Entries by Rahat Ali

How to make Electrical Estimating Easy

The easiest way to make electrical estimating easy is simple.

“Learn how to estimate”.

Stop guessing and stop trying to make it hard.

You don’t need to make estimating complicated. The goal is to provide a price that is low enough to win the project but inclusive enough that when the project is over you made money.


You have to accept that you can’t control your competition. Strive for the perfect bid for your company, and let the prices fall where they fall. The low bid is often not the best bid. You must be confident in your bidding. You should never start changing the way you bid as soon as you lose a couple of jobs. I have often had estimators call and ask about their bidding techniques after losing a few projects. These are the same estimators that have won millions of dollars of work year after year and are very successful. You must have faith in your skills to estimate. Some people call it guesstimation but in reality, a lot of the estimate isn’t guesswork at all but solid written-in-stone information. Remember losing a job does not necessarily mean that you bid it wrong. Find what works for you and stay with it. Trust the numbers.


When you sit down and dissect an electrical estimate you will see that there are only a few parts.

Lighting, Gear, Devices, Branch Lighting, Branch Power, Motor Feeders or all Home Runs, Panel Feeders, Low Voltage if any, other Quoted Items, and Miscellaneous.


how to make electrical estimating easy

The Takeoff

You will start with your Takeoff. In simple words, this is all of your counts and measurements.

Counting will consist of:



Lighting Controls



Fire Alarm if any



This is something that can be achieved at 100%.

Even a non-electrician can count how many lights and devices there are on a drawing.


As far as the Takeoff goes everyone should see this step the same.

For example, all of your competitors should have the same number of A Type light fixtures and the same number of duplex receptacles as you do.


By counting all items until you get the same results twice you can be confident that ½ the Takeoff can be 100%.


I am skipping Branch Lighting and Branch Power for now and moving to motor feeders and panel feeders. These are performed the same way.

Let’s start with Panel Feeders

For the most part, estimators don’t seem to enjoy this section +++BUT+++ it is easy and should not be dreaded.

Just find the One-Line diagram.

You have already visited this sheet when you were counting your gear.

I start by writing down all of the feeders as they are shown.


This is a simplified One-Line but it works the same no matter how large the project is.


Existing Panel MSB2-400/3 to New Panel H2—4”C W/4-#600 MCM & 1-#3G

New Panel H2 to Transformer T2—1-1/2C W/3# 2 & 1-#8G

Transformer T2 to New Panel L2—2-1/2C W/4#3/0 & 1# 6G

#4 G to building steel.


You can also get Panel Feeders 100% but there is a couple more steps.


You must read the specifications to see the requirements such as Raceway types accepted, fitting types accepted, is ALU wire accepted as an alt etc.

What this means to you is will these runs be installed in EMT with set Screw fittings or GRS. Will you use Plastic Bushings or Grounding Bushings? Etc.

You should also decide how much conductor to include for termination. A general rule is between 15’ and 20’.

If you use the same adjustment you will not have to think about it.


After you have written down the distance of the Panel Feeders above you also need to include how many 90’s and in the case of the two transformers runs include flex.


For example;

Existing Panel MSB2-400/3 to New Panel H2—4”C W/4-#600 MCM & 1-#3G-1-LB-1-90-20’extra cond.

New Panel H2 to Transformer T2—1-1/2C W/3# 2 & 1-#8G 1-90-Flex-25’ extra conductor

Transformer T2 to New Panel L2—2-1/2C W/4#3/0 & 1# 6G 1-90-Flex-25’ extra conductor


This becomes a simple task when you attack it line by line.

Motor Feeders

Now let’s move on to Motor Feeders.

A simple hack to getting this right every time is to start with ALL of your panel schedules.

Without looking at the plans and trying to pick out all of the feeders it is easier to simply look at the panel schedules.


Write down all of the 2-pole and 3-pole items listed in the schedules.You now know that you will be covered because if there is a feeder there must be a breaker for it.

Looking at the schedule above we know we will be looking for














I also like to take note of the voltage, breaker size feeding the item, and the phase.



RTU-3 480-20/3-3R











From the information above I know the feeders that I must find. I also have a list of disconnects to check against. The final plus is just in case the feeders are not sized I have that recorded as well.

From this point all that is needed to do is find the item and record the distance.

We have addressed counting which is as easy as counting each item on the drawings, recording the Panel Feeders from the One-Line diagram, and Motor Feeders by taking these directly from the panel schedules.

So far there should not be any difference between you and your competitors Takeoff assuming that they took the time to get it correct like you did.

Now all that is left is the Branch Lighting and Branch Power to record and for the most part, the Takeoff is finished. There are many ways to accomplish these tasks. You can average, or scale each distance or you can average between items and scale the home runs. You may elect to set a distance apart to cover getting your device above the ceiling and then scaling the rest. There are many techniques to accomplish these tasks.

Of course, once the Takeoff is complete you must turn it into an estimate.

There is no better way to do this than with the Best Bid Hybrid Pro.

