Top 14 Reasons Electrical Service Installations Get Red Tagged

Whether located inside or outdoors, premises wiring systems powered by an electric utility have what is known as an electrical service. It is the portion of the electrical system from the utility-defined point of connection to the input terminals of the main overcurrent device — although strictly speaking (not included in this definition), the entrance panel is generally considered part of the service.

Because the service components carry a substantial amount of current and their overcurrent protection is much higher (less sensitive) than the ampacities of service conductors and terminals, design and installation are critical. Typically, an electrical inspector will take a good hard look at the service to make sure all is in order prior to signing off on the installation. It's your job to avoid these all too common "red tag" failure points.

This list shows some common missteps electricians, and other non-professional installers, make in electrical service installations across the country. 

1. No Cover on Panelboard

An energized electrical panel should not be operated with the cover removed because: 

  • A complete enclosure is necessary to contain sparks in case of line-to-line or line-to-ground fault. 
  • Exposed energized terminals are a shock hazard. 
  • The cover helps hold the main and branch circuit breakers firmly in place, preventing arcing at the bus bars.

2. Missing or Incomplete Directory on Panelboard

A complete and accurate directory is needed to selectively de-energize branch circuits for maintenance. Entries should not refer to current occupants (e.g., John's Room).

3. Meter Enclosure Out of Plumb

All boxes, including the entrance panel, must be plumb and firmly secured.

4. Missing Knockout Closures

Unused knockouts that have been removed must be fitted with closure blanks (made for the purpose) to ensure integrity of the enclosure.

5. Missing Bonding Connection on Water Pipe

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires metal water piping to be bonded to the electrical grounding system. This is usually accomplished by connecting to the grounded conductor at the service equipment enclosure. The bonding conductor is sized in accordance with NEC Table 250.66. The points of attachment of the bonding jumper(s) must be accessible.

6. Insufficient Grounding

The NEC requires that a single rod, pipe, or plate electrode be supplemented by an additional electrode if its resistance to earth is greater than 25 ohms. Rather than go through the hassle of measuring ground resistance, many electricians simply drive a second ground rod [as required by NEC Sec. 250.53(A)(2)], and call it a day. In addition, the grounding electrode conductor raceway, which is metallic, should extend below grade and be bonded at the bottom. Most electricians use PVC raceway here to eliminate the need for bonding.

7. Lack of Corrosion Inhibitor with Aluminum Wire

Aluminum conductors are generally used instead of their copper counterparts between the utility point of connection and the main breaker. Including the meter socket, which is usually part of this scenario, there are numerous aluminum terminations. Each one of these requires corrosion inhibitor to ensure that the connection does not oxidize with attendant heat and arcing. Manufacturer's instructions, which are incorporated in the UL listing, state that the metal is to be wire brushed before applying the inhibitor.

8. Main Bonding Jumper is Missing

The main bonding jumper is to be field-installed. It is not to be used if the box is not used as service equipment (i.e., as a downstream load center).

9. Improperly Sized Service

The service size is based on the lighting load plus other loads. Calculation requirements are detailed in NEC Art. 220. Residential and commercial occupancies are figured differently.

10. Service Wire Not Sized Properly

Service conductor sizing is based on the connected load, with different sizes for dwellings and non-dwellings. This is critical because the service conductors are not protected for their ampacity by up-stream overcurrent devices.

11. Telephone or Data Wires Attached to Masthead

A very common Code violation is connection of non-service conductors or other equipment to a masthead. The problem here is that they add to the lateral load on the masthead raceway, especially if there is ice build up or wind load present on the span.

12. Coupling in Masthead Raceway Placed Above the Roof

Because strength of the masthead is critical, there should not be a coupling between the point at which the raceway emerges from the roof and the point of attachment, which is where the lateral loading occurs. Waterpipe should never be used as a masthead.

13. Inadequate Ground Clearance

The point of attachment at the building must be 10 ft above the finished grade and high enough so that the required clearance above grade level is maintained for the entire span. For overhead service conductors over residential property and driveways — and those commercial areas not subject to truck traffic where the voltage does not exceed 300V to ground — this clearance is 12 ft.

14. No Arc Fault Breakers in Panelboard

Just as the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects individuals against electric shock, the arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) mitigates the hazard of electrical fire. Neither of these life-saving devices is effective if not in place. NEC requires specific locations in dwellings and non-dwellings to be so protected. AFCI protection usually takes the form of specialized circuit breakers installed in the entrance panel. Because of their distinctive appearance with an extra white pigtail that is to be connected to the neutral bar, it is obvious when they are missing.

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See the original full article at: https://www.ecmweb.com/contractor/top-14-reasons-electrical-service-installations-get-red-tagged

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Why do I need a personal Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)?

