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I hope I'm asking this question in the right place. I have an idea for a product that would be installed at certain types of businesses. It's a very simple relay logic system that would be connected to A/C power.

I drew up the schematic for the circuit and it runs properly in a simulator. However, not being an electrician or electrical engineer, I'm well aware that there are too many practical concerns related to implementation for me to hope to get it right, and I wouldn't be able to install these systems regardless because I'm not certified to do so.

Which means I need to find an electrician to partner with.

My question is this: although I know that there are those who specialize in relay logic, would I need someone with that specialization for my relatively simple case? Or is relay logic something that some electricians can (or should) work with, and others not?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have worked with electricians who did not understand electricty fully. To be an electrician you need to know how to install cables and equipment to comply with the regulations. Understanding relay logic is in no way a requirement to being an electrician. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthew Jan 29 '17 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthew Thanks for the input. I learned some relay logic just for this simple purpose, so I wasn't sure if all electricians would be familiar with it or not. I'll seek someone with some background in it. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Williams Jan 29 '17 at 15:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Electricians install electrical products using diagrams provided by the manufacturer of the products. They don't have to know anything about what is inside. Electrical products are designed by engineers to conform with applicable standards. They provide information required for proper installation by electricians. They obtain any required product certification. Product assembly can be done by anyone. The level of training required depends on the product design and documentation for manufacturer plus the level of supervision provided. \$\endgroup\$ – Charles Cowie Jan 29 '17 at 15:47
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If you want someone to build products for/with you, then you should probably look for someone who builds industrial control panels - they may well not describe themselves as an 'electrician'. I'll warn you that the're unlikely to be impressed by any kind of mad professor clutching simulations - they'll just expect a proper drawing of what you want and they'll make it for you.

You should probably see this as a separate task to installing things, which would be a job for an electrician - the kind of electrician you'll need depends on how complicated the installation is, not how complicated the product is.

If you're trying to do business locally, then a local panel builder will probably know competent local electricians (and possible vice versa) - without knowing something about the product and where in the world you are it's impossible to be more specific.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the advice. The purpose is kind of hard to explain, but basically it's just some logic that determines, based on a series of push-button switches, which in a series of LEDs would be turned on. It would be installed in retail-type establishments. So I don't think installation is super complicated. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Williams Jan 29 '17 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ One thing that may be a cause of misunderstanding here. It sounds like your thought is to have someone create these as devices outside of the installation (I realize the question was vague). The positioning of the push-button switches might make this an undesirable solution. Where the buttons go is determined on the specific installation. Aside from that there's really just a couple relays. There will be several of these circuits wired in parallel. Will I need an engineer to vet my mockups before handing it off to an electrician? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Williams Jan 29 '17 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ If this is in the USA, the biggest problem will be testing laboratory (UL or equivalent) listing and electrical code compliance. Elsewhere there will be similar problems that may vary widely from place to place. \$\endgroup\$ – Charles Cowie Jan 29 '17 at 16:23
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Any industrial electrician should be able to wire up a PLC or discrete relays properly and in accordance with local electrical codes, given a proper diagram. Given a safety-agency approved components the installation should pass electrical safety inspection and should not in itself present a safety hazard.

Programming a PLC, despite the relay logic ease-of-use, or designing the relay logic is not necessarily a skill that an electrician would be expected to have, nor would the system level concerns (such as safety related to system level concerns) necessarily be present, although there are undoubtedly many electricians who could do the job as well or better than a typical engineer.

Keep in mind that there are many ways you could apply a PLC or design relay logic that would represent a safety hazard- for a very simple example, running a safety interlock for a press through the PLC would probably not be permitted (in the case of some I have worked with they demand three direct and independent interlocks- electrical, hydraulic and mechanical). It might not even be permitted with discrete relays depending on the exact situation.

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