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Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 3
New Member

I'm an Instrument Technician in Grande Prairie, AB. Recently there's been quite a bit of debate surrounding permit requirements for low voltage DC electrical work, both in Alberta and BC. Specifically regarding natural gas compressor control panels.

Is any form of permit required for the replacement of old out of date equipment with a totally different brand/model? A new power supply, terminal strip and head unit all have to be installed. None of the equipment is of a different classification than the old (Class 1, Div. 1; Class 1, Div. 2 etc) so the building itself does not need to be re-classified.

Any information or links to information would be much appreciated.


Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 613
In BC an installation permit is required when any regulated product is installed including low voltage.
Exemptions from permit requirements cover replacement of receptacles, snap switches, fan controls, dimmers, ballast and cord ends. Maintenance items where a part is replaced by an exact match is also permit exempt except if a utility is not required to attend.
Replacement of 1 item by another where it is functionally the same but say of different models or manufacturer do require permits.
See the Safety Standards Act and the Electrical Safety regulation BC for legislation.

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 3
New Member
Firstly, thank you for the quick response. There are a few things in your reply that I didn't understand however.

When you say "regulated product" what exactly does that mean?

And when you say "functionally the same" is there a guideline as to how different it can be? Using the example from my first post as an example, it serves the same purpose (ie shuting the unit down on an unsafe condition), however the processing unit is completely different with different internal logic, different termination strips, different power suply circutry etc.

Please bear in mind that I am neither an electrician or a lawyer, so I am not familiar with some of the terms etc.

Also, as we do not have any electricians at this particular branch of our company, we don't have an electrical code book. Is there somewhere a person could view an online version of the codes, for BC or Alberta?

Thanks again for any and all assistance on this.

Make something idiot proof, and they invent a better idiot.
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 265
Here's a link to the BCSA manual.
Pages 12 and 13 show the permit exemptions that mikesh posted.

As for the replacement of your equipment, it does need a permit. It would be permit-exempt only under the following conditions: "There are no modifications or additions to the electrical installation; Neither the electrical rating nor the characteristics of the equipment is altered; and the replacement components are of a type which do not invalidate the original certification mark."


"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 613
A regulated product is any electrical item that is required to be tested by a certification agency like CSA. This covers just about anything electrical that is wired to the electrical service. There are some exceptions but this is not 1.
The electrical code is not available online in Canada. You need permits.
As an example of functionally the same but different for illustrative purposes. Your second generation 8gb Ipod craps out and you go to the electronics store to get a new one. The new one does exactly the same thing plus you can watch a video. This is an example of functionally similar but unless you by the second generation Ipod then you need a permit to install the third generation Ipod.

So your GE relay cannot be replaced by a Siemens relay without a permit and you GE relay cannot be replaced by another GE relay with a different part number except by a factory trained technician doing say a warranty repair.

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 3
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Thank you all for your help. This clears things up considerably!

Make something idiot proof, and they invent a better idiot.

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