Temporary Electrics Management for Site Managers
Ongoing construction projects generally need a source of power and this often comes in the shape of a “temporary electrics” package provided by a specialist service provider. As a site manager, you need to be aware of the following information in order to ensure that the temporary electrics system has been installed as cost-effectively as possible and in an environmentally-friendly manner.
Most specialist temporary electrics companies will help you with planning the site electrics. Electric supplies (whether these are permanent or temporary) always require contact with the local electricity authority, electricity supplier, and meter and cable installers. These people will have more influence with the statutory authority than you do.
When possible, it’s best to connect to an existing building supply from neighbouring premises and install a meter in order to measure usage. This will prove far more cost-effective than installing a dedicated temporary electric supply. If a neighbouring premises does not have sufficient spare capacity to power the whole site, they may have spare capacity that would power the site offices.
Generators should be considered a last resort when it comes to temporary power – their running costs are prohibitive. If using generators is unavoidable, then ensure that their output is within 15% of the supply required – an over-spec generator consumes a disproportionate amount of fuel when delivering the same output as a smaller generator. On a long term construction project, consider using a smaller generator when energy demands change from summer to winter as this can offer huge savings in the long term. Smaller generators can also be used to maintain essential electrical supplies at night when a reduced load is required.
When it comes to flood lighting, HQI 110v fittings should be used wherever possible. Internal LED fluorescent fittings are the best choice for general lighting, providing effective illumination and the option of including emergency backup fittings. Festoon lighting can also be used with low energy lamps which provide light without flicker and need very little maintenance. LED lights operate on less voltage and don’t emit heat which can be a vital safety consideration on some construction projects. They are light in weight, making them easy to both install and adjust and the cables are small, making them easy to both install and maintain. LED festoon lighting are only cost effective if they are recovered after use and not left in place above ceilings, etc.
When considering site cabins, it’s best to order ones with external plug sockets if the cabins are to be moved – it will facilitate connection and disconnection. It’s worth considering a Mains Distribution Unite (MDU) with a time control unit for the site cabins – this will allow the offices to be switched off at night, saving a considerable amount of money on a long-term project. Some suppliers provide energy saving transformers that can switch off all non-essential lighting via a control system in the transformer.