Setting Up Your Electrical Research Lab

Designing a laboratory can be a complicated task, even for the most adept engineers. Many factors need to be taken into consideration. Above all, your laboratory needs to perform and stay within budget. Here are ideas about how you can build the perfect laboratory for your innovations and testing needs.

The Basics

To start, you want to consider:

  • Space
  • Power Supply
  • Furniture and Storage


When it comes to technological settings, its easy to underestimate the amount of space needed for engineers to have a comfortable amount of space to work. For happy engineers, make sure they have room to take notes, keep office supplies, and ways to keep the wiring, and other clutter organized.

With the number of additional items an engineer has to deal with on a daily basis compared to a customer service agent, it’s safe to say that a standard 4’ x 4’ cubicle isn’t going to cut it. It may be more efficient to only partition areas that require specific conditions or work.

When designing the lab space, one way to organize it would be to create an area for research and development, pre-compliance testing, environmental testing, soldering stations—all the way to an area that simulates manufacturing conditions for prototypes going into mass production.

Last, when it comes to your lab space, you want to make sure it is well lit. Organize the space in a way that each section has dedicated full task lighting. Recessed lighting is the best for reducing shadows, but if you plan to add workstations in the future flat energy-efficient lighting that sits close to the ceiling can also work well.  

Power Supply

When setting up a testing lab, you need a stable and ongoing power supply. In addition to an ample direct electric supply from the main building input, you should consider an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for the laboratory. A UPS will protect your lab and lab equipment from surges, dips, brownouts, and complete outages. Choosing a UPS will come down to the equipment used in your lab. Generally, you want a UPS that has a power output greater than what your equipment requires.

Having a UPS is extremely important in the lab because small fluctuations in the flow of electricity will give periodically inaccurate results. Periodically inaccurate results lead to time wasted doing additional testing or redeveloping products that were fine to begin with. This is relevant for all electrical testing systems, including battery drain analysis.  

Furniture and Storage

Tossing old furniture into an abandoned storage area and calling it a testing lab is no longer an acceptable way to outfit the space. Instead, find basic furniture that is ergonomically designed that your testers won’t mind sitting in all day. Another essential factor to be considered when it comes to furniture is mobility. Testers will likely need to use an array of equipment on one project. Use mobile desks, carts, and cabinets to house testing equipment and specimens so that each part of the process is easily accessible.  

Additionally, consider the range of mobility your testers may need. For example, will they need to leave the lab with equipment? Will they need to transport equipment to other buildings or leave the campus? If so, you may want to think about mobile furniture items that entirely protect equipment from the elements and impact during travel.

The Nitty Gritty

The basics of a new research lab have been explained. Let’s get into some of the finer details and review some essential items that will be populating areas and furniture within the lab. A viable research lab is going to require things like:

  • ESD Lab Coats
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Station Relevant Matting
  • Magnifiers
  • Microscopes
  • Quality Control Test Kits
  • Testing Specific Kits
  • Tools and Fasteners
  • Signage

Clear signage will help greatly with organization. For example, you can clearly mark stations, hazardous materials, storage areas, and significant literature. Marking these things well will help to avoid confusion and save time. You can also use signage to denote which kits and items like DMMs can leave the lab and which are to stay.

Last Thoughts

There are many things to consider when building out or setting up a new research lab. Fortunately, there are companies like TestEquity that specialize in laboratory product guidance, sales, and installation. TestEquity can help you decide how much space you will need, the types of future required, and the right equipment and software to move your projects forward. In addition, TestEquity is an authorized distributor of many laboratory equipment brands and offers discounts to institutions and on large orders. Contact TestEquity today for a free consultation on any of our services.