Graybar Canada Blog

Welcome to the Graybar Canada Blog, where our knowledgeable and experienced solutions specialists come to share what they know with you!

How we help rural communities connect to broadband

Posted on April 4, 2019

Bringing high-speed Internet to Canadian rural communities has been a hot topic over the past few years. In 2016, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) estimated 18 per cent of Canadian households did not have… Read More

More Recent Posts

How we make rooftop solar projects work

Posted on March 4, 2019

Imagine if your business produced enough energy to run your facility’s operations. Not only would you be making a positive impact on the environment, but you’d also be saving a significant amount of operational expenses. In their journey to become 100 per cent renewable by 2020, a large furniture retailer in Canada is doing just that by investing in on-site renewable energy solutions.

With Graybar Energy supplying the components to RESCo Energy’s turnkey solution, this large furniture retailer’s Calgary and Edmonton stores recently installed over 5,100 rooftop solar panels.

“The end user is a large multi-national furniture retailer and has a reputation for making their stores as sustainable as possible,” says Tim Biggs, Graybar Energy’s national sales manager. “As a long-standing supplier to RESCo, our team was able to supply the project with the balance of system (BOS) components including wire, cable and electrical distribution equipment.”

Producing 1180 megawatts (MWh) of energy per year, the Edmonton store installed 2,905 solar panels making it one of the largest rooftop solar systems in the city. The Calgary location installed 2,240 panels with an expected production of 1000 MWh of energy per year. Together, these rooftop solar systems will eliminate 1622 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and reduce their annual energy use by 25 per centꟷ now that’s a serious savings! Just think what you could do with that extra money in your pocket…

Still not sure if you’re ready to take the step towards solar? Tim Biggs recommends looking into it “if your rooftop is in good condition then solar and/or energy storage may be the answer to your power needs. Depending on the province, rooftop solar systems can have a simple payback of approximately 8 to 11 years, making it a sensible investment if you’re planning to stay in a facility long-term.” Along with provincial rebates and energy incentive programs in some jurisdictions, there’s a huge opportunity to turn your OPEX (operation expenditure) into CAPEX (capital expenditure).

To see if your facility meets the requirements for a solar panel system, an assessment first needs to be made by a solar technology expert. “RESCo Energy, a leader in commercial and industrial rooftop solar, can evaluate your energy bills, building layout and roof to assess the solar opportunity,” says Tim.

“With local branches across Canada, Graybar Energy can support a variety of renewable energy projects,” says Tim. “By supplying a trusted company like RESCo, we’re able to cater our capabilities to meet our customers’ needs.”

If you’re interested in learning how solar or other renewable energy solutions can help put a dent in your bottom line, contact Tim Biggs at Graybar Energy today!

Graybar Canada to open new branch in Vaughan, Ontario!

Posted on October 1, 2018

Graybar Canada is pleased to announce the opening of a new branch in Vaughan, Ontario, beginning this fall. Located near Highway 427 and 407, the new 90,000 sq./ft facility will be a consolidation of the existing Markham and Mississauga branches. As Graybar Canada’s biggest branch to date, Vaughan will be an electrical, comm/data, automation and wire warehouse hub for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). To service our current and local customers in Mississauga, Graybar Canada will be opening a counter pick-up locationaround the corner at 160 Brunel Road.

“For several years we’ve been looking at ways to grow business and better serve our customers in the GTA,” says Brian Thomas, executive vice president and general manager of Graybar Canada. “With more and more customers taking advantage of our full lines of business, it makes sense for us to position ourselves in a central location.

The Vaughan branch will be modern, sized for growth and feature a wire paralleling machine. “With a significantly larger warehouse, we’ll be able to stock more inventory and provide more efficient wire cutting services,” says Thomas. The new facility will also include energy saving LED lighting and controls plus a larger training room to accommodate staff and customers on-site.

“As we move towards a unified and cohesive enterprise, providing our full line of solutions will ensure Graybar Canada remains the distributor of choice,” says Thomas. With the Vaughan branch scheduled to open later this fall, we welcome customers and industry experts from all over the GTA to “Venture In to Vaughan.

