The Electrical Blog

James Rockhill

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Does Your Commercial Electrical Contractor Make You Nervous—Or Confident?

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Dec 28, 2015

Does-your-commercial-electrical-contractor-make-you-nervous-or-confident_.jpgHiring an electrical contractor for your major commercial installation isn’t something you do everyday. And choosing between contractors isn’t always easy.

There may be pricing differences you have to take into consideration. And naturally, you’ll want to look at capability and experience. But sometimes there’s a more personal aspect involved in choosing the right commercial contractor—and it can come down to whether your potential contractor makes you feel nervous—or confident.

I’m not talking about personality traits. You don’t have to be best friends with your electrical contractor, but he or she should give you a sense of confidence that the work being done will be done safely and to the highest standards. Here are a couple of areas you can watch out for.

  • How Does Your Prospective Contractor Talk to You? When describing the job that needs to be done, does your contractor explain it to you in terms that make sense to you (without talking down to you)? Does your contractor describe things to you in terms of achieving your goals? Do you end up confident that the work will be done correctly, or are you nervous because you’ve heard a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo that makes no sense to you?
  • Does Your Potential Contractor Give You the Sense That He’s Been Down This Road a Time or Two? There is something very comforting about knowing that your contractor has experience doing what he’s about to undertake for you. Maybe it wasn’t the exact same specifications, but you don’t want a contractor scratching his head or saying, “Wow, we’ve never seen a project like this before!”
  • Does Your Prospective Contractor Get Defensive When You Ask Questions? I understand that there can sometimes be a fine line between asking questions about the process and (ultimately) trusting your contractor to do the job. At some point, you do need to let the electricians do the work they are trained to do. But a contractor who is unwilling to field honest, pertinent questions simply doesn’t inspire confidence.

For more than 90 years we’ve dealt with thousands of clients—both in the residential and commercial sector—and we know how important it is to have confidence in a professional contractor. That’s why we encourage potential clients to review what our clients say about working with us—and how we won their confidence.

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Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company, selecting the right electrical contractor, evaluating commercial electrical contractors

How Much Do You Need to Know About Electrical Systems In Order to Hire the Right Contractor?

Posted by James Rockhill on Wed, Dec 23, 2015


How much do you need to know in order to hire the right contractor?

The good news is that you don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to make a good choice. It is important that you understand what your requirements are and have a clear understanding of what you want to be able to do (from a power/data perspective) within your building. You’ll want to be able to clearly communicate that to your contractor, but it’s really not your job to figure out how to make it happen.

So how do you know if your contractor has the capability to deliver what you need? One way is to take a look at your prospective contractors’ certifications. You want a contractor with enough breadth and depth to handle all the facets your project requires. If your electrical installation requires a certain level of sophistication and expertise, you don’t want to hire a company that just runs wire or cable from point A to point B. You’ll want to make sure they have the training and certification to handle everything you’ll ask of them. Click here to take a look at  just some of our certifications.

Another way you can be sure to get the right contractor is to see if that contractor has done other projects similar in nature to what you have in mind.  For instance, if you’re looking for someone to install electrical systems for the medical field, you know that there are specific requirements and demands for that kind of work. So you’ll want to see other projects they’ve done in the medical arena.  In the same way, if you’re constructing something for the hospitality or restaurant business, you want to deal with someone who knows the ins outs of the hospitality and restaurant business—and all the demands that such a setting brings.

You don’t have to be an electrical expert to hire the right electrical contractor. But you want to make sure the company you hire has the experience, training, and certification to deliver what you want.

 3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company, hiring commercial electrical contractor, help in choosing the right electrical contractor

When it is Your Build, Electrical Contractor Choice is YOUR Call

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Dec 21, 2015

When-it-is-Your-Build-Electrical-Contractor-Choice-is-YOUR-Call.jpgMany residential (and some commercial) customers don’t realize that when they hire a general contractor to build their home or commercial property, they are essentially assuming the role of procurement and overall project manager, and that they have a say in hiring and firing sub trades on their project. Here is what you need to know.

Your General Contractor Is Your Employee

Whether you are working with a small homebuilder or a larger commercial general, the contractor you hire to build your home or commercial building is in a very real sense your employee for the duration of the project. They might take care of the details for you, but in the end, you will always have veto rights on decisions related to your project, if you choose to exercise them.

