Estimating Electrical Projects - Take-offs of switchgear, panel boards, transformers and motor control centers


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Taking off switchgear - Electrical estimates may include switchgear, so you would need to get a quote from your switchgear provider(s) for the price of the switchgear; and, you will need to consider much labor is required to install the gear. Your take-off should also include switchgear supports (such as concrete anchors or seismic bracing).

Switchgear installation labor is based on the amperage, physical size and weight of each switchgear section. Add direct job expense items (labor and materials) for cranes, forklifts, or other special handling operations.


Taking off fused switch units in distribution switchboards - The take-off for fused switch units in distribution switchboards will include labor to terminate the outgoing cables. It is assumed that the switches are factory mounted in the switchboards. If the fuse switch units are not factory mounted you will need to add additional labor for mounting. Also, if the fuse switch units need to be removed and reinstalled by you, for security reasons, you will need to add labor for this operation as well. Make sure to add the proper size and type of fuses to your take-off.

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Taking off the circuit breaker units in distribution switchboards - Do the same for circuit breaker units as you did for fuse switch units. Take off the circuit breaker units in distribution switchboards for labor to terminate the outgoing cables. It is assumed the circuit breakers are factory mounted in the switchboards. If the circuit breaker units are not factory mounted you will need to add labor for mounting them. If the circuit breakers need to be removed and reinstalled by you, for security reasons, you will need to add labor for this operation. Make sure to add additional labor for accessory items such as GFI devices, shunt trip devices, lock offs, or other special items.


Taking off panelboards - When you do take-off for panelboards you will not distinguish between surface or flush, top or bottom lugs. You will distinguish between the amperage, main lugs only or main circuit breakers (the labor will vary for weight and size of the panels). Make sure that you add labor and material for panelboard supports (anchors, unistrut, etc.).


Take off the number of active circuit breakers in each panel - The purpose of counting active circuit breakers (not spare circuit breakers) is for labor to terminate wires. Since spare breakers and blank spaces in panels need no wire terminations, there is no reason to count them (unless you are material pricing the circuit breakers). Make sure that you include labor for accessories such as GFI or shunt trip circuit breakers, lock-offs, weatherproof enclosures, etc.


Taking off transformers - There is no need to list the voltage of the transformers. You are doing the transformer take-off to establish the number of labor hours that it takes to install them, plus the labor and cost of supports. Transformer labor is based on KW rating, “K” rating, single or three phase, physical size and weight of the various transformer sizes and wire terminations. Add additional labor for special installation conditions such as wall mounted, suspended, stacked or other special mounting conditions. Add additional material and labor costs for transformer accessories such as isolation mounts, seismic spring mounts, wall or ceiling strut support systems. Make sure that you include additional material and labor for transformer lugs. Many transformer manufactures do not include lugs in their sales price.


Taking off motor control centers (MCCs) - List how many sections and bus amperage for labor to move into place. Add for anchorage and supports. Add labor for difficult locations (i.e. roof mounted, congested machine room, etc.). Also, add material cost for overload heaters. Many manufactures do not include heaters in their price as they have to be ordered specifically for type and size of motor to be protected. Make note of accessories required for each starter. These may include: HOA switch, push to test pilot light, aux relays, control power transformers, etc. These items require additional labor if they are not factory wired in the motor control center. Make sure that you furnish your supplier with a motor control diagram to quote from. Include a list of motor control accessory items needed so that they include everything in their price quote.

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