No matter how the economic situation lies, there is always a need for electricians qualified in domestic, commercial and industrial wiring. Learning industrial wiring as a trade can lead to many different types of work and opportunities anywhere in the world. Industrial electricians usually work in the construction, engineering and manufacturing industries.
On the outside of things, Domestic and industrial wiring aren't too dissimilar, all trainee electricians learn both sides of the job, primarily learning the basics of domestic wiring for the first two years, then from this learning how to be an industrial sparks before qualifying. An Electrician who chooses to follow the path of industrial engineering will probably go on to study further courses regarding industrial wiring due to the comprehensive nature of the job, which covers mechanical wiring too. It is known that someone who has specialised in domestic wiring since qualifying would struggle to step straight into the roll of an industrial electrician, whereas an industrial electrician would not have a problem.
Industrial wiring is used everywhere, outdoor plants, quarries, industrial buildings, off-shore, warehouses, underground and in machinery, basically in all kinds of operations and therefore provides much more opportunity than becoming a domestic electrician. Industrial wiring can also used in the domestic setting for wiring to external parts of the property for example workshops and garages requiring light and power.
The main difference in industrial wiring is the cable that is used, normal domestic cabling is usually twin and earth with a single protective sheath, domestic wiring is also expected to be sunk into walls, under units or in the loft space and not to be exposed, whereas industrial wiring however has to be far more robust, it can be installed in exposed areas, outdoors and underground, therefore can be subject to being knocked and therefore has to be able to resist high impact.
Industrial wiring cable or SWA (Steel Wire Armoured) consists of an insulated cable, wrapped in steel wire armouring with an additional insulated covering over the top. This makes the inner cable less likely to be broken or severed in normal use. Additionally a great deal of industrial wiring used to power heavy duty electrical equipment uses 3 phase supply. 3 phase supply consists of 3 cables, red, yellow and blue each carrying 240volts.
There are many courses these days available on the internet to get you started on your journey to becoming a qualified electrician; these will be theory courses which cover the use of the national electrical code. These courses will ensure that you gain the knowledge to recognise all electrical symbols on wiring diagrams, the construction and operation of motors, transformers and generators, test for shorts, opens and grounds, as well as many more basic requirements. These courses are often the first stepping-stone to apprenticeship where the training becomes far more practical.
As with all types of electrical work, industrial wiring has to be carried out or passed by a qualified industrial engineer. There are now so many regulations and safety standards, which have to be met before wiring can be certified, The Electricians Bible as it were is the IEE Wiring Regulations (BS 7671), having become the standard for the UK and many other countries for the safety of electrical installations in buildings, each edition of the IEE (now in its 17th edition) still comes with additional guidance notes and codes of practice which are updated on a regular basis.
So if you opt to follow the path of domestic wiring you will probably be someone who likes to stay in the realms of home comforts but opting to follow a career in industrial wiring can leave you open to the elements anywhere on the planet!
Anna Stenning takes a closer look at industrial wiring, how choosing a career as an industrial electrician can open more doors than domestic wiring.