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15 Posts authored by: jsargent Employee
electrical safety
When you think of summer, many things immediately come to mind: warm days filled with outdoor activities, delicious barbecues, and evenings spent with family and friends or at your favorite baseball team’s game. But what many people are not thinking about this time of year is whether their home’s electrical system is adequately protected against the effects of something else that summer brings…thunderstorms. Depending upon where you live (and it seems like they’re popping up all across the country these days), thunderstorms are more often than not a regular or semi-regular occurrence. Many people don’t realize that the real enemy of our electrical system is not the thunder, but the lightning that precedes it; dozens of fires that happen around the country every year are attributed to lightning.
The power of lightning strikes
Lightning that strikes directly and in the vicinity of power lines or a structure can introduce high voltage impulses, known as transients, into the electrical system of a building or home and can cause equipment damage or failures. These damages cost property owners millions of dollars every year. The damage may be the cumulative result of transients on the electrical system that have occurred over an extended period of time, or in the case of a severe lightning strike during a rain storm or other surge causing event, it can be immediate. And while lightning is the most common cause of these voltage surges in homes, other events such as trees blown down on power lines or an automobile accident that takes out a utility pole, can result in an equipment damaging surge, too.
Investing in electrical safety
While the effects of transients due to lightning strikes do not make the headlines like a major hurricane, tornado, wildfire or flood, the impact can be significant. As a homeowner you know how much your family relies on electronic equipment in your home and the investment you’ve made in such equipment, which is often worth thousands of dollars. But while computers, printers, televisions and other home entertainment devices, as well as many appliances, are all built with electronic circuitry that is powered by the home electrical system, they are often sensitive to a sudden increase or spike in the voltage on the supply line. 
Other home safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters and arc-fault circuit interrupters also have sensitive electronics that can be damaged by transients. It’s true that electrical systems of homes have devices such as circuit breakers and fuses that protect against overcurrent conditions, but there are no mandatory requirements in the current NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® - the code that helps keep homes and buildings safe from electrical hazards - that mandate overvoltage protection in homes. That means that while electronic circuitry has been around for decades, the amount of electronic equipment in today’s home has necessitated that the electrical industry become more proactive about protecting a family’s valuable property. 
Surge protection options
So how does a homeowner in today's electronics-filled world reduce the risk for electrical equipment fires, damage or failures? From whole-house type equipment to localized protection such as receptacles (commonly referred to as outlets or plugs), there are many different forms of surge protection available. Some options include:
  • Relocatable power taps (plug strips) that have a surge protective component built into them 
  • Surge protective devices (SPDs) to protect large-scale electrical equipment (large HD flat screen televisions, high-end appliances, etc.) in the home
  • Surge protective devices located at the service panel that protect life safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters, and arc-fault circuit interrupters 
Best practices dictate that before embarking on any electrical project you should first consult a qualified electrical contractor who can help you determine what you need and the best course of action. And always make sure that any device used to provide surge protection has been evaluated and carries the mark of a recognized third-party electrical testing organization. Lastly, you may want to consider checking with your insurer to see if you are covered for lightning-induced overvoltage damage to electronic equipment in your home since not all policies are the same. 
So what are you waiting for? Protect your home and electronic equipment against the impact of surges and the damage they can cause. By preparing ahead you'll feel better knowing you're keeping you, your family and your home, safer from fire and other electrical hazards.   
For additional information about electrical safety including tip sheets and checklists please visit NFPA’s webpage. 

Many people have asked me how they can be part of NFPA’s technical committees, most notably in the electrical space. In this short video I discuss the process for becoming a member of the technical committee on electrical inspection and playing a role in helping develop the first editions of NFPA 78 and NFPA 1078. I hope you find the information valuable and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Are you interested in making changes to the codes and standards that affect your job? If yes, you’ll want to watch this short video as I discuss one of the tentative interim amendments (TIA) related to GFCI protection in marinas, and explain the process for commenting on the First Draft of the 2020 NEC. We hope to hear from you.
The deadline for comments is August, 30, 2018.

 

In my recent NFPA Live session I went over the recently issued tentative interim amendments for the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code. These TIAs have provided more options to comply with the ground-fault protection requirements for marina and boatyard electrical systems.

