Overhead vs. Underground Wiring Systems

 

“Which is better? You Decide…”

 

Over the past few decades, there has been continuous growth and development of innovations in the electrical engineering industry. These innovations help provide multiple options regarding the different aspects of electrical energy distribution and consumption. Now, one of the biggest dilemmas for energy providers is the choice for the type of distribution system to use. It has been a debate on whether to opt for an Overhead Distribution or Underground Distribution System. As one of your favorite Engineering Firms, when it comes to MEP engineering service and solutions here in Houston, TX, other places within the state, and even in Alabama, allow me to provide you with some information about both types of distribution system.
Basically, the major difference between these two is their placement. Overhead electrical lines are mounted on posts, whether wooden, steel, or concrete ones, and are often plotted on the service area together with distribution transformers. On the other hand, the Underground system lines are enclosed in conduits and are often buried under the surface of the landscape.Now, there are many factors that may affect the choice of system to use in a certain area.

  • One major factor taken into consideration is the overall cost. Overhead systems have a significantly lesser initial cost than that of the underground systems. This means that the estimated cost in setting up these systems are way lesser as compared to underground systems. Various studies would show results stating that the cost of building underground systems is 3 - 10 times more expensive as compared to new overhead systems.
  • On the other hand, Underground Systems offers a safer and more aesthetically appealing environment for people. Essentially because it is located beneath walkways and streets, there is little to no chance of hazard. Also, the system does not obstruct any scenery that is present in the place which more people would prefer for their Instagram posts.
  • Other factors in consideration is the maintenance, fault location, and repairs of these systems. While it is true that these things are easier done with an overhead system, the repairs of such systems are more frequent because of their susceptibility to damage caused by external factors such as lightning, wind, storms, ice, falling trees, and car accidents. Underground systems are more resistant to these damages; however, once a specific part of the system was broken or damaged, it is more difficult for the maintenance personnel to locate and repair the fault. This, in turn, causes longer outage durations.
  • Finally, the consumer density and geographical characteristics of the area are also major factors influencing the choice for the distribution system. In urban areas where the landscape is usually flat and the density of consumers is high and centralized, underground systems are much more preferred. This is especially triggered by the fact that the above-ground space in cities is either expensive or not even available. On the contrary, overhead lines are much preferred in rural areas. The reason being loops us back to the first factor in our list: COST. Imagine setting up an underground system - which is expensive in terms of setup and installation costs in an area where the distance between the very few consumers are wide. This will cost a large sum of money and the return of investment is really low.

Clearly, each of these electrical distribution system types has its own advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of one complements the disadvantage of the other, and vice versa.

In conclusion, economic factors such as installation, maintenance, and operation costs are greatly inclined to favoring overhead systems while non-economic factors like aesthetics and public safety greatly influence the choice for underground systems.

As the leading provider of MEP Engineering Services and Solutions here in Houston, TX, Source2Load Engineering and Consulting can provide you guidance in these aspects of the electrical industry. We can also guide you through setting up the electrical system of your very own home. Please keep an eye out for more interestingly informative blogs connected to Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineering in the future. You can also browse through the other blogs that we have published for all of our readers.

Residential Application of Cross-Linked Polyethylene (PEX) Water System

As a leading MEP engineering and consulting company, it has been our mission to provide the most efficient mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to real estate developers and homeowners throughout Texas and Alabama. This is why we continue to improve our knowledge with the best options for every situation. Here, we highlight PEX water system and what it has to offer to residential properties.

What is PEX Water System?

Cross-linked polyethylene or PEX is a polymer water supply system that holds many advantages over other plumbing and piping systems. PEX’s flexibility and durability allow it to have a wide variety of applications. For over 30 years, it has been primarily used for radiant floor heating and water distribution system. More recently, it has made its way into residential facilities in the form of potable water distribution, and fire suppression systems. It is accepted by all major plumbing and mechanical codes in Texas, Alabama, and the rest of the United States.

Residential Application

PEX piping has superior durability and safety compared to metal and PVC pipes. If set side by side with metal piping, it is more affordable and has better resistance to corrosion. It also offers better resistance to freeze damage and has the easiest installation among all three. It can easily be installed for new home constructions, as well as retrofit or remodeling projects. Residential applications include:

  • Hot and Cold Water Supply System;
  • Hot and Cold Potable Water Distribution System;
  • Residential Fire Suppression (Sprinkler) System;
  • Hydronic Heating and Cooling System;
  • Heat Transfer (Snow or Ice Melting) System; and
  • Water Recycling System

Advantages of PEX Water System

1. DURABILITY AND RELIABILITY

The manufacturing and distribution of PEX are strictly regulated to ensure absolute quality. PEX is composed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) molecules, which through the process of crosslinking, have become permanently fused with each other. This makes it extra durable surpassing traditional metal piping in almost every way. It also holds better resistance to corrosion and its smooth interior walls eliminate the possibility of mineral buildup, making it resistant to occlusion—the reduction in the interior space of a tube common to metal pipes.

Heat and Freeze Resistance

The production of PEX is strictly mandated to reach a quality that could endure aggressive drinking water conditions reaching 200ºF. It is also manufactured to withstand the pressure when the water inside freezes up and thaws away, a situation that can easily make other piping systems crack or burst.