The Hybrid Pro makes performing your Takeoff with our built-in OST fast and easy. Then turning this information into an estimate is just as easy.

If you want more information on how to complete the Branch Lighting and Branch Power and complete your estimate just call or email.

Don’t pass up the chance to purchase the Best Bid Hybrid Pro for less than ½ price while you still can.


We offer the best electrical estimating software on the market today.

We also have a school for estimating electrical projects.

We can help!

Why Trial Versions of Electrical Estimating Software Fail?

Our goal is to help electricians learn to estimate electrical projects. You may be the best electrician in the field but have never had the opportunity to work in the office under a senior estimator. We can teach you the skills that you need to become an estimator.

We also help seasoned electrical estimators move from pen and paper to computerized estimating. No matter how little or how much you know about estimating electrical projects you need estimating software to maximize your skills.

You will fail or succeed based on your ability to estimate.

electrical estimating software, success failer.jpg

I rarely make a statement like this but no one can estimate as quickly or as accurately manually as they can by using software.  

Just by entering a quantity, the software can instantly produce a material list, priced and extended without mistakes, and tell you how long it should take to install. This can be done before you could manually enter your first item.

Let’s just say there is no argument that most successful electrical contracting companies rely on electrical estimating software.

At Best Bid, we interact with electrical contractors every day. Our customer base ranges from people that have very little office skills and struggle to understand English to large shops with multiple electrical estimators. We understand your needs on multiple levels.

Once you learn to use electrical estimating software you could never convince anyone to go back to pen and paper.

This article is written for the people that have either tried to use software and failed or never tried at all.

Software companies have stopped providing trials due to the high rate of failure. No one will say this but it is true. Most of the time people that download a free trial will never purchase the software. This has nothing to do with the software it has to do with expectations. We have learned this over the past 25-plus years. This isn’t 100% true. Some people follow the instructions and do fantastic but people that interact with us and do a screen share to see what the software offers are the ones that seem to go on and take advantage of what software offers.

It is all about the expectations

In general, most electrical contractors fall into one of two categories. They are busy because they have so much work or they are busy because they are trying to get work.

Either way, most electrical contractors don’t have a lot of free time. They are looking for a better way to estimate. Something that will speed up the process and provide them with more time to do other things.

When you are despite for more time you want an instant fix. Software is the answer but it is not an instant fix. Just like when you started to learn how to bend conduit.

You didn’t master it the first day. When you studied to take your Masters license you didn’t just walk in and take the test. Learning software is also a process.

We still offer a free trial +++BUT+++

download electrical estimating software on trail

When you elect to download our software we offer the user (3) videos that show exactly how to download the software and access the help files just in case you are not comfortable downloading software.

 We also provide a picture profile showing what your computer screen should look like during the process.

 This is just downloading the software. We find that as many as 70% fail by just downloading the software.


They NEVER watch the videos and they do not follow the written instructions and they want to call and just ask for us to load it for them.

Out of the 30% that get the software downloaded only 15% of those open the software more than once.

The frustration

why manual electrical estimating is so frustrating?

Once you download the software we offer a Quick Start guide that goes step by step on how to use the software. We also have a help library with videos on every topic. The information is right there to learn how to use the software. We also offer screen share sessions to one on one answer questions.

 We often call and check up on a user and they say I couldn’t figure it out. When we ask did you follow the Quick Start guide? The answer most of the time will be I didn’t see a Quick Start guide. We ask did you watch the videos and the answer is often I didn’t know there were videos. If they allow us to get them started they get it right away.

The Truth

the reality behind electrical estimation

We have found out over the years an amazing amount of people have a pressing quote to turn in and they download a trial to do the estimate. I will wager to say 100% of these people fail. No matter how easy the software is you will not open it up and do a real estimate the same day. You are setting yourself up for failure.

Most people are in such a hurry that they never read or watch any of the help that is provided. They try to push enough buttons to figure it out on their own. They never understand how the software works.

We also provide an AI simulation of how to get started while you are prompted to select certain buttons to create your 1st assembly. Only about 1 in 50 ever go through this function.

How to succeed?

success of electrical estimators

All the information is available for the self-starter and we are available to answer questions via email. From time to time a screen share may be required. We will try harder than you to make sure that you succeed.

  • Do not expect to master the software on your first day.
  • Do not attempt to estimate a real project until you learn the software.
  • Allow time each day to learn something new.
  • Learn how to import a PDF-Then learn how to count.
  • Next, learn how to transfer the counts into the estimate.
  • Go slow and don’t get frustrated. Ask if you get stuck.
  • Setting up the software to estimate the way that you want it to is important.
  • Set up your company’s information-Tax rate-Labor Rate etc.
  • Learn how to read the reports.
  • Accept that you can only absorb so much at one time.
  • Watch the videos, YouTube Best Bid’s tip of the day.


If you go about it right you will master the software in no time at all. You will enjoy years of success. Every estimate will get easier and easier and you will become one of the ones that would never give up their software. It just takes an investment of time just like it did learning how to be an electrician.

The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help.

Call Us: 800-941-7028