Best Electrical Estimating Tools & Resources for Electrical Contractors

Best Electrical Estimating Tools & Resources for Electrical Contractors

Table of Contents

Estimating Hardware Recommendations

Useful Software Tools for Estimators

Top Books for Electrical Estimators

Top Magazines for Electrical Contractors

Takeoff Forms for Fast Electrical Estimates 

Online Communities and Resources for Electrical Estimators 

Estimating Services 

Electrical Estimating Training 

Membership Resources and Tradeshows 

Project Lead Sources 




To be successful, an estimator needs experience and reliable electrical estimating tools. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share our list of resources that we have come to rely on over the years. Below you’ll find everything from essential books and magazines that offer insights and estimating best practices to the best software and hardware set up for competitive electrical estimators, as well as links to organizations that can provide you with support and mentoring.  


Here’s a list of the top tools and resources for Electrical Estimators to help you streamline your workflow, increase your accuracy, and win more jobs.  


Estimating Hardware Recommendations

Every electrical estimate includes a line item for markup. Markup is a percentage of your electrical estimate For those electrical estimators create estimates using computers and electrical estimating software, we recommend using two monitors. Estimators often need to reference multiple documents, spreadsheets, and software tools simultaneously, and having two screens makes it easier to do so without constantly switching between windows. For example, you may display electrical plans on one screen and use the second screen for your estimating software. Alternately you can use your second screen for reference material such as codebooks, project specifications, or previous estimates. 

Most electrical estimators also add a measuring and counting tool such as a Scalex Planwheel or Scalemaster, which are excellent backup to measure and count physical plans.  

Recommended Hardware for Electrical Estimators 

  • Computer - Any Windows PC. Multiple video output options are recommended. (HDMI/DP)  
  • Monitors - Two 20" - 32" monitors (or more as you see fit) Some prefer larger TV-sized screens.  
  • Scalex Planwheel / Scalemaster - Good backup to measure/count physical plans. 



Useful Software Tools for Electrical Estimators

Electrical estimating software like Electrical Bid Manager that’s easy to use is a critical electrical estimating tool for accurate bidding. Manual estimating or creating electrical bids with spreadsheets is generally not sufficient for creating consistent or accurate bids, because of the potential for errors or missing items in your takeoff count.  

It can be time consuming to apply manual pricing to your bids. Material pricing software like EPIC NetPricer provides a comparison between your local supplier and the average national prices for your electrical materials. Use EPIC to update your electrical estimating software, keep your material prices up to date, and provide you with a basis for price comparison with your local supplier.  

An accurate takeoff is the foundation of a good bid, and although many electrical estimators do a manual takeoff with highlighters and paper plans, there are many great software programs that allows you to view drawings, do takeoff, measure, and count. PlanSwift electrical plan takeoff is integrated with EBM software, which means you can pull the quantities and links into your estimate as you go. 

Finally, it makes good sense to use accounting software that’s made for electrical contractors. You want to look for a brand that allows WIP reporting, and job costing functionality as well (because QuickBooks doesn’t do it). Your accounting software should have a way for estimators to compare the estimate to the actual costs so that you can tally whether your labor hours meet your estimate or impact your profit. Additionally, union payroll can be very complex, so it’s a bonus if you can use construction accounting software that has payroll. JOBPOWER construction accounting software is made for contractors and meets all our criteria.  

A bonus electrical estimating tool is software that allows you to create proposals that you will share with the job owner. Electrical Bid Manager integrates with Google docs or Word to produce a proposal. 


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Recommended Software for Electrical Estimators 


Top Books for Electrical Estimators

Every estimator should have the NECA labor manual. The NECA manual shows labor units, rather than rates, which is how long it takes to install something and includes items ranging from EMT to solar and every kind of equipment you can imagine. That means it’s also an ideal resource if you don’t have experience with a particular installation.  

Another widely recognized resource is from RS Means, which makes manuals for most of the trades including electrical. The manuals from RS Means include material pricing as well as labor. 

We believe it’s a good idea to have both NECA and RS Means manuals as general contractors sometimes require that change orders are done using NECA or RS Means data. 

Durand Associates also makes a labor units manual, although it’s less well known than NECA or RS Means. 

For code issues like the proper size of wire for voltage drop or electrical formulas, Ugly’s Electrical References is excellent.  

Mike Holt, the Code Doctor, holds online electrical code seminars. He also has good books and we recommend it especially for electrical contractors who do residential work.  

Recommended Books: 


Top Magazines for Electrical Contractors

Electrical Contractor runs an estimating article at least once every issue. Other magazines provide up to date information on new products and are worth reading so that you can stay current in the industry. Many electrical trade magazines are now digital, which allows you to easily search for the information you’re seeking. 

Recommended Magazines for Electrical Contractors 

Takeoff Forms for Fast Electrical Estimates

Columnar takeoff forms are handy to have if you need to do a quick takeoff and you do not have a computer handy. They are basically a manual spreadsheet.   


Online Communities & Resources for Electrical Estimators

Forums and discussion groups for electrical estimators are an excellent way to connect with other professionals and learn about the challenges that they have and how they solve these challenges. Check out some of our favourite online communities in the links below and read our favorite blog from Electrical Contractor writer Steve Carr 

Recommended Online Communities  


Estimating Services

Estimating services can be an important tool for busy electrical contractors who need help with training, consultation, or occasionally the creation of estimates. These are specialty shops that can step in and provide help when you are too busy or bid on a new type of job you may not have estimated before or provided a second opinion that can provide context for a big job.  

Trusted Providers of Estimating Services 

Electrical Estimating Training

Electrical estimators often learn on the job from a trusted mentor, or switch into estimating after working as an electrical contractor. But there are many wonderful programs that provide educational and hands on training for electrical estimators who want a certification.  

Training can also be a valuable electrical estimating tool for training your top electricians to do estimates or change orders. Finally, training can open up other career opportunities, such as project management.  

Check into training options at your local colleges and trade schools. The local chapters of IEC or NECA also sometimes offer specialized training sessions for electrical contractors.  

Electrical Estimating Training Programs We Recommend 

Membership Resources and Trade Shows

Trade shows are a fantastic way to meet other electrical contractors as well as suppliers and exchange information and stay current on technology. Some trade shows, like NECA, are national, and bring together hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees.  

The IEC trade shows are smaller, but still provide opportunities to meet with suppliers and speak to new estimators. The Associated Builders and Contractors trade show is a way to meet folks from outside the electrical industry.  

We’ve listed a few of the most prominent trade shows for electrical contractors below. 

National Tradeshows:  

 Regional Tradeshows: 


Project Lead Sources

When you’re looking for the next job, many electrical contractors look to project lead sources, which are valuable databases of new jobs are requesting bids. Some project lead sources require membership to view jobs, but others are public. The caveat to remember is that public lead sources are more competitive because they are public. 

Our Favourite Project Lead Sources: 



We collect all our electrical estimating webinars as well as training videos and product demonstrations of our electrical estimating software on our YouTube channel. It’s a free resource for all electrical estimators.  

Vision InfoSoft YouTube channel 



For the successful electrical contractor, electrical estimating tools go beyond a spreadsheet and a calculator. To grow your electrical business, you need an array of tools, resources, and opportunities to connect with peers, learning, and potential opportunities. Technologies like electrical estimating software are the cornerstone of a modern estimator’s toolkit. Its ability to enhance accuracy, build consistent bids, streamline workflows, and adapt to evolving industry demands make it a critical asset. But other resources like books, training programs, and networking can also be valuable tools for sustaining and growing your business in a competitive environment.  

We hope that this list of resources has included new tools that will improve your expertise in electrical estimating.