 

 In the above video I provide a bit of background on the evolution of this requirement.  NFPA Live is exclusively for NFPA members, but I'm sharing this excerpt with you. I hope you find some value in it.

 

Jeff Sargent is a Regional Electrical Code Specialist at NFPA. NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

electrical safety
Electrical safety is a shared, ongoing responsibility and while you may not be an electrician, inspector, facility manager, or engineer, or have a copy of the National Electrical Code®, NFPA 70, you can play an active role in helping to ensure electrical systems safely provide power for the myriad of uses we so heavily rely on.
The theme of this year’s National Electrical Safety Month is “Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Safe”. This “Code” of course is the National Electrical Code® or the NEC, the most widely known acronym in the electrical industry. Since 1897, the Code has provided electrical installation requirements that safeguard persons and property against the “hazards arising from the use of electricity”. Every time you flip a switch, turn on an appliance or plug in the power supply for your computer or phone, the expectation is that electrical power will be delivered safely. On a daily basis millions of people interact with electrical systems in their homes and workplaces with the vast majority of these interactions occurring without incident. The safety record is so good that most people take the use of electricity for granted and do not fully appreciate all of the work that is done “behind the curtain” nor do they realize that they can play an important role in ensuring that the system remains safe.
Trained installers, qualified inspectors, certified electrical products and the NEC installation requirements are all factors in providing the end user with a safe electrical system. However, once the end product of the installers, inspectors, product testing organizations and standards development organizations is turned over to the property owner in the form of a properly functioning, safe electrical installation, their work is complete. Now the responsibility to ensure that the electrical system remains free from hazard is that of the property owner, whether it is a single-family home, a high-rise commercial building, a hospital or a manufacturing plant. In the commercial and industrial sectors, insurance, accreditation, and occupational safety requirements help drive the ongoing safety of the building’s electrical system, but regardless of the occupancy type, the property owner is a stakeholder in electrical safety whether it is for employees or family members.
The first section of the NEC speaks to the purpose of the Code. It states that the Code “contains provisions necessary for safety” and then goes on to say that “compliance therewith and proper maintenance result in an installation that is essentially free from hazard.…” Compliance is most typically the result of the work performed by a trained installer and inspected by a qualified inspector. The next piece of that statement concerning the proper maintenance is where the property owner becomes part of the safety equation.
The electrical system in your home, if installed in accordance with the most recent edition of the NEC, is highly reliable and is equipped with the most up-to-date safety features. While a large part of the system is behind the wall coverings and cannot be accessed for observation, there are devices protecting that wiring that are accessible for observation and periodic testing. 
Since the 1971 edition of the NEC, devices known as ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) have been required to protect receptacles (commonly referred to by owners as "outlets") in various locations inside and outside of a home where there is a higher vulnerability to electrical shock. These locations include bathrooms, kitchens, garages, laundry areas, basement, outdoors, swimming pools and other locations where there is a greater risk of electrical shock. GFCIs can be recognized by the “Test” and “Reset” buttons on the receptacle type and by a “Test” button on the circuit breaker type. The instructions provided by the manufacturers of these devices indicate that in order to ensure they are functioning properly the test button should be operated on a monthly basis. After pushing the test button ascertain that there is no power at that GFCI and at any other devices or equipment protected downstream from that GFCI. Determining that there is no power can be accomplished through the use of a small cord-and plug-connected appliance, lamp or tool that gives you clear indication that the power is off at that outlet. The reset button is then used to restore normal operation. This test is a simple procedure and can be done by anyone, but is essential in making sure your electrical system continues to provide the enhanced level of shock protection that GFCIs afford. 
GFCIs are not limited to residential occupancies only, there are many other NEC required locations where GFCI protection is specified. So the question is, if the subject matter experts who participate in the NEC development process have determined that this protection is needed, don’t you owe it to your family, friends, employees or customers to make sure these devices continue to provide the same enhanced level of protection against electrical shock as the day they were first installed. 
Another protective device for homes, dormitories and the guest rooms and suites of hotels and motels is the arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCIs). Also found in the form of receptacles and circuit breakers these devices are similar in appearance to GFCIs but provide an enhanced level of fire protection due to electrical arcing rather than shock protection. The test protocol for AFCIs is essentially the same as with GFCIs…push the test button, make sure power to all protected outlets is interrupted and then reset to restore power. The test interval for these devices is also monthly. As with GFCIs, this testing is simple and does not require any special electrical knowledge. It is really no different than making sure your smoke alarms are functional by pushing the testing button.