Not All General Contractors Act in Your Best Interests

Many general contractors are entirely fair, ethical and above board, and provide great service and a superior end product. However, every once in a while, you will find one who allows personal relationships or politics to cloud their judgement, and that may affect the advice and service they can offer. Sometimes it is because they are doing a favor for a friend or a family member, or sometimes it is a personality clash that causes it, but these kinds of politics should never be allowed to influence your building project.

Your General Contractor Has a Duty

Your general contractor has a duty to honor your wishes as the client, as well as to provide the very best clear, unbiased advice and assistance. That may mean that they can make recommendations, but again, if you decide to choose a different supplier, sub trade or service provider, and you are paying the bill, then they have a duty to accommodate your wishes.

When You Have a Relationship with an Electrical Company

One of the most common issues we hear about in our business is when a general contractor ignores their client’s wishes to use or consider a particular electrical contractor. Essentially, they force their clients to use their own sub trades, including electrical contractors, plumbers and other service providers. In many cases that works out, but in some, the client ends up with subpar work that is delivered late or is not to specification. You should never be forced to use any service provider if you are not completely comfortable.

What You Can Do

Whether you choose to use the electrical contractor recommended by your general or not, you have a right to make informed choices, and, since you are paying the bills, you are entitled to hire any sub trades you choose.

Consider approaching contractors you are considering using directly for estimates or comparison quotes, and discuss them with your contractor. If you want to use a contractor other than the one they have recommended, insist on it. After all, as long as you are writing the checks, and it is your name on the blueprints as the client, it is your decision - and you are entitled to request to see subcontractors competitive quotes too.

Make sure that you do not sign any contracts with any general contractor where they have stipulated that they have the right to choose sub trades, or you may find that you are stuck with their decision.

Finally, if you do know and trust a great electrical company, and you are planning a build, why not flip the script and ask them which general contractors they recommend? After all, they have insider knowledge!

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Topics: electrical contractor, commercial electric, electric company

How Do You Know if Your Electrical Contractor Has the Experience to Complete Your Complex Job?

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Dec 18, 2015

How-do-you-know-if-your-electrical-contractor-has-the-experience-to-complete-your-complex-job_.jpgEnthusiasm in business is a great attribute. It’s refreshing to come across a company with lots of energy and a “can do” spirit—until you realize (too late) that they really can’t do it because they simply don’t have the experience to tackle a complex job.

That’s especially true when it comes to electrical installations in commercial buildings—where a lack of knowledge and experience can have significant implications for both performance and safety.

At Berwick Electric, we’re still excited and enthusiastic about each new project we take on, but we also have a 90+-year track record of successful electrical installations that include everything from simple residential installations and repairs to extremely complex installations for medical facilities and data centers.  We definitely have the experience you’ll want for your complex project. And we have the commitment to safety that’s essential for any installation you have in mind.

Just because we’ve been around since 1921, however, doesn’t make us the right choice. We have the qualified personnel on staff, including: Master Electricians, Journeyman Electricians, Registered Apprentice Electricians, NICET (Fire Alarm), BiCSi (Tele Data), RCDD (Tele Data), AMP Certified Installer (Tele Data), and UL Certified Installer (Lightning Protection) who are ready to tackle the toughest projects.

But we know that technology never sleeps. That’s why we are committed to the latest education, certification, and qualifications in the industry. We’re proud of our history, but we’re not willing to rest on our laurels.

If you’re looking for enthusiasm that’s paired with experience, a commitment to safety, and an ongoing pursuit of new services and skills that can ensure you’ll get the kind of attention your complex electrical installation requires—give us a call.

