Industrial Electricity: Basics You and Your Employees Should Know

blog author iconColton Rossiter
date icon2023 / 04 / 21
blog views icon195
Industrial Electricity: Basics You and Your Employees Should Know

Working with industrial electricity can be dangerous if you don't have the right knowledge and training.

Therefore, it's essential to have a basic understanding of industrial electricity if you work in an industry where electrical equipment is involved.

This article covers the basics of industrial electricity and its importance in keeping you and your employees safe.




What Is Industrial Electricity?

Industrial electricity is the use of electrical power in industrial processes, such as manufacturing and production.

Industrial electrical power systems require specialized knowledge and training to install, maintain, and troubleshoot, as the electrical systems used in industries are more complex than those used in residential or commercial buildings.

Differences Between Industrial, Commercial, and Residential Electricity

There are significant differences between industrial, commercial, and residential electrical work.

Residential electricians typically work with single-phase electrical systems, which typically require much less voltage and current than the systems used in industrial and commercial settings. They mainly focus on installing and repairing electrical systems in homes, such as wiring, lighting, and outlets.

Residential electrical work involves working with thin, narrow wires covered in a plastic sheath, as these wires do not need to conduct a high amount of power and must fit into smaller spaces, such as walls and crawl spaces.

On the other hand, industrial electricians work with three-phase electrical systems, which require higher voltage and current to power industrial machinery and equipment.

They should have specialized knowledge of electrical equipment and power systems that is not necessary for residential or commercial electricians.

They are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing complex electrical systems in industrial facilities, including power distribution systems, motors, transformers, and control systems.

Additionally, industrial electrical work involves heavy-duty, nylon-coated, tube-like conduits that provide higher insulation protection, as industrial plants deal with corrosive liquids and gases that may cause electrical hazards if they come into contact with the wiring.

Industrial Electricity Regulations & Standards

In Canada, safety standards for electrical systems used in industrial settings are established and maintained by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

CSA covers various safety topics related to electrical systems, which includes safety requirements for electrical equipment used in hazardous locations, electrical safety requirements for work around high voltage electrical equipment, and safety requirements for electrical construction and demolition work.

In addition to the CSA standards, Canadian provinces and territories have their own regulatory bodies that oversee workplace safety.

For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Labor enforces the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), which requires employers to take every precaution reasonable for the protection of a worker, including providing appropriate training, equipment, as well as procedures for working with electrical equipment.

In the United States, OSHA regulations require that electrical equipment be installed and maintained according to specific safety standards. They design these standards to prevent workplace accidents and injuries by ensuring that electrical systems are installed and maintained correctly. OSHA also requires employers to provide electrical safety training to employees who work with or near electrical equipment. The training covers topics such as electrical safety principles, lockout/tagout procedures, as well as hazard recognition and control.

Failure to comply with regulations can result in penalties, fines, and legal action. It is important for employers to stay up to date with the latest regulations and standards for industrial electricity to ensure a safe work environment for their employees.

Basics of Industrial Electricity

Understand the Basic Math Concepts

To wrap your head around industrial electricity, it's important to have a grasp on the fundamental math concepts involved in electrical calculations.

This includes things like calculating power consumption, voltage, and resistance using formulas. But it's not just about memorizing formulas - understanding the underlying principles behind them is key to being able to apply them effectively.

One of the most important principles in industrial electricity is Ohm's Law, which describes how current, voltage, and resistance relate to each other in an electrical circuit.

By understanding this law, electricians can calculate and predict how much current will flow through a circuit given a certain voltage and resistance, or how much resistance is needed to limit current flow to a safe level.

For more complex calculations involving advanced circuits, knowledge of algebra and trigonometry can also come in handy.

These math concepts can be used to analyze circuits with multiple components and variables and can help electricians identify potential issues and optimize circuit performance.

Ultimately, having a solid understanding of these math concepts is critical for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of electrical systems in industrial settings.

By using math to properly design, install, and maintain electrical systems, electricians can help prevent accidents and ensure that machines and equipment operate at their best.

Electrical Circuits & Elements

When working with industrial electricity, it's important to understand the basic elements of an electrical circuit.

An electrical circuit is basically just a pathway for electrons to flow from a power source, like a battery or generator, to a load, such as a motor or lightbulb.

The components of an electrical circuit can include resistors, which limit the flow of electrons, capacitors, which store electrical energy, and inductors, which store magnetic energy.

Each of these elements plays a specific role in the overall function of the circuit, and it's important to understand how they work together to create a functional electrical system.

By understanding electrical circuits and their elements, industrial electricians can design, install, and maintain electrical systems to meet specific needs and ensure optimal performance.