Click for more information

Watch the Vaughan teaser video


What you need to know about electrical enclosures.

Posted on September 4, 2018

If you work in the electrical industry, then you know your way around electrical enclosures – those protective boxes that surround electrical equipment and prevent you from getting the shock of your life. But did you know sales of these cabinets are on the rise and expected to reach $7.23BN by 2023? That’s a whole lot of electrical enclosures and it’s all thanks to our industries becoming more automated.

Electrical enclosures are on the rise

With industrial facilities making the switch to computerized systems, the electrical enclosure market is forecast to increase by almost six per cent between 2016 – 2023.

“Where it used to be people moving products, it’s now machines,” explains Steve Schell, Kitchener Branch Manager at Graybar Canada. “We’re seeing this all over – not just automation products but data and networking products, too. The machines are now talking to each other, facilities are talking to each other. All that equipment needs to be protected and that’s where we’re seeing a lot more enclosures being used in the field.”

How do you know which “box” is right for you?

Like most equipment in our industry, the selection of electrical enclosures can be overwhelming. Steve recommends starting with the type of environment the enclosure will be exposed to. This will help determine the NEMA rating – the level of protection your enclosure needs to meet. “For a standard indoor application where water and oils aren’t present, you can use a Type 1 NEMA rated box. If your box will be exposed in wash down, heavy oils or outdoor applications, then you’ll need a NEMA 3R or 4X rated enclosure.” Accessories and add-ons are also available for the boxes such as literature inserts, drain plugs, handles and feet to raise the enclosure off the ground. “Once we find out what is needed, we can customize the box to suit our customers’ needs,” says Steve.

Four types of enclosures:

  • Electrical Enclosures – protects equipment
  • Disconnect Enclosures – protects equipment but gives you the flexibility to shut off the power
  • Networking Enclosures – isolates and protects data and networking devices
  • Cable Management Enclosure – protects cables running from devices to the enclosure

Graybar Canada offers a variety of electrical enclosures including the CSD and ProLine Series from Hoffman. Contact your local Graybar Canada representative today so you don’t forget the box for your next big project!

Have You Heard? Graybar Canada has Audio/Visual Solutions

Posted on August 1, 2018

With technology changing every single day, it’s hard to keep up sometimes. The A/V world is no exception with the rise of on-demand streaming services, multi-room audio solutions and more. But what does this mean for your home or business? Getting in touch with a professional like Travis Bothman can be the first step in finding out what audio solutions are right for you.

Travis Bothman, an Audio Specialist at Graybar Canada, has been selling speakers and audio products pretty much his entire life. “It all started with liking music,” he says.

Travis started his audio/visual career in high school by working in an electronics store selling speakers and portable Walkmans. Remember those?  His years of experience and knowledge make him the go-to source for anything A/V related.

Trends in the market

“Most recently we’ve been seeing more portable streaming devices,” explains Travis. “Having a different amplifier in each room with integrated streamers allows you to stream from your phone or home network. Being able to stream updates through your phone is a big thing people are looking for now.”

Multiroom audio has been on the rise with integrated amplifiers being the latest trend in the market. An integrated amplifier in the speaker allows you “to plug and play from each room locally rather than running everything to a centralized location,” says Travis. Implementing this has a lot of benefits including better amplification and lower distortion levels.

Where do I start?

When determining which speakers you need “the big thing is making sure you have enough power coming from the speaker system for the size of the room,” Travis explains. “If you’re talking commercial applications, we have line array speakers which are used in conference and house of worship settings. With these systems, you can actually pinpoint the exact locations where the speakers will best be heard. You can have the sound carry around the rows of people and control where it travels.”

Common problems people run into

Both residential and commercial setups have their own challenges resulting in potentially poor audio setups. “Most of the time with home theatre arrangements, people aren’t taking the time to measure decibel levels per speaker from the sitting area. Sometimes you’ll have one speaker overpowering another when it’s not properly set up,” Travis explains. “In commercial, I’ve run into people with mics set up too close to speakers resulting in feedback, but there are things you can do to fix that. There’s electronic equipment that can eliminate the feedback if you’re having issues with your microphone.”

