— More than 2,700 owner- and top-management level U.S. electrical contractors report a high influence in electrical design and brand specification — maintaining a steady gain over the past decade.

According to Electrical Contractor magazine’s biennial reader survey, the 2014 Profile of the Electrical Contractor, more than 80 percent of electrical contractors now report a medium or high ability to influence the overall electrical system design. The top three reasons for original brand selection and substitution are availability, price and compatibility with existing systems.

“Our Profile study is a 50-year-old trusted resource for our industry partners, and serves as a benchmark for our readers,” said Electrical Contractor Publisher John Maisel. “It offers the most detailed, current data on electrical contractors’ growing involvement in the design, specification and integration of a broad spectrum of building operating systems,” he said.

Although this year’s survey shows that 92 percent of firms work in traditional electrical/powerdistribution, that category now accounts for just 44 percent of total firm revenue – down from 69 percent in 2004, and 56 percent in 2010. This steady decline demonstrates an increase in electrical contractors’ ever-expanding scope of services.

The survey reports that 70% worked in power quality, communications systems/connectivity and/or CII automation/controls, while 61% performed communication systems/connectivitywork, with structured wiring/cabling mentioned most often.

Other significant boosts in types of work performed since 2012 include power quality (70 percent vs. 62 percent), green/sustainable building elements, communications systems and/or green/sustainable technology/alternative energy. Rapidly growing work also includes Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects and non-LEED energy efficiency upgrades,electrical vehicle charging stations, energy audits (thermal imaging) and smart or net metering.

The 2014 survey also debuted three, new project types: Daylighting/Shading Systems,Troubleshooting/Maintenance of Low Voltage Systems, and Microgrids.

Additional key highlights include:

    • 75% of electrical contractors plan to take formal job and skill training across 31 different categories


    • More than 75% of the specs indicate a variation of multiple brands, while the remainder indicate a single or proprietary brand


    • 60% said they both specify and install lighting fixtures and control systems


    • 70% of firms performed design/build or design/assist work in the previous year


    • 80% of electrical contractors receive plans and specs that are incomplete 46% percent of the time – where their firm is responsible for completing the design documentation


    • About 20% of electrical contractors say they now get involved earlier in design collaboration


  • Almost 25% now use Building Information Modeling (BIM), rapidly growing since 2012

The survey will be featured in Electrical Contractor’s July and August issues at www.ecmag.com, including detailed breakouts.