Mobile apps are an essential tool for the modern electrician. Not only do they take dangerous guesswork out of the equation, but they can help streamline your processes, so you can make more appointments in a given day.
We created this guide to help you better understand the market for electrical mobile apps and make a more informed decision. Here’s what we’ll go over:
Mobile app developers have seized the opportunity to target niche professions with specialized apps that can help them do their jobs. Electricians are no exception: the app stores are flooded with apps aimed at electricians, which can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Most mobile apps designed for electricians, electrical contractors and electrical engineers are focused on execution and utility, meaning that they are designed to help you make calculations in addition to providing you with critical reference information. More advanced apps will often offer features that are designed with professional electricians and engineers in mind, while some of the simpler apps are well-suited to be used by students and apprentices.
These apps are typically stand-alone apps that can be purchased for iPhones, iPads or Android devices, though some of these apps may come as part of a bundle with traditional construction or electrical contracting software that you use on your computer.
Below are some common features you’ll find in many electrical apps, whether for iPhone, iPad or Android. Note that there are few apps that can “do it all”—you’ll likely need to find a couple that fit your needs.
|Conversion tools||Perform standard mathematical conversions you need to make while on the job. These conversion tools typically cover everything from simple temperature conversions to more complicated electrical power conversions.|
|Calculators||Specially designed with electricians in mind, these calculate things such as voltage drops or electrical current.|
|Reference guides||“Cheat sheets” for electricians. Some apps include handy reference guides for when you’re not sure about a particular formula or need to brush up on, for example, Ohm’s Law.|
|Document control||Import documents for viewing in the app, such as PDFs of technical documents, invoices or diagrams.|
|Estimating||Quickly calculate job estimates that account for labor, time and materials involved.|
|Diagrams||Draw up electrical diagrams or examine how existing diagrams work. Some apps will allow you to import diagrams and export them to a variety of different file types for use with other software platforms.|
Mobile Electrician’s voltage drop calculator (Source: play.google.com)
There are several ways in which electrical mobile apps are priced:
There are three types of buyers who would want to use electrician mobile apps:
Professional electricians and engineers. Obviously, professionals will generally need more advanced features, and are willing and able to pay a bit more for better software. They’ll also want to look at other business management apps that can help them with things such as accounting, customer relationship management and project management.
General contractors. General contractors who do some electrical work or otherwise work closely with subcontracted electricians might use electrical estimating apps or other simple tools just so they can check their math against their subcontractors and make sure that electrical estimates coming through their pipeline will be accurate.
Students and apprentices. Those training to become electricians or electrical engineers will generally be less concerned about the business components of some electrician mobile apps, and will really only need an app that features calculators and conversion tools.
Here are some other things you should also keep in mind:
Avoid abandonware. One problem we see frequently in the mobile app arena is “abandonware,” which refers to software that is no longer supported or updated by the developer. Some mobile apps will remain up for sale in the mobile app stores despite not being updated in a long time. Be sure to check the product version notes to see how frequently the developer is updating their software—you certainly don’t want to pay a pretty penny for a mobile app that could have unfixable bugs.
Consider offline use. Also consider whether the app can be used offline. Most can be, but some might not be able to access certain features without a cellular or wireless connection.
Read reviews. Be sure to check reviews as well, but be diligent: some developers have sly ways of spamming the app stores with fake reviews. Try to find independent, third-party reviews to help inform your decision. At the same time, don’t let a lack of reviews dissuade you from trying out an app (especially if it’s free or low-price). New apps or apps from smaller developers can take time to gain traction, so be sure to keep an open mind while you find the app that is a best fit for your needs.
That said, there might not be one app that covers all of your needs. You might find you like certain features in several different apps—there’s nothing wrong with relying on multiple apps if they help you do your job.
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