For contractors, training BAS installers
has been a challenge for years. Aside
from a few factory-training seminars,
there aren’t many options except to train
Installation personnel must have
a good understanding of the National
Electrical Code and a strong knowledge
of HVAC equipment and applications,
Meng said. But how do you communicate
such information to an employee? Some
contractors and installation companies
send one or two employees for training.
Those employees can then return and get
others up to speed.
“We send our people to an electrical apprenticeship program,” he
said. “At the same time, our experienced technicians provide on-the-job
training as it relates to HVAC equipment and controls.”
“A great idea is to have one of your more technical people attend
the factory training and then create an in-house version more specific
to how you use and install the product,” Eagle said.
Of course, it’s always up to what the employee wants to do. Electri-
cal apprentices tend to fall into one of two categories.
“Some may be happy to continue as an electrician specialized in
ATC [automatic timing and controls] installation, while others continue
to develop their knowledge of HVAC controls applications and become
technicians,” Meng said.
The latter would be given a laptop and sent to various factory pro-
gramming seminars for certification.
“Our managers try to determine who
has the aptitude to progress and thus pro-
vide that extra effort with OJT [on-the-job
training],” Meng said. “In the end, it may
take six to 10 years to develop a fully
trained and experienced technician.”
In some cases, recruiting experienced
technicians can reduce a contractor’s
“However, I can tell you that this can
However, at the present time, there is no known training program
be expensive and not always successful,”
Meng said. “Not only do you not get the
benefit of the lower cost of an up-and-
coming technician, these new recruits
aren’t always up to speed on our systems
and have to go through a learning curve at a high rate of pay.”
In the end, it’s usually up to the contractor to develop in-house
training programs, along with taking advantage of training provided
by vendors. There are still the traditional routes through the Electrical
Training ALLIANCE, which offers advanced low-voltage programs. The
Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association and the National
Low Voltage Contractors Association similarly offer programs to gain
building automation system installation skills.
that combines building automation and electrical systems.
“If only there were a program dedicated to our trade, perhaps years
could be shaved from the training process and/or provide continuing
education,” Meng said.
S WEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our managers try to determine
who has the aptitude to
progress and thus provide that
extra effort with on-the-job
training. It may take six to 10
years to develop a fully trained
and experienced technician.
—Paul R. Meng
Smart Building Technologies