Whatever your project size, Graybar Canada has the expertise and solutions for you. “We have everything,” Travis says. “We can do full commercial and we can do residential.”

If you have any questions or are looking for more audio information, feel free to reach out to Travis Bothman at

Congratulations Graybar Canada Kitchener and Graybar Energy for Receiving Your ISO 9001:2015 Certification!

Posted on July 27, 2018

I want to congratulate Graybar Canada’s Kitchener branch and Graybar Energy (a subsidiary of Graybar Canada operating in Ontario) for successfully registering to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard in June.

The Graybar Canada Kitchener and Graybar Energy teams began their journey to the new standard in the fall of 2017. Working directly with them myself since March, I saw first-hand their commitment to achieving this goal.

The ISO 9001 standard provides guidance and tools for companies and organizations who want to ensure that their products and services consistently meet customers’ requirements and that quality is continuously improved. The decision to pursue this certification demonstrates their pledge to providing quality customer service.

Graybar Canada’s internal Quality Management System is based on seven quality management principles, involves all stakeholders (customers, employees and suppliers), and is managed digitally on our employee intranet (MyGraybar).

I am very proud to say we meet the requirements and have been certified to the International Organization for Standardization.

Judi Clark
Quality Specialist at Graybar Canada

Decentralized Electricity

Posted on June 5, 2018

The emergence and popularity of renewable energy is making electricity one of the fastest changing industries. Along with advances in technology, producing and storing energy is becoming more reliable and inexpensive. Businesses and homeowners are educating themselves about decentralized electricity where energy is produced close to where it will be used rather than at a large plant.

What is decentralized electricity?

Tim Biggs, national sales manager at Graybar Energy says, “Decentralized electricity is happening as we replace some of the older technology and get rid of coal, natural gas, and oil fire plants and look towards renewable energy to replace these traditional power generation technologies. Many wind and solar farms are scattered across Canada and are often designed and constructed to a smaller scale than the larger power generators of the past. To sum up, decentralized electricity is expanding the geographic footprint of power generation across a region.”

Who does this benefit?

The spreading out of power generation is a huge benefit especially for those people and businesses in remote communities. “There are many remote communities across Canada which are located a great distance from traditional power generating facilities and in some cases the transmission & distribution (T&D) system. Some of these remote communities have either no T&D connections or unreliable T&D connections to the existing power generation systems,” Tim explains. “It costs much less to decentralize electricity and is quicker to design, procure and construct a micro-grid system for a small community where they can have their own stand-alone power generation and distribution network that is much more reliable and efficient.”

The benefits

Graybar Energy offers full solar solutions for industrial and commercial business owners.  As solar technology advances the cost to build continues to decrease. Rooftop solar has become much more accessible for industrial and commercial businesses. Tim recommends that “if you’re going to stay in an industrial or commercial building for an extended period it really makes a lot of sense to consider a rooftop solar installation to offset your current electricity bills. Economically, it makes sense and from a Climate Change and sustainability perspective this is the right choice for many of our customers. As the carbon tax rules develop and come into play, many companies are being proactive and installing rooftop solar net metering projects to assist with offsetting their consumption and providing their organizations with future carbon credits.” Depending on your project, you can have the ability to sell unused power back to the grid with a FiT or Micro-FiT contract, use the solar system for net metering and/or store the solar energy with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) when it’s needed.  Many Canadian provinces have established financial incentives for those industrial, commercial and residential customers that decide to install renewable energy projects to help offset the upfront capital costs.

The future

The future of renewable energy has developed a lot in the past 10 years and innovations continue to make this industry more efficient and inexpensive. One technology Graybar Energy is excited about is ‘solar glass’ and its potential deployment in large skyscraper buildings in major cities across Canada. “Electricity bills can be very high for large office buildings and this technological innovation would help offset the bills and be a big game changer when developing future skyscrapers.”

