Electrical systems: Designing electrical rooms

Switchboards, switchgear, transformers, generators, and UPSs require space for installation, maintenance, heat dissipation, and possible future expansion.


Flash is required!

Electrical rooms provide safe and secure spaces for the operation and maintenance of electrical equipment. While electrical equipment types and ratings can have significant impacts on electrical room requirements, distributing the electrical power to the rest of the building via wiring, busways, and raceways can also affect electrical room design.

Switchboards, switchgear, transformers, generators, and UPSs require space for installation, maintenance, heat dissipation, and possible future expansion. And the wiring, busways, and raceways that distribute the electrical power must be accounted for—now, and in the future. Documentation and monitoring of electrical system's equipment and how it connects to the rest of the facility must be accurately maintained.

The design of electrical rooms requires an integrated approach among disciplines. Architects and structural, mechanical, and fire protection engineers should work as a team in designing these rooms. NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) is the main source for electrical room requirements, but other codes, good practices, and recommendations should be considered. The result will be a room that is safe and secure, and provides for the functional operation and maintenance of the specific electrical equipment located within.

Learning objectives:

  • The audience will understand the applicable code requirements including NFPA 70: National Electrical Code
  • Attendees will learn the design criteria for appropriate electrical room size to accommodate present and future needs
  • Viewers will understand the requirements for coordinating with structural, architectural, fire protection, and HVAC requirements
  • Viewers will understand the requirements for foreign systems such as ductwork and piping


Brian Rener, PE, LEED AP, Associate, SmithgroupJJR, Chicago

Brian Martin, PE, Portland Electrical Department Manager, CH2M Hill, Portland, Ore.

Moderator: Jack Smith, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Pure Power, and CFE Media, LLC

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