Temporary Power on the Job Site
Whether you’re an electrical contractor, builder or homeowner, there are a variety of ways to safely provide temporary power for your project.
Synopsis: Electrically powered tools abound on the average job site. In order to use them, however, builders and tradespeople need a source of electricity. In this article, electrical contractor Joseph Fratello describes how temporary electrical service can be set up and used on a typical job site. During the early stages of construction, power is often obtained from a temporary panel, and Fratello offers advice on how to run wiring safely, how to protect the circuits, and how to choose which receptacles to use. After a house is closed in, the panel can be moved inside. Fratello recommends placing the panel inside the main entrance and keeping the lights on a separate circuit so that if someone using a power tool trips a breaker, they won’t be left in the dark. Sometimes, however, temporary power is not an option, and so electricity must come from a portable generator. Fratello outlines the disadvantages of this approach, but says that if generators must be used, Honda makes the most dependable models. A sidebar includes suggestions for installing and using temporary lights.
Virtually everything we use on a job site, from compressors and battery chargers to fax machines and computers, requires electricity. Until a project has passed its final electrical inspection, all but the smallest construction sites require temporary power, whether it’s provided by a portable generator or through temporary electrical service.
Over the past few years, the shrinking scale and budgets of many projects have underscored how overlooked the issue of temporary power has become. Recently, I started a fairly large project that was expected to last just over a year. The builder refused to pay for a temporary service, so I learned just how miserable and dangerous it was not to have sufficient power available at the job site.