Electrician, LightingsSterling Optical Commercial Electrical Work
Written by John Mullen

The Differences Between Residential and Commercial Electrical Services


There are some significant differences between residential and commercial electrical services, and not every electrici

an is qualified to do both types of work. Differences between commercial and residential services include the different levels of energy demands, the different grade or quality of materials, and the different environments where wiring is installed. 

Residential wiring is typically plastic sheathed wiring and doesn’t use conduits, even though they can be used. In commercial construction, conduit is always used. The power from the utility company varies greatly between residential and commercial applications. Homes use single-phase power that has two 120-volt wires (or legs) and a neutral wire. Commercial buildings use three-phase power which consists of two 120-volt legs, and one 208-volt leg and a neutral wire. Commercial electrical applications require power demands for larger electrical units and three-phase power enables power to flow more smoothly to needed areas.

The quality, or grade, of electrical materials also differs between residential and commercial buildings. Commercial materials are more resistant to heat, corrosion, and chemical exposure. They are subject to different standards, and are governed by different codes. Some commercial buildings, such as hospitals, need a secondary or backup source of power with the ability to withstand more demanding usage.

While homeowners may consult with an electrician when undertaking a major remodel, commercial electricians are more likely to confer with architects, designers, and contractors in the course of their work. They look at a project from a broader point of view and may provide detailed drawings and plans for electrical installations.

There are also differences in the electricians who are qualified to work on commercial versus residential buildings. Residential electricians have to be licensed by local and state agencies. Electricians who work in the commercial space are not only licensed, but have to complete a commercial electrician apprenticeship program in order to get their certification. They do some of the same jobs as licensed electricians, but they also take on more sophisticated and larger scale projects.

JM Mullen Electrical Services are experienced at new commercial construction, renovations, and have worked on projects such as an indoor soccer fields, religious buildings, and restaurants. Contact us today to find out more about our commercial services and qualifications.