For more information on renewable energy solutions for industrial and commercial applications, please contact Tim Biggs, national sales manager at Graybar Energy at

Mobile Charging Solutions

Posted on May 1, 2018

What do smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and other mobile electronic devices have in common? They all need to be charged regularly. These new easy charging options are the solution for those on-the-go with dying devices.

Depending on who you are serving, Sean Sullivan, Graybar Canada account manager comm/data based in Dartmouth, N.S., has a few options for you.

USB Charger Receptacles and Power Strips

Hubbell USB Charger Receptacle

“We have the receptacle style that goes into a wall and replaces your normal electrical outlet,” Sean explains. “You can charge all your different devices that way. The outlet models offer a combination of AC and USB or just USB charging.” These along with the power strip format are the most versatile option to add easy charging capability to your home, office, school and more. Hubbell’s USB charger receptacle, unlike other alternatives, will quickly and efficiently charge multiple devices simultaneously. These USB outlets provide comparable charging speeds to a standard fast charger. USB chargers also take up much less space than a bulky wall charger, allowing for easier cord management.

Cable Charging Station from Hubbell

Charging Stations

Sean recommends Hubbell’s “On-the-Go” Charging Stations as a great option for anyone in retail. “Any place that gives customers enough time to plug in while waiting for a quick charge would benefit from these stations.” These convenient charging stations come as either a floor stand or wall mount. They can charge up to eight devices with a variety of charging cable options already built-in to the station. The pedestal charging stations are a special order item and can be branded with an ad or logo. “If you want to say this charge was brought to you by X, Hubbell offers that service,” explains Sean.

32-Device AC Charging Station Cart for Chromebooks and Laptops from TrippLite

Charging Carts

For those who manage many electronics such as Chromebooks or tablets, charging carts might be the best option for you. “The nice thing about the carts is that they have wheels, so you can wheel them easily from classroom to classroom, but you can lock them up when you’re done; so from a security standpoint they’re very good,” Sean describes. “The Tripp Lite Chromebook cart is the most popular, it fits 32 Chromebooks and the charge quality is quick and efficient.” Specialized carts can even be set up to sync and update tablets while charging. These charging carts have gained popularity among Nova Scotian schools. “It started with a local school board and spread across the province,” Sean says.

As we increase the number of devices we carry at one-time, easier charging accessibility will be a welcomed convenience for those on-the-go. These charging options come in a variety of forms to fit whatever setting.

Contact your local Graybar Canada representative if you want to learn more about which charging options are right for you!

If you’d like to reach out to Sean Sullivan directly please email him at

Lighting Trends for 2018

Posted on April 3, 2018

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: If you want to make a serious dent in your energy bill (we’re talking 50 to 70 per cent), switching to LED lights is where it’s at. Not only has the cost of LED bulbs fallen by more than 85 per cent, LED lights are six to seven times more efficient than traditional fluorescents. What makes LED lights more efficient? Longevity, minimal maintenance, controllability, quality of light and the list goes on. Combine these with provincial energy rebate programs and LED lights basically pay for themselves.

Okay, now that we’ve convinced you about all the great ways LED lights can save your bottom line, let’s look at what’s trending in the market. We recently spoke with Graybar Canada’s Atlantic Lighting Manager Sean Dixon, and Lighting Specialist Mark Vaughan, to shine a light on what’s popular with their customers.

Light Control:

One of the major benefits of LED lighting is your ability to control its energy output through dimmers and occupancy sensors. “By going to LED you can adjust your light levels,” explains Lighting Specialist Mark Vaughan. “Fluorescent lights require a special dimming ballast whereas most commercial LED fixtures come with a 0 – 10 voltage control built-in.” Control systems are also popular for reducing lights in those unused spaces. “Typically, lighting in commercial stairwells run 24/7 and very seldom are people using them,” explains Lighting Manager Sean Dixon. “The benefit of connecting your fixtures to a centralized system is you can schedule them to adjust at certain times including load shedding (dim areas down at the same time). Also, if you have centralized control of the lighting, such as with Lutron’s Vive system, you can see in real-time how much energy you’re saving through an app on your phone or computer.”

If you’re interested in learning how to connect your lighting to one central hub, the Graybar Canada Lighting Group is well trained on control systems and showing customers how to implement them.

