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 Post subject: Has NFPA placed the straw that breaks the camels back?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:49 pm
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Location: New England
I have in the past raised the question - is the NFPA pushing guidelines down the throat of corporate America for the sake of profit, rather than need? Most of the 70E committees have members from industry, but much of that industry sells the safety products the guideline imposes.

The same is true of the NEC (National Electric Code) published by NFPA. But here in addition to all the manufacturers looking to mold the code to mandate their products, we also have the insurance companies who have discovered that there is more profits in collecting fire insurance premiums rather than paying out on fire insurance claims. But of course they are not there for the profit motive but merely because even one life saved is worth the billions it costs the country to implement the enhanced safety requirements.

The 2008 NEC may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The 2008 NEC is now requiring that all breakers in a dwelling be either GFI or Arc Fault Interrupting. GFIs are now in the garage, outdoors, bathrooms and occupied basements, and everything else 20A or less, is Arc Fault Interrupted.

The old fashion snap in molded case thermal-magnetic breaker we have all grown to love costs about $5 each. The same 15 or 20 amp Arc Fault Breaker cost about $60. So in a typcial home buying all the additional GFIs and Arc Fault breakers is estimated to raise the electrical install cost by $1500 a home.

The State of Ohio, are at least its builders, is now questioning the adoption of the NEC 2008 into their building codes. Remember the NEC is not a legal requirement, its just a guideline. Only when a State declares the guideline adopted does it become a legal requirement. People are asking the question, "do we build homes to such a high safety standard that they are priced out of the reach of average americans - or do we accept that the greater good is to provide reasonably priced homes, that while are less than optimum in safety, are more affordable to a larger percentage of the population. In other words, should we follow the NFPA as they increase the cost per home so that only the rich can afford them? Plus we have accurate statistics on house fires, but no clear definition that the breakdown in newer homes (built in the last 10 years) are equal in the statistics of older homes.

If Ohio changes their adoption of NEC2008, or deletes the requirement for GFI and Arc Fault breakers, that will be the 'shot heard around the world'. Its the beginning of the end. Society and Industry has sent a message to the NFPA that says enough is enough. My prediction is that it won't be long before Industry follows in refusing other guidelines that are crushing the ability of manufacturers to maintain profitability.

There are many industry professional that think of the NFPA as a lobby for the insurance companies and the safety equipment manufacturers. I encourage NFPA to get back in touch with the real manufacturers of the US. On the next code cycle refuse any committee member who has a conflict of interest - and start ingreal engineers from real manufactures. Drop the members from breaker makers, the FR clothing makers, cable makers, etc and start staffing exclusively with members from Exxon, BP, GM, Ford, Pfizer, Amgen, as well as 50% from manufacturers with sales under $100M like paper mills, specialty chemicals, food industry, etc.

http://blog.cleveland.com/openers/2008/02/builders_here_fight_tougher_08.html

http://ecmweb.com/nec/electric_ohio_home_builders/


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:17 am 
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Location: Connecticut
In my area AHJ's aren't enforcing arc fault breaker due to numerous problems and complaints of false trips. Especially with devices that use ballasts like new CFL's that are becoming popular for enegry savings. Again, the NEC is the minimum requirement and local AHJ's have the final word. As a licensed electrican and engineer I agree the NEC code is getting crazy. The 2008 had over 3000 amendment recommendations... 3000!! :eek: Give 10 people a code problem and you will get 10 different answers.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:10 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:33 am
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I agree with both Haze10 and geh7752. Kind of makes a person wonder if any electrical work in the past is safe enough to inhabit. As an industry, we need to get back to the basics with common sense as the core to improving our profession.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:28 am 

Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 9:00 am
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haze10 wrote:
There are many industry professional that think of the NFPA as a lobby for the insurance companies and the safety equipment manufacturers. I encourage NFPA to get back in touch with the real manufacturers of the US.


Lobbyists?? Say it isn't so. :eek:
Yes there are some pretty unbelievable code articles that you can trace right back to a manufacturer's marketing plan.

Over 3000 proposals to the NEC? Is that all? There are quite a few people out there that appear to just want to see their name in print and submit zillions just hoping one or two of them make it. :mad:

Is Congress running this?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:06 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
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Location: Odessa, Texas
ARC fault requirements needs to be removed

The two areas of change to the NEC should be practicality and safety. Practical changes to the code should come from feedback from the industry. A code should regularly be examined for unintended consequences and changed accordingly. The NEC does this reasonably well.