Visual observation of damaged electrical equipment such as enclosure covers that are missing or do not close properly, cords that have a missing ground pin and damaged outer covering, receptacles that will not hold the plug end of the cord tightly are typically items that indicate the original level of safety afforded by the equipment has been compromised. And always remember, if the complexity of the repair or replacement is at a level where you do not have the proper training or equipment, get a professional to do it. You owe it to yourself and others using the system to make sure repairs restore the equipment to the same level of safety as when it was first installed.
So in parting, I urge you to be an active participant in National Electrical Safety Month not only in May, but every month of the year, and to share this information with friends and family. There are a lot of things that you, even if you are not an electrical professional, can do to be proactive about electrical safety. Most of us have others that depend on what we do to ensure their safety. So use this month as a reminder that your electrical system, likely the most heavily used system in your home or business (24/7/365), requires certain levels maintenance and/or periodic testing in order for it to provide the same level of safety as when it was first installed.  Think of it as something you do on a regular basis, like maintaining your car! 
The NEC statement on maintenance is vitally important to making sure that people and property continue to be safeguarded from electrical hazards long after the inspectors have given the certificate of occupancy to the property owner. Remember, just because electrical equipment is working, does not necessarily ensure that it is working safely! 
For more information about electrical safety in your home, visit NFPA's electrical safety in the home webpage
Electric shock drowning (ESD) and the efforts to mitigate hazards associated with electrical equipment in and around bodies of water is a high visibility topic on NFPA’s radar screen.
The recent release of the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s second project on electrical hazards in the marina and boatyard environment, Marina Risk Reduction, provides a comprehensive approach to identifying the potential hazards and developing strategies to eliminate the hazard or reduce the risk associated with the hazard. As a member of the Project Technical Panel, I think I echo the sentiments of the entire team in saying that the project authors, Dr. Brian Meacham and Woojung Park of Worcester Polytechnic Institute did an outstanding piece of work on this extremely important topic. If you've got a minute, listen to Casey Grant, executive director of the Research Foundation, who provides a great overview of the report in this short video below.
The old adage that water and electricity don’t mix are certainly words to live by, however, we cannot always avoid the mixing of the two, and let’s face it, their interface is necessary. Whether it is a water pump, a boat hoist, a shore power connection to watercraft or an underwater power cable, the fact is water and electricity are co-mingling every day. So the challenge becomes how to accomplish this interface safely and avoid ESD tragedies. Certainly requirements in documents such as NFPA 70: National Electrical Code, NFPA 303: Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards and NFPA 302: Fire Protection Standard for Pleasure and Commercial Motor Craft. are great benchmarks for safe installations of electrical equipment on shore and in water craft. Article 555 on marinas and boatyards of the NEC has received a lot of attention over the last three revision cycles and requirements have been added to raise the level of safety in those environments. The 2017 NEC now extends the requirements of Article 555 to private boat docks and piers at one-, two- and multi-family dwellings. The electrons do not know whether they are at a one-family dwelling or a large commercial marina!
Another member of the FPRF Project Technical Panel, Donny Cook, the chief electrical inspector for Shelby County Alabama and a member of NFPA’s Board of Directors, invited me to accompany him along with representatives from Alabama Power, Schneider Electric and the Shelby County Sheriff’s department (to run interference for us) on an information-gathering trip on the Coosa River in Shelby County. Two recent electric shock drowning incidents on Lake Tuscaloosa in a nearby county have led to a heightened awareness of this problem with many of the involved stakeholders. The water level of the Coosa River is controlled by Alabama Power and it is a huge reservoir dotted with hundreds of private homes and camps, the majority of which have a dock or pier.
The day in the hot Alabama sun (tough on a northern guy) was spent checking for the presence of voltage in the water adjacent to docks. From our vantage point in boats it was evident that most of the docks and piers were supplied by some level of electric power.
electric shock drowning, nfpa 70, NEC
The wiring was in various states of repair. Some of it appeared to have been professionally installed and there was some that I will call “camp wiring.” Such wiring is generally not installed by a professional, is done without permits and inspection, and is typically not NEC compliant. Although the Alabama Power representatives did not find any locations where the voltage in the water raised their level of concern, the fact remains that there is electrical infrastructure near and in that body of water, and the condition of that infrastructure was alarming in some cases. (See picture below.)
electric shock drowning, nfpa 70, NEC
The other observation that resonates with me and I think a huge piece of this puzzle is, maintenance or the lack thereof. A perfectly code-compliant installation is never safer than the day it is installed, particularly in an environment that subjects the equipment to harsh conditions. Accidents, of course, are never planned; they are a confluence of conditions that under the right timing and circumstances manifest into the hazard. I observed several “accidents waiting to happen” during our day on the water that could be mitigated with a little bit of maintenance (See picture below).
electric shock drowning, nfpa 70, NEC
The Marina Risk Reduction report sheds a much needed light on this issue. We are already talking about how it can be used by various stakeholder groups from enforcers to contractors to the property owners themselves to mitigate hazards and reduce the risk of exposure to potentially lethal levels of electric current where they recreate.
Additional information about ESD, the NEC and related codes can be found on NFPA's website.

