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When Estimating Electrical – Use a Process (It Saves You Time and Gives You Consistency)

When estimating electrical – Do things in a certain order to get consistent results and save time.

Doing things in a certain order means having a defined process.

In this blog, I discuss the process to use when estimating electrical. 

Getting started.

  1. Read the bid invitation, determine if you are going to bid the job or not. Verify the correct bid date.

  2. Obtain a full set of electronic plans and specifications if possible BUT only have “E” Electrical Plans printed. This will save you money.

(Suggestion – set up an account with a reprographics printing company so you can get plans printed cheap. DO NOT get plans printed at a copy store as they are stupidly expensive.

Make notes on type of construction, square footage, heights of buildings, also floor to floor dimensions, and ceilings ECT.

A bid form contains information relevant to a job, including the date and time the bid is due, the scope of work, and the name and contact information of the person the bid is to be sent to. 

   Initially, check the bid form to determine the base bid scope of work and any alternate bids or price breakouts required. 

    In addition, read specifications and make notes. Look at all specifications to determine any additional work required by electrical in mechanical, plumbing, or communications.

Many times you are required to perform work that is not listed or shown on the “Electrical” sheets, and you would not know this without looking at the other plans and specifications.


Always do take-off in the same order. This will create a consistent routine and will maximize efficiency.

When estimating electrical, take-off the items that you need to get quoted first.

Suggestion: Take-off items in the order shown below 

  1. Lighting control panels, occupancy sensors, dimmers, and other lighting control.

  2. Switchgear, panels, transformers, motor control centers

  3. Generators, transfer switches, fuel tanks, UPS systems, PDU systems, etc.

  4. Light and power outlets, HVAC and plumbing connections, misc. connections.

  5. Site utility conduits, pull boxes, manholes, trenching.

  6. Building feeders.

  7. Branch circuit for lighting, power, and site lighting

  8. Fire alarm, and security systems

  9. Anything else not listed above.

      You will need price quotes for items like light fixturesswitchboards, and panels.  Email your suppliers a list of items to quote.  This will allow your suppliers to prepare their quote, while you are working on the estimate. As opposed to waiting till the last minute to request a quote from them.      Finally, make sure the supplier gets all the information pertinent to their scope of work. This will prevent misunderstandings about what they are to include or exclude from their quote.

Conclusion: Taking off items in the order shown above, is a process that will save you a lot of time.


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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