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#74432 - 01/21/07 06:06 PM NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
I was just looking at another NEC forum, and I suddenly realized that the NFPA (the author of the NEC) has dropped the ball pretty badly, at least twice.

The first instance was the advent of the internet. By all rights, the premier electrical ought to be one started by the NFPA ... and not a few put up by dedicated electricians. When they finally did start up an electrical chat ... well, when was the last time YOU were there?

The second relates to the qualifications of electrical trades. First, let me pont out a few examples:
The NRA, a private group, has established a virtual monopoly on the qualification of firearms instructors.
The Red Cross has a similar strong presence in First Aid and Swimmng certification.
Even the NFPA has a strong role in firefighter training, as well as determining the actual "business practices" of Fire Departments.

So who certifies electricians? Here in Reno, we are changing over to "ICC" issued Journeyman cards. These cards will be accepted anywhere ICC codes are adopted.
This is ironic, as the ICC defers to the NEC on electrical matters. Building code, Fire code, etc., are under their umbrella.

I suppose the next failing of the NFPA will be the loss of credibility to its' NEC. Can this happen? Well, looking at the recent spate of "manufacturer driven" code changes, the NEC no longer gets the respect it once did.

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#74433 - 01/21/07 10:04 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
Jim M  Offline
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 457
Chestertown, MD, USA
Like you and I have discussed before John the Code seems to be getting less grounded in common sense.

Like the requirement for a seperate circuit for a range hood that is cord and plug connected, but not if hard wired. Or how many times is a breaker lockout really needed so when you change out a dishwasher no one turns on the breaker. Even the builders grade model in my townhouse lasted 15 years. I moved before it needed to be replaced. Is a lockout required for those electric hand dryers in the restrooms? I would think they get changed more than a dishwasher.

There are some that have changed during the recent Code cycles like where only grade level receptacles needed GFI protection and balconies didn't. I guess people never went outside after a rainstorm to listen to a radio.

Try finding a pool filter with a twist-lock plug from the manufacturer. I doubt you will, but that is what the Code calls for. Do you cut off the cord end to install the twist-lock and remove the UL listing?

#74434 - 01/22/07 06:32 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
Grover  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 109
Sebago, ME, USA
Tripped over one of my pet peeves.....

AFCI's and Smoke detectors. Does the smoke detector circuit really "enter" the bedroom? Different inspectors interpret differently (surprise?).

Smoke detectors on seperate circuit? Not in my practice - tie 'em to something REAL obvious - lighting that's used every night. I want people to know if it has tripped....... Same with the Sump Pump in the basement - tie to the outside lights, not the basement freezer circuit (leads to lots of smelly food in a wet basement) - fixed one this spring.

And now, proposed GFI's everywhere? Proposal sponsored by manufacturers, or those of us who get faulty one's out of the box, or failures after short term usage....

I admit, I haven't done my homework on the proposal, but it smells like an AFCI......

Ever try to "field test" an AFCI? Plugging in a 2 HP contractor's saw with the on switch on, I guess doesn't draw an arc - just some sparks that burn off the tips of the plug..... Only "special" arc's qualify?

End rant..... bad Monday.....


#74435 - 01/22/07 10:29 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,142
Grov, you have defined the weakness of the AFCI. It only detects parallel arcs (shorts to the neutral). A short to ground would activate the ground fault protection in an AFCI long before this gizmo figures out there is an arc.
It doesn't see a series arc at all. That is your saw, a loose breaker or the backstabbed receptacle with the aluminum wire your window shaker is plugged into.

Greg Fretwell

#74436 - 01/23/07 02:08 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
colorado_sparky  Offline
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Broomfield, CO USA
I am a bit new...can anyone explain how exactly an AFCI detects an arc? I know a GFI senses current differences between hot and neutral...but what characteristics of an arc does an AFCI look for?

#74437 - 01/23/07 03:26 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
earlydean  Offline
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 751
Griswold, CT, USA
well, not exactly.....but.....susposedly
the AFCI recognizes the characteristics of an arcing fault by electronic circuity that compares the signature of an arcing fault through memory chip technology. That's why it takes a little while to recognize the arcing fault. Which is not good for the dirty brushes on your skill saw (nuisance tripping), but should not pick up the arcing from closing a light switch.


#74438 - 01/23/07 03:35 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
Zapped  Offline
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Do you REALLY want to get me started on this whole thing about how the NEC is bowing to manufacturers at the expense of our profession? It's shameful. 'Nuff said...

#74439 - 01/23/07 04:57 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
gfretwell  Offline

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,142
The arc in motor brushes and a plug being pulled are series arcs. The AFCI can't see those. It only detects a shorting arc and then at about 70a or so.

Greg Fretwell

#74440 - 01/23/07 05:05 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
colorado_sparky  Offline
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 10
Broomfield, CO USA
70a? Wouldn't it usually trip from regular overcurrent protection than from an arc? I'm still a little confused as to how it works and the real practical benefit (ok an AFCI that does actually detect dangerous arcing...that is good, but if they really don't do that good of a job...)

#74441 - 01/23/07 08:02 PM Re: NFPA: Missed Opportunities?  
DougW  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
North Chicago, IL
AFCI protection of can lights in a bedroom, on a separate circuit from convenience outlets... especially since the selling point of AFCI adoption was faulty extension cords and space heaters...

[This message has been edited by DougW (edited 01-23-2007).]

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