For the past few months, NFPA has hosted a series of videos to help explain the significant changes to the 2017 edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) that impacts the electrical industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day. We’re pleased that so many of you have taken the time to view this series and have utilized our Xchange platform to start discussions and ask questions about the code.
 
This latest video is the last in our series but one that is extremely relevant to many of our industry stakeholders. In the video I talk through some of the most significant changes that impact alternative energy technologies and electrical vehicle supply equipment. There are four new articles added to the 2017 NEC covering alternative energy systems that I covered in our first video but in this segment I discuss important changes to existing articles such as 625 on Electric Vehicle Supply Systems and 690 on Solar Photovoltaic Systems.

 

Article 625 is one such article that’s in the technology fast lane. Inductive charging systems, now referred to as wireless power transfer, are now covered in Article 625. New rules covering the installation of wireless power transfer equipment now reside in Article 625. This article is an example of why it is so important for the NEC to be regularly updated to include rules for safe installation and implementation of new technology in homes, businesses and other occupancies. Equally important is for the regulatory community to take advantage of NFPA’s efforts by adopting the most recent edition of the NEC.  

 

We also include in this video, other impactful changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know, including updates to requirements in Articles 690 and 705 for photovoltaic systems that are interconnected with another source of electrical power. First responder protection when responding to incidents at buildings or structures with PV systems has been enhanced through revisions to the requirements for rapid shutdown of photovoltaic systems on buildings or structures.

 

The following is a video preview:

 

You can watch the full video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

 

If you haven’t registered for Xchange yet, it’s really easy to do. Just look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Once you’re logged in, you will have access to the full webinar, in addition to related free content and discussions with your peers across the country and around the world. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

NEC Image - Jeff Sargent

 

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) has just released a report on Phase I of their project, Evaluation of Electrical Feeder and Branch Circuit Loading.

 

The last three editions of the NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) contain requirements reflective of the increased implementation of energy codes at the municipal, state and federal levels of government.  These new NEC rules are complementary to requirements in model energy codes that restrict energy usage in certain types of occupancies. One of the major areas of focus in the model energy codes is the lighting load in commercial buildings. The energy codes specify maximum lighting densities for commercial type occupancies on a VA per square foot basis, while the NEC specifies a minimum load per square foot for the same occupancy.  

 

Can the NEC and model energy code requirements be harmonized? The answer to this question is a qualified yes, but in order to make changes to the minimum load allowances in the NEC, there needs to be a solid technical basis to do so. This is where the current FPRF project is headed.

