Issue 141 January - February 2021

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.
People first for better results

Longer lasting and easy-to-use products have become a consistent focus for property owners, managers and installers. One lighting supplier to make this a real priority is Eurotech Lighting who made good use of the turbulent year of 2020 and focused on a people-first approach to ensure electricians can deliver better results for customers.

These better results include design features requested by electricians and now available in new fittings such as the Elita bollards. Designed by Eurotech Lighting for homeowners looking for resilient and long-lasting fixtures, Elita bollards are made from die-cast aluminium with further protection provided by marine-grade paint.

Sales and operations director, Chris Hickie, says the new Elita bollards are the most weather-resistant bollards in the Eurotech Lighting range and are backed by a five-year warranty.

“We spoke to many electricians and electrical wholesalers to find out the key features they needed for trouble-free installations and no call-backs. The result is a bollard they can rely on to perform for years,” says Hickie.

“Bollards last a lot longer with regular wash-down maintenance to remove salt and airborne residues but, with typical residential bollards offering only limited spray protection with a IP54 rating, we decided to step it up to IP65 to withstand low pressure hosing from any direction to encourage cleaning.

“We have designed Elita to last well beyond the warranty period and provided homeowners every opportunity to extend that with risk-free regular hosing.”

Disciplinary hearing goes awry

The decision of the Electrical Workers Registration Board to publish the decisions it makes on disciplinary hearings on the EWRB website is proving to be a double-edged sword for the Board.

It has given electrical workers useful insight into how the Board applies the law and arrives at its decisions, but it has also exposed the Board’s limited knowledge of electrical law as it sits in judgement on workers it requires to know the law and comply with it.

To its credit, the Board has come a long way from the early days of the former Electrical Registration Board where disciplinary hearings were often characterised by old electricians haranguing erring young workers about how they used to do it back in the day.

However, the pendulum appears to have swung too far down a prosecutorial path with MBIE lawyers and lawyers as board members turning disciplinary hearings into legal playgrounds, if published Board findings are an indication.

The case (CE No. 22184) at the front of the list on the EWRB website involves a hearing to determine whether an inspector should be disciplined for failing to pick up the wrong type of RCD in a caravan during a warrant of electrical fitness (WoEF) check.

New rules for product compliance

Three different RCD recalls underway in Australia have provided significant impetus for changes to the way fitting and appliance compliance is addressed in New Zealand.

These recalls are symptomatic of the increasing inadequacy of the primary system used in Australia to certify the compliance of electrical products and the growing risks distributors, installers and end-users face in New Zealand.

WorkSafe’s principal technical advisor for Energy Safety, Peter Morfee, says almost all electrical product approvals used in New Zealand originate in Australia and the electrical regulator is concerned that they might no longer provide the electrical industry the certainty it needs to rely on these approvals.

Morfee says recent investigations by Energy Safety have shown that the problems with inadequate testing by certification bodies in Australia are more widespread than originally thought and WorkSafe is now taking steps to tighten procedures to ensure compliance with the relevant standards.

He says the changes will not require any amendment to the Electricity Regulations and expects them to be put in place quickly. WorkSafe will publish Gazette notices that introduce the changes and provide sufficient lead time for importers and manufacturers to adopt the new rules before they take full effect.

How reliable are computers really?

eliability of equipment is a fundamental requirement for any business to operate successfully. Can you imagine a taxi company with unreliable cars? It just would not survive, regardless of the level of customer demand. As virtually every modern business is heavily dependent on computerisation, questions about reliability can rightfully be asked.

Industry embraces computerisation

The use of computers for automation began in the 1970s, with the emergence of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in industries such as manufacturing. Initially, PLCs were used to replace hard wire circuits, which were relatively cumbersome as well as being difficult to modify and fault find.

The uptake of PLCs was rapid, and they radically changed how industry operated – the third phase of the industrial revolution had begun. Microprocessor based control systems are now almost impossible to avoid – most industries would be unviable without them.

