Are Electricians A Problem For Security Integrators?

In our sales survey, one integrator noted:

"If electricians weren't always trying to keep the end user on simple analog systems so that they can keep the video work in-house, we'd get more opportunities to build proper systems during construction projects."

What do you think? Are electricians a barrier for integrators?


It comes down to knowledge and experience in physical security with regards to issues and trends. Does the electrician know that... heck, half of the installers out there don't. Installing a camera to them is very much like putting up a porch light.

As in many situations in life, it depends. There is the "simple" trunk-slamming-old-school electrician, and then there are millenials-social-networks-connected ELECTRICIANS with engineering studies/degrees, some IT-Computers skills, able to prepare nice VISIO diagrams with cameras positioning, and maps even with network topologies, and in some cases doing the software port-forwarding part in the router for "putting the cameras on the Internet" for their customers to view via their smartphones, etc.

With all due respect, in my own experience, I see the "simple" electricians as experienced & skilled workers in a professional trade that happened to be at the construction site at the moment and the right time, but can only merely fulfill the need of the customer to put the cameras up physically as soon as possible for him (the customer) to have some BASIC video-surveillance.

Don't ask the electrician when the morning sunlight washes out all the video footage and how can WDR prevent this. Don't ask him about pixel-per-foot and it's impact on face recognition. And sure don´t even ask him about the difference between a private and a public IP address for remote viewing.

This same customer, I am 200% sure, will call someone with more SPECIALIZED skills to have him recommend a better resolution camera after the fact that the "basic" cameras installed COULD NOT capture adequately the thief's face on close-up, or the car license plate, etc. due to poor resolution (even after he had tried uselessly using the digital zooming-in of the captured footage). Or call later someone that can "put the cameras on the Internet" because the electrician could NOT.

It is understandable that an integrator would see the "basic" electrician as his competitor, if time and again he loses the job to someone else whom he considers "lesser-informed".

I as a integrator would put more thought into marketing myself adequately, promote my own skills, DIFFERENTIATE MYSELF and even doing some FREE LIVE DEMOS for my potential customers to see themselves the difference (resolution of their basic installed cameras -vs- the LATEST Full-HD Megapixel ones I am offering).

Do you mean the electricians who mount the camera behind the exit sign because thats where the engineer drew it there on the plans? :). I have yet to see a surveillance system designed by the architects and installed by electricians that was done properly. Will electricians get a new construction job over an integrator? Most likely because in the minds of the contractor the cameras are a miniscule part of the job. If the cameras are hung the job is done. All is well untill the engineers get involved. I dont think security is part of their course study.

A smart electrician will find someone to partner with for parts and smarts and stick with wires.

A smart electrician will... stick with wires

Have you run into many like mentioned above by B?

...millenials-social-networks-connected ELECTRICIANS with engineering studies/degrees, some IT-Computers skills, able to prepare nice VISIO diagrams with cameras positioning, and maps even with network topologies, and in some cases doing the software port-forwarding

They seem like like a new breed of educated tradesman, who are more familiar with camera and network design issues than the "trunkslammers" of yesteryear. Maybe more like "doorslammers"?

For me;

The ARCHITECT is only worried about "WOW-ing" his client with spectacular Autocad 3D renderings and satisfy his own ego by adding another aesthetically-pleasing-design to his portfolio and receive praise when receiving the "architects' Oscars" from his/her architect peers. The STRUCTURAL ENGINEER has to worry about how to construct the "latest crazy shit" the architect came up with. The ELECTRICIAN, as long as all the LED lights are turning on OK, every outlet is supplying electricity to the office equipments and the central AC is cooling enough, wants to rapidly collect his payment and move on with his crew to the next project. If he can also earn a little extra by putting up the cameras as well, he's not gonna refuse to do it. Just don't ask him to train the users or configure the software/Internet part. The in-house IT GUY is running around all day putting out his own fires, closing IT support tickets, assist the secretary that cannot do a Skype call and her computer has just frozen, blocking people to porn access, and his worst nightmare: that the main server has crashed and nobody can get on to the Internet and nobody gets e-mails since early morning; it's noon and he hasn't pinpointed the exact issue even though he has restarted the Cisco switch, router, etc.