With all the bad weather we have had in the area - and it doesn't look like it will lighten up soon - consider the benefits of having a UPS:

Imagine you are working on an important job for your company's most profitable client. Or perhaps you are in college and working on a final term paper. Maybe it is a massive spreadsheet or a multiple page document that you have spent hours working on. Suddenly the power at your office or home goes out! All your hard work has been lost. If only your computer was connected to a UPS, your data may have been saved.

What is a UPS?

In computer terminology, UPS stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply. An Uninterruptible Power Supply is an electrical device, typically with internal batteries, that store power to supply energy to connected devices if normal power is interrupted.

In the event of a power failure, the UPS will instantaneously switch over to its batteries to continue to provide power to connected devices for a period of time to allow the user to save data, shut down properly, or turn on a backup power source such as a generator. The period of time that a UPS will provide power to connected devices ultimately depends on the capacity of its batteries and the load that is connected to it.

Why do I need one?

So why do you need a UPS? Consider it like an insurance policy. People and property have insurance in case something bad or unexpected happens. Most people do not want to get sick, involved in a car accident or worse but in the event that something like this happens insurance policies make us whole again.

Having a UPS is like an insurance policy for your electronics. Power outages are random, brown-outs happen unexpectedly, so why would you not want to protect your PC, server, or even just your big screen TV in your living room at home! It's better to be safe than to be sorry. 

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See the original full article at: https://sandstormit.com/why-do-i-need-an-uninterruptible-power-supply-ups/

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Avoid Counterfeit Electrical Parts & Equipment

If you go to eBay to buy a voltage relay, you might choose Omron—oops, actually that's Omrch. It's a counterfeit part. It looks like Omron. Except, it's fake.
Omron relays are real. Omrch relays are fake. On the technology and software media website Hackaday, Al Williams describes the fakes: "Your ear can detect the counterfeits by the varying sounds they make during operation." He writes the investigation went deeper after the relays were tested at their rated voltages and heat dissipation measured.

"The results were not surprising," he writes. "At lower voltages, the relays seemed to do okay, but closer to the maximums it's obvious the components in the fakes are not rated for enough power to work. You can even see some charring of a resistor and its plastic holder from having too much power for the component's rating."

Then the clincher: "The conclusion was that these relays might work for light-duty projects, but for commercial projects or operating near the edge of the ratings, you want to give these a pass."

Scenarios like this are becoming more common, and there is no telling how many electrical products are fakes. But they are for sale all over the internet and aren't always easy to detect. In fact, it's hard to know if a website, which offers what you're looking for, is legit at all. Many are set up to sell products that are made from fabricated intellectual property.

In May 2018, Rogelio Vasquez, the owner of PRB Logics Corp. in Orange County, Calif., seller of electronic components, was arrested for selling counterfeit integrated circuits. Worse, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, the products could have been used in military applications.

Vasquez used discarded integrated circuits from Chinese suppliers. They were repainted and remarked with counterfeit logos. Then they were remarked with altered date codes, lot codes or countries of origin and relabeled with more recognizable names like Xilinx, Analog Devices and Intel. It was outright deception. Customers would think they were new.

In the report, "Trends in Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Illicit Trade," the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented a comprehensive look at this issue. Electrical contractors need to be fully aware of the prevalence of fakes and counterfeits available for sale from global sources.

The report states: "The volume of international trade in counterfeit and pirated products could amount to as much as U.S. $509 billion. This represents up to 3.3 percent of world trade. This amount does not include domestically produced and consumed counterfeit and pirated products, or pirated digital products being distributed via the Internet. The previous OECD-EUIPO study, which relied on the same methodology, estimated that up to 2.5 percent of world trade was in counterfeit and pirated goods in 2013, equivalent to up to U.S. $461 billion."

The report refers to various products and equipment—not just electrical related. Many such items are on websites that appear legitimate. The prices are attractive, but the products are fake. In 2018, approximately 33,600 website domain names were criminally seized through a joint effort with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security, Europol, Interpol and police agencies from 26 different countries.

"Caveat emptor"—buyer beware—says it's the purchaser's responsibility to research goods before buying them. For the average person, the consequences of not heeding this advice is usually benign, but electrical contractors can't afford to risk purchasing any product that is fake or counterfeit. While officials work hard to sift such products out, they still end up in finished goods, original equipment and installed systems.

In 2017, Mary Denison, trademark commissioner of the Congressional Trademark Caucus, raised caution about the cost of counterfeit goods and the safety risk they pose.

