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IAEI Magazine | Author: Ark Tsisserev
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Ark Tsisserev

Ark is a registered professional engineer with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He is currently the chair of the Technical Committee for the Canadian Electrical Code and is representing the CE Code Committee on the CMP-1 of the National Electrical Code.


Use of the Codes and Standards in electrical design and installations

No, really: what codes and standards must be used for the electrical design and installation and why? This is not a trivial question, as it deals with consistency, uniformity and, most important, with the safety of electrical installations.

Protection of Electrical Conductors Against Exposure to Fire: What, Why and How

The subject of fire protection of electrical conductors appears to create some confusion in the industry, and this article attempts to clarify provisions of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC 2010) in this regard.

Bonding, Grounding and Neutral Conductors — Does size really matter?

The subject of bonding and grounding is perhaps the most confusing to the users of the electrical installation codes. In fact, I have written on this subject in this very publication, at least two such articles, in the past few years. Nevertheless, I routinely receive e-mails and phone calls with the questions about differences between bonding, grounding and neutral conductors, about differences in use of these conductors under the Rules of the Canadian Electrical Code and about differences in the Code requirements for sizing such conductors. So, let’s provide a bit of clarification again.

Criteria for Selection of a Rating of Service, Feeder or Circuit — Is there any confusion?

Apparently, there is some confusion on this subject. Let’s tackle it step-by-step. Consumer’s service, a feeder and a branch circuit are defined by the Canadian Electrical Code as follows: "Service, consumer’s — all that portion of the consumer’s installation from the service box or its equivalent up to and including the point at which the supply authority makes connection..."

Application and Installation Requirements for Exit Signs: What, Why, and How

This subject, similar to many other issues that relate to the application and installation of electrically connected life safety system, is far from being fully understood by the designers, installers and regulators. And certain provisions of the legally mandated documents do not help the Code users.

Elevator Code and the Building Code — Are these documents in conflict?

After my recent article on the subject of consistency between the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and certain codes and standards referenced by the NBCC, I have received a few e-mails with expressions of frustration and with questions from the readers regarding potential conflict between the NBCC and the Elevator Code ASME A17/CSA B44 harmonized between the USA and Canada.

Selection of Conductors — do we have a problem with this?

Apparently, we do. However, there is no reason to generalize this problem. Although there might be problems (or rather challenges) for the code users in understanding of some requirements related to the selection of conductors, I’ll concentrate on two specific issues that have apparently become a source of confusion: 1. Introduction of Rule 4-006 into the CE Code; and 2. Recent UL/ULC Public Notice release 12PN-51.

Grounding and Bonding — Are we on the same page?

In the electrical industry, there is hardly a subject that appliesmore often than the issue of bonding and grounding. And yet, this matter remains one of the most discussed, argued and misinterpreted by the electrical designers, contractors and inspectors.

Essential Electrical System — Who is to say?

No, really — who is to say? Where is such entity defined or described? The answer could be found in two following documents: (1) In the CSA standard Z32, which is actually called Electrical safety and essential electrical systems in health care facilities; and (2) In Section 24 of the Canadian Electrical Code which covers installation of electrical equipment in patient care areas.

Location of Electrical Distribution Equipment in a Building — Are we consistent on this subject?

The subject of the required location for such electrical equipment as switchgear, panelboards, MCCs, switches, circuit breakers, capacitors and transformers and of the required clearances (working space) about these types of equipment is not new.

Impact of the Building Code on Electrical Wiring

There are many places in the Canadian Electrical Code, where wiring requirements are dependent on provisions of the NationalBuilding Code of Canada (NBCC). For example, wiring methods for a fire alarm system must comply with Rule 32-102, if a fire alarm system is required in a building by the NBCC. A similar condition is applied for wiring methods between an emergency power supply and life safety system by Rule 46-108, if the NBCC requires such emergency power for life safety systems.

Electrical Interlocks with a Building Fire Alarm System — Are we consistent on this subject?

Design and installation of electrical equipment is a reasonably well understood and adjusted procedure. It is done in accordance with the safety requirements of the Canadian Electrical Code and specific installation standards, with additional performance criteria of energy codes, ASHRAE codes and regulatory directives, and undoubtedly — with particular requirements of the clients. Of course, such installations are inspected by the electrical safety regulators for compliance with the accepted design and with the CE Code provisions.

Installation of fire pumps — a bit of new information

This subject is not new. There have been numerous articles written about the CE Code requirements for fire pump installations and about the selection of the conductors and overcurrent protection for fire pump feeders.

Elevator Code, CE Code and the NBCC — consistency of requirements

Historically, this subject was always a source of confusion to the electrical designers, installers and regulators, as provisions of the Elevator Code have not always been accurately correlated with the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and with the Canadian Electrical Code. Fortunately, some provisions for the electrically connected equipment used in conjunction with elevators have been harmonized in the latest editions of the Elevator Code and the NBCC.

