5 Emerging Technological Advancements in Electrical Work

Imagine if Thomas Edison and Nicola Tesla were here with us today. What would they think? They would wonder why the War of the Currents (AC and DC) is not over. They may take pride in recognizing that their innovations and inventions are still impacting the 21st century. Edison power stations are still lighting up our homes, and we have yet to realize Tesla’s dream of wireless electrical transmission. But we are getting there. Let’s look at some of the emerging technologies affecting electrical building tools and the direction electrical construction is taking today.

1. Growth of the Smart Grid

It is not easy to understand what exactly a smart grid is. It may seem more transparent when we observe the terms, “Smart Grid”, “Internet of Things (IoT)” and “energy resources” frequently appear in the same sentence. The power grid sends electricity from energy sources along predefined routes in a one-way direction.

On the other hand, a smart grid is a two-directional network that uses sensors to refine the grid’s electricity. As a subset of the IoT and its cloud-based data, a smart grid can save time and power, use greener energy resources and stimulate innovative technological development.

2. Electrical prefabrication

Employees in electrical construction can start saying goodbye to installations “from scratch”. Instead, contractors can now work with seamless modular fittings, using prefabricated electrical enclosures, conduits and device assemblies. The scope is limitless. Electrical contractors may prepare in-house prefabricated kits to specifications or purchase custom-designed or default factory products from a third party. Labour costs are reduced, and time-to-completion speeds up.


Prefab modules increase protection by avoiding the risk of exposure to hot wiring. Unnecessary material handling is reduced. Incorporating electrical prefabrication does demand meticulous planning. However, this is undoubtedly a requirement of any construction work!

3. Smart LED lighting

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures, particularly luminaires, consisting of the enclosure, lamp, wiring, and any other components, are well recognized for their energy-saving and long-lasting illumination abilities. But these characteristics don’t necessarily make LEDs “smart”. LEDs can efficiently light up an office using sensors to determine the brightness of existing ambient light and sunlight, and the number of people in the room.


However, intelligent algorithms introduced into software and refined in a database can now interpret workers’ personal preferences and adjust glare and other visual stimulants accordingly. Smart luminaire lighting reacts to decisions and can function automatically, according to personal choices or in a hybrid mode. In the not-so-distant past, electrical light crews focussed on physical installations. Now their tasks include network installations and software deployment.

4. Smart wearable devices for safety

We’ve seen how prefabricated modules offer protection to electrical technicians. Now let’s take a look at some smart wearables and their contribution to workplace safety:

  • Smartwatch: Today, Smartwatches significantly contribute to monitoring the health and safety of electrical construction personnel. These smart devices can measure pulse, detect a fall and even sense the mood of a worker.
  • Smart boots: SolePower Smart boots are multi-functional wearables that use the IoT to provide real-time warnings to employees and their supervisors of environmental hazards and worker fatigue. The boots can also monitor equipment displacement or theft, and send security data if workers become isolated or immobile.
  • Intelligent armband: The Proxxi armband is typically worn on the wrist and sends alerts about nearby voltage zones or zone breaches. By collecting data on-site, the device then retransmits contact warnings to anyone on the team who approaches dangerous zones.
  • Smart hat: Hard hats were initially designed to prevent brain injury in all construction fields. However, the helmet designs did not allow for forces of rotation on impact at certain angles. A company in Sweden has designed a layering solution that reduces this force. In addition, due to the continuing development of microelectronics, some companies are installing electronic aids such as emergency call buttons on their smart helmets.

5. Prototyping with BIM software and building with robots

Building Information Modelling (BIM) software goes hand-in-hand with robots in electrical trades. Why robots? Robots can climb poles and automate repairs. Robots can install electrical equipment that requires heavy machinery in elevated locations. Why BIM?

BIM Robot


The BIM software streamlines the design process with iterative input using feedback from electrical engineers and 3D printing of prototype parts. BIM also assists with the planning process required for prefabrication in electrical construction work. Together, BIM and robots protect electrical workers from the physical dangers of complex installations.

Future career expectations for electrical contractors

The writing is on the wall. Smart, green cities of the future demand expert knowledge in the data-driven IoT. Anyone working in power utilities, electrical trades and construction will need to broaden his or her horizons. Electrical work is becoming smarter while more and more innovations and technological developments emerge. Security, safety and health measures are all supported by new technologies.

The electrician installing Smart Parking Meters must accrue database management and IoT networking skills. He should also not skip the classes on renewable energy and solar power. If he is also well-versed in redundancy administration and backup management, he is well on the way to diversifying his skillset. The 21st century has led the way in innovative discoveries on an unprecedented scale. Edison and Tesla would have been proud.

About the Author

Ray Brosnan is the co-owner of Brosnan Property Solutions, a property maintenance company who help homes and businesses with their property needs.