A shortage of transformers and other electrical components like switchgear/switchboards and circuit breakers are increasing across the country, risking project delays. So, what’s happening with electrical equipment, and what can you do to avoid delays? Read on.
Currently, this problem is critical in states like Arkansas and Florida due to the damage produced by Hurricane Ian.
~National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
Here are the items that are currently causing delays:
- Electrical Transformers
- Electrical Switchgear, Switchboards, Circuit Breakers
- Electrical Panels
Switchgear Absurdly Long Lead Times and Drastic Price Increases
The time for delivering electrical switchgear has doubled from 20 to 40 weeks, and delays are growing for switchboards, circuit breakers, and other essential material inputs for housing and other infrastructure.
Lead times remain protracted for two commodity categories: HVAC and electrical switchgear. HVAC manufacturers need help to fill 12- to 18-month backlogs and 52-80 weeks for HVAC and electrical switchgear.1
There are projects currently under construction that ordered their electrical gear in June 2022 and will wait one year to receive their order.
~Ana Germoso, Executive Director at BASE4
A Transformer Shortage Threatens the Grid
Most transformers in operation in the United States are near or past their designed lifetimes. Challenges like extreme storms can hit infrastructure hard, further depleting transformer reserves. In addition, the disrupted supply lines for components are sometimes doubling delivery times.
Imports of transformers rated 16kVA-50kVA have shown a similar downward trend, declining 160,000 units—or 35%—between 2021 and 2022. The two-year total fell nearly one-third between 2018/2019 and 2021/2022.
~Associated Builders and Contractors. Inc.
Currently, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and other organizations are asking the White House to convene a summit with affected stakeholders to discuss solutions to these problems.
According to an analysis by Global Market Insights cited in the Department of Energy (DOE) report:
- North American utilities bought 1,300 transformers in 2020.
- The estimated demand in 2027 will be more than double that amount.
What You Can Do
Here are things you can do to ensure you don’t experience these delays:
- Work with an experienced electrical engineering firm that understands these challenges and is properly sizing these components EARLY IN DESIGN so that proper equipment purchases can be made early.
- Talk to your architect about MEP Coordination. They should be pushing their engineers and ensuring proper coordination. This includes knowing the proper loads of all mechanical equipment so electrical systems can be sized. Work with a firm like Base4 that has all engineering in-house!
- Talk to your GC about electrical equipment early on in the project. Ensure they have an open dialogue with their electrical subcontractor early in the project to get equipment orders placed.
BASE4 is here to help! The BASE4 team has worked around the globe, providing a wide range of expertise in quality standards, specifications, and international best practices for design.
Understanding and choosing the best system for a project can be challenging–that is why BASE4 is here to help. We understand the market and are committed to helping developers and GCs navigate these challenging times. We help developers, general contractors, and factories find better and cheaper ways to build through innovative technology, forward-thinking design, and offsite manufacturing.
We perform all services in-house, including architecture, structural engineering, MEP engineering, interior design, 3D BIM visualization, and construction administration. In addition, the BASE4 team has worked around the globe, providing a wide range of expertise in quality standards, specifications, and international best practices for design.