 

The first phase of this project identifies the different factors involved in this discussion and establishes means by which the collect electrical usage within buildings down to the branch circuit level.  Once this data is harvested and analyzed, that information can be used as the technical basis for making or not making changes to current NEC minimum load allotment requirements.

 

Currently, alternative approaches to the minimum load prescriptive requirements are available through new exceptions that have been added to the NEC. The outcome of feeder and branch circuit load collection data will be used to support more holistic changes to the baseline NEC load calculation requirements.

 

For more on this topic, see my “In Compliance” column from the May/June 2016 and March/April 2014 editions of NFPA Journal.

NFPA has been working on a series of videos to help explain the significant changes to the 2017 edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code that impacts the electrical industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day. We’re pleased to see so many of you are taking the opportunity to view the videos and ask questions on our Xchange platform.

 

Please join me for the next video in the series. In this one, I talk through the significant changes that impact limited energy circuits and communications systems, most notably in Chapters 7 and 8 of the NEC. These changes include:
 
•    Revisions on the use of unsupported lengths of power-limited tray cables
•    A new condition allowing metal masts and supporting structures for antennae to be protected by a building or structure lightning protection system instead of direct connection to a grounding electrode
•    New requirements covering the ampacity of signaling, data and communications cables that also provide power to connected devices in order to keep pace with new power over the Ethernet (PoE) technology

 

… plus other impactful changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know.
 
The following is a video preview:

 

 

You can watch the full video for free if you are logged into Xchange. Haven't registered for Xchange yet? It’s easy to do. Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Once you’re logged in, you will have access to the full webinar, in addition to related free content, and discussions with your peers across the country and around the world. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

As partners in electrical safety, NFPA knows it’s important for industry professionals to have the latest edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code. To that end, we are working on a series of videos that help highlight and explain the changes to the 2017 code edition that impact our industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day.

 

Please join me for a look at our fifth video in this series. In this latest installment I talk through the significant changes affecting special occupancies, special conditions and special equipment. The changes can be found in Chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the 2017 NEC edition. These include:


•    Section 501.10 (A) (1) (a) covering wiring methods in Class 1, Division 1 locations has been revised to permit Type HDPE conduit for underground installations
•    Multiple revisions and additions to the terms defined in 517.2 unique to electrical installations in health care facilities
•    New 680.14 identifying the types of wiring methods required in “corrosive environments” associated with swimming pools, spa, hot tubs and other bodies of water covered in Article 680.
•    Added requirement in 700.3 (F) calling for the installation of a means to connect a portable generator where the emergency system consists of a single alternate power source.

 

… plus many more impactful changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know.
 
The following is a video preview:

 


You can watch the full half-hour video if you are logged into Xchange.


Haven't registered for Xchange yet? It’s easy to do. Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. And Xchange is more than a blog? It's an online community that connects you with peers worldwide and directly with NFPA staff. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

NFPA NEC changes training for AHJs

Last week NFPA Regional Electrical Code Specialist Tim McClintock and I were in Southern California. We met with  AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) who received an early holiday gift in the form of free 2016 editions of the CA Electrical Code (based on NFPA 70: National Electrical Code 2014 edition), and training on the significant changes between the 2011 and 2014 NEC editions. Playing to full houses in San Diego, Costa Mesa, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles County and Ventura, Tim and I helped over 900 code enforcers understand how these changes impact their inspection activities in residential, commercial, institutional and industrial occupancies.

 

With the tireless logistical support provided by local members of the IAEI, we are happy to report the first week of this “CA Effective Enforcement Tour (EET)” went flawlessly.


In addition to covering the code changes, we briefed the attendees on NFPA’s strategic initiatives, and the work our organization is doing to reach out and connect with our stakeholders, and to enhance effective enforcement. Tim started out each day’s training by thanking the attendees who represented all sizes of inspection departments in southern California, from small communities to major jurisdictions like L.A. City and L.A. County. “It is through your efforts that the NFPA mission is carried out in the field,” he said, “and we couldn’t do it without you.”

 

Many of the enforcers have received this training on prior editions of the NEC (dating back to 2005), and attendees told us how much they appreciate our continued efforts in supporting the code enforcement community in the state.