Safety and performance of Codes

Any electrical design and installation is based on a number of conditions. Traditionally, such conditions include reliability, performance and economics. Usually these conditions are dictated by the clients, who want such installations to function in a dependable manner and to be economically feasible.

Consistency in requirements for electrically connected life safety systems in different Codes and Standards

In general, electrical designers, contractors and regulators are quite comfortable in applying the CE Code requirements for the electrically connected life safety systems.

Wet locations and isolated systems in health care facilities

Let’s say, you are undertaking design and installation or inspection of such electrical installation in patient care areas of a health care facility. Do you consider certain parts of patient care areas as wet locations, and which criteria do you use for such consideration?

Main protective and control devices for emergency generators — are we consistent on this issue?

Let’s say, you are a supplier of an emergency generator or a designer of an emergency distribution system, and your task is to select an emergency generator and main disconnecting means and overcurrent devices that will manually or automatically disconnect the electrical system supplied from the emergency generator.

Essential Electrical — Who is to say?

Some building developers and owners like to consider the building IT infrastructure, building heating and air-conditioning systems, elevators, sump pumps and water treatment equipment as the "essential electrical system.” As such, these developers might demand from electrical designers additional provisions for reliability in performance of the loads comprising these "essential electrical systems.” There is no problem for designers and installers in this regard, as a redundancy could be easily provided in the design and installation of the electrical infrastructure.

Tables 11 and 19 in the CE Code — are they necessary guides to the Code users or obstacles of using approved equipment?

It should be noted that the vast majority of electrical equipment is made "approved” by its certification to an applicable CSA safety standard for electrical equipment. All such current product standards (known by the industry experts as "Part II” standards) are referenced in Appendix A to the CE Code, Part I. In fact, the installation Code is called the "CEC, Part I,” as the CSA safety standards for electrical products represent the "CE Code, Part II.”

Use of cablebus under provisions of the CEC, Part 1 – facts and misconceptions

Let’s refresh a couple of well-known facts: 1. All electrical equipment intended to be used under provisions of the CE Code must be approved. 2. Requirements of the Canadian Electrical Code cannot create obstacles for use of any new technologies, as long as each such technology presents "approved” equipment that could be utilized for specific applications under rules of the installation code.

Standby and emergency power supply. Is there a difference?

Let say, a designer decides to install a backup power supply for the IT network in the office, or to provide an alternate source of power to the sump pump in a building. Or a decision is made to have a standby power source for lighting in all classrooms of a high school. Or what if a backup power supply is provided for all building exhaust, makeup fans and fans used for smoke control and smoke venting? And what about the same approach to the elevators or fire pumps? And how about the standby power intended for emergency lighting in exits or in corridors used by the public? And to make it fun, let’s even consider a backup power supply to a typical house. What kind of power supply sources should be used to provide a standby power supply to all these loads?

When the lightning strikes…are we going to be prepared for it?

Traditionally, when we plan to do anything, we should ask ourselves three questions:What? Why? How?Let’s apply this approach to the subject at hand. Seriously, as electrical designers, installers and regulators, what do we know about a need for a lightning protection system? Except for a few references, the Canadian Electrical Code is silent on this subject (and we’ll get back to the Code references later). With proliferation of metal flagpoles, spires, chimneys, tall construction cranes, cell towers and other communication installations on rooftops of the buildings, this question becomes more and more relevant.

Are we ready for electric vehicles?

After a well-known fiasco of the 1990s, electric vehicles are making a rapid and confident comeback. They are here to stay and to change our lives. Are we ready for them? Let’s take a look. Section 86 of the 2009 edition of the Canadian Electrical Code has been revised to clarify that an electric vehicle charging equipment must be supplied by a dedicated branch circuit.

Separation of wiring — facts and fiction

Let’s say, a designer decided to utilize optical fiber cables for control of lighting circuits or to amalgamate wiring connecting the fire alarm field devices with wiring supplying the components of a security system. Is such integration of wiring allowed by the Canadian Electrical Code?

Sprinklers and Electrical Equipment

All electrical practitioners know too well that water and electricity do not mix. Results of such mixture are quite hazardous. This is the reason that the CE Code mandates GFCI protection of receptacles and permanently connected electrical equipment installed in proximity to water (i.e., pools, bathtubs, sinks, shower stalls, etc.).

Use of a "Special Permission” and "Power of Rejection”

This article covers the application of two rules of the Canadian Electrical Code that establish a unique relationship between electrical designers/contractors and electrical safety regulators/inspectors in each jurisdiction where the CE Code is adopted for regulatory purposes. Let’s start with a "Special Permission” rule, or as it is described in the Code: "Deviation or postponement.”

Rating of Transformer Circuits

There are some subjects in the Canadian Electrical Code that often become a source of heated discussions by the users. Selection of dry type transformers and selection of a proper rating of the transformers’ circuits is one of such controversial subjects. So, let’s try to clarify this seemingly complex issue.

Relationship between the CE Code and Z462

Lately, the electrical industry in Canada has been buzzing about newly developed CSA standard Z462 which covers requirements for workplace electrical safety.

