The Electrical Blog

Keeping Up with Code: Why It Matters and Why You Don’t Want to Do It Yourself

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Nov 13, 2015

Electrical codes generally don’t get people too excited. Of course if your commercial building isn’t up to code and fails an inspection, you’ll have more than enough excitement on your hands. In addition to hefty fines, there’s even the possibility that your building won’t be able to be used. That can shut down your business—or your tenants’ businesses, and that’s not something you even want to think about.

Of course you could run into the same situation if you’re building a new structure or renovating an existing commercial structure. Fail the inspection and you or your tenants won’t be able to move in. The costs (both financially and to your reputation) can be formidable.

You could, of course, try to keep up with code yourself. You can order a softcover version of the 2014 NEC National Electrical Code (the most recent version of the code—adopted in all 50 states, including Colorado) for only $126.95. The NEC is one of the most widely used codes for the built environment in the world, and sets the standard for safe electrical installation and inspection to protect people and property from electrical hazards.

But then you’d need to actually read and understand all 910 pages of this book. That’s a pretty daunting and time-consuming endeavor in and of itself. But it’s not the end of the story. You’d also need the skill and expertise to actually perform the tasks that would allow your building to pass inspection.

You know that safety for your employees and tenants is extremely important. And it’s not just because you could face fines or lose business if you don’t pass inspection. Ensuring safety within your commercial building is simply the right thing to do.

Like you, we take safety very seriously. Ethical, safe, quality work is a top priority and is at the heart of our company culture. That’s why we stress the importance of keeping up with the latest education, certification, and qualifications in the industry. We have the knowledge, the expertise, and the skill to ensure that your building will be safe—and deliver the kind of consistent electrical service that your company and your tenants can depend on.

That’s why we’ve been asked to provide electrical service for projects ranging from the The Veterans Affairs Clinic to the The Broadmoor Fishing Camp.

We’d love to help you with your commercial electrical system needs. We keep up with the code so you don’t have to!

3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade  

Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company

A Matter of Phases: Understanding How Commercial Voltages Work

Posted by James Rockhill on Tue, Nov 10, 2015

In the USA there are a number of standards and regulations that govern commercial and residential electric. These guidelines and regulations have been developed to ensure that power supply is as safe and reliable as possible, but it can be confusing to work out which type of power is which, and what the various terms mean. Here is a cheat sheet with explanations for commonly used terms.

AC Power

AC power, or alternating current, is the term that describes a type of electrical power where the current changes direction frequently. Essentially, the current does not flow in one direction only, but rather, it doubles back on itself in cycles. Cycles are measured in Hertz. This is the type of power you will most commonly find in your building, and in the USA, it is most likely to be 60 Hertz.

DC power, which is what most batteries use, stands for direct current, or power that only flows in one direction.

Single Phase versus Three Phase

Single-phase power, which is most commonly used in residential applications, is a type of electrical power where all of the voltages of the electricity vary in unison. In other words, all of the waves or cycles of the power occur simultaneously. If you drew them on a piece of paper, they would all be on top of each other, making a single line. In the USA, phases are often divided, resulting in what is known as split phase power.

Three-phase power, on the other hand, has each of the three phase cycles occurring sequentially, or after each other. Each one is out of sync with the other by one third of their cycle, and if you were to draw this pattern on a sheet of paper, you would have three distinct waves or cycles. Commercial and industrial power is normally three phase, and it is capable of powering much bigger, much more current hungry equipment stably and consistently.


Voltage is the difference in electrical potential between two points. It is measured using a voltmeter, and in most cases, all you need to know is how much voltage a particular installation or piece of equipment requires to operate.

Electric supply in the US is usually 120 or 230 for most residential applications. Most household plugs are designed for 120 volts.

In commercial and industrial applications, several different voltages are used, including 208, 240, 480 and 600 volts. The voltage required for a particular application will also vary according to the power requirements of the building or installation.

Designing and Installing Commercial Electric

Commercial and industrial electric is complex, with many factors involved to ensure that the power supply for your shop, factory or warehouse is adequate for the work you do. Generally, electric systems for these types of buildings will be designed by an engineer, based on a specific set of requirements, and installed by a commercial electrical contractor. Because there are so many complex elements that make up commercial and industrial electric, and because there are strict regulations to ensure safety, you should only ever have any work done on commercial electric by a qualified, certified commercial electric contractor.