The SECURITY INTEGRATOR-CONSULTANT has to stay behind til the very end and long after the sales has been closed: has to recommend changes to the OWNER because the ARCHITECT did a great design which is a GREATER security nightmare ("very pretty" but very low height perimeter fences that are very easily jumped over by thiefs at night, anyone ??), has to constantly call the ENGINEER because the guy did not told the sub-contracted ELECTRICIAN to lay enough conduits up until the last mile where the alarm sensor points will be, conduit where the cameras will be, junction boxes up in the ceilling where the door magnetic locks can enter to the conduits, etc, etcetera... and specially stay behind to teach/educate and make sure even the "dumbest of dumb" END USERS learn how to lock the alarm system every night before leaving, teach the IT GUY how to search for the video recordings after an incident occurs, educate all the users on avoiding holding the doors for others (classic tailgating problem; a basic courtesy but a bad practice) when crossing each access controlled doors, teach them about the fire security protocols and emergency routes for abandoning the building, and a very loooooong list of other extra-etceteras....

The ELECTRICIAN, as long as all the LED lights are turning on OK, every outlet is supplying electricity to the office equipments and the central AC is cooling enough, wants to rapidly collect his payment and move on with his crew to the next project. If he can also earn a little extra by putting up the cameras as well, he's not gonna refuse to do it. Just don't ask him to train the users or configure the software/Internet part.

I wholeheartedly disagree.

This is just oversimplistic drivel, IMO. Electricians have one of the most technically difficult trades. Almost nothing an electrician does comes without risk.

As an integrator, I've met with lots of electricians hoping to turn a quick buck by doing 'security'. But keep in mind the raw scope of what they do. High voltage is a totally different world than 12/24 VDC/VAC.

In many cases, the technical difficulty of a specialized design like security is totally unappreciated by the customer... so they ask the electrician to do it. What's he supposed to say? "No, I don't want your business." I mean come on. We compete against DIYers, too. Who does it better?

Also, there are plenty of 'integrators' that make the same fundamental errors an electrician does. And lets not make believe that banging out jobs and quick payment is something integrators aren't aiming for every day.

I love security integration, but I have healthy respect for the electricians. Sure, we know certain things they don't, but they know more than we do about lots of things.

As the industry is changing you see more and more electricains,IT shops, companys in general who claim they can install cctv systems cheaper and since they have the project, job, or acct in general, they take it on.

Who cares if it is analog and just another cheap dvr or cosco,frys system that anyone can install , just plug and play.

The simpler the system the more people will just take on the work.

When I had a shop with employees, I would interview new applicants who would always inflait their experience levels and background as though they were the greatest technicians ( when in truth they had just installed as a basic installer and never going on the the journeyman level of technicial expertise.

Same with Electricains, if you can install electrical , you can install a basic alarm system or camera system. Any Wire Monkey can install.

Technical Expertise is learned Thru ( Experience, School, Training, Product orientation, Years)

Those are the projects you see with misplaced Views, cameras looking in all the wrong areas. or cameras with large wires hanging from the outside of the building ( not clean, not fisched into the support housing, not clean installs.

(or) really bad unreadable information that the PDs See All the time and say they are useless videos or Pictures. No Pride in Workmanship

Grainy, Smeared, barely viewable.

On large projects, electricians are a different kind of problem. They are fierce competitors.

We see several large electrical contractors with sizable integration businesses that are organized, capable and a real threat. Why? The general contractor gets one vendor to handle security, fire, electrical, paging, etc. and won't consider bids from standalone security integrators. If you read their trade mags, you'll see plenty of articles about the benefits of getting into the security integration business.

E:

Which mags for example, can you name a few ?? curious to know ; )

Electrical Contractor.

D, your article is from 2002, fyi.

I dunno, a lot of the "wisdom" in that article seems like it could still be written today, for someone counseling electricians to expand their scope of services.