"Counterfeit goods cost the United States billions of dollars and countless jobs annually," she said. "They also undermine consumer confidence in brand integrity when purchasers encounter knock-off goods of inferior quality. They reduce tax revenue, support organized crime and terrorism, undermine national security, reduce brand owner profit and innovation, increase prevention and enforcement costs, and yes, sometimes even kill people."

The best defense is awareness and skepticism. If a price seems too good, it very well may be. If a product looks brand name, but something is missing, it may be fake. Unless a product has your full confidence, proceed with caution.

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See the original full article at: https://www.ecmag.com/section/safety/fakes-and-frauds-counterfeit-electrical-parts-and-equipment

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2020 NEC First Draft Now Open for Review and Public Comment

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the most important and comprehensive document created for the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the use of electricity and its hazards. Right now, the 2020 edition is headed through the standards development process, and you have a chance to review the changes and submit public comments.

"The NEC is developed using an open consensus process that is governed by ANSI," said Michael Johnston, executive director of standards and safety for the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). "The NEC is the industry's electrical code, the best and most widely adopted electrical code in the world. As such, the NEC development process is transparent, allowing everyone to view what is being changed for the next edition and providing an opportunity to weigh in."

Johnston encouraged everyone to be part of the solution and tremendous work that goes into each edition of the Code.

The closing date for the public comment period is Aug. 30, 2018. Any objections or change requests must be made during this period.

After the public comment period, the technical committee will review the comments and meet to develop the second draft, which is scheduled to be posted on Apr. 5, 2019, beginning the period for notices of intent to make a motion (NITMAMs). During this time, the public may review the second draft and submit NITMAMs. The NITMAM closing date will be Apr. 26, 2019, and the posting date will be May 17, 2019.

This will conclude the public input and public comment stages; however, the NFPA Technical meeting, which is held each June at the NFPA Conference & Expo, provides a final opportunity to comment and discuss the 2020 NEC. For an opportunity to discuss proposed changes at this time, further NITMAMs must be submitted before the conference.

After that, the 2020 NEC is scheduled for issuance in August 2019.

Stay tuned for more as the 2020 NEC makes its way through the development process.

For more information and to submit a comment visit https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70&tab=nextedition

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See the original full article at: https://www.ecmag.com/section/codes-standards/2020-nec-first-draft-now-open-review-and-public-comment 

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Previewing Changes from the NEC 2020 Code Review

Every three years, members of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) meet to review, modify and add new National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70, requirements to enhance electrical safety in the workplace and the home. This year's code review is well underway: the second draft of NEC 2020 is complete and the annual NFPA Conference and Expo is scheduled for late June.
What follows is a preview of what are, in my opinion, the most significant code changes on track to pass. In this blog, I'll explore the reasoning for each change and the future steps the NEC may take beyond 2020 regarding:

• Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection
• Service entrance equipment
• Reconditioned equipment
• Performance testing
• Load calculations
• Available fault current and temporary power

This is a high-level overview. In the coming months, my Eaton colleagues and I will dig deeper into each topic as part of a continuing series on the 2020 code review cycle.

GFCI protection
The 2020 change
Code-making panel 2 (CMP 2) removed the reference to 15A and 20A recognizing protection for any amp-rated receptacle outlet in the identified locations.
The rationale for change
This is a movement toward streamlining both 210.8(A) for dwelling units and 210.8(B) for other than dwelling units. Feedback suggested electrical engineers, suppliers and contractors now realize it doesn't matter where a GFCI is installed and that we need not identify different locations. CMP 2 also recognized that a hazard doesn't change when a circuit is greater than 20 amps. Whether an installation is 15 to 20 amps or 60 amps, circuit risks still exist and protection is warranted.
What might the future hold?
As GFCI requirements continue to change, product compatibility (unwanted tripping) still consumes some professionals, often without cause. Nevertheless, I believe the industry will continue to create new products that align with GFCIs. In addition, some believe it's prudent to extend GFCI protection to all branch circuits. I expect spirited debates regarding increased safety versus cost as the industry contemplates future code reviews.

Service entrance equipment
The 2020 change
NEC changes continue the mission of aligning code with product advances. Updates will address an array of safety issues:
• Service panelboards with six disconnects are no longer permitted
• Fire-fighter disconnects for one- and two-family dwellings are now included
• Line-side barrier requirements are expanded to service equipment beyond panelboards
• Arc reduction for services 1200 amps and greater must ensure arcing currents activate arc reduction technology
• Short-circuit current ratings (SCCR): pressure connectors and devices must be marked "suitable for use on the line side of the service equipment" or equivalent
• Surge protective devices are required for all dwelling units
The rationale for change
The NEC recognized the vulnerabilities and hazards associated with equipment and changed many longstanding rules. Because there's no protection from a utility, the NEC began changing service codes in the 2014 cycle and today is more aware of technologies and solutions that help mitigate and reduce the likelihood of arc flash and shock.
What might the future hold?
Rules that we have lived with and accepted for years are now in question as technology continues to advance. With that, safety knowledge within our industry and the NEC will continue to challenge norms.