This knowledge is essential when it comes to preventing accidents and ensuring the safe and efficient operation of electrical systems in industrial settings.

Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring is a critical aspect of industrial electrical work because it involves connecting electrical devices to a power source through wires or cables.

It's crucial that industrial electricians know about the hazards associated with electrical wiring, like electrical shock, and following safety protocols and regulations to prevent accidents.

Additionally, industrial electricians should have a thorough understanding of three-phase electrical systems and how to install and maintain electrical panels.

This would include knowledge of wiring diagrams, voltage drop calculations, and the National Electrical Code (NEC) regulations, which ensure the safety of electrical systems in industrial settings.

Proper installation and maintenance of electrical panels is crucial for preventing electrical malfunctions, reducing downtime, as well as ensuring that electrical systems operate efficiently.

Measuring Instruments

Measuring instruments are essential tools for industrial electricians, as they are used to measure electrical parameters such as voltage, current, and resistance.

These instruments come in different types and models, including multimeters, clamp meters, and oscilloscopes.

Industrial electricians must know how to use these devices accurately to troubleshoot electrical problems effectively.

  • Multimeters, for example, are used to measure voltage, current, and resistance, and are a common tool in an electrician's toolkit.
  • Clamp meters, on the other hand, are used to measure current without the need to disconnect a circuit.
  • Oscilloscopes are used to measure and analyze voltage signals over time and can help identify problems with circuits that are not easily visible with other measuring instruments.

Understanding how to use these measuring instruments properly is critical for industrial electricians to diagnose and repair electrical systems safely and efficiently.

Magnetic Principles

In industrial electrical work, understanding magnetic principles is crucial since magnetic fields are generated by electrical currents.

Industrial electricians must know how to apply the principles of magnetic induction, which is the process of generating an electromotive force by changing the magnetic field around a conductor.

This principle is used in various industrial electrical applications, including transformers, motors, and generators.

Industrial electricians must also be knowledgeable in the principles of magnetic fields and how they interact with conductive materials to produce electrical currents.

Understanding these concepts is crucial for the proper installation and maintenance of electrical systems in industrial settings.

Alternating Current

Alternating current (AC) is the type of electrical current used in most industrial electrical systems.

AC current periodically reverses direction and changes its magnitude, resulting in a constantly changing flow of electrons.

Understanding the principles of AC current, including how it is generated and transmitted, is crucial for industrial electricians.

In addition to understanding the basic principles of AC current, industrial electricians must also have a thorough understanding of the various components and systems that make up an AC electrical system.

This includes knowledge of transformers, generators, motors, and other electrical devices that use AC current.

They must also know how to troubleshoot problems that may arise with AC current systems.

Troubleshooting AC electrical systems can be complex and requires expertise in the various components and their interactions.

Industrial electricians must be able to diagnose and fix issues quickly and efficiently to ensure minimal downtime for the electrical system.

Safety and Troubleshooting Techniques

Industrial electricians must adhere to safety standards and protocols to prevent accidents and injuries.

They must be familiar with the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow lockout/tagout procedures to ensure equipment is not energized during maintenance or repair.

Arc flash studies are conducted to assess the risk of arc flashes, which can cause severe injuries and damage to electrical equipment.

Industrial electricians must understand these studies and how to implement preventative measures to minimize the risk of an arc flash incident.

When electrical equipment malfunctions, industrial electricians must troubleshoot the issue to identify the cause and take corrective action.

They use various techniques and tools to diagnose electrical problems, including measuring instruments, schematics, and blueprints.

Troubleshooting can involve testing the electrical circuit, checking for damage or defects, and replacing faulty components.

Industrial electricians must have a strong understanding of electrical systems and components to troubleshoot effectively and ensure equipment is functioning safely and efficiently.


Get the right training to help prevent electrical injuries


Importance of Having Your Employees Properly Trained

In addition to promoting workplace safety, proper training can also increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

When employees are properly trained, they can troubleshoot and diagnose electrical problems more quickly, leading to less downtime and increased productivity.

Properly trained employees are also more likely to catch potential hazards before they become serious problems, saving time and money in the long run.

Investing in employee training can also help attract and retain skilled workers, as employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their professional development.

This can lead to a more experienced and knowledgeable workforce, ultimately benefiting the company's bottom line.

Overall, the importance of having your employees properly trained in industrial electricity cannot be overstated.

Providing training and ensuring that employees have the necessary knowledge and skills to work with electrical equipment safely can lead to a safer, more efficient, and more productive workplace.


I hope this article has helped to better explain industrial electricity basics you and your employees should know.

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Looking To Learn More About Arc Flash Studies?

Download our free Definitive Guide to Arc Flash Studies to help get a more detailed understanding of the potential arc flash hazard at your facility.

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