Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: About to purchase ETAP or SKM... last minute advice?

  1. #1

    About to purchase ETAP or SKM... last minute advice?

    Hello
    I run a one man engineering shop in a small market. In order to keep busy I need to be quite diverse, so project portfolio includes small commercial buildings to water and waste systems to streetlighting to power distribution (including some high voltage).

    Over the course of the past year I have been steadily gaining more traction on projects where power analysis tools are necessary. I have in the past subcontracted these elements as required but now I think it is time to add these capabilities to my core business. I believe my main use for the tools will be arc flash and fuse coordination studies but I expect to grow into the tools as I gain experience and more complicated projects come along.

    I have narrowed down the field to SKM and ETAP and I have no doubt that either of these packages is more than adequate for my small business.
    Before I pull the trigger I would really appreciate some input from users of these tools.

    can you tell me......

    1) Does anyone have any recent experience with the support and training offerings of each of these companies? Any red flags?
    2) How helpful are these companies when it comes to questions regarding how best to apply the products in a practical way to a design problem?
    3) Is SKM still going strong as a company? Are the incremental improvements compelling? As the ETAP sales guys tells it (of course!) SKM is fading away, cutting engineering back... Is there any evidence of this?
    4) In each package is a node/bus equal to a node/bus? i.e. if my project eats 60 nodes in SKM will it be about the same in ETAP?
    5) Are there any significant intangible benefits to either package that I should consider?

    Here is my take on it.... I've tried SKM and while it seems a bit clumsy I know that a bunch of you are using it to do real work, so no doubt I can learn to do the same. ETAP is a fair bit more expensive and I imagine that I might like the experience of working with it better, but it needs to be a whole lot better for the extra dollars, and so far I have no evidence of this.

    (I intend to sign up for training by the way.)

    The SKM package I am considering as a starting point is a 50 bus license including Dapper, Captor, and ArcFlash. Given how I describe my business does this seem about right? For a few more bucks I can add IEC 909, IEC 363, TMS. I'm not sure if I need ArcCalc, it seems similar to ArcFlash...?

    I expect some project may roll in that needs more than 50 buses but I think that will be a good problem, if you know what I mean.

    thanks a bunch!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    17,245
    No company for which I have worked for over 20 years has chosen to use ETAP, so I can’t say anything about that program or its support staff. Several companies I have worked for in that time, including my present company, have used SKM. I am no expert in its use, but I know my way around it well enough to perform the customary analyses. I have always found the support staff to be, well, supportive. I know nothing about any “fading away.”

    Since you operate as an independent engineering company, I infer that you are familiar with AutoCAD. If so, please allow me to interject a caution about SKM: The more you know about AutoCAD, the harder it will be to learn SKM. The two are completely backwards from each other. Everything that happens when you left click, or right click, or click-and-drag, or use any common key strokes will have a completely different effect in the two programs. Even the riser diagram is fundamentally different. In AutoCAD you build a riser from the electric room at the bottom floor, to the panels on the higher floors, going from the bottom of the sheet to the top of the sheet, with the position of any panel within the sheet conveying information regarding its location. You can’t do that in SKM, but rather must build the model from the top of the sheet downwards. It takes some getting used to, and you need to stop and think about how to use your mouse, each time you switch from one program to another.


    All that said, I am a fan of SKM. Perhaps it is that I have used it often enough to get accustomed to the manner in which the mouse keyboard function with that program.


    Best of luck.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  3. #3
    Thank you Charles.
    I have some experience with a trial version of SKM and while I am not a huge fan of the user experience I think I can live with it.
    Does anyone else have any comments?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    New York, 40.7514,-73.9925
    Posts
    3,377
    I am a user of SKM for a very long time. Tech support in CA is really good and responsive.

    I've worked at three firms over the last 20 years and each use SKM. If you need underground feeder temp calcs, you need ETAP or one of the temp software packages.
    Ron

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    17,245
    Quote Originally Posted by ron View Post
    If you need underground feeder temp calcs, you need ETAP or one of the temp software packages.
    For underground ampacity calculations, I have used Ampcalc. I have found it very simple and intuitive. Cost is on the order of two grand.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    556
    I'm a plant engineer and I have used SKM for several years and have had very good responses when I needed library updates and other support. The power engineer I know at SKM is still there going strong and I wouldn't be concerned about more advanced technical support.

    The SKM 'fading away' story may have started because one power engineer I'm aware of left SKM and went to ETAP in the last year or two. ETAP has also lost people - its part of life, people leave jobs all the time, and I wouldn't be worried about the longevity at either company. Either one has enough customer base that they won't simply fade away.

    It sounds like you've made your decision and I think I agree - for the needs you're describing there is probably not a big difference in performance, but there is a difference in cost that can help you make your decision.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •