Issue 126 May - June 2018

Please note: The issue content below is just a summary of the articles in the printed magazine.
The articles are not available on-line. Please refer to the printed magazine for the complete article.
Preventing house fires with an Eaton AFDD+

There are many products designed to combat fires like alarms, smoke detectors, fire blankets and extinguishers, but now the electrical industry can offer its own protection against electrical fires before they start.

Prevention is better than cure, says Dan Agnew following the launch of Eaton’s new arc fault detection device, the Eaton AFDD+, which eliminates the ignition point as soon as a dangerous arc fault occurs.

As the general manager of Eaton’s Power Distribution business, he says the concept of a device that detects electrical faults that could cause fires is not new, but what is new with the arrival of the Eaton AFDD+ is a single device that incorporates the protections provided by standard switchboard products, as well as protection from dangerous arc faults.

The new Eaton AFDD+ is not just an arc fault detection device (AFDD), it is a three-in-one wiring accessory that offers four forms of critical circuit protection: overload protection (MCB), short-circuit protection (MCB), earth fault current protection (RCD) and arc fault protection (AFDD) – all built in.

Eaton’s marketing manager for LV circuit protection products, Pete Brisbane, says the Eaton AFDD+ is the first IEC-based solution in the world to combine all of these protective functions in a single product.

More clarity needed on inspection

Among all the types of electrical work ‘inspecting’ stands out as the least understood, the most oddly regulated, yet the most pivotal role in the assurance of safety where the consequences of something going wrong are the most severe.

Over the last 26 years since inspectors were cut adrift from power authorities, various governments have tinkered with inspection and tried to find something useful for the 1700 licensed electrical inspectors to do.

For now, they have settled on a role of providing a second pair of eyes to check and record the safety and compliance of critical work, and post details of the record and other people’s certificates of compliance (CoCs) on a government website.

Inspectors came close to extinction in 2006, but were saved by a significant change to what constitutes prescribed electrical work (PEW).

Up until 2010, all prescribed electrical work was about constructing things. It involved installing, maintaining, connecting and disconnecting fittings, conductors and appliances. To do this prescribed electrical work, workers had to have an authorisation under a licence from the EWRB.

Time to review high risk work

Now that regulators are turning their attention to upgrading the Electricity Regulations, it’s time for the industry to consider changes that would improve public safety along with the working environment from the perspective of people carrying out prescribed electrical work (PEW).

Two inspectors’ groups have started the ball rolling with a few ideas put forward from their members.

The New Zealand Electrical Inspectors Association (NZEIA) sets a target for its members to improve their three C’s: competency, consistency and compliance. To that end the organisation believes that improving the standard of the electrical refresher courses is a necessary step with less time spent on CPR and burns and more time spent on what has changed in the last few years in the regulations and standards.

President Richard Gibbens says the lack of clarity and simplicity of the standards is the core of the industry’s problem.

Comprehensive solution needed for non-standard supplies

Sorting out requirements for the safe supply of electricity to installations and industrial equipment that operate at non-standard voltages, frequencies and supply systems is one of the most technically challenging issues regulators and standards committees now face.

It has been made a lot harder since the joint EL-001 standards committee developing AS/NZS 3000 failed to include the full core of IEC 60364 on which the Wiring Rules are based. In omitting the international core, Australia and New Zealand lost the means of integrating the electricity systems of supply used elsewhere in the world, and being able to use equipment made for non-MEN supplies without substantial modification.

Because IEC 60364 creates rules for ‘the design, erection, and verification of electrical installations’, it is designed for any country to use as a basis for their Wiring Rules. It also embraces all the different systems of supply and provides methodologies that allow for their safe integration into installations.

Many countries adopt the international wiring standard and in the UK it is used almost without modification. Not so here, with the MEN-focussed committee having edited it significantly. This might have made it easier to follow for domestic electricians, but for those having to grapple with industrial clients importing machinery and having to adapt it for installation in New Zealand and make it compliant, or having to achieve optimal safety with new technologies, the removal of references to supplies other than TNC-S (MEN) from AS/NZS 3000 has made this task very difficult.

Lighting trends at Light & Building 2018

In Frankfurt, Germany, there is a trade fair venue so vast that the exhibition floor space alone covers more than 36 hectares. Every two years this giant space is filled with the latest lighting and related systems. Here is a brief summary from lighting designer Ali McGraw of the top trends in luminaire design from Light and Building 2018.

Glare control: The LED design problem is no longer ‘more light’ but ‘less glare’. Glare can be tiring and even dangerous and many regions have limits on allowable glare. At Light & Building there was a strong trend towards luminaire design that minimises discomfort by diffusing light and/or directing it downward rather than outward.

As part of this trend luminaire design is going back to the future with a return to the 1980s ‘egg crate’ style of box louvre on commercial pan fittings, now also seen on linear systems and even on high bays. Yes, it will reduce glare, but we will also return to the dark walls and ceilings – and resulting contrast problems – that we also saw in the 1980s.

New standard for lighting large buildings

An amendment to the standard limiting the power density of lighting in large commercial buildings was published in April and now awaits a decision by the general manager of the Building System Performance group in MBIE on its future citation.

The revision of the 2007 edition of NZS 4243.2 was commissioned by EECA to reduce even further the amount of grid-supplied electricity that may be consumed in lighting commercial and communal non-residential buildings with a net lettable floor area greater than 300 m².

EECA agreed to update the standard to take advantage of the major advances in the uptake of LED lighting and control systems used in large commercial building in the decade since the last review.