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Topics: commercial electric, licensed electrician

Lighting Ideas for Colorado Springs Retail Spaces

Posted by James Rockhill on Thu, Nov 05, 2015

If you want to maximize your retail income, you've got to do everything possible to entice your customers to come in and stay. Sure, having the right inventory is a great first step, but the environment in which you display it can make all the difference. If your retail space has got the right ambience, customers will love the shopping experience in your store. One of the most important parts of an indoor environment is the lighting. Lighting creates mood, highlights products you want to emphasize, it generally adds to the flavor of your store. Give up on those tired old florescent lights. Add new lighting fixtures for increased store traffic and great personality. 

Mood Lighting 

Shopping is an emotional experience for many people, and the level and color of lights can certainly affect emotions. When your shoppers like the way the inside of your store looks, they make an emotional connection. This connection will draw them to your store over and over again, giving you a growing group of repeat customers. Lower environmental lighting will give a cozier feeling, making the customers feel more at home. This relaxed feeling will have to counteract the stress that usually accompanies spending money. In addition, colored lights can emphasize holidays or occasions. Install lights in a pink shade to encourage Valentine’s Day purchases, or hang a sparkling disco ball over party clothes. Your customers may not realize it, but your special lighting is putting them more in the mood to buy.


Install downward facing spotlights over merchandise you want to emphasize, impulse purchase collections, high-end merchandise, and checkout areas. Your customers’ eyes will subconsciously go toward these areas, making them more attractive to them as buyers. If you have a product you want to push, place it under one of your spotlights. 


Sure, your sign is a way to let customers know you're there. But more than that, with the right kind of display, signs can add to mood lighting and create a fun environment. Buy one-word neon signs in fun colors, and hang them on the wall to emphasize merchandise. Words such as "new" or "hot" will give your retail space modern edge while drawing the customer’s eye. Obviously, this idea won't work for staid furniture stores, but for clothing stores, card shops, tourist areas, and even eateries, they can be a fun addition to your indoor decor.

Green Lighting

If your retail store emphasizes green living or renewable culture, add green fixtures to emphasize your commitment to the environment. Use CFC lightbulbs, LED lights, or other low impact lighting fixtures. These lighting methods will lower your carbon footprint, save on your power bill, as well as showing your customers that you practice what you preach. It's a win-win, savings on your power bill and more ecologically minded customers for your store. An LED retrofit is a great way to upgrade lighting and save money long term.

Safety lighting

Lighting additions to your retail space don't have to be decorative. Adding safety lighting fixtures can enhance the shopping experience. Install outdoor pedestrian lighting if you have sidewalks on your property. Install or improve the lighting in your parking lot, using LED lights for more visibility.  A licensed electrician will be able to run new wiring and add lighting wherever you need it.

Add bright lights to the front of your store, to make your storefront look more welcoming. With outdoor lighting, you’re sure to see more evening customers.

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Topics: licensed electrician, LED retrofit

How Solar is Impacting Colorado Springs Commercial Electrical Market

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Nov 02, 2015

Colorado Springs gets an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, making it a prime area for an explosion of solar power growth. Colorado consistently hits the top 10 list of states with the most solar installations per capita, and Colorado Springs are among those cities leading the charge. The state legislature has enacted regulations requiring utilities to use 30 percent renewable energy by 2020, making solar the most viable alternative in new commercial electrical installations. Regulations are only the beginning, though. City, state, and federal governments are all offering incentives to business owners for installing photovoltaic cells and otherwise becoming involved in the solar energy movement. 

New Employment Prospects
Solar installation in Colorado Springs is seeing exponential growth, and it shows no signs of stopping. One of the largest growing industries in the building trades today is solar energy installation technology. Commercial electrical contractors have been getting special training to learn to install these green technology power sources. With waiting lists for new buildings growing longer all the time, solar energy installers are in high demand throughout the city as well as the state.

Incentive Programs

As governments continue to offer incentive programs and tax breaks to customers who install solar power cells on their buildings, the percentage of businesses that save money with green power is growing. Colorado Springs alone has four different programs for varying solar setups. Add to the totals offered by the state of Colorado and the federal government, business owners can't help but take a serious look at converting their older power systems, and those with new building projects are making solar a standard in many communities.

Solar Gardens

Taking the idea of individual solar cells even further, solar gardens are a connected group of homes and businesses that share in the savings from a grid array of solar cells. Each member of the group receives a credit on their power bills, even if their building was in the shade for much of the time. Some solar gardens are being used to run municipal buildings or to give business communities a virtual group discount on their electrical bill. Solar gardens share in the installation costs, and reap the rewards for years afterward.

