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May-June 2010
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May-June 2010 CoverMay/June 2010


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Green Goggles Required Beyond This Point

by Thomas A. Domitrovich

Are you fed up with hearing the word "Green”? Are you ready to put a code proposal in to change the green conductors to yellow? Are you purposely drinking out of Styrofoam cups? Are you driving a vehicle with your catalytic converter removed? Even if all of this fits your position on Green, it is important to understand what it means, why it’s here and how it may impact the next job site we visit and have to inspect. Green is a hot topic and has been for a while. Green topics will probably be as such for some time to come. Whether you are watching HGTV, shopping at a grocery store, or working on projects for a client, you are getting hit with the green message from all angles. It can be overwhelming. Read more

Perspectives on PV

Connecting to Mother Earth

by John Wiles

When buying real estate, conventional wisdom dictates the three most important elements are—Location, Location, and Location. Based on my twenty-six years of working with PV systems, including the school of hard knocks, I strongly feel that the three most important elements to long- and short-term PV safety are—Grounding, Grounding, and Grounding. Read more

Renewable, Reliable, and Abundant Wind Energy — The Future is Here and Now!

by Jonathan Cadd

Imagine, if you will, a nation powered by a renewable, reliable, abundant, and virtually silent source of fuel that can be converted readily and efficiently to supply an ever-increasing demand for electricity. Imagine a source of fuel that will lessen the demands for fossil fuels, the threat of depleting the ozone and the global concern over ever-increasing carbon footprints. Not to mention a source of fuel that produces no pollution and is projected to save 4 trillion gallons of water in the U.S. alone by the year 2030. "Kryptonite?” you ask. Not quite, the source is here in our galaxy and right in our own backyards. Read more

The 2009 IECC: Increased Inspections and Testing Lead to Increased Energy Savings

by Pam Cole

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to improving the most popular model residential energy code by 30% by 2012 and moving to net zero energy homes by 2020. The first major step toward those goals is embodied in the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC). Read more

Grounding of Wind Power Systems and Wind Power Generators

by Sergio Panetta

Power continuity is essential in wind power projects where a tripped overcurrent device due to ground fault can have serious economic or operational consequences. An arcing phase-to-ground fault can totally destroy the equipment. Consequential downtime adds to the economic loss. Four typical grounding methods for generators and power systems are examined for these factors and the article concludes that resistance grounding provides the best protection against arcing ground-fault damage in wind power projects with distribution systems and improves reliability and availability of the power systems. Read more

Procedures for Inspecting Switchgear

by Robert McCullough

What’s big, gray, and should be approached carefully? If you answered "an elephant,” why are you reading an electrical book? If you answered "switchgear,” you’re probably a code weenie. Inpectors often ask, "What are the procedures for inspecting switchgear?” Like eating an elephant, the best approach is one bite at a time. Read more

GFCIs and Electrocution

by Cari Williamette

"According to Acting Chairman Anne Graham of the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, "The GFCI shock protector constantly monitors electricity flowing through a circuit. If the hair dryer or any electric appliance accidentally topples into the sink or tub, the GFCI will shut down the power in milliseconds to protect the consumer against electrocution or severe electrical burn injuries.” (CPSC News release, October 18, 1989). But do GFCIs actually protect people from electrocution? GFCIs measure the current flow on the "hot” conductor and compare it to the current flow on the "neutral” conductor. If the GFCI detects more than 5 – 7 milliamperes of difference, it will shut off the circuit. Read more

When Investing, Learn Aspects of Risks

by Jesse Abercrombie

Since I started working with electrical contractors and others in the electrical industry, I’ve been fortunate to learn things about the industry that most financial advisors don’t know. Like when it comes to an arc flash, preventive maintenance, worker training, and an effective safety program can significantly reduce arc flash exposure. Preventive maintenance should be conducted on a routine basis to ensure safe operation. But what should investors in the electrical industry be doing to minimize and to know the aspects of risk in their portfolio? Instead of trying to invest risk-free, which is impossible, you should learn to recognize the different types of investment risk while becoming familiar with your own risk tolerance. Read more

Electrical Safety — It is Time to Get Serious!

by Andrew Cochran

Despite awareness campaigns, industry statistics and loss summaries, annual safety conferences and numerous industry associations driving the safety message, we still more often than not take a reactive rather than proactive approach to electrical safety. Read more

Cable Tray Field Modification and Code Compliance

by Gregory Camburn

In the early 1970s, a new form of cable tray was introduced to the European market. Wire mesh basket tray promised savings in both materials and labor and gained considerable success in Europe through the mid-1990s when the concept was exported to the United States. The introduction of basket tray to the U. S. was focused almost entirely on telephone and computer cabling system applications because that market offered less resistance than the electrical power market.1 Voice and data jobs often required no electrical permits or inspections so there was little regulatory oversight from AHJs. Read more



Canadian Code

Room for Improvement

by Leslie Stoch

Continuous improvement takes place throughout our lives. We learn from our mistakes and as we gain experience, we try hard to avoid repeating them. Without looking too hard, we can usually identify where our decisions could have been better. The Canadian Electrical Code, under continual review, is no exception. This article discusses some places where there is still room for improvement. Read more

Canadian Perspectives

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

by Ark Tsisserev

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. Read more

Safety in Our States

Extreme Indoor Air Quality Issues

by Thomas A. Domitrovich

While performing inspections, you may be confronted with electrical components that just don’t appear normal and it may be for unexpected reasons. It is important to understand that there is an issue impacting indoor air quality currently being investigated and it may impact electrical metal components. Although extreme, and not quite the norm, some individuals are experiencing that Chinese drywall, sometimes referred to as "contaminated drywall” or "tainted drywall,” has negative impacts on health and on metal products in a home. Read more

UL Question Corner

Is all Type PLTC cable sunlight-resistant or is it sunlight-resistant only if marked?

by Underwriters Laboratories

All listed power limited tray cable or Type PLTC is sunlight-resistant and may be marked "sun res” or "sunlight resistant” but is not required to be so marked. PLTC cable is listed under the product category Power Limited Circuit Cable (QPTZ) located on page 320 in the 2010 UL White Book. The Guide Information for (QPTZ) in the 2010 White Book doesn’t make it clear that the jacket is sunlight-resistant even if it isn’t marked. Read more

UL Question Corner

Can a sealing gasket be installed on the interior of the enclosure to maintain the rating?

by Underwriters Laboratories

No, UL lists sealing gaskets under the product category "Outlet Bushings and Fittings, (QCRV).” Guide Information for this category can be found in UL’s Online Certifications Directory at and on page 296 in the 2010 UL White Book. Read more

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