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November-December 2011
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Are Your Streetlights Grounded?

by Pete Jackson

It had been raining and the sidewalk was wet. This had been one of those summer storms where the temperature outside was a balmy 78 degrees. So the children playing on the sidewalk were in short pants, some were barefoot. One of these barefoot children, eight-year-old Sarah, was chasing Eric when she slipped on the wet surface and started to fall. Sarah reached out to grasp the nearby streetlight to break her fall. But, as she touched the metal pole, she got an electric shock, causing her to pull her hands away and hit her head on the sidewalk. Luckily, she ended up with only some scrapes and bruises. Read more

Perspectives on PV

Inspecting PV Systems

by John Wiles

Photovoltaic (PV) power systems are becoming more numerous, larger and more complex. Inspectors and plan reviewers have limited time to deal with these new systems and still carry on the routine electrical system inspections that have been done for 100 years or more. I intend for this "Perspectives on PV” articles to provide you with information on the Code requirements for these systems and also give you information on how to make the plan reviews and inspections easier and faster. Read more

Article 210, Branch Circuits — Part 2

by Randy Hunter

In this article we will continue where we left off discussing branch circuit requirements, picking up with 210.8, Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. First, we must take notice that this is for personnel protection only. There are other types of ground-fault protection which will be covered later in theNEC. Ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection was first introduced in the 1968 version of the NEC for swimming pool lights. Since then, the Code has continued to embrace and expand the requirements for GFCI protection (see photo 1 for a typical GFCI outlet device). Read more

Smart Grid and NFPA Electrical Safety Codes and Standards

by Lonny Simonian, PE; Dr. Thomas Korman, PE; Dr. Fredrick W. Mowrer; and David Phillips

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has "primary responsibility to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and systems…”1. Furthermore, NIST2 defines the term Smart Grid as.... Read more

Old Traditions / New Beginnings — A Year in Review

by Chuck Mello

There is an old saying, "How time flies when you are having fun.” All I can say is that these past twelve months have gone by at light speed. Even though the time has gone by so fast, as I reflect back on this year, a lot got done; and, yes, overall I enjoyed my time as the International President along with all the work. I do want to again thank each of the sections for the kind hospitality shown to me and my wife as we were able to visit and participate in these annual meetings. Read more

National Armored Cable Manufacturers Association Celebrates 25 Years

by National Armored Cable Manufacturers Association

The year 2011 is an exciting milestone for NACMA as it marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of the association, and celebrates the continued widespread knowledge and usage of armored cable within the electrical industry. Some will remember the term "BX” cable, which was the survivor of two experimental versions of early armored cable (AX and BX, with the "X” signifying "experimental”). BX cable was eventually produced and became the registered trade name of General Electric’s armored cable. Others know simply the term "armored cable.” Read more

Keeping What We Make, the Need to Store Energy

by Jonathan Cadd

While current methods used to produce energy are abundant, and the race for renewable energy is moving ahead at an unprecedented pace, what about the means to store the energy that has been generated, and the option to reuse this energy for another time? Read more

To code or not to code… is it even a question?

by Michael Savage, Sr.

Be an inspector for long enough and at some point you will be asking yourself that very same question. In over 16 years of code enforcement, I have tried to never think that I have seen it all; because, as soon as you think you have something new shows up. Read more

Solar Photovoltaic Installations

by Steve Douglas

Section 50 of the Canadian Electrical Code covering Solar Photovoltaic Installations has seen dramatic changes in the last year and a half. As a result of this action four new rules have been added, and all but two of the existing rules have changed. Rule numbers in this article are the rule numbers from the 2012 Canadian Electrical Code, and minor editorial changes have been left out. Read more

Introduction to Electronics

by Stephen J. Vidal

We learnedx what we are interested in for our study of electronics. Read more

Ohm’s Law and Torque

by David A. Kerr, Jr.

In the course of my travels for many years now, it has become apparent that most electricians don’t understand Ohm’s law, watts and torque. It’s very simple. Electrical wires and connections need to operate at a temperate of no more than 60° or 75° Celsius. Read more

Don’t Let Downgrade Deter You from Investing

by Jesse Abercrombie

Just when you thought you could take a break from financial drama, following the resolution of the debt ceiling issue, here comes Act 2: the downgrade of the U.S. long-term credit rating. As a citizen, you may be feeling frustrated. And as an investor, you might be getting worried. But is this concern really justified? Read more

Grounded in Gratitude

by Steve Foran

Yesterday I got a call from a friend who thought he had an electrical problem at his home. He said, "I was digging in the flower bed out back and hit a heavy gauge green wire with a steel rod attached to it.” Read more



When good ’nuff defeats the Better

by Kathryn Ingley

When my car began to run hot recently, I took it to a local garage with the hope that the repair would be simple and I could avoid the high costs charged by the dealership. The garage manager said we had two options: 1) flush the engine and change the oil, or 2) replace the oil pump, the timing belt and the water pump — with widely disparate pricing. When hope faded from my face, he added, the first option should be good ’nuff to take care of this problem, particularly since there is no history of overheating. Read more

Canadian Code

Maximum Circuit Loading

by Leslie Stoch

Maximum circuit loading is a recurring theme in the Canadian Electrical Code. Some of the code requirements are not entirely obvious without some head scratching. This article reviews Rule 8-104, maximum circuit loading which happens to be one such rule.. Read more

Canadian Perspectives

Installation of fire pumps — a bit of new information

by Ark Tsisserev

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. Read more

Safety in Our States

It’s a PV World After All

by Thomas A. Domitrovich

The harvesting of the sun’s power has increased in popularity to a point where an inspection or installation of a solar application is probably not new to many. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) reports that "Over 124,000 new solar heating, cooling, and solar electric installations were completed in 2010, an increase of 22% compared to the number of systems installed in 2009. The capacity of these installations is 981 MWDC for electricity production and 814 MWTH for thermal heating. Read more

UL Question Corner

Certified Ceiling Grids that Power Lighting Systems

by Underwriters Laboratories

Yes. UL certifies ceiling grids that power lighting systems under the UL product category Suspended-ceiling-grid Low-voltage Lighting Systems (IFFA) found on page 176 of the 2011 UL White Book. UL also certifies low-voltage luminaires and other accessories for these systems under the UL product category Suspended-ceiling-grid Low-voltage Lighting System Accessories (IFFC) on page 177 in the 2011 UL White Book. Both of these product categories can also be found on UL’s Online Certifications Directory at; simply enter the four letter category code (IFFA or IFFC) at the Category Code search field. Read more

Focus on the Code

Question: Single receptacle for a refrigerator?

by Bill McGovern

Do I need to install a single receptacle for a dwelling unit refrigerator if I install a 15-ampere individual branch circuit by employing Exception No. 2 to 210.52(B)(1), or can I install a duplex receptacle for this appliance? I see a duplex receptacle installed in this application all the time, but the individual branch circuit thing makes me think this might need to be a single receptacle. Read more

Focus on the Code

Both dc and ac photovoltaic systems in a common enclosure?

by James Rogers

Where conductors from both dc and ac photovoltaic systems utilize a common junction box or other enclosure, are there any special identification requirements for these conductors? Also, where photovoltaic circuits are run inside a building (whether in conduit or not), can these circuits be run embedded within insulation, and if so, is there any derating of such conductors required? Read more

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