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Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company, experienced electrical contractors, contractors for complex electrical jobs, choosing electrical contractors

15 Christmas Light Safety Tips

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Dec 18, 2015

15-Christmas-Light-Safety-Tips.jpgMost of the year, we focus on being a commercial electrical company. However, when the holidays roll around, we all go home, and decorate our own homes with lights, lights and more lights, and because we know that all those twinkly lights can come with some hidden risks, we decided to share our top Christmas light safety tips. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Do not overload circuits. If you need to plug many strands of lights into an outlet, use a power bar.
  2. NEVER run power cables, including those for lights, under carpets or anything else. People may unknowingly damage the cables with chairs or otherwise, and that can cause fires or shocks.
  3. Space your lights evenly. Bunching them together not only ruins the look, it can also make the lights overheat, with potentially dangerous consequences.
  4. If you are putting lights on your Christmas tree, try to keep them a little separate from ornaments, again to prevent overheating.
  5. Only ever use lights and cords designed for exterior use outside. Interior lights and cords cannot be used outdoors!
  6. Make sure that you check all light strands and cords for fraying, cracks, cuts or signs of damage, and if you are in any doubt, do not use them.
  7. Never leave a Christmas tree lit while you are out or asleep. It only takes a few minutes for faulty lights to start a fire that can burn your house down or worse. Do not just turn them off either. Unplug your tree lights when you are not in the room.
  8. If cords start feeling warm after a period of use, stop using them. Do not coil cords up while lights or other items are turned on either – this can cause the cord to overheat dangerously.
  9. NEVER modify electrical plugs to remove the ground pin. Buy an adapter if your plug does not fit the outlet.
  10. Consider buying mini LED lights. They burn cooler and use much less power.
  11. Never use angel hair and spray on snow together, as this can be a flammable combination.
  12. Avoid metallic ornaments with lights. If there is a wiring fault, those ornaments could become live conductors.
  13. Only use hangers designed for lights when installing. Nails, tacks and staples can all damage insulation, and that can be potentially hazardous.
  14. Only use stable ladders to install lights on roofs, maintain three points of contact, and have someone help you by holding the ladder for you.
  15. If you have a real tree, dispose of it soon after Christmas, in a safe manner. Christmas trees tend to contain a lot of tree sap, and sap, dried needles and flaky bark are all ideal fire starters!

That is it for our Christmas light safety tips, but we would like to take this opportunity to wish you, your family and your staff a happy holiday season, and we hope to keep servicing your Commercial, DataComm, and Residential electrical needs in 2016!

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Topics: electrical contractors, commercial lighting, home safety

3 Things You Need to Know About a Commercial Panel Upgrade

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Nov 30, 2015

If your business has grown, or you have replaced old equipment with new, then you might already have outgrown your current commercial panel. Likewise, if your building was built in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, there is a good chance that your commercial panel might be using outdated technology.

Both of these scenarios can be dangerous and frustrating, if you are not getting consistent, reliable power supply from your panel. Here are a few key factors you need to know about a commercial panel upgrade.

  1. Signs Your Panel Needs an Upgrade

Just because your panel is old or you have expanded your business that does not automatically mean your panel needs an upgrade right away, but there are a few key warning signs that you should not ignore:

  • If the panel looks old, wiring looks worn, and you can no longer make out the labelling on the breakers, then there is a good chance your panel is a senior and due for retirement.
  • If there are any burns or scorches, or signs of corrosion inside the cabinet, then your panel may not be safe and definitely needs to be inspected and probably upgraded as soon as possible.
  • Any humming or fizzing sounds from the panel are also a big red flag.
  • Finally, if you notice excessive heat, that is a sure sign that all is not well.

In addition to physical signs on the panel, you might also have experienced flickering lights, fuses that blow, or more frequent than normal circuit breaker trips.

  1. The Commercial Panel Upgrade Process

When you decide to upgrade your commercial panel, the first step is to contact a licensed commercial electric company. They will probably arrange to visit your building to assess your needs, and take a look at your current system.

When that is done, you will receive a quotation or estimate for the replacement or upgrade, and once you have accepted that, the work will begin. Usually, the replacement will be planned to ensure that there is minimal power interruption. If you can schedule it for a weekend, even better. Check with your contractor.

  1. Planning Ahead Is Wise

While you are upgrading your commercial panel, it is a good idea to discuss any future changes to your power needs with the commercial electric company doing the installation. It is always wise to allow for a little expansion in your electricity plans later on, rather than replacing your panel with the bare minimum that will do the job. That way, when you do need a little extra power from your panel, it is already on hand, waiting for you.

Commercial panel upgrades should only ever be done by licensed and experienced electrical contractors. Not only is it unsafe to work on any type of power unless you know what you are doing, you may also have trouble with insurance or a future sale of your building.


