Commercial Electrician vs Residential Electrician – What’s The Difference?

The difference between what a commercial and residential electrician does may be unclear to many. 

After all, there is often an overlap in their responsibilities and worksites. For instance, you may call either of them to install the wiring before you move into a new home. 

That said, many commercial electricians are skilled to take on residential projects. Similarly, a residential electrician may qualify as a commercial electrician with the proper training and certifications. 

Nevertheless, the specialisation of the electrician must be relevant to the task at hand, and property owners must double-check that they are fit for the job.

So, who do you call when you need electrical installations, repairs, and maintenance work around a house or commercial property? Here is some essential information to help you differentiate between the two types of electricians. 


Commercial Electrician Vs. Residential Electrician

What Is A Commercial Electrician?

As their job title suggests, commercial electricians are trained for electrical projects in and around commercial properties, such as stores, schools, hotels, shopping centers, and office buildings. That said, they are well-versed with building codes and the electrical requirements specific to commercial spaces and will work accordingly. 

Since their work environment is usually relegated to a busy setting, a commercial electrician may have to complete the job early in the morning or late at night. 


What Does A Commercial Electrician Do?

A commercial electrician can provide all kinds of services, from installing the electrical wiring in new constructions to general maintenance jobs — and everything in between. On that note, you can hire one if your commercial property requires any of the following electrical work:

  • Emergency electrical services
  • General maintenance repairs
  • Electrical panel repair and maintenance 
  • Lighting installation
  • Installation of energy-efficient fixtures
  • Installation of electrical wiring in a new construction


What Are The Skills Required To Be A Commercial Electrician?

Compared to residential properties, commercial electrical systems typically have high voltage requirements ranging from 120V to 480V. As a result, a commercial electrician will be trained to work with a specialized set of tools, breakers, wiring, and so on. 

On that note, these electrical systems require more sheathing and insulation to handle the higher voltage and continuous power demand. Due to the high load, commercial electrical systems require frequent maintenance and are easily accessible. 

It is almost universally accepted that these three-phase commercial electrical systems are more complex to set up. As a result, the electrician handling the work should be well-versed with various aspects, such as phase diagrams, phase and voltage balancing, etc. 

And although the criteria vary from state to state, most areas in the country require commercial electricians to complete an apprenticeship and pass an exam to obtain a license. In addition, the electrician must have about 12 months of on-the-job experience. 


What Is A Residential Electrician?

Residential electricians are trained for installations of wiring in new apartments and homes and other electrical jobs related to residential properties. These include installing and repairing fixtures, fans, appliances, power outlets, and other electrical components as per relevant building codes. 

Considering that these professionals perform their job in the private space of homeowners, residential electricians have to ensure that they respect the homeowners’ personal property. So, in addition to technical expertise and required equipment, they must possess the necessary communication skills to make property owners and residents feel at ease. 


What Does A Residential Electrician Do?

You can hire a residential electrician for most electrical installation, maintenance and repair jobs around your apartment or house. These include:

  • Ceiling fan installation
  • Recessed lighting installation
  • Showcase lighting installation
  • Installation of wiring in new residential construction
  • Appliance repairs
  • Wall outlet replacement and repairs
  • Inspections and rewiring
  • Emergency electrical services
  • Electrical panel replacement


What Are The Skills Required To Be A Residential Electrician? 

Residential projects are typically smaller than their large-scale commercial counterparts. Moreover, the voltage supplied to residential properties is lesser, making them more manageable to work with and maintain. On that note, the wiring in a residential electrical system typically comprises plastic sheathing and is hidden away from view in tiny crawl spaces. 

And even though they may work with low voltage systems over less extensive areas, residential electricians start from the same place as commercial electricians in terms of education and training. In other words, they share the same basic foundation but go on to specialize in different areas. 

Additional requirements may vary across regions, but a residential electrician will typically have undergone an Australian apprenticeship, which takes four years to complete. Once they obtain an electrician’s licence and gain relevant experience in their field, the residential electrician can start taking up projects. 


Frequently Asked Questions


     1. Does a commercial electrician earn more than a residential electrician?

The salary for commercial and residential electricians will vary depending on factors, such as the skill level required, project size, experience, and location of employment. 

However, commercial projects usually involve large properties, which require more technical expertise and labour. Moreover, some large residential buildings and houses may have complex electrical systems that are best handled by commercial contractors with experience in dealing with similar large-scale projects. 

Either way, larger projects come with bigger paychecks, which means commercial electricians may earn more than residential electricians. 


     3. Can a commercial electrician take up residential projects?

While a professional cannot be a commercial and residential electrician simultaneously, it is possible to transfer from one specialization to the other. However, the commercial electrician may have to get acquainted with the nitty-gritty of residential electrical systems and obtain the proper authorization before switching roles.


Final Words

While the job title gives away the answer, the difference between commercial and residential electricians is not limited to their job location. The nuances of their work, such as the wiring system and the size of property they specialize in, will determine which kind of professional is suitable for your needs.  

And when in doubt, you can always go for a reliable electrical service company that deals in commercial and residential projects and can provide the best solutions.

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