Do it yourself can be fun when you’re putting in a new deck or sheetrocking the garage you’ve converted to a new room, but when it comes to electrical projects, there can be a lot more involved and at stake. Did you know, for example, that light fixtures used in moist areas should carry an IP rating? If you’re wondering what that is, it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional. The right IP rating makes the difference between a shock hazard and a well-lit pool area or bathroom.
You may be thinking to yourself that that’s nothing that a quick Google search can’t fix, and you’d be partially right. There is a lot of do-it-yourself advice on the web, but consider the questions you don’t know to ask or the ones that you can’t find answers for. That could be the difference between beautiful, safe light design and a messy, hazardous one.
Professional Knowledge Makes All the Difference
With electrical projects, experience matters. Licensed professionals have been trained in theory and are required to stay up-to-date on electrical code. Every three years, the National Electrical Code (NEC) revises its standards, and electricians review changes to stay current with safety standards. This year, for example, the NEC has changed code to require GFCIs in all 125-volt through 250-volt receptacles supplied by single-phase branch circuits rated 150-volts or less. If this sounds like a foreign language to you, then you probably should let a professional handle your project.
Professional electricians have years of design and installation experience so they can design the best lighting plan for your space and choose the appropriate fixtures for the conditions in the area you are lighting. They know, for example, how to calculate voltage drops. When improperly calculated, it could lead to imbalanced lighting (dim and bright spots) or, even worse, premature burnouts that will cost you money.
While we’re on the subject of cost, you may be thinking that a do-it-yourself project will save you money. But those bargain fixtures you’ve bought are just part of the cost. Professionals provide the necessary tools to do the job properly and come to the site equipped with everything required for installation, the right transformers, the right cable, and more. These are, otherwise, costs you will have to add to your project budget. Furthermore, DIY projects don’t come with lifetime warranties (which some contractors offer), nor do they offer to follow up visits or yearly inspections.
When you hire a professional, it’s not just money you save, but hassle. Electrical projects require permits and inspections (that have an approval process) – all things that are much easier when handled by a professional.
The Electrical Elephant in the Room
But let’s be honest about the most important reason to have a professional do your electrical work. Amateur jobs often create poor wire connections, overloaded circuits, and faulty grounding. That doesn’t just add up to additional work, more equipment, and extra cost, but to real safety hazards that may endanger people and property.
Did you know that it only takes 200 amps to kill a person? Under certain conditions, it can take as little as 15 amps. Between 1992 and 2002, electrocution was the 6th highest cause of on the job deaths, and between 2014 and 2016, 24,000 home fires caused by electrical failure were reported per year.
Choosing to hire a professional means tasking someone with the knowledge and skill to install beautiful lighting. The kind of expertise that ensures safety is worth investing in. Don’t let ego get in the way of making the right choice. A professional electrician will create a design that satisfies your design needs, lasts a long time, and is safe!