There is always an alternative way to do a task. Sometimes they are reserved for a savvy and skilled workforce – the bunch that knows the ‘secrets of the trade’. But these alternative methods can also be adopted through trial and error. Or, they can represent a creative solution designed to innovate a certain task. While everyone is free to experiment on their workbench, when electricity is involved – abundance of caution is required. Safety is a primary concern and there is simply too much at stake to run around and try new methods if you lack proper training.
Fortunately, electricians and electrical engineers are well aware of this and they share their knowledge. So if you are doing electrical work you can easily find resources, especially about ‘what not to do’ with a live circuit. And advice from professionals is always welcome if it cuts down the time required to finish a project by giving you an efficient and safe workaround.
Fast Plug Base
Oftentimes electricians, or sparkies as we like to call them, need to wire downlights to a plug. Traditionally, in their line of work, this would require a sequence of action. First, you need to make sure the plug base socket is ready for use. You inspect irregularities and check if something is in the way. Then, you have to strip the outer sheathing of the wire. This is probably the most time consuming step because you also need to be careful not to damage the wire itself. Once that is done, a sparkie inserts the respective cables into grooves and ensures they are secure.
These days you can take smart plug base and cut the installation time in half. At the same time you don’t need tools or special techniques, just a single two-handed motion and the connection to the cable is done. Of course, you need to have input on polarity, but instead of removing the cable sheath to find out, you simply follow the outer sheath to check. Such smart plug bases are designed to pierce through twin and earth cables (1.5mm2 or 2.5mm2) and directly connect to the conductors.
Using a rapid plug base is not only fast but it’s also safe. It’s a product that complies with safety standards and the operator will hear an audible click when connection is established. If you scale up the use of rapid plug bases installation costs decrease, and you cut down on clean up time.
Tennis Ball to Pull Cable
You aren’t supposed to go high tech every time you want to make your work easier. Household items like tennis balls can be used for cable management. The technique is highly effective and saves not only your time but also your nerves.
Tie a jet line to the ball and hook it to the cable. You can throw the ball in the direction in which your cable has to go. Alternatively you can pull by hand. The task will be done in no time, and there will be no knots to untangle.
Pocket sized magnets can significantly reduce the time spent in hunting metal objects. And there is no lack of them at a construction site. There are tools, screws and bolts, but most important, all sorts of ferrous components that are hidden behind a wall.
Usually, sparkies use stud finders to locate different parts and mark them. By using a magnet you can do this without batteries and without leaving a permanent mark. A magnet will react to ferrous object behind masonry, tiles, wood or other enclosure.
Although it seems straightforward, tracing old wires or running new wires can take up a lot of your time. You can use magnets to ensure the wire follows the desired path and avoid any potential fishing for components.
Snap the Circuit
We are so used to staring down at our mobile phones that we forget they can provide support to our toolbox. If you haven’t done it already, go ahead and take a photo of the next circuit you need to rip apart. This is a very practical way of documenting the original state of the system. It will help you place everything back in it’s rightful place once you finish, and it will serve to show clients and colleagues what was wrong to begin with.
String Cut a Conduit
The typical method to cut PVC conduits is generally with a hand saw. Then again, you can’t always use a saw to cut plastic pipe because sometimes they are in a tight space, or down in a ditch. If you don’t have enough space to safely operate a saw, you can use friction to your advantage. Loop a piece of string around the pipe and start pulling. To increase the pressure on the pipe alternate your hands and pull back and forth like you would do with a saw on a string. Your efforts might bring you success more quickly than you expect.
These are some of the most typical examples of time saving tips for electricians. Among the honorable mentions in this list we include: a paintbrush (to clean up debris), hot air gun (to bend conduit), potato peeler (for striping wire) and silicon (to waterproof a bolt or wire nut). As you can see, there are more workarounds than you can think of.