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What Is Electrical Estimating?

Electrical estimating is one of the most important things that a business can do. This is because it helps to ensure that projects are completed within budget and that enough profit is left for the company to grow.

There are many different ways to arrive at an estimate. The most common way is the unit pricing method. This involves gathering all of the costs and adding them together.


Estimators must take into account many costs when creating an electrical estimate, including overhead expenses, labor and material costs. Depending on the size of a company, they may use historical data to help determine these prices or use an estimating software system. The cost of this software varies widely and depends on the features and capabilities that it offers. Some of the more advanced packages include 3D visualization capabilities, while others offer automatic calculations and CAD drawings. Some also include additional features like a database of industry standard materials and pricing data from RS Means.

The first step in electrical estimating is doing a takeoff of the project, which involves counting and measuring all the electrical items needed for the project using plans or drawings. This is important because it will allow the estimator to make sure that the correct quantities of all components are ordered. This ensures that the final bid will be accurate and won’t be over or under budget. Then, the estimator can use their estimating software to transfer these quantities to the pricing sheet for the job.

One of the biggest challenges in estimating is labor costs. Estimators must determine how long it will take to install each component on the project and then calculate their hourly rates from there. This can be a challenging task, especially when working with a new project or when comparing different projects. Some smaller companies use historical data to determine their labor rates, but this method can be inaccurate for larger firms.

Another option is to use a unit pricing method, which includes all the costs of each component in a single number. For example, a duplex receptacle could be priced at $150, which would include the cost of the materials and labor. This method can be accurate for residential jobs, but it starts to get risky when used on commercial and industrial projects.

An experienced electrician knows that it’s important to stay within your scope of expertise and only work on projects that you can accurately estimate the costs for. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time and money on a project that isn’t profitable. In addition, you’ll likely lose business to competitors who are better prepared.

Scope of Work

Electrical estimating is an essential part of a construction project. It determines the scope of work and identifies the necessary materials and labor hours. It also includes an analysis of the project’s existing equipment and layout, if applicable. A licensed electrical estimator will complete an inspection and provide a drawing and written quotation that breaks down the costs of labor and materials. This allows the client to compare different quotes and choose the best one for their needs.

The scope of electrical estimating can vary greatly depending on the size of the project. For smaller projects, a unit pricing method is often used to determine labor costs. This process involves calculating the time it takes to install each component of a job and multiplying that amount by the laborer’s hourly rate. This method is easy to implement for small jobs, but it can become inaccurate over time as material prices change.

For larger projects, electrical estimators may use a cost-to-goal approach to determine the final bid. This method involves comparing the estimated cost of a job against the client’s budget and adjusting accordingly. This helps to ensure that the project is within the budget and will not exceed it.

In addition to calculating the cost of an electrical project, a qualified electrical estimator will also determine its electrical demand and load. They can also provide recommendations to reduce the total electrical expense by utilizing load sharing and other techniques. This is especially important for manufacturing environments where the electricity bill can be high.

Whether you’re providing residential electrical estimating for homeowners or bidding to wire a new apartment complex, it’s essential to know the scope of work involved in each task. This will help you avoid costly mistakes and build a positive reputation for your business. To do this, you’ll need to carefully review the scope of work listed in the project specifications and notes.

It’s also a good idea to hone in on your niche and only bid for projects that you can deliver. This will prevent you from spending your time and resources on projects that are beyond your abilities, and can even result in financial loss.


Electrical estimating is an extremely challenging process, even for highly experienced electricians. Oftentimes, creating an estimate requires extensive research and calculation. One misstep can throw everything off and potentially cost you the job. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to streamline the bidding process and ensure your estimates are accurate.

Begin by thoroughly looking over the project specifications and drawings to determine what equipment and materials are required to complete the requested work. Then, calculate the total number of light fixtures, receptacles, conduit runs and panels you will need to buy. Once you have this information, divide it by your business’s overhead rate, and then add your profit markup to the final number.

Another crucial step in preparing an electrical estimating is to create a pricing sheet, which includes columns for material description, price, discount and labor unit. This is also where you should include your estimated profit margin. You should then use this sheet to prepare your estimates for each item in the RFP, as well as the overall project.

Once you have all of this information, review your calculations and double-check your numbers before sending the final bid to the client. Make sure you have included all applicable taxes and fees. Then, ask a colleague to read through your estimate to check for typos and other errors. Finally, make sure you have a competitive pricing strategy in place and that the final estimate is within your client’s budget.

While it may seem tempting to say “yes” to every project that comes your way, this type of approach can be detrimental to your bottom line. It’s important to focus on the projects you know you can do and can deliver beyond your clients’ expectations. This will prevent you from losing money on projects that don’t turn out as expected, which could cause your business to suffer.

By following these tips, you can create more accurate and professional estimates for your electrical jobs. Then, you can grow your business by increasing your market share and winning more projects. And remember, if you need help improving your estimating and proposal process, consider investing in electrical estimating software.


A quality electrical estimate is vital to the success of any construction project. It sets the tone for how the work will proceed and gives clients a sense of what they can expect to spend on a specific task or total project cost. It is also the basis for determining who will win a job or what can be accomplished within the budget that is available. The task of creating an accurate electrical estimating is difficult and requires a high level of skill.

Many estimators utilize a variety of methods to create estimates for their projects, including labor unit estimation, design and construct estimation, and per-point estimating. Each method has its pros and cons, but the key is to choose a technique that works well for your particular needs. Then, use the method consistently to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Another important consideration when preparing an electrical estimate is the type of contracting you do. If you’re a general contractor, you will have to bid against other contractors to win the job. This means you must keep your bids low enough to win the job, while still providing a profit for yourself. You’ll need to consider all costs of the project, such as labor, materials, equipment rental, indirect cost (also known as overhead), markup, and profit margin.

Electrical estimating firms can help you create a quality estimate by using their experience, expertise, and tools to get the job done right the first time. They can also provide you with training to help you improve your estimating skills. This is especially helpful for those who are new to the industry or have not been estimating for very long.

Choosing the right electrical estimating software is important for your business. It should be easy to use, intuitive, and feature a user-friendly interface. It should also integrate with your accounting and project management systems to automate processes and provide more visibility into your estimates. It should also have a robust database that includes material pricing data, electronic on-screen plan takeoff, and QuickBooks job costing. It should also allow you to customize your electrical estimating templates and create a consistent look and feel for all your estimates.