Passive Designs

Using solar power doesn't always have to mean installing photovoltaic cells and wiring them to a battery bank in the basement. A growing movement among electrical contractors is to work with builders to create passive solar designs that affect the heat flow in a building. The direction a building's largest windows face, the color of the building's paint, and even the landscaping can all affect the amount and type of wiring needed when installing a new system into a commercial building. Varied companies in the building trades are cooperating more, subcontracting to create more efficient buildings.

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Topics: commercial electrical contractors

6 Electrical Upgrades to Consider During a Commercial Renovation in ColoradoSprings

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Oct 30, 2015

Renovations are a necessary evil most businesses have to go through eventually. If your business is growing, your building and its capabilities have to grow with it. Ideally, you'll include enough innovation in your upgrade to keep from having to repeat the process for a number of years. The best upgrades include innovations aimed toward the future as well as needed improvements for today.

Before you finalize your plans, be sure to discuss these (and any other) changes that you want made in your commercial electric power and lighting.  

Large Kitchen Appliances 

When changing a building's use from commercial sales to food service, wiring for large kitchen appliances is almost certainly necessary. If you're adding a kitchen to any kind of commercial space, you'll probably need three phase power, as well as additional outlets kitchen appliances such as ovens, deep fryers, and even walk-in freezers will use much more power than a typical retail space includes. Wire your kitchen area with more power outlets than you think you'll need. If your business takes off, you don't want to have to spend all that new profit on another upgrade in a couple of years. 

Dedicated Circuits

If your business includes any kind of computer usage or computerized cash registers, your data and power usage is only going to increase as the years go on. Dedicated data circuits ensure that generalized power surges are less likely to damage electronic equipment than if they were all on one circuit with the rest of your equipment. Separate the areas of your business, including areas of high data usage, into a line of dedicated circuits that will help to ensure stable power quality all the time. Your information is your businesses lifeblood, and you can't afford to lose it to something as simple as someone plugging in a coffee maker at the same time as the printer is working.


Heating and air-conditioning are likely a big part of your power usage, and are likely to remain so in the future. The newer thermostats with timers and smart technology can pay for themselves in a surprisingly short amount of time. By changing the time and temperature the furnace and air conditioner work and coordinating it with your workday, you can save a substantial amount of money on your power bill. Have your electrical contractors update the wiring to the systems, as well as leaving space for future smart technology. 

Code Compliance

Building regulations can change as quickly as local governments do, and it's difficult to make sure your business is up to code at all times. A new business renovation is the ideal time to make sure your entire business is up to electrical code. Repair or replace any older wiring you have, older circuit boxes, and any other fixtures that may not be compliant. It may seem like an extra expense to do this upfront, but it can end up being much less expensive than the fines the city can levy on you.

Capacity upgrades

If your business has been growing, or if you're changing the usage of your building, you may need a greater load capacity in the building. Wiring is set up into circuits, and each one is designed to carry a certain amount of power. Once you try to increase that power, you run the risk of overloading the system, creating power surges, are even starting electrical fires. Have your electrical contractor reconfigure your wiring into new circuits designed to hinder larger electrical loads. It's a good idea to have him look at the circuit breaker box at the same time, to determine whether it needs to be replaced, as well.

 3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: electrical contractors, commercial electric, power quality

6 Ways to Reduce the Environmental Footprint of Your Colorado Springs Business

Posted by James Rockhill on Tue, Oct 27, 2015

Reducing the environmental footprint of your business can seem like a huge task, but going green doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Unless you're creating your Colorado Springs business from the ground up, incremental changes are probably the best way to turn bad habits into good ones. Employees are more likely to embrace change if you don't demand a list of new rules. Every change you make reduces your footprint. Try one each month to increasingly work leaner and greener.

Use Digital Documents

Instead of printing out paperwork and mailing it to clients or customers, do the work online and save yourself a step as well as some money. Use Adobe Acrobat to digitally sign documents, file them away on thumb drives and in the cloud, and make digital backups on external thumb drives. Instead of using paper invoices, send email versions using PayPal, Fresh Books, or some other accounting invoicing software.


Kill the Vampires

Computers, coffee makers, and cell phone chargers continue to draw power while plugged in, even if they're not being used. These “energy vampires” can add up to a significant portion of your power bill. A sleeping computer uses as much power as one you're using during the work day. Make a habit of unplugging all electrical devices and appliances before going home for the day. Using power strips makes this an easier job by combining multiple appliances on one central plug. If you haven’t already, it may also be an idea to get your electrical panels, wiring and other elements inspected and tested. Faulty electrics are not just a safety hazard, it can also cost money in fried appliances or equipment!