Topics: commercial electric, licensed electrician, electricity plans

A Guide to Wired Smoke Alarms for Commercial Properties

Posted by James Rockhill on Tue, Nov 24, 2015

When most people think of smoke alarms, they think of the battery operated alarm units installed in their homes. However, while those are certainly the most common type of smoke alarm, there are also hardwired smoke alarm options that are much better suited to commercial and industrial applications.

Never Forget to Check or Change Batteries

One of the biggest benefits of a wired smoke alarm for a commercial building is that you never need to worry about checking or changing the batteries in the unit, since they run of the main power in the building. That having been said, most of these units also come with a long life backup battery, which means that they continue to work in the event of a power failure. Those batteries typically last for around ten years.


Hard-wired smoke alarm systems are ideally suited to installation in commercial building settings because the units can be linked, so that if the alarm sounds in one part of the building, it will sound elsewhere too. This is especially useful in large buildings where people are spread out over a large floor area.

Hard-wired systems can also be integrated with other systems in your building, such as a building management system.

Visual Cues

Another benefit of hard wired smoke alarm systems is that they can be connected to commercially available strobe lights, that offer visual cues of an alarm to hard of hearing people or people working in noisy environments. In many cases, these types of systems are a health and safety requirement.

Installation, Repair and Replacement

Because hard-wired smoke alarms connect directly into the main power in your building, a qualified electrician must install them. This can either be done when your building is being constructed, or later on as a retrofit.

Likewise, if your smoke alarm requires repair or replacement, you will need to have a licensed electrician carry out the work for you, to ensure that your electrical is not damaged in the process.

Cost Versus Value

Hard-wired smoke detectors tend to be more expensive than portable battery powered versions. However, they are also usually better at detecting problems earlier on, which can be a big plus in a busy commercial setting where time is of the essence in an emergency.

These units also need less frequent maintenance and no annual checks, and in most cases, OSHA and insurance companies will require these types of units for safety and security reasons. In fact, the legal implications of a faulty smoke alarm, in the event of a fire, far outweigh the cost of a good system.

If you are still using battery powered smoke detectors in your building, or if you suspect that your hard wired system may not be working correctly, be sure to contact an electrician sooner rather than later. Your building safety relies on finding and fixing any issues as soon as possible.

 3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: commercial electric, licensed electrician, security lighting

Helping Colorado Springs’ Landmark Seven Falls Restaurant Shine Brightly Again

Posted by James Rockhill on Sun, Nov 22, 2015

A full-service electrical contractor since 1921, Berwick Electric Co. has seen it all. From small wiring projects to large remodels, the aim of the company has always been to follow each project to completion using high performance standards, regardless of how challenging a job might seem.

This probably explains why the Berwick Electric crew was so excited to get the Seven Falls' Restaurant 1858 labor completed, despite the many challenges the location presented.

What Makes Restaurant 1858 So Unique

When it comes to complicated locations, Restaurant 1858 is definitely unique. Situated at the base of Colorado Springs' Cheyenne Canyon and surrounded by granite walls, the restaurant is located on complicated terrain and subject to severe and unexpected weather throughout the year.

This was apparent when Berwick Electric was contracted, in part, to restore damage done by a 2013 flood. The damage -- which included the waterfall lighting and accent lighting on surrounding trees and rock -- was just one part of a much larger project. Other things to tackle? Installation of additional power for mechanical equipment, holiday season lighting, and special fire and alarm controls for the restaurant itself.

Aside from the difficult terrain and location, Berwick had to deal with two unexpected challenges: unseasonably cold weather and the occasional bear visit to the site. Midway through the project, a second flood damaged a lot of the work that had already been completed, which meant the crew had to work harder and faster to get things finished on time. 

Tackling Changes

The original structure needed a lot of work before it could become the fine 5-star dining space everyone envisioned. Because of the restaurant's location, providing additional lighting meant that Berwick had to add wiring and piping to cut through the canyon. This provided a source of energy for the LED lights and fixtures being installed to illuminate the seven drops of the waterfall, the trout pond, the parking lot, and the assorted tree and rock formations surrounding the restaurant. There was also a special setup created for a Christmas light displays outside the restaurant, which required installation of power every 150 feet through the canyon.