The other area of change comes from concerns of safety. The feedback that should drive this area of the code should come from data and statistics. It should be relatively easy to see the “before and after” data of a code requirements. If electrical fatalities are reduced 50% after a code is put into place then the code should remain. If electrical fatalities are reduced 1 % after a code is in place then the code should be removed.

What is a human life worth? The question is difficult to answer. No one wants to place a dollar amount on a human life, but the NEC must decide what is an “acceptable risk”.
For example: Automobile fatalities can be eliminated by government and the automobile industry. The automobile industry can make a car out of armor and the government can lower the speed limit to 5 mph. The industry has decided a level of “acceptable risk”. The NEC should focus on “acceptable risks” when introducing code additions or changes.

The electrical industry has been duped by ARC fault requirements. ARC fault requirements have offered no substantial benefit to life and\or property. I believe that GFI protection would suffice for any ARC fault requirement. The NEC members ignored common sense and acceptable risk when requiring ARC faults. It should be easy for the NEC and\or the ARC fault producers to provide data to justify the code requirements. Let the NEC and the ARC fault industry bring forth honest “before and after” data to justify ARC faults. I don’t believe that they have the data to justify it. ARC fault requirements are extreme and fall out of the boundaries of acceptable risk. ARC fault requirements should be removed from the NEC.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:18 pm 
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Location: New England
The problem is that both of your scenarios are based on the motivation of money. The government realizes that to collect taxes its people need employment and affordable transportation. The auto industry builds cars that people want to drive and can afford.

NEC gets funding from the insurance companies and product manufacturers. Codes are never removed once instituted for lack of real purpose, ie, the code did not produce the results claimed. We also see any real statistical evidence of how effective a code is after implementation.

The reasonable assumption of risk is a common human event, undertaken daily. $1500 in the cost of a house, could mean the difference between owning the home, or continuing to rent, and consequently the pursuit of an American dream of home ownership. I seriously doubt NFPA economically justify the mandate of arc fault breakers versus lives or property saved. How would they perform a controlled study for statistical review.


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 6:44 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
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Location: Odessa, Texas
The industry has been duped

Arc fault statistics could easily be recovered. The problem with arc fault protection is that it does not protect against arcs. The only difference between arc fault and ground fault protection is the current trip point. An arcing load will not trip an arc fault device. I have seen dozens of attempts to trip an arc fault with arcing demonstration. It offers no arc protection. The electrical industry has been duped. Remove arc fault requirements from the code.


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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 6:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:58 am
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Location: Charlotte, NC
haze10 wrote:
I have in the past raised the question - is the NFPA pushing guidelines down the throat of corporate America for the sake of profit, rather than need? Most of the 70E committees have members from industry, but much of that industry sells the safety products the guideline imposes.


Of the 47 commitee members I only see 1 person that is from a company that makes PPE. I think industry is very well represented and if I came up with a dream team of companies to have on the commitee I could not do any better.

I know at least a dozen of the commitee members very well and they are some of the best minds in the industry. I think your view of the 70E standards being manipulated for profits is way off base.

http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/AboutTheCodes.asp?DocNum=70E&cookie%5Ftest=1


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 10:10 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Odessa, Texas
Arc Fault

I want the arc fault industry to make me a believer. A 5 minute "youtube" type video demonstrating its effectiveness. I have several manufacturer GFI demos including videos. GFI demos showing devices dropped into bathtubs and sinks. All make the case for the need of GFI protection. I would like to see video and demos of arc fault protection. I would like the demo to show situations that warrant AFCI protection. The only difference between arc fault and ground fault is the trip points. Again I say, the industry has been duped. I want to believe, really I do. I just need proof.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:00 pm 
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Back atcha. Why not make your own video, and post the link for us? Loosen a screw on a AFI protected receptacle and plug a toaster or vacuum cleaner into it. Turn the lights out so any arcing can be seen. If you don't believe the AFI makes a difference, perform in a safe place or keep an extinguisher handy.

I think your characterization of AFI operation as like GFI except for trip point is incorrect. They do not look at unbalance like GFIs, they look at series arc signatures.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:02 pm 
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stevenal wrote:
I think your characterization of AFI operation as like GFI except for trip point is incorrect. They do not look at unbalance like GFIs, they look at series arc signatures.


