Do home automation consultants/installers/owners need to be licensed as perhaps electricians or some other kind of contractor in order to perform business? If not a requirement, would the choice effect company liability insurance costs? The area is Los Angeles, if it varies district-to-district. Thanks in advance for any advice.
In California, yes. An alarm installer's or electrician's license will do. You pay more with an alarm installer. Electricians usually (but not always) do neater, more careful work. Unfortunately, most electricians and alarm installers don't know HA very well. A few do. There are also professional HA contractors but unfortunately, they tend to charge top dollar.
costs? The area is Los Angeles, if
If a license is not required in a given area then it won't make any difference in terms of insurance costs. For that matter, where a license isn't mandatory, ione generally isn't even available.
Are you considering delving into HA for a living or hiring an HA professional to do a job for you?
You are required to have a C-10 Electrical Contractors License.
C-10 Electrical Contractor
An electrical contractor places, installs, erects or connects any electrical wires, fixtures, appliances, apparatus, raceways conduits, solar photovoltaic cells or any part thereof, which generate, transmit, transform or utilize electrical energy in any form or for any purpose. (832.10 CCR)
Your employee installers/service guys are required to be licensed electricians. Here's a link that may prove helpful.
You pay more with an alarm installer. Electricians
electricians and alarm installers don't know HA very
unfortunately, they tend to charge top dollar.
costs? The area is Los Angeles, if
in terms of insurance costs. For that matter, where
to do a job for you?
Thanks for the good advice. I'm considering possibly entering the field in the far-off future.
I've heard that to get an electrician license you need to shadow someone with experience for a number of years. I'm going to look into it more, but do you know off the top of your head if this is necessarily the case or if there's a quicker way for professionals in semi-related (but unlicensed) fields with the aptitude to simply take and pass a set of tests and/or classes?
Kind of along the lines of what I asked in the other great response, in addition to taking/passing the exam:
1) Is apprenticeship (electrician trainee) necessary? It's not 100% clear to me that it is, even after reading this:
2) Are taking courses in a recognized school necessary? I think I would do this in either case, but would like to know for sure. From the site it sounds like it is, but I'm not seeing it as a requirement in a quick look here:
Doh! I think I misunderstood. My interest is in possibly opening my own business some day, so my questions should be focused at a contractor's C-10 license for myself, rather than an electrician license, right? Even if I'm the only one doing the work. In such a case, is learning the material and passing the exam sufficient for the license?
Here's the California rule (abbreviated) which I pilfered from:
Who must be licensed as a contractor in the State of California? All businesses or individuals who construct or alter any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost (labor and materials) of one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more. Contractors, including subcontractors, specialty contractors, and persons engaged in the business of home improvement (with the exception of joint ventures and projects involving federal funding) must be licensed before submitting bids. Licenses may be issued to individuals, partnerships, corporations, or joint ventures.
Is anyone exempt from the requirement to be licensed? Yes. Here are some of the exemptions:
Work on a project for which the combined value of labor, materials, and all other items on one or more contracts is less than $500 falls within the minor work exemption; work which is part of a larger or major project, whether undertaken by the same or different contractors, may not be divided into amounts less than $500 in an attempt to meet the $500 exemption;
a.. An employee who is paid wages, who does not usually work in an independently established business, or who does not have direction or control over the performance of work, or who does not determine the final results of the work or project; b.. Public personnel working on public projects; c.. Officers of a court acting within the scope of their office; d.. Public utilities working under specified conditions; e.. Contractors operating on federally owned property; f.. Oil and gas operations performed by an owner or lessee; g.. Owner-builders who build or improve existing structures on their own property if they either do the work themselves or use their own employees (paid in wages) to do the work. This exemption is only valid if the structure is not intended or offered for sale within one year of completion; h.. Owner-builders who build or improve existing structures on their own property if they contract for the construction with a licensed contractor or contractors; i.. Owner-builders who improve their main place of residence, have actually resided there for one year prior to completion of the work, and who complete the work prior to sale. (This exemption is limited to two structures within a three-year period); j.. Sale or installation of finished products that do not become a fixed part of the structure. (This exemption applies to a seller of installed carpets who holds a retail furniture dealer's license but who contracts for installation of the carpet with a licensed carpet installer. This exemption does not apply to material suppliers or manufacturers who install or contract for installation of products, nor does it apply to those who install mobile homes or mobile home accessory structures); k.. Security alarm company operators (licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services) who install, maintain, monitor, sell, alter, or service alarm systems (fire alarm company operators must be licensed by the CSLB); and, l.. Persons whose activities consist only of installing satellite antenna systems on residential structures or property. These persons must be registered with the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair.
experience for a number of years. I'm going to look
the case or if there's a quicker way for
simply take and pass a set of tests and/or classes?
Here's a link to a page on California's Department of Consumer Affairs website. The page has access to info pertinent to alarmcompany licensing. Since the knowledge and experience requirements for alarm installers are less than those for electricians, as a new HA aspirant you may want to go that route.
The definition/classifications for each contractor are listed here:
website. The page has access to info pertinent to
alarm installers are less than those for electricians,
First off, this link does not take him to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), which regulates alarm companies and employees. That link is:
Secondly, the OP is going to require either a C-10 (Electrical) or C-7 (Low Voltage Systems) Contractor's License. Alarm company licensing (through the BSIS) will not allow him to work on HA systems (which you cannot consider a "Burglar Alarm", although the line between the two is getting "blurry") and will not exempt him from obtaining either the C-7 or C-10 contractor classification. A "Alarm Company Operator" license is very restrictive, and won't allow you to install CCTV, or Access Control (two elements that are often seen in HA systems). Once again you "step" in with advice that is your idea of a "good answer" but is really only "half baked".
To take this a bit further, a company with a C-7 "low voltage" ticket cannot install an Elk M-1 because it is listed burglar alarm equipment (even if it's only using home automation components). A company with a C-7 low voltage ticket can install access control, communication, and cctv equipment, but can't install a burglar alarm or fire alarm system.
To avoid the confusion that will result from this post (when Bass starts "justifying" and "defending" his response in his usual inimitable fashion), the OP should contact:
Contractors State License Board
9821 Business Park Drive Sacramento, CA 95827 (916) 255-3900 Toll-free (800) 321-2752
They will essentially tell him exactly what I've just related.
I can appreciate the real value of experience in the field required for a contractor's license, but it seems a shame that one cannot prepare to enter the field while maintaining a good paying job outside the field, say through study alone.
The only options that come to my mind would be to either work two full-time jobs for the next couple of years (unlikely) or hire a C-7/C-10 contractor to be on-staff for the fledgling company... Is there a more creative way to look at all of this?
If you're going to start a company and "employ" (subcontract) the work out to a C7 or C10, then you're going to need to be a licensed contractor as well. Obtaining the C7 or C10 shouldn't be a problem. Have a look at the application form for yourself. You'll need to post a bond and pass a background check (and pay a fee).
Spend some time and explore through all the links we've provided. Contact the nice people on the State Licensing Board on their toll-free number.
As for working two jobs... You gotta do what youze gotta do! :-)