Electricity and your business: frequently asked questions

Here are just some of the questions we're often asked by our commercial clients. The answers are by necessity a bit general – no two businesses are the same – but hopefully they'll at least provide some food for thought...

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Excel Electrical serves an ever-growing range of commercial customers throughout East Anglia, bringing our knowledge and experience to bear to provide electrical systems and solutions that suit our clients’ needs – and budgets.

 

To some extent, the questions we’re asked are common to both business and domestic users – electricity is electricity, after all.

 

But the answers may not be. The way in which your organisation uses energy is likely to be different from the way in which you run your appliances at home.

 

Here are just some of the questions we’re often asked by our commercial clients. The answers are by necessity a bit general – no two businesses are the same – but hopefully they’ll at least provide some food for thought…

 

 

What can I do to reduce my energy bills?

 

Consider how your business operates now, and what you could change.

 

If you’re a manufacturer whose factory runs 24/7, why not try to schedule those energy-intensive production processes to run overnight at a cheaper rate?

 

If your business occupies numerous offices and meeting rooms, you could install motion-sensors to turn the lights on and off depending which spaces are being used, and timers to control the temperature in those spaces.

 

Manufacturing plant, office machines, supermarket fridges and freezers all generate heat; consider how you might harness that heat to help your workplace attain and maintain an ambient temperature.

 

Educate your staff! Encourage your employees to switch off their computers, printers etc at the end of the working day.

 

Install energy-efficient lightbulbs – and don’t switch the lights on when you don’t need them.

 

 

What common hazards do I need to look out for?

 

Myriad, is the answer! But there are three things to particularly bear in mind.

 

First, your business machines – be they printers, photocopiers, computers, ovens, manufacturing plant or something else – and electrical systems will generally work harder in a commercial environment that they would at home. Yes, they’re built for it; but if and when faults occur, it pays to act early.

 

Second, it’s likely that your premises are busier than would be the case at home, with a higher risk of accidents as a result. Trailing wires and other electrical hazards are inadvisable in most situations, but in the workplace are absolutely to be avoided!

 

Third, your employees may not take as much care with your equipment and systems as they would with their own. Sorry, but it’s just human nature – and it pays to be aware of that, and the problems that may arise as a result.

 

 

How often do I need to do safety testing?

 

Have your electrical equipment and systems regularly tested. How often depends on the equipment and your type of business. Some, such as offices and shops should be PAT testing annually, whereas a business like construction it may need to be as frequent as every three months.

 

In between formal testing, you should also carry out visual checks, to look for damaged flexes, sockets which don’t fit securely and making sure that isolation switches work correctly.

 

To make sure you don’t forget to check and test your equipment, we recommend you put reminders in your diary so it never slips through the net.

 

 

How can I reduce my company’s energy consumption – and be more eco-friendly?

 

Simple: harness the elements. Solar and wind power are free; the technology and equipment needed to make best use of them are not, but costs are coming down all the time, and a good electrical contractor with experience in this area will advise as to what systems and solutions will best suit your business’s needs, and budget.

 

If you share an office block with other companies, or you’re on a small industrial estate, consider approaching your neighbouring businesses. They might be amenable to the idea of sharing the costs – and the benefits!

 

And be on the lookout for any financial help that may be on offer from local or national government. In our experience, low-interest loans and grants come and go, but it’s worth spending a few hours surfing to internet to see what’s available at the moment.

 

 

How can I protect against power outages so my business is safe?

 

To protect your equipment and systems against voltage surges, fit surge protection devices (SPDs). SPDs can be used to protect an electrical device or even the whole the electrical installation, which consists of the consumer unit, wiring and accessories – all your equipment, in other words – from electrical power surges known as transient overvoltages, or voltage spikes. They can be installed either at the electrical point for each piece sensitive equipment or, to cover the whole system, at the mains intake.

 

Fit isolator switches – and tell your employees where they are. Mark each one clearly with which section of the network each one controls. Isolator switches are manually operated, and cut off – isolate – only part of an electrical system. These are different from circuit breakers, which are usually triggered automatically and stop the flow of electricity to an entire circuit. Isolator switches are useful when part, but not all, of your system is malfunctioning or where there is a safety risk; the faulty section can be switched off quickly and problems corrected or repaired, but work elsewhere can carry on as normal.

 

If you can’t afford power to go down without warning, install a heavy-duty battery or generator – or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS will cut in instantly if it detects a power outage or brownout, giving you time to save any important work and shut down systems in a controlled manner. The generator or battery will enable you and your staff to continue working until normal service is resumed.

 

 

Why Excel?

 

Reliability, experience, and competence are the qualities you should be looking for in an electrical contractor for your business; plus someone who understands your needs, and your budget. Excel Electrical’s qualified engineers are well placed to answer all these questions, and more; keeping your systems running as they should – and keeping you open for business.

 

Excel Electrical – the power is in your hands.

 

 

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