If you're in the market for new business equipment, check out Freecycle in your area to see if anyone's giving away equipment that you can use. Many businesses list used and unneeded equipment on this site, simply to make room in their business. Check local businesses to find out if you can create a barter group in the neighborhood. By trading goods and services instead of buying new, you're saving both manufacturing costs and the impact of shipping goods across the country.


Newer LED bulbs only use about a tenth the power of incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Change out the bulbs in your ceiling lights, task lighting, and even your outdoor lights. By changing your bulbs and putting them on a timer, you'll reduce your power usage by a surprising amount. Since lighting is usually the largest percentage of your power usage, new bulbs are the smartest investment you can make, green-wise. If you want to make any big changes to the lighting in your building, be sure to hire a licensed electrician to avoid costly problems.

Water Usage

People usually think of electrical power when they talk about their environmental footprint, but water conservancy is an important part, too. Check your plumbing lines to make sure you don't have any leaks. Replace any pipes or faucets that leak. Install low-flow aerators on your faucets to reduce the amount of water flowing at any one time. Institute a water conservancy policy at work: ban running water while cooking, encourage sensible usage, use mops and buckets instead of spraying kitchen floors at the end of the night.


Make it easy on your employees to get involved with a recycling program. Put recycling bins near every trash can so it's conveniently obvious. Place paper recycling boxes under every desk. Consider adding a worm compost bin outside the back door if you have a lot of food waste, even if it's just everyone's lunch leftovers. Refill printer cartridges instead of throwing them away and reusing them. If you have a drop-in pod coffeemaker, use the refillable cartridges instead of wasteful single-use types.

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Topics: commercial electric, licensed electrician

Last-Century Restaurant 1858 Opens at Colorado Springs’ Seven Falls

Posted by James Rockhill on Sat, Oct 24, 2015

Colorado Spring's Seven Falls is a seven-tier waterfall located in the heart of Cheyenne Canyon. A favorite among hikers and nature lovers, the falls remained off limits for almost two years, since a massive flood in 2013 destroyed roads and closed attractions within the canyon.

Last year, the Broadmoor hotel and resort bought the popular old restaurant nesting just under the falls and embarked in a massive renovation of the place. When Seven Falls opened again in August 2015, after almost two years of silence, the brand new restaurant opened its doors as well.

Getting Things Running

Part of the massive renovation undertaking was to make sure the location had proper lighting to emphasize the beauty of the falls. In order to get this done, Broadmoor hired Berwick Electric, an electrical contractor that has been serving the Colorado Springs area since 1921.

Berwick – which had to deal with ill-timed cold weather, difficult terrain and even bear visits to the site while doing the renovation -- focused on the installation of specialty lighting and controls, as well as the wiring and piping needed to carry electricity through the 4,000-foot-long canyon. New lighting was not only provided to the inside of the restaurant, but also added to the parking lot, the curio shop, and new buildings like the restrooms and the food trailer.

What Makes the Restaurant So Special?

The renovated restaurant has been renamed 1858 in honor to the year that started the Gold Rush era in Colorado. To keep the old feeling intact, the renovation of the restaurant included the addition of chandeliers and lighting features that mimic mining lanterns, the construction of a 20-seating patio area, and a lot of touches to enhance the rustic wilderness feel of the building – including the use of reclaimed barn wood and hand-hewn stone. Old photographs depicting what the surrounding area looked like in the mid-19th century now hang on the walls.

The goal was always to make 1858 look like it's been part of the canyon for a century, and the new redesign accomplished that beautifully. To ensure an authentic feel, Berwick also worked on hidden light installations mounted underwater and under the stairs.

Preserving the Authentic Flavor of Times Gone By

When designing a new menu for the 1858 Restaurant, the new sous chef at 1858 focused on a high-end version of old frontier cuisine with touches of Creole and old European flavors.

Visitors to the restaurant can expect dishes featuring Rocky Mountain trout, bourbon honey lacquered pork loin (with a side of roasted apples), and many versions of grilled meats and vegetables – much of which will be cooked in the restaurant's 4-by-3-foot wood-burning grill.

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Topics: restaurant electrical installation, restaurant lighting

Safety: Why It Matters for Electrical Contractors—AND for You

Posted by James Rockhill on Wed, Oct 21, 2015

Many of us grew up hearing the admonition: “Safety first!” The message was clear: No matter what you might be doing, or how important the task, the number one priority was to take steps to be safe.

We all tend to take safety seriously on a personal level. Whether we’re purchasing an automobile or a car seat for a child—we check out the safety ratings before making a purchase. 

Businesses take safety seriously as well. There are websites devoted to the topic of business safety. There’s even one site we discovered that boast more than 1,000 slogans to promote safety! You may have been on construction sites or in a manufacturing facility and seen signs that proudly proclaim: “256 Days Without An Accident!”

