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September-October 2003
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September-October 2003 CoverSeptember-October 2003


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LEDs vs. The Lightbulb

by David Talbot

It’s a sunny day on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, but little light penetrates the labs and offices of Shuji Nakamura. Shades sheathe the windows in part because, Nakamura says, "I worry about unknown people around here—that they will include a spy.” That sounds farfetched until you consider that Nakamura, who played a lead role in the development of blue light-emitting materials, is now back for a second act. In the 1990s Nakamura gained fame by cooking up the first semiconductor materials to emit bright blue light—a boon for displays and data storage—and sparked a global race to perfect the materials. He made those trailblazing lasers and their glowing cousins, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), at Toku­shima, Japan-based Nichia—and became a sort of national folk hero in the process. Read more

Ambient Temperature Ampacity Corrections for Cable Bundling and Direct Solar Exposure

by Travis C. Lindsey

Heat is one of the enemies of electrical systems. As part of a larger study of elevated ambient temperatures in residential and non-residential structures in Las Vegas, Nevada, two experiments were carried out that would seem to require some action in the National Electrical Code. They involve 1) bundled cable normally found above a load center or at other points of concentrated electrical service, and 2) conductors in conduits exposed to direct sunlight. Read more

Electrical Circuit Functionality During a Fire Scenario

by Robert Berhinig

Electrical power is essential for the continued operation of various types of fire safety related equipment under fire conditions. Fire safety equipment includes fire pumps, fire alarm signaling equipment, elevators, alarms and industrial process control equipment. The National Electrical Code addresses the importance of maintaining the circuit functionality by requiring protection from potential damage by fire, structural failure or operational accident in Article 695 for fire pumps, Article 700 for emergency systems and Article 760 for fire alarm systems. Read more

Installing and Inspecting Neon Transformers

by Michael Johnston

Neon signs and field-installed skeleton tubing installations require a transformer or power supply to step up the voltage to a high level that will cause ignition of connected neon tubing. This transformer can be considered the "heart beat” of the neon sign or outline lighting system. Recent articles in the IAEI News have been written to provide information relative to neon signs and neon installations. This article will visit some of the general requirements one must be aware of to properly install or inspect a neon transformer or power supply. Keep in mind that installation conditions can vary from site to site. There are some important factors and concerns involved with this type of installation that require close attention. High voltages require increased focus on insulation, spacing, and types of wiring methods and products used. Specified minimum clearances for high voltage conductors must be maintained. Read more

AFCI Forum


It is true that code-making panel 2 has proposed revising 210.12(B) to require "an arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.” However, we believe, that it is not true that a change to the existing Code is advisable. The need and benefit has not been substantiated. The reliability with respect to nuisance trip immunity has not been established with adequate operational time in the field. In particular, the existing code is non-exclusionary and already allows for the deployment of these devices. A code change is not necessary. Read more

Proposed Code Changes for the 2005 NEC, Part 2

by Michael Johnston

This article is intended to provide a preview of some of the more significant proposed changes to the 2005 NEC. This is a continuation of Part I provided in the July/August issue. It is important to understand that this summary is not intended to indicate that the Code is going to be revised as provided in this article, only that these are initial proposals that were acted on by the code-making panels in the proposal stage of the overall process. Part I reviewed various proposals from Articles 80 through 230. This collection of significant proposed changes provides a preview of proposed changes starting in Article 240 and visiting other revisions proposed to various other articles through to Chapter 8. Read more

Suburban Division Legislative Committee Materializes into Political Action Committee

by Barbara Grady

Illinois is one of the few states that has not adopted a state electrical code and does not license electricians, contractors, or inspectors. Of particular concern to members of the Suburban Division, Illinois Chapter, is the ten-year continuing debate of a state code and licensing regulations with no action. Code adoption, licensing and enforcement are done on a local level. It is different from one town to another. Read more

Photoluminescent Exit Signs

by Gregory Steinman

Photoluminescent signs are no longer considered supplementary means of egress for today’s buildings; they are relied upon as the main means of egress lighting in the form of exit signs. Photoluminescent signs are glow-in-the-dark products that rely on an external light source for "charging.” Read more

A Century of Safety Standards – UL Celebrates 100 Years of Developing Safety Standards

by Underwriters Laboratories

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first safety standard. UL, whose familiar Mark appears on billions of products each year, is one of the world’s leading standards writing organizations. UL has published more than 880 Standards for Safety since 1903 — the not-for-profit company was founded in 1894 — for products ranging from fire-rated building materials to information technology equipment to electrical household appliances. Read more



One Down…

by James W. Carpenter

June 1, 2003, was my first anniversary as your CEO and executive director. My, how time does fly! What has happened in the past year? My and Mary Anne’s grandson has gotten a year older and is quite the young man, just passing through the "terrible twos,” and we have a new granddaughter that is already wrapping everyone around her little finger. Of course, we are a year older too, but let’s not talk about that! Read more

Canadian Code

Communications System Wiring

by Leslie Stoch

The Canadian Electrical Code, Section 60, Electrical Communications Systems covers the requirements for communications systems wiring entering into buildings and installed throughout buildings. The code considers a communications system, any system that carries voice, sound or data signals. In addition to communications services such as telephone systems, radio, television, remote control and fire alarm systems are all deemed to be communications circuits when their signals are carried through communications lines. Although Section 60 focuses mainly on the electrical safety requirements, it also addresses a number of technical issues. Read more

UL Question Corner

Is the flange that sticks down through the ceiling that the trim mounts through considered part of the points of support?

by Underwriters Laboratories

Type Non-IC recessed incandescent fixtures are Listed under the product category Incandescent Recessed Luminaires (IEZX), the UL Guide Information is located on page 45 in the 2003 White Book and includes important explanations of installation markings. Read more

Other Code

Existing Facilities Must Comply With What Edition?

by David Young

Lawyers often ask me if the particular electric supply conductors involved in an electric contact accident were in compliance with the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) at the time of the accident. Since the code from 1990 to the present requires all existing facilities to comply with either the code in effect at the time of the original installation, a subsequent code, or the present code, I first ask when the accident occurred and if there have been any changes to the facilities since the accident. Barring any changes to the facilities since the accident, I then evaluate whether the conductors and the structures to which they are attached comply with the code in effect at the time of the accident. Read more

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