High-tech Equipment for Electricians & How to Get it Cheap
When shopping around for the best high-tech electrician equipment on the market, it’s important to keep in mind the long-term value of a product. Though some types of new equipment may be priced into the thousands of dollars, the overall return on investment is often well worth the upfront expenditure.
Because high-tech equipment is more efficient and accurate when compared to cheaper tools, it can actually lead to increases in the bottom line for small to medium-sized electrical businesses. If you’re an electrician looking to invest in the latest technology tools and other gear, read on to discover five of our top pieces of high-tech electrical equipment.
Video inspection cameras
Video inspection cameras allow you to view otherwise inaccessible areas to check for electrical failures or other issues. With a tiny camera connected to a long, thin wire, you can navigate the device under floorboards, through cracks, and into dark crawl spaces without putting yourself in danger.
These cameras can range in price from just under $100 for a basic model and up to $20,000 for a thermal inspection camera. The higher-end cameras offer rapid results, high-resolution imagery and rotating optics. Be sure to check for probe quality, and look for a model that is waterproof, just in case you encounter any challenges along the way.
Have you ever had to remove multiple outlet covers just to see if a wiring problem exists underneath? You can save time and resources by investing in a high-end circuit analyzer. Circuit analyzers are essential when it comes to quickly identify problem outlets and false grounds.
This high-tech tool allows you to look beyond the walls and test for the proper operation of GFCIs and EPDs. They can also be used to measure voltage under 12, 15, and 20 Amp load tests. Simply plug in the circuit analyzer and watch the data populate on the screen. This price of this product ranges in quality and additional perks, but you can pick one up for a few hundred dollars. You can easily make up for the cost by making your process more efficient.
Remote underground cable cutter
Thanks to innovations in robotics, electrical work can be a little bit safer. As its name suggests, a product like the robotic underground cable cutter can be operated via remote to access hard-to-reach spaces or dangerous areas to cut through cables. This piece of high-tech equipment produces the quickest installation-ready cuts, allowing you to cut flawlessly among the tightest panels without resulting in looping.
Depending on the unit’s battery power, remote underground cable cutters can produce over 250 cuts with a single charge. Robotic electrical equipment can get pricey, with the underground cable cutter averaging in the mid-thousands.
Cloud-based business software
Forget the notepad and pen and join the 21st century by utilizing a digital device featuring cloud-based business software to keep track of all of your orders and projects. Mobile apps like ServiceTitan, Jobber, and simPRO Software provide platforms to help you streamline everything from scheduling and dispatching to keeping up with inventory and estimating job costs.
These programs help keep you organized, saving you time and resources in the process. Cloud-based business software can cost anywhere between $20 and $400 per month, depending on the level of support you require.
Though this area of high-tech electrical equipment is still evolving, there are many products in development that can improve the safety and efficiency of 21st century electricians. Building upon concepts like Fitbit and smartwatches, Proxxi has built an electricity-monitoring bracelet that alerts the wearer to dangers in their working environment. It also calculates trends, delivers data-driven reports, and allows for customization.
Other high-tech wearables include smart boots that alert wearers to workplace hazards, track GPS location and temperatures, and recharge with every step you take. These smart devices can help you get the job done faster while being safer throughout the project’s duration.
How to have the best equipment for the least investment
While investing in high-tech electrical equipment and tools may be worth it in the long-term, not every entrepreneur or small business can afford to purchase these products out of pocket. With prices ranging into the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for these high-end resources, it’s important to consider the many financing alternatives available.
Lease or rent used equipment
If you’re not ready to make a permanent commitment to high-end electrical equipment or you simply don’t have the cash on hand for an out-of-pocket purchase, then a better option may be renting. When you rent a piece of equipment, you have the opportunity to test it out before taking the plunge and making a huge purchase.
You’ll also most likely be covered for mechanical support in the event the rental equipment breaks down. Of course, like any other rental agreement, costs can add up over time and end up exceeding what you may have paid outright to make the purchase. Renting used equipment is a good option if you’re short on money or you’re interested in testing out expensive products before making a permanent investment.
Take out a loan
Buying equipment outright can be an expensive venture. If you’d like to eventually own your equipment but can’t afford to pay for it all at once, then a small business loan or equipment loan may be right for you. Equipment loans are intended to help you finance business needs, from small machines to complex equipment.
Bank of America offers equipment financing from $25,000, with fixed rates as low at 3.75% and loan terms of up to five years. To qualify, you must have been in business for a minimum of two years and earn a minimum of $250,000 in annual revenue. Just be sure to pay back your loan as agreed to with your lender, or your credit score could suffer.
Use a business cash back credit card
If you don’t want to go through the loan application process and be tied down to a lengthy contract, consider utilizing a business credit card with cash back rewards. This way, you’ll earn points or cash back just for making the purchase.
Even better, if your credit is good, apply for a business rewards card with a no-interest introductory period, and you typically won’t incur penalty charges for the first year of credit card use. Get your money to work for you by making large, high-tech equipment purchases with a low or 0% APR business credit card.
Where to buy high tech electrician tools
If you’re searching for a rare or hard-to-find piece of high-tech gear, your best bet may be to browse the Internet for online electrical equipment retailers. You won’t have to settle for what’s available in your area, and many online retailers offer financing plans or discounts. Keep in mind that you’ll also incur any shipping and handling costs, which could be hefty, depending on the type and size of equipment you order.
Pros: They often have a wider variety of products
Cons: You won’t be able to see the product in-person before making a purchase; shipping costs
Local hardware stores
It always feels great to support your local retailers, and sometimes local hardware stores provide the best in customer service. Though prices may be higher than at big box stores on online retailers, you’ll be able to see the equipment up-close and decide first hand if the investment is right for you.
You can also ask local retailers if they offer trade-in value for any other equipment you may not be using anymore to offset the cost of your new purchase. Furthermore, should a problem arise with your new equipment, returning it to a local shop will be quick and easy.
Pros: A better shopping experience
Cons: More expensive; not as large of a selection
Big box stores
Big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot often carry many of the top industry tools available on the market. Because they operate at such a large scale, prices may be more affordable. Like shopping at a local hardware store, you’ll have the chance to see the equipment first hand before deciding to purchase, and returns will not involve shipping. Large retailers also tend to offer more discounts and shopping sales events, particularly around the holidays.
Pros: Good variety with the best prices and sales
Cons: Less intimate shopping experience; purchase doesn’t go back into the local community
No matter where you choose to shop for your next high-tech electrical equipment purchase, remember that even large upfront costs will pay off in the long run, thanks to these high-end tools delivering higher levels of accuracy and efficiency.