 

Over the weekend, our T&J team moved to northern CA and this week we’re doing another week of training for the enforcers in that part of the state.

NFPA knows how important it is for you to have the latest edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code. As your partner in electrical safety, we have been working on a series of videos to help explain the changes to the 2017 code edition that impacts our industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day.

Please join me for our two newest videos in the series. In the first, I talk through the significant changes affecting residential installations. These include:

 

• Changes to clarifying GFCI protection rules for receptacles installed within six feet of a sink
• A new requirement for supplying garage receptacles
• Revisions to how peninsula countertop receptacles are located

… plus many more impactful changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know.

 

The following is a video preview:

 

 

You can watch the full 13-minute video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

 


 

In the second video, I talk through the broader changes that impact commercial, institutional and industrial installations. Included in this discussion are:

 

• Important changes that expand GFCI protection requirements
• New rules for AFCI protection in hotels and motels
• Revisions to load calculation requirements for bank and office buildings.

The following is a video preview:

 


You can watch the full 21-minute video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

 

Haven't registered for Xchange yet? It’s easy to do. Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. And Xchange is more than a blog? it's an online community that connects you with peers worldwide and directly with NFPA staff. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

As your partner in electrical safety, NFPA knows the importance of having the latest edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code. Now that the 2017 NEC is available, we’ve been working on a series of videos to help explain the changes to the code and the broad impact they will have across the industry.

 

Please join me for this latest video, a second in this series, as I talk through the broader changes that impact electrical installations in any type of occupancy. Some of these changes include revisions in Article 100 for electrical equipment that is considered to be “readily accessible,” the new distinction between “structure vs. electrical equipment,” and many more changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know.

 

The following is a video preview:


You can watch the full 30-minute video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

 

Haven't registered for Xchange yet? Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Xchange is more than a blog; it's an online community that connects you with peers worldwide and directly with NFPA staff. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

The 2017 edition of the NEC includes five (5) new Articles, three of which focus on the generation, distribution, and storage of electrical power, areas of considerable interest and activity in the electrical industry. In this brief video I provide an overview of the 5 new NEC Articles in the 2017 NEC, including:

 

  • Article 425 – Fixed Resistance and Electrode Industrial Process Heating Equipment
  • Article 691 – Large-Scale Photovoltaic (PV) Electric Supply Stations
  • Article 706 – Energy Storage Systems (ESS)
  • Article 710 – Stand-Alone Systems
  • Article 712 – Direct Current Microgrids

 

 

 

Article 691, Large-Scale Photovoltaic (PV) Electric Supply Stations, covers PV supply stations with a generating capacity of 5,000 kilowatts or more. The systems covered by this article differ from those covered in existing NEC Article 690, in that the power generated by a large-scale PV electric supply station is solely for the purpose of supplying power to an electric utility transmission or distribution system at medium or transmission-level voltages. Such facilities already exist and more are planned. Article 690 is oriented to utility-interactive or stand-alone systems that are used to directly supply a premises wiring system and is not a good fit for PV-generating facilities of this magnitude.

 

Article 706, Energy Storage Systems, provides requirements covering permanently installed systems that can be stand-alone or interactive with other electric power production sources. Historically, lead-acid batteries—and, more recently, new battery technologies used for energy storage—have been covered in Article 480. However, batteries are not the only form of energy storage devices available today. Flow batteries, capacitors, flywheels, and compressed air are other forms. The article centralizes the requirements for all energy storage technologies, including the current requirements in Article 480, into a single NEC article.

 

Article 710, Stand-Alone Systems contains requirements power production sources operating in stand-alone mode.  This would apply to an off-grid systems having a source such as photovoltaic, wind, hydro, fuel cell, fossil-fuel powered engine generator or other that is not interconnected with an electric utility or other source of electrical power.  The new article does not limit the size of these systems, but does allow the source to be sized smaller than the total calculated load as long as it is not smaller than the single largest item of utilization equipment.  Other allowances include permission to have a 120 volt source supplying 120/240 volt distribution equipment.  Use of this approach requires a special label that warns of the hazard of connecting a multiwire circuit to a single line 120 volt supply.