2. COST-EFFICIENCY

PEX water system’s design and superior characteristics allow it to have better conservation of water, energy and even installation labor compared to other piping systems.

  • Water
  • A well planned PEX water system can significantly reduce the wait time for water to reach fixtures such as showerheads or faucets. This helps in conserving both water and energy, especially when delivering hot water.
  • Energy
  • Metal, generally being a good conductor, is prone to heat transmission when hot water passes through its inner walls. PEX, on the other hand, minimizes heat transfer due to its better thermal characteristics which minimizes energy usage.
  • Installation
  • PEX holds the quickest and easiest installation amongst other piping systems used for plumbing or water supply. By using mechanical connections, the need for solder, flame, or other bonding chemicals are eliminated. It also has fewer connections and fittings which minimizes the possibility of having leaks.

3. ECO-FRIENDLY

PEX piping does not contain harmful chemicals such as VOCs or lead. The production and transportation of PEX also consume less energy compared to the creation and transportation of heavy metallic pipes of the same length.

These are just a few benefits that PEX piping has to offer. Many are still hesitant in using this system because of the unfamiliarity with its design and installation process. But, there are also some MEP Engineering Firms that are well-versed with PEX water system just like Source2load Engineering and Consulting who has a big presence in Houston, TX and other areas all over Texas and Alabama. With extensive technical proficiency and years of experience in the industry, you are guaranteed timely and cost-effective completion on all your MEP engineering needs including PEX water system for residential application.

VAV SYSTEMS: THE LEADING OPTION FOR COST AND ENERGY EFFICIENT AIR CONDITIONING

(A diagram of a VAV system)

As part of the comprehensive MEP engineering service that we provide in Houston, TX and other areas within Texas and Alabama we also offer the planning and installation of a Variable Air Volume (VAV) system into your property.

Because of the continuous growth of the already big economy in Texas and Alabama, the building of establishments with multiple room structure has become very common in these areas. One of the main factors to look into when planning the construction of commercial establishments is the type of air conditioning to employ. Multiple storey buildings would often spend much because of the energy consumed by the typically used air conditioning systems. This is the reason why we would want to introduce a more energy-efficient air conditioning – VAV SYSTEMS!

What is a Variable Air Volume (VAV) system?

This is a type of air conditioning system that is specifically developed in order to supply the desired air cooling and heating for the different zones within the building while, at the same time, utilizing 30% less energy than the usual dual duct systems.

The main duct for this type of air conditioning system is only able to produce cool air called ‘primary air’. The amount of primary air entering a certain zone is then controlled with the use of thermostats to adjust the modulating dampers.

(VAV box)

This is what makes this VAV systems way cheaper than other types of air conditioning. Since the primary ducts only concentrate on generating cold air, the energy required to do it is lesser than producing both cold and hot air.

Here are some of the other benefits of acquiring a VAV system:

  • Cost and energy efficient
  • As we have kept on mentioning in the first sections, VAV systems will help the business or homeowner save more money because it utilizes less energy supply – thus, lowering electric bill expenses.
  • Temperature Control is Easier
  • Since each zone in the building would have its own thermostat, it would be easier for the occupants or the people in the zones to control the temperature within the area. With VAV systems, the varying heating and cooling needs of different zones within a single building will be met with ease.
  • Humidity Control
  • The level of humidity in a specific zone in a building will have an influence on the level of comfort that people inside these areas are experiencing. With the ability of VAV systems to supply constant-temperature, low-humidification air will help control the level of humidity in the specific zone.
  • Flexible Characteristic
  • VAV systems are able to provide conditioned air to multiple areas in the building, accommodate additional areas which needs heating or cooling, and, most of all, adapt to the demands of each zone – regardless of the area size.

Here at Source2Load Engineering and Consulting (S2L), we provide a wide array of MEP engineering services for Houston, Texas, other places within the state, and even in Alabama. One of these is our VAV system planning service. With our help, you can rest assured that the ventilation and air conditioning system for your property will be planned with utmost delicacy and expertise.

State of Solar PV in Houston

The Houston area has experienced a 19% increase in rooftop PVs increasing to over 9.5 megawatts of solar power capacity. Los Angeles is leading the way with over 349 megawatts while San Antonio is close behind with over 161 megawatts of solar power capacity. These are exciting times for our environment, community, and the technological advancements of PV systems.

Here are some key planning activities we can help with:

Investigate your home’s energy efficiency
Assess your solar potential and any limitations
Assess your options for going solar
Estimate your solar electricity needs
Obtain bids and site assessments from contractors
Understand available financing and incentives
Work with your installer and utility to install the system and set up agreements

It is important to have a professional analysis of your home and geography to make sure a system will feasible. Here are some of the Pros and Cons of PV Solar Power:

Pros of Solar Energy
Save money while earning back your investment
Offers you more control over rising energy costs
Helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions
Improves your home value

Cons of Solar Energy
Can be intermittent and may be inefficient during cloudy and rainy days
If your electricity costs are low, so are your solar savings
Investment may take some time to reach break-even point
Existing roof considerations can be delimiting; may not work well in some places vs others