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January-February 2010
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January-February 2010 CoverJanuary/February 2010


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The Illusion of GFCI Protection

by Thomas A. Rorro, P.E., E.I.

During the required annual pool inspections for commercial indoor pools, the inspector happened upon a ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) device, with a water cooler connected but without a cover plate. Using his tester it was discovered that the GFCI device protecting the receptacle failed to trip. Expanding the test to all GFCI devices around the pool, it was discovered that the failure rate was 100%. The devices were subsequently removed and sent to Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for evaluation. The end result of this process was disappointing, but it demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the overall system that exists to insure electrical safety. Read more

Perspectives on PV

Supply-side PV Utility Connections

by John Wiles

Many larger PV systems cannot meet the requirements for a load-side (of the service disconnect) connection to the premises wiring system and a supply-side connection must be considered. Read more

Hazardous Area Classification: Division or Zone — You Do Have a Choice

by Jonathan Cadd

OK all you sports fans out there, it’s football season; and everyone is fired up and running out to buy the latest item of team gear to show their support. But, hey, wait just a minute; your team did real well last season, but maybe it’s time to make a different choice for this season. I know you’re thinking to yourself, What do football and hazardous locations have to do with each other, right? Well, just like with football teams, in a hazardous (classified) area, you also have a choice. Read more

Do you inspect and approve electric signs? Things you may want to know about your authority

by Randy Wright

In most jurisdictions in this country, there has been implemented some version of a building code. Beyond the quality and safety issue, the electric sign or outline lighting installation shall comply with the building code. The building code, which is either adopted by local ordinance or by state mandate, requires electrical utilization equipment (electric signs) to be installed in accordance with the provisions of NFPA 70, the National Electric Code. Read more

A New Generation

by W. A. Werning

A former student called me to ask how to size a new generator for a facility. He said the calculated load would be 1200 amps at 277/480 three-phase four-wire. It would be used for supplying power when the normal electrical supply system is interrupted. This would include lighting for general illumination, for life support equipment found in operating rooms and for other electrical emergency systems necessary for safety and health of the occupants. Read more

Electrical Installations After the Fire

by Darren Margerison

Australia is a country that has a variety of terrains from the tropical regions of the north to the mountains in the south. In February 2009, Victoria experienced one of the natural disasters that result from bushfires that become out of control. All of Victoria had reached the 40°C (104°F) temperatures in many areas by 11 a. m., along with hot northerly winds that would create havoc upon Victorians for many weeks to come. Read more

A closer look back—50 years ago

by Andre Cartal

Of all the NECs that I have had to enforce since the 1947 edition, the one that really still sticks in my mind is the 1959 NEC. It introduced the present-day receptacle spacing for dwellings that we all take for granted. The 1953 NEC said that every 20 feet of wall space had to have a receptacle; the 1956 NEC said that every 12 feet of wall space had to have a receptacle, but those did not specify its location on the wall space. Read more

Rick Maddox: 2010 International President

by Rick Maddox

Richard A. Maddox, was installed on November 13, 2009, as international president of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. He currently is a supervising building inspector with the Clark County Development Services Department, Inspections Division, in Las Vegas, Nevada. In this position, he supervises a staff of ten to twelve inspectors. Read more

Tony Rabasco, A Study in Resilience

by Ron Troyer

Few can claim the honor and the privilege of being a decorated war veteran, and even fewer can claim a career in the electrical industry spanning sixty-five years. But what really sets Anthony (Bosco) Rabasco apart is the fact Tony just acquired all three electrical certifications (One- and Two-Family Dwelling, General and Plan Review) within a five-month period—a feat the average person would find challenging at best. But even that seems trivial when you consider Tony has done this at age eighty-one! To understand this man’s inner drive requires a deeper look into the person and the fascinating life he has led. Read more



Gratitude and Survival

by Kathryn Ingley

As this issue was in final production before going to press, we were approaching the Thanksgiving holidays. I was working on this editorial and thinking about how in three days I would welcome a mixture of family, friends and several guests of my son, young professionals who would not be seeing their parents this year; some had had hard-won successes, some had lost their jobs, others were struggling to hang on. Several of them had expressed gratitude for his invitation. Read more

Canadian Code

Section 30 – Recessed Luminaires

by Leslie Stoch

Misapplication of recessed lighting can result in fires and have other serious consequences. For this reason, the National Building Code of Canada and applicable Provincial and Territorial building codes specify that recessed lighting "fixtures” must not be located in insulated ceilings unless the fixtures are designed for such installation. Read more

Canadian Perspectives

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

by Ark Tsisserev

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. Read more

Safety in Our States

Safety in Our States

by Thomas A. Domitrovich

We should all be champions of electrical safety and strive to ensure that our customers, our friends and our families do not experience the worst that electricity has to offer. In the words of Wesley Smith of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who almost had a major incident, "Fire is something that you definitely don’t want to have happen to you, and it’s something that could have easily happened (to me). But since I had an experience that made me very aware, I wouldn’t put in another circuit unless it was protected with an arc-fault circuit interrupter.” Mr. Smith is among many others who have experienced an electrical incident. Fortunately, in his case no lives were taken and no valuable property was lost. In this article, we will explore electrical fires and an update of the 2008 NEC adoption process across the United States. The incidents shared here are real and based on actual experiences. Read more

UL Question Corner

Was the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s (FPRF) Residential Electrical System Aging Research Project completed?

by Underwriters Laboratories

I understand UL conducted research on old homes to determine the effects of aging on residential electrical wiring systems. Is that research project complete, and where can I get the report and any recommendations from the research? Read more

UL Question Corner

Do Stacked AFCIs Cause Panelboards to Overheat?

by Underwriters Laboratories

I have noticed that arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCI) circuit breakers tend to be warmer to the touch than regular circuit breakers. Now that the 2008 NEC requires most circuits in a dwelling to be protected by a combination-type AFCI circuit breaker, and there will be more AFCIs stacked into a panel, will the added heat affect the operation of the circuit breakers in the panelboard or create a hazard? Read more

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