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A great method for Consulting Engineers to promote new business is to offer specialized services. The “specialized service” depends upon the type of engineering that you practice.

Our general specialty was the design of electrical systems for buildings. But, we had many sub-specialties which we enumerated in our company brochure: Lighting; Electrical Services; Power Distribution; Fire Alarm Systems; Emergency/Stand-by Power Systems; Uninterruptable Power Supply Systems, etc.

Look around for an opportunity to become an “expert” on a current topic and the chance to offer a new service, with little competition and unrestrained fees.

At various times in my career, as an electrical consulting engineer, I offered the following new services:

Electromagnetic Field Investigations & Mitigation

A number of years back EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields) were a “hot topic”. Many people became concerned that the electromagnetic fields emitted by low frequency (60 cycle) power sources might cause serious health concerns. People were especially apprehensive about their proximity to high voltage power lines. Some people changed to wind-up alarm clocks, rather than sleep with a small electric motor near their heads.

I bought a couple of “gauss” meters, took measurements and did some studying. Then, I wrote an article that was published in a national magazine. I identified and quantified the sources; I left the health issues to others. I became a member of the National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association. Later, I was a guest speaker at “The National Conference on Harmonics & Power Quality in Philadelphia, PA. I was the go-to-guy for Magnetic Field Projects.

In office buildings and in universities, computer screens were distorted due to proximity to power sources. In Data Centers computers were acting erratically for the same reason. My services would start with a study including measuring and mapping the fields, recommending solutions and estimating costs of mitigation. This was often followed by a design phase, bid phase, and construction observation phase. I didn’t have any competition and I was well paid for both my services and expertize.

Power Quality Services

Another “hot topic” was Power Quality. Basically, on a three-phase power system each of the phases are separated 120 degrees from each other which causes cancelation, resulting in very little neutral current. However, for computer loads, a “third harmonic current” can occur causing the neutral current to exceed the phase currents. I again was considered an “expert” and did quite a number of Power Quality Studies and most included preparation of 1-Line Diagrams on an hourly bases. Again: no competition; well paid.

Uninterruptable Power Systems (UPS)

A UPS is a device, consisting of a battery and an inverter to provide AC power to a load without interruption if commercial power fails. You can buy a small UPS at your local electronics store. You don’t need an engineer to design the installation; just plug your computer into it and no information is lost during a black-out.

However, systems for computer rooms are huge and complex and require engineering including paralleling of units, back-up generators, by-pass for uninterrupted maintenance, and complicated cooling. After a large installation, I wrote a magazine article titled: “UPS Installation at Bank Data Center is expandable to 5 Megawatts”. I was then considered, the Data Center/UPS expert.

Arc-Flash Calculations

More recently another “hot topic” called Arc-Flash became a concern. Since the days of Thomas Edison the largest electrical concern has been “Short-Circuits”; the high inrush of current when two opposite polarity electrical wires touch. A newer concern is “Arc-Flash”; the heat and flash associated with the same event. (“Google” Arc-Flash for some gruesome videos”).

I again became considered an “expert” and did quite a number of Arc-Flash Studies and most included preparation of 1-Line Diagrams, fault-current calculations and panel labeling, on an hourly bases. Again: no competition (at the time); and well paid.

Look around for an opportunity to become an “expert” on a current topic and the chance to offer a new service, with little competition and unrestrained fees.

Excerpted from The “Complete Guide” to CONSULTING ENGINEERING © 2015 John D. Gaskell. Used with permission of Professional Value Books, Inc. All rights reserved. Order at Use coupon code “paperback” and save.