Integrated electrical and low-voltage systems of all types—inside and outside a building—encompass the range of work that electrical contractors do. The articles in this section highlight different types of work, from security, fire and life safety, to traditional electrical power and distribution, to lighting, cabling and more. 

I often receive data files recorded from power quality monitors to analyze the reason a piece of equipment experienced an event. This analysis is followed by determining the cause and who is to blame.

If you buy a new car in 2040, there’s a better than 50/50 chance it will be powered by electricity rather than gas.

Electronic access control is one of the most proprietary technologies (beside fire alarms) with the largest installed base of legacy equipment in the physical security industry.

Since 1999, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code has required survivability for certain circuits that need to work during a fire. In truth, the code has always required speaker circuits serving emergency voice/alarm communications systems to meet a performance requirement for survivability. 

More on Systems

Little Old Lady Can Download Faster Than You

According to the Associated Press, a 75-year-old woman in Karlstad, Sweden, is now the proud owner of what is believed to be the fastest residential uplink in the world.

Flicking the Switch

According to the Energy Information Administration, which gathers and analyzes energy data for the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings currently consume 18 percent of the energy in the United States (

How Far Apart?

This month, we address smoke detector spacing, which is found in NFPA 72-2007 or the National Fire Alarm Code. It is important that your technicians know the spacing requirements for these devices, so they can discover problems on the drawings and prevent mistakes during the installation.

Integrated Fire Protection

To protect today’s public spaces, integration of systems is more important than ever. And in light of recent catastrophic events, the pluses of integrated fire and life safety communications have become perfectly clear.

The Gap Between CCD and CMOS Narrows

Camera surveillance is one of the fastest growing segments in the physical security arena. But the real story involves a potential paradigm shift from charge coupled device (CCD) imaging technology to complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS).

Care and Feeding of Fiber Optics

Here is one word of advice I offer to anyone asking about maintenance of fiber optic networks: DON’T! Some people have suggested fiber optic networks need periodic inspection of connectors, mating adapters and even testing or taking optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) traces.

Training Days

Most of my readers know I encourage training, and some have stated I would like to augment it with something technicians can read and review in an after-work-hours venue.