“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
– Benjamin FranklinLast month, we featured the top resources for HVAC professionals. Today, we’re highlighting a list of the best resources for electrical contractors, with a focus on websites and mobile apps that enable electricians to not only stay on top of the latest news, technology and trends, but to complete their jobs faster and with accuracy. Doing so will enable electricians to stay competitive against peers in their market, which is important because competition in the years to come will only grow. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of electricians is projected to grow 14% from 2014 to 2024, a rate that’s much faster than the average for all occupations. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine is a monthly print publication and website run by the National Electrical Contractors Association that offers professionals in the electrical construction field the latest information, news and trends in codes, standards, safety, home and building automation systems, lighting, energy efficiency and much more. Electrical contractors can subscribe to the print magazine and several e-newsletters or download the iPhone or Android app — all are available for free!
Electrician Talk is the forum for professional electrical contractors and is owned by the same company that runs ContractorTalk.com, DrywallTalk.com and many other forum sites. The site is a great source for advice and answers to questions around various electrical trade topics, including code violation, design, tools and equipment, and to connect with local area electrical contractors. Registration to the forum is easy and free! The site also publishes articles, which some electrical contractors may miss upon coming to the site. An easy way to see the site’s latest content is to follow Electrician Talk on Facebook and Twitter.Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) Association is the principal trade association for independent electrical and systems contractors, with 50 chapters throughout the United States. By joining the association and a local chapter, electrical contractors can network with other electrician pros, stay on top of policies and trends that can affect their work and learn about electrical contracting conferences to attend. With an IEC membership, electrical contractors receive all sorts of great discounts and training and communication tools, like access to IEC’s Insights Magazine, Apprentice training program, which is used by over 10,000 people each year, and ICE’s new webinar series. National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is “the voice of the electrical construction industry.” It has 119 chapters across the nation, which focus on developing effective labor agreements and market initiatives for electrical contractors. Electricians interested in continuing their education can turn to NECA’s online courses, in-person classes and specialized training, which take place around the country. Quizzes to test one’s knowledge of the latest electrical industry codes are also available on NECA’s website and a good resource. Through NECA’s mobile app, available on iTunes and the Google Play store, pros can stay informed of news and policies affecting electrical workers and see NECA’s latest content while on the go. For electrician pros who want access to many useful tools and references in their pocket, there is ElectroDroid, which is available as both a free and paid app on iTunes and Google Play. The paid app offers an Inductor color code decoder, Ohm’s law calculator, Voltage divider, Voltage drop calculator, Inductor design tool, Power convertor, Analog-digital converter and these many other tools. The free app has been reviewed by over 122,000 people on Google Play and has some great reviews. Electricians will definitely want to check this app out as it is a great all-in-one solution. The iBend Pipe App, available for both iPhones (for $4.99) and Android phones (for $2.99), is great for electrical contractors who bend a lot of conduit. Intuitive and easy to use, the app saves electricians time by calculating the math for them and ensuring accurate conduit bends. Nearly 100 different bender/pipe combinations are included in the app. Electricians are also able to modify any of the combinations to mimic the exact bender they’re using. Home contractors who regularly shop at The Home Depot love the Home Depot Pro App and the same goes for electricians. The app is super convenient for electricians; they are able to check any store’s inventory in real-time, order materials and pick them up at the store before heading to a job site. Through the app, electrical contractors can also quickly reorder regular items they buy and see past purchases and e-receipts. The free app is available for both iPhone and Android devices. Energy Central brings about online communities centered around specific job professions, including Power Industry Professionals, Grid Operators and everything in between. Electrical contractors can join the 100,000 professionals already in the network and access a wide breadth of information resources as well as exchange ideas and lessons learned with the community. Those professionals who are passionate or focused on clean energy can reference the Energy Efficiency or Clean Power community pages for some great information.