At Berwick Electric, we take safety very seriously as well. That’s probably one reason we’ve gone more than eight years and 1.7 million man-hours without time lost due to an injury. That’s a pretty amazing statistic, but what does that mean for you?

First of all, it means we’re paying attention to details when we’re performing an installation for you. The attention to safety details is an indication of our overall approach to the work we do. We plan carefully, we use the right materials and equipment for the job, and we employ workers who take their job seriously. We believe that means you get an excellent installation.

Our focus on safety extends to your safety as well. Electricity is a powerful tool when it’s used properly. Your business depends on it. But improperly designed or installed systems can pose a serious threat—not only to your business, but also to the well being of your employees.

Berwick Electric has long been recognized for our commitment to safety. You can click here for a list of the awards we’ve won. But for us, it’s not about winning awards—it’s about doing the job right from the design, through the installation process, to the completed project. The right design, coupled with the right materials installed by highly trained individuals results in a system that functions safely and effectively. And that allows your business to be more effective and gives you peace of mind that your employees are working in a safe environment.

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Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company

Design-Build: Why It Matters for Your New Construction or Renovation

Posted by James Rockhill on Mon, Oct 19, 2015

If you’re building a new commercial facility—or renovating existing business space—one of the key elements of that process is your electrical system. There’s a lot more to getting a reliable, safe, and robust electrical system, however, than just “running wire” from a power source to the outlets. 

What you really want (and need) is a system that’s designed to meet your current requirements—and can be adapted and expanded as your needs change and grow. Businesses today rely on consistent, quality power supply that’s capable of delivering exactly what they need. To make sure that happens, you need to take a look at much more than just the number of outlets that are being installed.

That’s one reason design-build and design assist projects are such a big part of Berwick Electric’s construction portfolio. We partner with you, the engineers, and your construction team during the pre-construction phase to contribute our expertise in planning and cost estimating to develop “best-value” solutions.

We use computer-assisted design (CAD) and the appropriate engineer interface to develop the project concept and refine project plans to meet your exact specifications. Design-build and design-assist are excellent ways to expedite the construction process and deliver projects that meet your critical electrical standards within your budget and schedule.

One of the advantages for you is that the same people who design your system are the ones who install it—making for a much smoother and trouble-free process. It helps eliminate confusion, delays—and the finger pointing that can occur when contractors have conflicting agendas. You end up with a better solution, less stress, and a better chance of sticking to your schedule and your budget.

That approach has delivered great results for our clients over the years. We invite you to check out a couple of our recent projects to get an idea of our capabilities. We’d love to design and build a great electrical system that meets (and exceeds) your business expectations!

3 Signs Your Data Comm System Needs An Upgrade

Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company

Power Quality: It May Sound Boring, But We’ll Make Sure You Never Have to Think About It

Posted by James Rockhill on Fri, Oct 16, 2015

As a business owner, Power Quality may be something that never crosses your mind. After all, electrical power is either on or off, right? Who wants to talk about the quality of the power their electrical system is putting out? Sounds pretty boring.

But poor power quality can cause calculation errors, data loss, computer glitches, shutdowns, and even damage to sensitive (and expensive) equipment over time. If your business deals with a lot of critical data or uses equipment that depends on uninterrupted power supply (healthcare, for instance), you need to be sure that the electrical power going to your equipment delivers consistent, reliable power you can depend on. 

Your business needs are unique to your particular business. That’s why our highly trained professionals don’t offer a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Instead, they develop a solution to provide you with the consistent power you need by performing a comprehensive, on-site survey to examine current electrical installations, load capacity, and other factors.

These electrical experts have an in-depth understanding of the technical factors involved—and they use specialized monitoring equipment to detect any potential problems before recommending the best solutions to your power quality problems.

Talking about things such as high voltage cable termination, infrared systems and ultrasonic testing, and UPS systems may not be great conversation-starters at a party—and may actually bore you to tears, but ignoring them can lead to the kind of problems that will keep you up at night, wondering why you’re having trouble with the sensitive equipment you use daily to do your job. 

Whether you run a data center, a hospital or physician’s office, a laboratory, or any other business that depends on a pure, consistent, uninterrupted source of electrical power, you can’t afford to gamble. If you’re building a new facility, or remodeling an existing building, make sure the electrical system you rely on is as up-to-date and efficient as the rest of your building. 

It may sound boring, but we can provide the kind of solution for your business that means you’ll never have to think about it again!

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Topics: Colorado Commercial Electrical Company