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Commercial vs domestic electricians

Electricians are known for installing and maintaining a wide range of different electrical systems. So, you might be wondering why there are both commercial and domestic sectors – surely, they are largely the same? While these two trades share a lot of similarities, there are also some distinctions to be aware of. Different buildings demand…

Electricians are known for installing and maintaining a wide range of different electrical systems. So, you might be wondering why there are both commercial and domestic sectors – surely, they are largely the same? While these two trades share a lot of similarities, there are also some distinctions to be aware of.

Different buildings demand different skills, so it’s important to understand where commercial and domestic electricians work best. You might be an experienced tradesperson looking to start your own business, new to the industry and looking for some tips, or even expanding your existing company to attract more customers. Either way, this article covers everything you need to know.

In a hurry and want some quick answers to the most common questions? Scroll down to the FAQs section below.


What is a domestic electrician?

Domestic electricians carry out electrical work mostly inside residential flats and houses. This can involve running cables, installing lighting, replacing fuse boxes and repairing electrical parts around the home.

Some rooms will have different requirements. For example, bathroom electrics won’t be set up in the same way as a kitchen – this means domestic electricians have the freedom to specialise in different areas of a home. Along with technical know-how, residential electricians will also be knowledgeable when it comes to complying with building regulations for domestic electrical systems.

With the rising popularity of electric cars in the UK, domestic electricians can now even install residential vehicle charging points as part of their service. For more information on this line of work, read our article here.


Domestic electricians aren’t necessarily fully qualified. Those who aren’t in possession of the required qualifications are known as domestic electrical installers – these trades can carry out work on homes if they’re a member of the Competent Persons Scheme. This includes a register of individuals that have demonstrated the skills and experience necessary to offer basic installation work.

Fully qualified domestic electricians will have undergone more thorough training and hold a Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation. It’s the most demanding career path in the sector and usually follows an apprenticeship or some form of long-term shadowed work.

Those who have completed the classroom and workshop levels will then need to be assessed at their place of work before taking the AM2 exam at a local test centre. You can read more about that here.


What are commercial electricians?

Commercial electricians are professionals that complete electrical work for other businesses. This includes offices, schools, restaurants, shops and data centres. They may even extend their work to industrial environments such as factories, though this may require some engineering expertise. As with domestic jobs, commercial electricians have certain standards and regulations they must follow to make sure installations are safe and compliant.

Electrical work within commercial properties can include dealing with server rooms, backup generators, power supplies and industrial control panels. Other work may involve carrying out inspection reports, installing lighting and testing electrical appliances.


Commercial electricians have to be fully qualified. This means they will need to hold a Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation and another technical qualification. This can be either Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Electrotechnical Services or a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems & Equipment.

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What is the difference between commercial and domestic electricians?

Domestic and commercial properties have different regulations, so electricians won’t necessarily have the same knowledge of building legislation and safety standards if they specialise in separate fields. For example, commercial electricians will have to follow The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.


There’s also a big difference between domestic and commercial electrical installation. Commercial electricians sometimes have to deal with high voltage power supplies, unlike residential electricians who are mainly dealing with 230 volts. Due to the high voltage in commercial settings, the wiring setup for electrical work is also different to what’s found in the home. Households require one power phase, while commercial buildings are supplied with a three-phase wiring design.


The types of work that commercial and residential electricians carry out might sometimes overlap but there are key differences. While they may both install lighting, complete wiring and carry out electrical repairs, commercial electricians have to work on various systems and appliances you wouldn’t find in a home. Plus, these units and systems will need to be professionally tested, which isn’t always a requirement for residences.


Domestic electricians are likely to be hired for smaller jobs by individual homeowners, while commercial electricians could be contracted by companies for larger projects within their offices or shops. Whichever the case, these are both valuable sources of work for electricians and can make starting your own business a potentially lucrative opportunity. For more information on becoming a self-employed electrician, read our guide here.



What pays more commercial or residential electrician?

If you look at commercial vs domestic electrician salary, it seems that residential electrician work usually pays slightly more. On average, a commercial electrician earns £37,000 a year, while a domestic electrician earns about £37,500 per year. Of course, these are just averages and the amount you could make as a successful self-employed trade could be much higher.


What can domestic electricians do?

This will depend on whether they are trained as a domestic electrical installer or a fully qualified domestic electrician. Installers can carry out:

  • Wiring in plumbing, heating and other appliances
  • Testing the safety of existing electrical installations
  • Testing the safety of new electrical installations
  • Testing the safety of portable appliances

Domestic electricians on the other hand can complete more major work, such as installing a home’s electrical system or repairing complex appliances.


Can a commercial electrician do domestic work?

Commercial electricians have the same diploma in electrical installation as domestic electricians, as well as further training on top of this. Seeing as they have more qualifications, they should be fully able to carry out domestic work if needed.


What is the difference between residential and commercial wiring?

Commercial buildings usually have more wires than residential properties and these come with added protection. Domestic wires only require plastic sheathing, while commercial applications are contained in conduits or ceiling rafters. The wiring setups also differ as commercial properties tend to need more electrical power than homes.


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