Small but Mighty:

Another big trend our lighting division is noticing is how traditional pot lights are becoming almost non-existent. “Customers are moving away from large rough-in pot light housings and installing thin-profile downlights that take up very little space in the ceiling,” says Dixon. Lithonia and Eaton Lighting offer thin-profile wafer style downlights that are easy to install and produce more lumens per watt.

Traditional office lighting is also getting in on the thin-profile action with LED flat panel fixtures. “Flat panels are huge in the market right now,” explains Dixon. “In fact, their upfront cost is almost as inexpensive as traditional fluorescent troffers and most have built-in dimming capabilities.” Fixtures like Eaton’s FP Series LED flat panels are ideal for commercial spaces because the ultra-thin design allows for installation in grid ceilings, drywall recessed and surface, or suspended applications.

Colour Temperature:

A common fear of switching to LED lights is that people think they’re going to be too harsh. We tend to envision those first-generation Christmas and street lights with that awful bright blue hue. But thanks to improvements in technology, well-designed LED fixtures come in a variety of colour temperatures and dimming controls. “I always try to remind customers that a dimmer can be easily installed to control light levels,” says Vaughan.

Computer glare is also a common problem in commercial spaces that can be solved with the correct colour temperature. “A lot of people are leaning towards the warmer colour in office spaces because it’s easier on your eyes and it cuts down on glare,” explains Vaughan. “If a customer is having issues with glare, the first thing I’ll adjust is the colour temperature and nine times out of ten that solves the problem.”

With manufacturers continuously upgrading to new technology, it’s difficult to know which lighting system is right for you. Contact your local Graybar Canada Lighting Specialist to learn more about new LED fixtures and how they can improve your workspace.

Lithonia Lighting Wafer LED Indoor/Outdoor 6″ Housing-Free Recessed Downlight

Eaton SLD6 LED Halo Surface LED Downlight

Keep Your Home Social Media Safe This March Break

Posted on March 1, 2018

March break is a popular time for us to go on vacation and take extended holidays. Some of you are probably in the middle of finalizing plans and picking up those last-minute travel items. While this time of year is a chance for us to take a well-deserved break, it’s also the perfect time for property invasion.

Gone are the days when a few co-workers and close friends know of our travel plans – now it’s our entire social media following and then some. Although we can’t see them, hackers and seasoned burglars can creep our profiles in search of our March break plans. With social media’s ability to flag our every move, it’s more important than ever to keep a low profile when we’re far away from home.

To help keep your home and family safe this March break, here are a few social media tips:


Don’t share travel details:

With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram essentially becoming a highlight reel, it’s hard to fight the urge to post about your upcoming getaway. Any travel details including: dates, locations and length of stay should never be shared on public platforms. Posting these details is basically letting the world know you won’t be home and is giving thieves an open invitation.

Don’t post about household valuables:

Photos and videos taken inside your home can give potential burglars an opportunity to see your household possessions. That new 4K TV in the background, or the post you made about the expensive watch you got for Christmas, can make your house a likely target. Photos from inside your home can also give burglars information about your home’s layout and points of entry.

Keep your kids in the know:

Today’s generation of children pretty much live on social media, so it’s important to be mindful of their activity. Educate them on the implications of sharing the family’s travel plans, or posting about being home alone for a week. With all the public platforms available today, it’s easy for their message to land in the wrong hands.

Don’t “check-in” or update your status:

Your bags are packed and you’re finally on the way to your destination. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and want to share your whereabouts with your friends, but by “checking-in” to the airport, you’ve just given thieves the green light to invade your property. With GPS tracking, today’s apps can broadcast your location to everyone. Refrain from updating your status and posting real-time photos to your social media feed. Instead, share your pictures once you’ve returned home and are in a safe place for friends to comment and learn about your trip.

If you’re still feeling uneasy about leaving your property over the break, a security system might be the right tool to give you that peace of mind. With products that offer real-time video and two-way audio via your smart phone, you can sit back and relax while monitoring your home from afar.

Talk to one of our Security Specialists today!