What are the Electrical Requirements for a Mobile Office? Are Phone and Internet Jacks Available?

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Despite their peripatetic temporariness, mobile offices are not wigwams, Scout-camp tents or nomadic yurts when it comes to the bare necessities of electrical and telecommunication services. However, like those rough-it dwellings, office trailers don’t come prewired, either.


Rough, not ready, is what you can expect once you close the sale or sign the lease on your mobile office. That being said, you can expect your office trailer to come with wire-ready electrical panels and subpanels to get you started. “Smaller trailers generally have 60- or 80-amp subpanels,” according to Metro Trailer of Pelham, Ala. “Larger trailers have up to 150-amp subpanels.”


For mobile office wattage requirements, 220-volt, 100-amp single-phase service is the standard, according to David Eagle, vice president of The Eagle Leasing Co. of Southborough, Mass.


“Have it hooked up by a licensed electrician with the proper gauge of wiring,” added Brian Dillier, account executive of JMO Mobile Modular LLC of Marion, Ill.


That gauge is “usually 12-2 Romex plastic coated wiring or an MC cable with 12-2 wire inside,” said Larry High, sales manager for Whitley Manufacturing Co. of South Whitley, Ind.


However, power needs can vary according to the distributor, the model and especially the demands of a particular usage. Mobile offices measuring 8-feet-wide tend to employ 60-amp, 110-volt electrical systems, while 100-amp, 220-volt electricity is needed for 10- and 12-foot-wide trailers. An office combining two or more trailers typically needs 100 to 150 amps of electrical service for each trailer, according to Triumph Modular of Littleton, Mass.


If you are renting a multi-sectional trailer, “each piece will have its own panel box and electrical hookup,” according to Acton Mobile, located in Baltimore. “Our complexes are not wired together as one building.”


Once a mobile office’s electrical specs are finalized, an independent electrician hired by the distributor or the customer, depending on the distributor’s policy, usually does the wiring onsite. The volume of wiring “varies by who’s going to be in the building, the electric load, and the demands on the building itself,” said Robert Mathis, commercial sales representative for Mobile Modular’s Washington, D.C. branch.


Prefabrication doesn’t mean one-size-fits-all, especially for phone and Internet services. “You have to provide any and all phone or cable wiring, as everyone wants or needs something different,” Dillier said.


However, “starters” are possible here, too. “Usually, the buildings are set up with rough ends for jacks, and local phone data communications people will come in and do the wiring and install the jacks themselves,” added High. “All we do is lay out the empty boxes where the customer wants them; what they put in them is up to them. Often, they’ll put in CAT-5 wiring.”


If a mobile office has existing jacks, don’t think you can just plug in and get wired. “Most trailers have a jack or two from a previous customer that may or may not still be good,” said Eagle. “Assume you will have to install jacks where you need them.