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  • Eve Robles


Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Commercial: As the name suggests, commercial electricians typically respond to commercial orders. Think big building projects like working with airports, Amazon, hospitals, and other major facilities.

Service: These are the electricians that field home, apartment, and other residential type facilities.

Most electricians will specialize in either commercial or service electrical duties. Some may even have the experience of doing both and can easily navigate between the two electrician roles. Yet, not every electrician is qualified to do both.

One of the main reasons for the specialization differences is because of the different materials, wiring, codes, licenses and even math that is used in commercial environments compared to residential.

Here’s a little more information to help you understand the difference between these two types:


License: Commercial electricians are licensed by local and state agencies. To receive their commercial certification, they must complete a commercial electrician apprenticeship program.

Wiring Type: Conduits

Power Type: Three-phased power. This uses two 12–volt wires, a 208-volt wire, and one neutral wire.

Material Type: Resistant to heat, corrosion, and chemicals.

Code Requirements: Codes can change pretty frequently depending on the local government. For example, certain buildings may require a generator to be connected as a backup source of power.


License: They receive their residential license via local and state agencies. Apprenticeship programs are typically a part of this licensing experience, but it is separate from the commercial apprenticeship.

Wiring Type: Plastic sheathed wiring. Conduits may be used but aren’t always.

Power Type: Single-phase power. This uses 120-volt wires plus a neutral wire.

Material Type: Non-metallic cables, metal conduits, panduit ducts, and wiring pass-throughs.

Code Requirements: Building codes may differ from area to area, but a residential electrician should be able to help you know which issues your home has that are out of code and help you address them. In contrast, a commercial electrician won’t always be able to identify residential code errors as easily.

As you can see, commercial and residential/service electricians not only work in different types of buildings, but they work with a completely different set of standards, codes, and even materials. The electricians at DREI are licensed commercial electricians.

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