Ideas That Work: Temporary Power Solutions and Going Underground

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!

Friction tape and wire reel solution

When running temporary power, I use old-school friction tape for hanging light stringers and cords. It is cheap to buy by the case, you can carry a few rolls on your person at a time and you don’t need a ladder or lift to remove your cords and stringers when the time comes to tear it all out. Just give the cords a good yank and the friction tape tears. We always use CFLs, which are cheap and you can put a ton of them on a circuit. Use a wire reel to roll up the dedicated temp light cords. Plug them in end to end and just roll the cords onto the reel. It is faster than rolling them individually, and the reel can be transported from job to job.

Robert Siwik

Junction box

For temporary lighting and power circuits, we add a junction box to our power distribution units and route branch circuits into the box. This way, they can be accessed later without going into an energized panel. All of the circuits are labeled and capped with a wirenut.

Dan Wiemann
Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Idea Igniter

This month, we are looking for innovative ways to perform underground installations. Winter is over, and it’s the time of year when new projects are springing up out of the ground everywhere. Are there other ways to start the underground besides rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty? Let us know if you have a great way to save time and money on safe underground installations! For example, do you have any time-saving ideas on installing large amounts of reinforced conduit duct banks? Can you do the work without getting dirty and exposing yourself to hazards? How do you manage your tools and drawings when working in the outdoor environment? Do you have any ideas for cutting and bending PVC conduit?

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 .

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