Application of Section 46 of the CE Code: Now and in the 2009 edition of the Code

Code users often ask whether Section 46 of the CE Code governs only the requirements for emergency systems that are mandated by the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) to provide alternate source of power when the normal power fails.

Bonding and Grounding. Is there a reason to be confused?

The CE Code requirements for bonding and grounding are perhaps, the most important safety rules for electrical installations. Each person deemed to be qualified to do electrical work must clearly understand what bonding and grounding is, why it is necessary and how it must be done. And yet the basic principles of these essential code requirements are often misunderstood.

Requirements for Supply and Consumer’s Services – Inconsistencies in the CE Code

Rules 6-102 and 6-104 of the CE Code, Part I specify provisions for a maximum number of service boxes permitted to be installed in a building and for a maximum number of services allowed to be run to a building. Inquisitive Code users wonder why these provisions appear to be different for supply services and for consumer’s services.

Installation of electrically connected carbon monoxide alarms

The 2005 edition of the National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) has been already adopted by the majority of provincial and territorial jurisdictions. This means that one change that has been introduced into the latest edition of the NBCC could be very interesting (and very relevant) to the electrical designers, installers and electrical safety regulators.

Electrical Work Related to Fire Alarm Systems

Electrical installations related to fire alarm systems appear to be no different from other types of electrical work. A typical fire alarm system is an interconnected combination of: 1. the alarm initiating devices (i.e., field devices that constitute system inputs); 2. various audible signal devices such as bells, horns and speakers (i.e., field devices that constitute system outputs), and 3. central processing units such as a control unit, an annunciator, graphic display, a voice communication panel, etc. (i.e., equipment that represents system interface between inputs and outputs).

Understanding Circuit Rating and Circuit Loading

It is very reassuring for a feature columnist to know that his articles are actually read and discussed by the readers. I was pleased to get comments from the Canadian readers of the IAEI News on my column published in the July/August issue (page 38). That column described a comprehensive process developed by the CSA for proposals to change the Canadian Electrical Code. Yet, the same readers have pointed out to me that perhaps Bob Edwards is not aware of this process, as his article on "inadequacies” of Rule 8-104 in the CE Code (shown on page 12 of the same issue) painted a bleak picture of this rule.

Compliance with Safe Installations by Using Deviations from the CE Code Requirements

The object of the Code is very transparent on the fact that all prescriptive rules of the Code address the objective-based fundamental safety principles of the IEC Standard "Electrical Installations of Buildings”.

Electrical Safety In Health Care Facilities, Canadian Perspective – What Should We Know?

Which areas of a health care facility electrical system must be tested for voltage difference between ground points, for ground return path voltage rise — in grounded systems or for test of impedance to ground — in isolated systems? Which loads of an electrical system in a health care facility are considered to be essential system loads and what kind of the power supply must be provided to these loads?

Emergency Lighting and Exit Signs Application and Installation Requirements

Application of certain types of electrical equipment may be governed by codes other than the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC). Emergency lighting and exit signs are good examples of such types of equipment.

Protection of Electrical Conductors: What, When and How

Canadian Electrical Code recognizes the fact that conductors used in any location must be protected against adverse effects of moisture, corrosive action, temperature and mechanical impact. Rules 4-006 and 12-100 of the CE Code state that the selected conductors must be suitable for condition of use in accordance with provisions of Table 19.

Emergency systems in the CE Code – food for thought and discussion

Section 46 of the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I governs installation, operation and maintenance of emergency systems. However, the scope of this section might be a bit confusing to some Code users. The scope states that rules of Section 46 apply "to emergency systems intended to supply power, in the event of failure of the normal power supply, where required by the National Building Code of Canada” (NBCC).

Fire Pumps Application and Installation Requirements

The CE Code, Part I governs installation of various electrical equipment. A fire pump is certainly also covered by the Code requirements. But in addition to the CEC, Part I, this type of electrical equipment must meet provisions of other important documents.

Approved Electrical Equipment Facts and Confusion

How often in Canada perplexed distributors or wholesalers of electrical equipment provided with various trademarks or other symbols of identification hear from a visiting inspector: "This equipment is not approved. It must not be offered for sale.” Electrical contractors can also share some of their confusion, when an inspector rejects a piece of electrical equipment for installation as being "unapproved,” although the equipment bears a familiar certification monogram. So, where is the problem, and why do "innocent” wholesalers or contractors encounter such adamant actions from the Canadian electrical inspectors?

Dual Role of Electrical Regulators

The Canadian electrical safety system is an envy of many countries that use their installation codes for regulatory purposes. This system is an excellent example of uniformity and consistency on application of the Canadian Electrical Code throughout jurisdictional areas of the country.

OBIEC and Electrical Regulators

OBIEC! What is it about, why did it appear on radar of the Canadian electrical safety practitioners, and how is it intended to be dealt with by the electrical industry? So, let’s explore this mysterious abbreviation step-by-step.