One of the easiest ways for contractors to get started in surveillance is to check out the packaged products or system components that make it nearly possible to install CCTV out of the box. Picture this: you crack open the box from the distributor and miraculously, everything you need for the CCTV installation is inside. There’s a camera, mounting bracket, cabling, lens and more.

And of course, this advice never gets old, although it's still rarely heeded outside our own industry:

“You have to decide which type of system is best for the application,” Shatzkin continued. “As with any security application, you have to focus on what you are trying to achieve. For example, are you simply trying to observe an area overall, or do you need to see details? The environment for deployment is critical.”

Funny how these two nuggets are polar opposites - one expounding the virtues of the complete packaged system, the other pointing out the need to custom-fit the equipment to the job. Here 13 years later, we still have to warn against the former and try to get the point across for the latter.

This one is from the same mag. and more recent (2014).

This one is from a different mag., and it's age (2008) demonstrates that this theme is not new to these rags:

Electrical contractors dipping their toes into the video surveillance waters are strongly advised to pursue technical training. A learning curve needs to be traversed, not only in appropriate workmanship, but also in proper system design, in ever-changing privacy laws, and to build an overall knowledge of IP-based data communications. Contractors are also increasingly expected to know how to specify the right camera, recorder and software to meet the needs of any given application. - Electrical Wholesaling.

Contractors are also increasingly expected to know how to specify the right camera, recorder and software to meet the needs of any given application.

...somewhere way down the list after "cheapest".

Many Times we make statements in haste, Not stating all the info and views of what we really think at the moment and minimizing the impact of what we state.

I want to make clear that Electricians are a well Educated, Trained, Highly respected group of people who if not for them, thier would not be other low volt trades.

Being of an Electrical Background i know too well how hard it is to advance in a world where you work 10-16 hours a day 6-7 days a week and still have to put in the education requirements to go up the latter to your journeyman level or master level.

The fact is they too want to just make a better living and this is part of that living.

Been on many jobs where the electrician shops did the whole job, no subs.

or where they would not even be open to taking bids as they would only compare for later.

That Being Said, They dont always have the education level required to make the best decisions for Eng., Design, or proper placement of CCTV Systems. Thats where you rely on professionals like IPVM, Programs Like Calculators, or Consultanting firms to help with these decisions.

As the industry is changing so is the level of educational requirements required to install systems at a cost effective stage.

Professionalism is one thing, But Incompetance is another.

Like so many we all prejudge the other s in an effert to make us look better.

Linked in, facebook,twitter and others have helped with the looky loos to see if we measure up.

Just Practice Professional Standards, Educate on a constant Basis, Make sure what you do is a Passion instead of a job, and the other competitors will not be an obsticle in the way

120% Dedication, Details, Details, Details

In fact you wont even care if they are there, as you will be so busy, due to your work load .

Setting Standards in the industry, Here, There, Everywhere you work

I am and always will be an Integrator, by Choice, Passion, Pride and Background

Wishing all you who have the same passion, Success in a very competitive industry.

Thank You All for your comments in this Group

What we've learned about construction jobs, especially new ones, is most are done by the GC as cheap as possible. The more money spent on a "proper" system is more money out of their own pocket, and the more hands in the cookie jar the more expensive it is. Unless the client has given the GC very specific security requirements to fulfill, you're just going to have to wait until the client is dissatisfied with what the GC installed and get the after "cleanup" job.

Interesting topic and discussion. During one of my CE classes just recently it was shared by the NC Alarm Board representative that electricians, no matter what their license is, may NOT work on a security project without a Special Low Voltage License (generally reserved for security integrators). This was news to us all.

They may not work in any capacity; Primary Contractor, Subcontractor or just furnishing wire pulls. Not even a security contractor can sub to an electrician unless that electrician has an SPLV license.

That is not a requirement of the Electrical Board. It is required by the Alarm Board.

Reason: Access to sensitive information.

I can tell you first hand, there is no mention of sensitive information in our SPLV training. Never has been.