2018 Advent Calendar

Christmas Deccies - AGAIN!

Now we are a week into December, I think it is finally OK to start talking about Christmas!

Not that I haven't been noticing it was creeping up on us, I was just resisting the temptation to ease into the Festive Mode.

After all, I have spent most of November inspecting, testing and signing off some fairly special Christmas Light installations around the country, a regular 'gig' for me now that I regard as a sort of 'guilty pleasure'.

Among these were an extremely wet night at Covent Garden navigating between late night revellers, discussing generator location with the Meerkats at ZSL London Zoo, the peaceful solitude and marshy wetlands of Bedgebury Pinetum (where I got VERY wet!), not forgetting 'yomping' around the 300 acres plus of Kew Gardens!

Some very varied and extensive electrical systems, which all have their challenges for the installation teams, trying to get illuminations and effects to the far reaches and heights required while being limited in the choice and location for supplies. What has been very satisfying is the standard of the installations, from an electrical safety point of view. That they appointed an 'outside agency' (me) to inspect and test their efforts is testament to the fact that they are fairly confident in their own knowledge, skills and experience of this type of work. And it shows!

It got me thinking about some of the other stuff I have seen this year in fixed installations, which has not been quite so pleasing.

This week I am back to sitting on my backside in the classroom, in fact I was delivering the 2391-51 and 2391-52 Inspection and Testing courses (City & Guilds). We got to discussing non-compliance and the classification codes for defects, a subject that always causes a LOT of discussion! Is this a Code 1, is that a Code 3 and so on. The guys on the course asked me to post some examples of different situations and suggestions for Coding. I normally steer clear of posting these things because I believe that this is not an exact prescriptive science, in that the situation and environment has an effect on my decision as to what code I am going to assign to any danger or non-compliance. Also this is not fun - the photographs show situations that are putting people at risk, however, on reflection, the examples I uncovered were all dealt with, and if posting some more helps the girls and guys out there to improve the safety of electrical installations then I am OK with that!

So in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I would post one each day for the rest of Advent as a sort of 'Adverse Calendar'! If it provokes discussion and thought then I have achieved my aim, if everyone agrees with my recommended codes then I will be amazed and slightly disappointed. What makes a good electrician is the ability to think for yourself and assess each installation on its own merits, considering the environment and the utilisation of the system, and above all ensuring the safety of the persons using it.

'Tis the season to be jolly', Peace and Goodwill to all of us, so please be gentle and polite if you disagree with me or anyone else who comments.

Window No.1

This was a 63A three- phase switchfuse used to supply an SWA cable to a single-phase fuseboard.

The fuses are 63A BS88-2. The line conductor is brown, and is connected into L1. The neutral is sheathed in grey with blue tape used to identify it, and is connected into L3. The protective conductors are black, but green-yellow tape has been used to identify, they are connected into the permanent link to the right on the picture.

Sorry, I am a better electrician than I am a photographer!

Classification codes used.

4.15 Single pole switching or protective devices in line conductors only . C2

5.1 Identification of conductors C3

Another one tomorrow, stay safe ,


Window No.2

A five core flex entering a distribution board through a knockout.

No grommet or gland around the cable entry, an additional knockout has been removed alongside. This was a supply out to a 32A three-phase socket outlet.

It was not possible to touch any live part through the holes (IPXXB).

Before moving on we 'pushed' the flex back into the enclosure so that the sheath entered, fitted a grommet to protect the flex against damage at the cable entry, and informed the client.

Classification codes used.

4.3 Condition of enclosure in terms of IP rating etc . C2

4.4 Condition of enclosure in terms of fire rating etc C2

4.5 Enclosure not damaged/deteriorated so as to impair safety C2

4.16 Protection against mechanical damage where cables enter

consumer unit/distribution board C1

5.2 Cables correctly supported throughout their run C2

5.17 Termination of cables at enclosures -

Connections soundly made and under no undue strain C2

No basic insulation of a conductor visible outside enclosure C1#

Adequately connected at point of entry to enclosure (glands/bushes etc) C2

# gave this a C1 as it was three-phase, which raised the hazard level.

All others were given a C2 due to the risk of damage to the conductors and terminations.

Window No.3

A surface mounted socket outlet on a surface box. The cable entry has been created with a club-hammer by the look of it.

Classification codes used.

5.19 Suitability of accessories

for external influences C2

Window No.4

A three-phase distribution board in an open area.

Door has no lock, a number of blanking plates are missing.

A variety of different makes of protective device have been used.

There are no circuit charts or any other information.

Classification codes used.

4.3 Condition of enclosure in terms of IP rating etc C2

4.9 Correct identification of circuit details and protective devices. C3

4.14 Compatibility of protective devices, bases and other components;

correct type and rating. C2#

# gave this a C2 as some of the devices appeared to have been forced into place, Under fault conditions there was a possibility that they would not work correctly, or arcing across terminals may occur.

and Window No.5

Same distribution board - from a different angle.

A group of thermoplastic insulated and sheathed flat cables, entering the top of the board. (ignore the black cables).

The single cable enters through a 20mm hole fitted with a grommet. The two pairs of cables enter through a 20mm hole with no grommet or bush or gland.

Classification codes used.

4.16 Protection against mechanical damage where cables enter

consumer unit/distribution board C2

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