Ideas That Work: Preplanning, PVC Solution and Streamlining Communication

Every month, we pick the top Ideas That Work submitted by you, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. These ideas can't be found in any code or guidebook and are only learned or devised through years of experience and thinking, "There's got to be a better way to do this!" Please remember, the ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety standards have been fully adhered to.

Now, without further ado, here are this issue's Ideas That Work!

Be prepared with job-site pictures

Preplanning is the key to successful and cost-effective conduit runs. The first step is to take a good look at the plans and prints to get an idea of the general layout of the runs and the specifics (e.g., size of conduit, number of J-boxes, number of fittings, etc.). Then, walk along the proposed conduit run path with your smartphone camera ready. Take pictures of any problem areas (e.g., extra or complicated bends, obstacles to bypass, etc.). Discuss with the crew how best to overcome these problems. Obviously, blueprints and the final building structures are often very different. When running pipe, it is nice to know where the problem areas are ahead of time and have the solutions ready.

John Hemmings
Charleston, W.V.

Take the edge off

We hooked up a 1,000-ampere, 480-volt panel with 500 MCM aluminum wire. Instead of doing knockouts, we cut two square holes at the bottom and lined each hole by slitting open ½-inch PVC and sliding it over the sharp edges. The smooth edge protects your hands and prevents wire cuts.

Joseph Waldner
Faulkton, S.D.

Idea Igniter

This month, we are looking for ways you get information to the installer. Electrical construction tasks require information and work instructions to perform them. Often, installers walk the project looking for foremen or updated information. ECs are challenged with organizing change orders and contract documents. Do you have any ideas to reduce paper drawings or ensure the latest drawing is being used? How about ways of integrating technology into the point of installation, such as smartphones or tablets? Any ideas with consolidated work instructions that summarize multiple trade drawings (architectural, civil, electrical or mechanical)?

—Anton and Jesse Mikec

IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA that has saved you time or money on the job, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR ­readers would like to hear about it. Be sure to include a good photo of your idea—hand sketches are often hard to interpret. Note that some similar ideas are submitted by more than one person. In these cases, the one that is more clearly written and includes a photo is given precedence. Send your letter and photo to Ideas Editor, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5372, e-mail, or use the online submission tool at


Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. In addition, each month’s FIRST PLACE winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Zoro, to be used at

DISCLAIMER: The ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety issues have been fully adhered to. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR disclaims any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. ­ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reserves the right to reprint the words herein at its discretion.

About the Author

Anton Mikec

Ideas That Work Editor
Anton Mikec is the Ideas That Work editor for Electrical Contractor magazine. Contact him at .

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.