Is Electrical Estimating Hard? Not When You Have a System (Be Like McDonalds and Use Systems)

Is electrical estimating hard? Not when you have a system, be like McDonalds and use systems.

Systems Rule. Just look at McDonald's!

Although McDonald's may not serve the best burger but anywhere you go, they all taste the same. That’s because McDonald’s has a defined system for how all their food is prepared.

That way any person can step in and cook burgers and they all come out the same. Everyone does it the same way and they always deliver the same results.

Do the same thing with electrical estimating. Set up a defined system for electrical estimating so everyone does it the same. That way everyone is on the same page and does it the same way.

Also, if you hire an estimator, train them to do it your way.

Here are things to consider when setting up a system:

For take-off, use a tally counter to count light fixture, outlets, and other items.

  1. First, hold the tally counter in one hand and a highlighter in the other. Then, highlight – click – highlight – click. Rinse and repeat. This method of counting is fast and accurate. And if you are interrupted by a phone call or other distraction, simply pause momentarily and resume when ready.

  2. Now, have a defined color code for material take-off. Obtain a set of highlighters with many different colors.

  3. Next, highlight each conduit after you measure it, so you do not take off items twice.

Example of color code: • Green for PVC • Blue for MC cable • Orange for EMT • Pink for GRC • Yellow for flex • Purple for seal-tite

Suggested color code for devices:

When you do a material take-off, color each device as you count it with a highlighter.

Highlight each device as you count it so that you keep track of what has been counted and what has not.

Suggested Color code for device take-off:

  1. Green for duplex receptacles

  2. Blue for quads

  3. Orange for single pole switches

  4. Pink for 2 switches

  5. Red for 3 switches

  6. Purple for 3-way switches

Highlight each fixture as you count it, so that you keep track of what has been counted and what has not.

Suggested Color code for lighting fixtures:

• Green for 2 X 4 • Blue for 2 X 4 Emergency lights • Orange for down lights • Pink for downlight Emergency lights • Red for outdoor lighting • Purple for other lighting

  1. Use pre-populated forms for material take-off. Red Rhino Software has time-saving take-off forms you can print out or use on your computer for panels and circuit breakers, transformers, direct job expense, feeder schedule, fire alarm and generators.

  2. Do material take-off in the same order every time. Start with materials that need to be quoted like lighting fixtures, panels, switch gear, and circuit breakers or equipment like generators and transfer switches.

  3. Use a bid checklist that details each task who is to read plan specifications.


Red Rhino is online so you can log on from any computer with an internet connection. 

The Cost of Red Rhino is $99.00/ Month with an affordable setup fee.

Red Rhino Electrical Estimating Software | 14 Day Free Trial

You will immediately get access to our online software. Training videos will guide you step by step to learn how to navigate.

Call us if you have questions.

888- 492-5565 x 1

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