 

Article 712, DC Microgrids, covers direct-current power systems where DC sources such as photovoltaic, wind turbines, and fuel cells supply power directly into a distribution system to supply DC utilization equipment such as LED lighting,
communications equipment, computers and servers, variable speed motors, heating/ventilating/air conditioning equipment, and more. Efficiency is gained as the typical DC–AC, and then AC–DC, conversions are eliminated. DC distribution systems of this nature are currently being used in data centers throughout the world, and could in fact be used in any setting where on-site DC generation supply, such as a PV system, is used to supply a distribution system. Coupled with energy storage capability, such systems also provide for a reliable on-site system that is uncoupled from the typical offsite power system and thus not subject to interruptions occurring in the offsite sources.

 

The new article in Chapter 4, Fixed Resistance and Electrode Industrial Process Heating Equipment provides a set of requirements for specific types of process heating equipment.  It borrows on some of the concepts contained in existing NEC Articles 422 on cooking appliances using resistance heating, Article 424 on fixed electric space heating, and Article
427 for pipeline and vessel heating. Rules in Article 425 cover topics such as product certification, working space, control and circuit protection, marking and separate parts covering fixed industrial process resistance-type boilers and fixed industrial process electrode-type boilers respectively.

 

If you have any issues accessing the YouTube version above, we have an alternative option hosted here.

 

Please feel free to use the comment section below to discuss!

As we head into the summer boating season across the country (unfortunately I live in a region of the US where boating season is only a few months from late spring to early autumn) it is a good opportunity to talk about some of the proposed changes for the 2017 NEC focused on improving electrical safety at marina and boat docking facilities.


First a little background.

 

The first Article 555 covering installations at marina and boatyard areas was introduced in the 1968 NEC® (the article title was Boat Harbor Wiring) and contained requirements to address the power consumption and personnel safety concerns unique to these facilities. The requirements of Article 555 have continually evolved to meet the safety needs of the marine community.

 

Most recently, the topic of electric shock drowning (ESD) has been in the cross-hairs of the electrical safety community.  NEC Code-Making Panel 19, supported by the Fire Protection Research Foundation have jumped into this problem with both feet as tragedies at marina facilities have made headlines.  In addition several states have passed legislation requiring increased code enforcement and re-inspection at marinas.

 

To improve safety for marina users a requirement for an enhanced level of ground-fault protection (set to open the circuit at ground-fault currents exceeding 100 milliamperes or 1/10 ampere) of marina service equipment was introduced in the 2011 NEC.  The goal requirement was to extend this enhanced level of protection to the entire marina electrical distribution system.  The same requirement was also accepted into Article 553 which covers Floating Buildings.  The 2014 NEC maintained this level of protection but concern was expressed that the 100 ma threshold was too high. 

 

In response to the need for more research and data on electrical safety within the marina environment, and in particular to support any additional changes to the requirements of Article 555 the research arm of NFPA, the Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated a project titled Assessment of Hazardous Voltage/Current in Marinas, Boatyards, and Floating Buildings.  The report of the first project was issued in 2014 and can be obtained freely though the Foundation website.

 

Several changes to installation requirements for marinas and boat docking facilities are proposed for the 2017 NEC and one of these changes is based on a recommendation from 2014 FPRF report to lower the threshold at which ground-fault protection of circuits supplying docking facilities will respond from 100 ma to 30ma.  This change has only been proposed for Article 555 and current threshold remains at 100 ma for Floating Buildings in Article 553.  It is important to note that this protection does not override requirements for GFCI protection (4-6 ma) also specified in Article 555 for those receptacles not providing shore power to watercraft.

 

Other proposed changes include expanding the scope of Article 555 to cover commercial and noncommercial docking
facilities.  The impact of this proposed change is that now docking facilities on residential property (including one-family dwellings) are subject to the requirements of Article 555. A proposed new requirement in the 2017 NEC calls for sign(s) warning of the electrical hazard with the command to not swim in these areas.  These NEC changes are one piece of larger effort involving all stakeholders within the marine community to improve electrical safety at marinas and boat docking  facilities.  Working collectively, the headlines of tragic ESD incidents at these facilities will become a thing of the past.

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