At around the same time, computers that could be used for personal tasks became prevalent. The dominant system for users was undoubtedly the personal computer (PC), a format established by IBM in 1981.The early PCs were desk mounted, with a large footprint and only supported one small monochrome screen. They ran a disk operating system (DOS) and later Windows, both of which were produced by Microsoft.

Electronic fuses – the best protection

Fuses are probably the oldest and most basic of all electric components. They are also one of the most important, which is why virtually every piece of electronic equipment includes at least one. Their primary role is to ensure the safety of equipment and are often required by equipment standards.

The job of a fuse is simple, it is placed in series with the incoming supply and will prevent excessive current flow, which may happen if the equipment becomes faulty. Fusing prevents fires from occurring due to excessive heat or arcing.

Fuses are essentially a piece of thin wire or filament, often encased within a glass or ceramic housing. If the current becomes excessive, the fuse wire melts rapidly creating an open circuit which removes power from equipment. While they work reasonably well, their main drawback is the need for manual replacement each time they serve their purpose. Users also need to be careful when replacing fuses, as the side with the source power can still be live.

Circuit breakers serve the same purpose as fuses but offer more effective safety management and control. They are electromechanical devices that users can manually reset after a trip by reactivating a switch on the front of the unit. They may include a test button for both periodic verification of their operation and as an on/off button for the circuit.

How to light a video call

Over the past year most people have become familiar with video call apps like Zoom and with the pitfalls of using these apps.

Any online collection of video call ‘fails’ is evidence of the many wardrobe malfunctions and unintended sound effects that this new means of communication has enabled. A quick look online will also demonstrate the best and worst examples of video call lighting, with attendees’ lighting schemes ranging from semi darkness to lighting worthy of a glamour magazine photo shoot.

The following principles apply not just to those wanting more professional video calls but also to those making training and sales videos or wanting to take more flattering selfies for their social media profiles.

Whether connecting with colleagues, customers or friends, small changes in the lighting can lead to an online image that’s more professional, flattering and friendly.

Light source positioning

Lighting for video calls is sometimes handicapped by the positioning of the light source. Problems fall into four main areas.

The first is where there is a strong light source behind the caller. This leaves their face in near darkness, leaving them with few visible facial features and making their emotions impossible to read. Other people on the call can get the uncomfortable feeling that they are not on a level playing field with this colleague.

Printing luminaires

Some lighting manufacturers use 3D printers in the luminaire design and production process. 3D printing is usually used to make luminaire components but occasionally it will be used to produce full-scale luminaire bodies for testing and evaluation, and to make customer samples.

Prototype and sample luminaires

Printing sample luminaires has clear benefits for lighting specifiers because they can provide a brief to a lighting manufacturer and a short time later see exactly what the finished product will look like. This allows for a rapid approval process and gives the specifier more confidence to sign off on the product.

Take the example of the lighting engineer who needs a custom recessed troffer for an office building with a non-standard ceiling grid. Once the specifier has briefed the luminaire manufacturer, in theory a working luminaire sample could be designed, printed, assembled and delivered to the specifier’s desk within a few days.

From that point the specifier can evaluate the physical sample, test it on site if necessary, and approve it or request alterations. Any alterations can be made quickly and cost-effectively because the only change needed is to the original CAD file. Once the CAD file is updated then the new prototype can be printed.

Modular luminaire design for easy upgrades

When LED luminaires started making serious inroads into the lighting market a few years ago, electrical contractors started expressing concern about the consequences of 50,000+ hour lifetimes and the diminishing effect LED would ultimately have on the lighting replacement market.

While the market for LED took off as production numbers increased and prices dropped, LED became more competitive than traditional light sources in both longevity and energy usage. For industrial and many commercial applications, replacing existing light fittings with LED upgrades could effectively be funded over increasingly shorter times by the energy and maintenance savings achieved.

But some of these earlier fittings are failing prematurely and a growing number of end-users have revisited the energy saving calculations that prompted their lighting upgrade. Some have reported that following the replacement of their first LED installation, the cost of the second upgrade to replace these failing LED fittings has consumed the value of the savings generated from the first LED installation.

Had they stuck with their HID fittings and simply replaced the lamps in the conventional way, they say, they would have been better off.