How to Avoid Costly Electrical Upgrades When Expanding Your Business

How to Avoid Costly Electrical Upgrades When Expanding Your Business

Expanding your business can be an exciting time, but it often requires electrical upgrades to support the additional power needs. Upgrading an electrical system can be disruptive and expensive, so it's important to plan ahead to avoid costly electrical upgrades. Here are some tips:

Understand Your Current Electrical Load and Capacity

Before expanding, have an electrician evaluate your current electrical system to determine:

Knowing this information will help you understand how much additional load your expansion can handle before exceeding capacity.

Audit Your Lighting and Identify Energy Efficiencies

Lighting accounts for 15-30% of a commercial building's electricity use. Swapping out inefficient lighting for LEDs and installing occupancy sensors and daylighting can significantly reduce electricity demand. This lighting retrofit can allow you to expand without electrical upgrades.

Install Higher Efficiency HVAC Equipment

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) also account for a major part of a building's energy use. Upgrading to a newer, higher efficiency HVAC system will lower electricity demand. Similarly, ensure any new HVAC equipment needed for the expansion is energy efficient.

Optimize the Size and Location of the Expansion

Strategically designing the expanded space to minimize HVAC and lighting needs will reduce electrical load. Consider:

Schedule Expansion Construction to Avoid Peak Demand Periods

Peak electrical demand for a business typically occurs during workday hours. By scheduling major construction activities requiring high electricity use (such as welding, lighting loads) during off-peak evening hours, you can avoid exceeding capacity.

Install On-Site Solar Power

Adding a rooftop solar PV system can offset a significant portion of your electrical load from the grid. This solar power replaces grid electricity, effectively increasing your electrical capacity. Solar incentives can offset system costs.

Upgrade Service in Phases

If an electrical upgrade is still required, work with your utility to phase upgrades over time. This might involve limited upgrades to meet immediate needs, while planning for a larger upgrade later. Phasing spreads out costs.

With strategic planning and efficiency improvements, costly electrical system upgrades can be avoided or deferred when expanding your business. A qualified electrician and building energy auditor can help guide you through the process.