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ELECTRICAL SYSTEM DESIGN: REQUIREMENTS AND

BENEFITS.
Electricity is a modern energy source and an essential component in modern fabric
of life. Nowadays life without electricity is unimaginable. All the buildings and the
systems need electricity to provide services required for the occupants or users of
them. Lighting, thermal comfort, communication, safety & security, transportation
are some of the services that need electricity.

Electricity supplied to these services through building electrical systems consisting


of several interconnected components commonly known as electrical distribution
system. Design of electrical distribution system is one of an important task during
design of new buildings.

During planning for a new building or a major renovation, most of the building
owners are not realizing the importance of proper electrical system design. Design
of electrical systems is a technically difficult and requires mastery of varied and
interconnected building systems. Further an electrical design practice is not mere
engineering application of laws and regulation but integration of sciences,
engineering and business into one domain. Proper design practices need to be
followed to ensure business continuity.

What is good electrical design and how is it achieved?


Electrical systems are key for ultimate operational and functional aspects of the
completed building. A good electrical design should be a combination of knowledge,
technology and techniques. A good electrical design should meet the following
fundamental requirements.

Safety

Electrical safety is paramount in all the business operation since occupants of the
building interact more often with electrical systems than any other system.
Electrical safety issues are hazardous to human life, damages the reputation of the
business and some time lead to legal actions. Design has to ensure safety of the
people and properties of the building. A good design identifies potential safety
issues and incorporates mitigation measures during design process.

Compliance with standards

Complying with applicable standards is another fundamental requirement of good


design. Electrical design has to comply with local and international standards for
seamless integration of systems. All the design works need to be comply with
applicable standards & regulations that set out by authorities.

Reliability

Loss of power is common to all type of buildings and it causes significant loss to the
business. Electrical design should ensures reliability and continuity of the building
services. This is critical for business continuity of the building. This comes with
considerable amount of first cost but relived by avoiding operation cost.

Operational aspects

Design should consider environmental compatibility of the systems. This is a key


factor of operational aspects. Further, design has to consider the need of
operability, maintainability and serviceability of installation. These aspects are
required for seamless operation of all interconnected services and this will results in
reduced down time and extended life time of the assets.

Life-cycle cost

What are the benefits of improper design?


Adopting proper design practices will bring following benefits to the building owners
and occupants.

Upfront design input - capture the types of equipment and system required
for the business operation before start of the operation. Thus reduce the
spending during operation stage.
Improved quality of services hence customer satisfaction
Reduce cost of ownership
Better risk management
Opportunities for better coordination and communication among other
services
Reduced issues and down-time during operation

What are the adverse impacts of improper design?


Improper design practices will have adverse impacts on building operation. These
include;

Fire accidents and safety hazards due to electrical leakage - one of a major
cause for fire accidents in the buildings causing severe damages to buildings
and people.
Production downtime - disturb business continuity and account for financial
losses.
Loss of data, accelerate the ageing of assets.

To avoid these impacts electrical design systems should be designed by professional


engineers. In Sri Lanka, electrical utilities require a chartered engineer to sing final
design documents for providing service connections. Professional engineers ensure
optimal design that lead to safe, reliable and cost effective operation of the
electrical system. It is consumers duty to make sure that the system is designed
and installed properly for satisfactory operation of electrical systems all the time.