Reconditioned equipment
The 2020 change
Updates will establish a foundation for future efforts to add clarity, expand and correct requirements within the NEC for reconditioned and used equipment. The changes are the NEC's first foray into ensuring proper reconditioning for electrical equipment.
The rationale for change
While reconditioned equipment has its merits, not all rebuilt devices are re-created equally. With that, the correlating committee put out a public comment to all code panels, asking each to consider equipment in their purview and determine what can and cannot be reconditioned per National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) allowances for refurbished equipment.
What might the future hold?
I see challenges on two fronts. First, the NEC will need to add more clarity to terminology around "reconditioning," "refurbishing" and the like. Secondly, changes do not dictate how resellers must refurbish equipment, which presents a safety concern. With that, resellers must rely on original manufacturer documentation. I believe the industry will see an increase in documentation awareness and raise more questions, such as listing refurbished equipment to one standard or many. The creation of additional listing marks may also stir debate.

Performance testing
The 2020 change
The NEC now requires primary current injection testing for some Article 240.87 equipment after installation. Following manufacturer instructions is also permitted as primary current injection testing may not always make sense.
The rationale for change
The stage was set with existing NEC requirements for field testing of ground-fault protection of equipment technologies upon installation, and no requirements exist for testing 240.87 equipment after installation. During public input phases, some in the industry expressed concerns with the cost of transporting test equipment, testing the correct areas of functionality and making sure manufacturers' test instructions are followed. The rule change addresses some of these concerns and, more importantly, advances worker safety.
What might the future hold?
The NEC determines what must be done; how changes are implemented is not something the NEC often defines. In that light, I'm working with NEMA to create testing processes and guidance and look forward to discussions that influence post-installation best practices.

Load calculations
The 2020 change
CMP 2 will reduce load calculation multipliers to account for higher-efficiency lighting solutions in other than dwelling units.
The rationale for change
The electrical industry has a strong focus on sustainability, reducing carbon footprints and creating technologies that reduce energy use. However, the NEC had yet to change load calculations to accommodate. 2020 code changes will account for lower VA usage of lighting loads and adjust calculations accordingly. Energy codes drive the changes; jurisdictions across the country enforce a variety of energy codes (or possibly none at all), and the proposed solution considers them all. Thus, the NEC will take a conservative approach toward reducing multipliers to assure circuits do not trip under normal conditions.
What might the future hold?
Opportunities exist to improve load calculations for other applications such as mission-critical healthcare systems, but the industry must proceed cautiously. The healthcare environment is one where power cannot go out, especially during medical emergencies. I believe the industry will work to understand worst-case load scenarios and determine a reasonable approach to load calculations for devices like feeders, branch circuits and service entrance equipment.

Available fault current and temporary power
The 2020 changes
The NEC will require marking available fault current on all equipment, including switchboards, switchgear and panelboards. Changes will impact temporary power equipment:
• Article 408.6 will extend to temporary power equipment and require markings for available fault current and the date of calculation
• Article 590.8(B) for temporary overcurrent protection devices between 150 volts to ground and 1000 volts phase-to-phase will be current limiting
The rationale for change
Panelboards, switchboards and switchgear were not part of the 2017 code update for marking available fault current. The NEC continues to take steps to increase the likelihood that ratings are higher than available short-circuit current. This is especially important for temporary power equipment that moves from job site to job site and experiences tremendous wear and tear. To ensure proper function, temporary equipment will reduce the power system stresses no matter where a given temporary system is installed.
What might the future hold?
The NEC continues to focus on the basics. Interrupting ratings and SCCR are important for safety, but they're not receiving proper attention in the field. I expect field marking of panels with SCCR and available fault current to drive change in the industry and raise awareness on how equipment is labeled to determine the SCCR rating. Some equipment base SCCR on the lowest interrupting rating overcurrent protection device, but inspectors and installers must be mindful of that scenario to ensure proper installation. Equipment labeling will come under scrutiny, as will the methods used to calculate fault currents.

Looking to the future

2020 code changes will be substantial in that the code-making panel looks to soon modify tried-and-true requirements—some of which have existed for decades. Of course, there are many details to consider both now and in the future. As part of this continuing series, my Eaton colleagues and I will dig deeper into each of the topics I've listed and offer opinions on where the NEC may take safety tomorrow. 

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See the original full article at: https://www.eaton.com/us/en-us/company/news-insights/for-safetys-sake-blog/the-NEC-2020-code-review.html

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