method is temporary.

Batten wiring: With this method, electrical cables are run on wooden battens that are fixed to walls or ceilings. The cables are secured to the battens with clips or saddles. There are two types of batten wiring: surface batten wiring (the battens are mounted on the surface of walls or ceilings) and recessed batten wiring (the battens are embedded in the walls or ceilings)

Conduit wiring: With this method, electrical cables are run through metal or PVC conduits. It offers higher levels of protection and is used in both residential and industrial settings. It’s perfect for humid places because it offers great protection against moisture and is resistant to wear and tear.

7.  Importance of Energy Efficiency

Choosing energy-efficient lighting solutions and systems will upgrade your game as an electrician. Today, people are moving toward greener solutions to protect the environment and reduce their utility bills. Besides, green energy features increase home value, so, as an electrician, it’s important to stay up-to-date with environmentally friendly options and systems.

Here are a few things to consider on this topic:

  • Replace traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), as these consume less energy while providing better lighting.
  • Get informed about the incorporation of renewable energy sources. Learning the proper installations on whole-house battery systems, solar panels, and other renewable alternatives will give you an advantage over other electricians.
  • Recommend energy-saving appliances. Check for the Energy Rating Level on the product to recognize their energy efficiency.

8.  Aspiring Electricians in the Workplace

Get familiar with your tools

  •  Screwdrivers: Use a flat-head and a Phillips-head screwdriver for lighting projects. If you’re not used to using them daily, practice by tightening and loosening screws.
  • Pliers: Use them to grip, twist, and cut wires. There are different types of pliers, with the most common for projects are needle-nose pliers, side-cutting pliers, linesman pliers, and locking pliers.
  • Voltage testers: Learning to use and read testers is crucial to ensure your safety on the job. This tool checks if a circuit is live.

Start with simple projects

  • Replacing light bulbs: You can learn a lot from easy tasks like changing light bulbs. Always make sure you’re using the correct wattage as the fixture indicates.
  • Replace outlet covers: Practice removing and replacing outlet covers to help you get used to handling and using your basic tools
  • Installing batteries: Familiarize yourself with the proper orientation of batteries in different devices to learn the basics of electrical flow.

9.  Importance of Clear Communication

As an electrician, continuous education is needed for improved skills and knowledge. Also important is maintaining good relationships with your clients and team, so clear and effective communication skills is also crucial.

Knowing how to effectively explain project information can make a huge difference in the outcome of your work as it can streamline the workflow, ensure satisfaction and trust with your clients. Clear communication also ensures your team is working together. When job issues arise, clear communication can help identify the problem quickly and get to work.

10.  Importance of Continuous Learning

Learning is a never-ending process. When you think you’ve mastered every technique, know there will always be new technologies, safety standards, or opportunities to grow as a professional electrician. Continuous learning will help you adapt to the industry changes, improve skills, and get certifications to demonstrate your experience and knowledge to clients or contractors if you wish to work on their team.

Educational programs

Electrical Training Alliance: it’s a joint training program between the NECA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). In this program, you will learn through hands-on experience, as you will be doing internships.

National Electric Contractor’s Association (NECA): NECA’s educational programs has three educational institutes and covers many topics to help you grow professionally.

LED Lighting Supply: Your Go-To Source

Professional tradespeople turn to industry experts for equipment and solutions that provide the best results and value for their customers. Just as Explore The Trades is a partner to both education and industry in support of bridging the technical talent gap in the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical trades, LED Lighting Supply uses decades of knowledge and experience to serve as an industry-leading partner for electrical solutions.

LED Lighting Supply is the ideal consultative partner for contractors & facility managers who want more than just a distributor of lights and poles. Careers in the electrical trade impact local communities, keep our country running and protect the environment.

To learn more about these various topics and lighting solutions in everyday life, check out a series of articles from LED Lighting Supply, a proud supporter of Explore The Trades.