Article by I&AT electrical engineer offers cost-saving ideas for electric system equipment
April 29, 2013 - I&AT senior electrical engineer Debra Vieira wrote an article for the Spring issue of Pure Power magazine offering suggestions of cost-saving ideas for a building's existing electric system equipment.
In the article's introduction Debra explains "It happens too often on projects. You're working hard on a project when the client decides to check a cost estimate. The next thing you know, the design comes to a screeching halt because the project is over budget.
Cable tray can be used instead of conduit in situations that prevent underground feeder installation, especially if many conductors must be routed
"The client is asking for ideas to reduce construction costs without changing the facility's function. Simple items begin to be pulled from the project. Fancy architectural finishes, angular rooms, and curved walls are replaced with more cost-effective solutions. High-end light fixtures are replaced with more practical fixtures.
"As a natural extension to cost-cutting measures, focus then turns to the electrical distribution system because the components are expensive to procure and install.
"You're tasked with engineering new concepts for the electrical system. This article presents cost-saving ideas for retrofitting existing equipment and tips for cost savings throughout the new building engineering process."
Here are some of those ideas:
- Proper Sizing Underground. Install as many feeders and branch circuits underground or in the concrete floor slab as possible. This approach reduces costs in multiple ways.
- Three-Wire System. Design a system that uses a 3-phase, 3-wire electrical distribution system (three phases plus a ground) even if there are loads that require a neutral.
- Take Another Look at Aluminum. Be open-minded about alternative conductor types—consider using aluminum conductors.
- Performance vs. Detailed Design. Specifications for circuits and conduits should be rule-based, allowing the electrical contractor to choose where to combine circuits and where to route conduits.
- Taking a Multiphase Approach. Sometimes, even after implementing cost-reducing ideas, the cost is still too high for the client's budget. Additional options include designing a multiphased installation, installing just enough equipment to allow the facility to function but allowing for future exapnsion at a later date.
In the article's conclusion Debra writes "When developing options for your client, recognize that the initial cost of equipment is not the only important issue. Equipment and material choices, rewiring, offsite assembly, and multiphasing are approaches that focus on one part of the pie: the initial cost of a product. Client-owners must be cognizant of how these cost-saving efforts will affect their total cost of ownership, which includes costs for operations, maintenance, and eventually disposal – and how early cost-saving measures will affect operations in the future."
Here's a link to Debra's entire article in Pure Power magazine.
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