Berwick’s team also installed light fixtures, as well as specialty lighting and control panels, power and heating in the Curio shop and the kitchen area of the restaurant. The same type of power and lighting installations were added to the remodeled restrooms, the caretaker's house, and the new food trailer.

Ensuring Stability and Power

In addition to providing new lighting for the restaurant, Berwick also provided 12470/480 volt utility transformers to provide power for the Eagles' nest elevator, pumps, and mechanical equipment.

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Topics: restaurant electrical installation, restaurant lighting

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Electrical Company for Your Commercial Installation

Posted by James Rockhill on Thu, Nov 19, 2015

Hiring an electrical company for a major commercial installation isn’t something most people do every day. You’ll probably want to interview at least a couple of companies before you make your choice. And while you may have a number of electrical companies from which to choose, not all of them are created equal. How can you make sure you select the company that will deliver the solution you can depend on? Here are five questions you can ask to help you make your decision.

  1. How Long Have You Been in Business? Why does it matter how long a company has been around? The Colorado Springs area has always been a somewhat transient area. You want to make sure you’re dealing with a company that has been around enough to really know what they’re doing—one that has a reputation that’s allowed them to not only stay in business for generations, but to be recognized for excellence.
  1. Have You Done Installations of Similar Scope and Complexity? There is a huge difference between an electrical company that has run cable or done some smaller installations and a company that specializes in complex installations that require high levels of skill and training—the kind of installations that medical centers depend on.
  1. What Kind of Certification Do You Have? Certification in the field of electrical installation aren’t just letters to put after your company name. Certifications are an indication of a company’s commitment to ongoing training and adherence to safety and excellence.
  1. How is Your Safety Record? If a company doesn’t pay attention to the safety of their employees, how can you expect them to pay attention to the safety and security of your electrical system? When dealing with electrical systems, safety needs to be an integral part of how a company does business.
  1. Can You Provide Us with References? What a company says about itself is one thing, but what that company’s past clients say about them and the quality of their work is a whole different ballgame. It’s always a good idea to get and check references.

Hiring an electrical contractor is too important to leave to chance. Make sure you take the time to ask questions that will ensure you select the right contractor for your important project.


Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company

A Quick Guide to Choosing Light bulbs

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

When Thomas Edison perfected the first commercially viable electric lightbulb in 1879, he probably had no idea that a couple of hundred years later, there would be so many variations on his idea. However, there have been many leaps and bounds in electric lighting since then, and there are hundreds of different types of lightbulb on the market today. Here is a brief outline of the most common types.


Incandescent bulbs are the closest to Edison’s original design, and they are the classic lightbulb that we all know. This bulb uses a tiny filament of the metal tungsten, super-heated until it glows, to create a soft, yellowish light. These lightbulbs are the cheapest to purchase, and offer between 700 and 1000 hours of light. They are not very energy efficient however, and in most cases, there are other options that are a better choice.


Fluorescent lightbulbs have been around for a long time too, and most people are probably familiar with their bright, ever so slightly greenish light, and the annoying flicker they make when they are not working properly! They provide what is known as daylight equivalent light, and they are cheap to purchase and run, which makes them a great choice for lighting large areas like offices and basements. 


Halogen bulbs offer the closest to natural white light, and they can be incredibly bright. Which is why they are often used in floodlights, work lights and film studio lighting! They burn incredibly hot, and are not cheap to purchase, but offer better energy efficiency than incandescent lightbulbs.


CFL’s, or Compact Fluorescent bulbs, are one of the newer types of lightbulbs, and are known for their energy efficiency. They last up to ten times longer than incandescent, and can cut lighting power bills down greatly. These bulbs are available in a variety of strengths, colors and other options, and are great for residential or commercial applications where energy efficiency is important. They do, however, contain trace amounts of mercury, which means they need to be treated with care. They also need to be recycled carefully when they do eventually burn out.


LED lightbulbs are the new kids on the block, and they have come a long way over the past few years. These bulbs use a technology called “light emitting diodes” to create lighting that is extremely energy efficient with less heat build-up and much longer overall lamp life - up to 10 times longer than fluorescents and far longer than incandescents. LED light bulbs are initially more expensive, yet the cost is recovered over time by lowering your electrical and air conditioning costs.

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Topics: commercial electric, commercial lighting