Commercial vs residential: Sourcing wiring accessories suitable for a building’s purpose, size and style

It’s not often that an architect gives much thought to wiring accessories during the design process, let alone the different requirements that might be necessary in different types of builds. Understandably, they tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the bigger picture and the larger products set to grace a new build. As a result, the everyday features that everyone finds themselves in regular contact with can get overlooked. Admittedly, it’s easy to assume that wiring accessories all do the same job and it’s difficult when there are tight time constraints and deadlines to meet.

But although there are lots of things to think about, the fact is that wiring accessories can represent a significant part of the investment in the electrical installation infrastructure. Consequently, they deserve plenty of attention during the specification phase. If you take a moment to think about it, there’s actually lots to consider during the design process and the wiring accessories you specify can depend entirely on the type of build that’s being designed. This especially rings true in commercial and residential builds, where there can be vast difference in both design style, purpose and the quantity of the accessories required. By taking the opportunity to specify a suitable range that’s right for the building’s purpose, an architect can save time, effort and impress their clients.

Quantity and availability

Above all else, the biggest consideration in the design and specifying process when it comes to wiring accessories for a commercial building, is the quantity and types required of a range. Wiring accessories that are specified for big commercial builds, with floors upon floors, need to be widely and readily available. Without due research, there’s a risk that thousands of wiring accessories could be specified for an important build, only for the specifier to find out that the supplier doesn’t have enough available for installation. This can set a project back and cause severe delays to the overall process. For commercial builds, a specifier should feel confident that they’ve sourced a range in which it’s easy get their hands on mass quantities.

Alternatively, in a residential build, it’s somewhat unlikely you’ll need to source wiring accessories in the thousands. An architect won’t need to consider specifying a large commercial range, and has more options available to explore.

 Breadth of range

But it’s not just quantity that deserves consideration; the variety of accessories on offer in any given range matters too. In hospital or hotel designs, dozens of different kinds of accessories are often required. It’s important that a range includes all types of wiring accessories; from sockets, to data outlets, fuse connection units, grid light switches and more. Specifying light switches from a different brand to the sockets is an inconvenient and complicated way to work when designing a large commercial building. There’s no need to have more work on your plate. For this reason, choosing one range that has great breadth and can satisfy the whole portfolio, not just a part of it, is key.

But, it’s also important to stick to one range when sourcing the accessories for residential builds, as it can improve the overall aesthetic appeal of a building. Adjacent accessories that don’t match one another in a new, stylish building aren’t an attractive prospect. A consistent and matching appearance across the board can give a polished finish to the overall interior, whether commercial or residential.

Purpose matters

A building’s design depends entirely on its purpose; from the floor, to the layout and the materials used – and wiring accessories are no exception. A hospital clearly holds a different purpose to a family home and it’s the architect’s job to fulfil the right design criteria. With today’s progressive innovations, wiring accessories can be sourced to satisfy a building’s specific purpose. For example, in hospitals their purpose is to maintain the upmost safety, and it’s important to ensure this carried through into all aspects of the building, including the wiring accessories.

In our Instinct range, we’ve developed coding for added protection in hospitals where multiple types of electrical devices are used. It’s possible to specify blue accessories, which are available and exclusive to medical equipment and green ones for cleaning apparatus. The colours signify the purpose of the accessory and that ensures that important machinery isn’t unplugged, improving the overall safety in new hospitals. After all, it’s unlikely you’d specify bright blue accessories in a home!

 Common ground

Despite the differences, there remains some common ground across all designs. No matter the purpose, size or style of a new build, quality and safety are top priority. An architect will be faced with potential backlash if the accessories they source lack these two things. Safety is always a concern with electrical products and a client will want to feel reassured that their wiring accessories will be free from fault further down the line and are safe for everyday use.

Safety is something that can always be improved, so innovative safety features like twin action multipin safety shutters, should be sourced where possible in every new building design. Ultimately, sourcing a quality, reliable brand with a good reputation and packed with innovations, ensures a specifier can move onto their next job without worry.

It’s important that the range of wiring accessories sourced in the design process can meet the different requirements of the building and there are a number of considerations. If it’s a big commercial build, you’ll need to consider and ensure availability and breadth – something which isn’t as vital a consideration in a small residential build. In fact, our Instinct range has been designed as a result of recognising the specific needs of various commercial builds. However, one thing remains, no matter what the building, wiring accessories deserve an architect’s attention. Not only can it quicken and optimise the specification process, it’ll demonstrate the architect’s clear eye for detail.

By Jim Hutchison, National Sales Manager, Crabtree