Right, very different devices using different fault sensing technology.


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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2010 11:35 am 
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[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E4qRv-reYg"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E4qRv-reYg[/url]
[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ_H0DQqJbA"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ_H0DQqJbA[/url]


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 7:48 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
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Location: Odessa, Texas
A line to neutral (grounded) arc will not trip an arc fault. In safe demonstrations, I have seen the line and neutral, (a) shorted, (b) used to cook a hot dog, (c) cook a pickle (d) operate an old drill where the brushes were arcing......none of which will trip an arc fault breaker. The one thing that will trip an arc fault breaker is a fault to ground. The only difference between an AFCI and a GFCI is the current trip point. The current trip point is higher for an AFCI device. Maybe the NEC should consider allowing GFCI devices to be used in lieu of AFCI. I have a problem with the name -- arc fault.


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 7:13 am 
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odgrowler wrote:
A line to neutral (grounded) arc will not trip an arc fault. In safe demonstrations, I have seen the line and neutral, (a) shorted, (b) used to cook a hot dog, (c) cook a pickle (d) operate an old drill where the brushes were arcing......none of which will trip an arc fault breaker. The one thing that will trip an arc fault breaker is a fault to ground. The only difference between an AFCI and a GFCI is the current trip point.

I suggest you do some research on the operation of AFCI's, you can start with the attached paper and references contained within.

odgrowler wrote:
Maybe the NEC should consider allowing GFCI devices to be used in lieu of AFCI. .


2 Different devices with 2 very different purposes. AFCi's are much more complex than just sensing a current, like a GFCI, there is a small processor chip in each one.

I can also proide you with technical paper from any of the OEM's on how AFCI's operate of you still ae confused.


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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2010 7:58 am 
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odgrowler wrote:
A line to neutral (grounded) arc will not trip an arc fault. In safe demonstrations, I have seen the line and neutral, (a) shorted,


Should trip on overcurrent like any breaker. Sounds like a bad breaker.

odgrowler wrote:
(b) used to cook a hot dog, (c) cook a pickle


Loads of increasing impedance as moisture is driven off. Nothing like the bad connection the AFI is supposed to deal with.


odgrowler wrote:
(d) operate an old drill where the brushes were arcing...
Again this is not a problem likely to start a fire. If nuisance tripping causes folks to not be able to use their tools, the AFIs will be removed whether the code allows it or not.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 6:24 pm 
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Maybe the problem is that the code board that makes these reviews, need the other side represented. Perhaps NFPA is not 'in it for the money' but they sure are in a 'group think' mode. Was there anyone on the board from HUD, Habitat for Humanity, or some economically motived represented who did not want to see the cost of housing go up. Where is the evidence that ArcFault breakers have reduce the number of fires or the number of deaths. What if it hasn't had any effect on those numbers at all. Do we continue to pay for an upgrade that has not statistical benefit. The comparison between a 'sprinklered building' and non-springlered would be easy and clearly demonstrates its cost benefit. My problem with NFPA is there is no follow up to document the evidence. They just 'think' or 'hope' based upon their industrial brillance that they are make the right decisions. Have you ever seen a guideline 'relaxed' or 'eliminated' because it did not reach its conceived benefit? There is a cycle of abuse, of regulation, of over regulation, and then of abusive regulation. If you get a room full of oncologist for a consultation, is it a surprise the conclusion is cancer.
Life in this country is soon to become harder than we have known. Regulations that add cost but can not demonstrate cost benefit - just add to the burden. We need the equivalent of a John Lott in the NFPA to document that the legislation actually works.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:54 pm 
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Anyone can make proposals and comment on proposals submitted, so if your side is not represented it is your own fault. (pun unintended)[url="http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=817&URL=Codes%20&%20Standards/Code%20development%20process/Proposals%20(ROP)%20and%20Comments%20(ROC)"]http://www.nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=817&URL=Codes%20&%20Standards/Code%20development%20process/Proposals%20(ROP)%20and%20Comments%20(ROC)[/url]


From the 2008 ROP: "Studies conducted by the
NASFM and the CPSC indicate that expanding the requirement for AFCI
protection to all living areas this code cycle would save many lives and save
millions of dollars in property loss."


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
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Location: Odessa, Texas
A GFI will not trip unless is "sees" current going to ground. An arc fault breaker won't either. An "arc" between the grounded and ungrounded conductor will not trip an arc-fault circuit. The only way an arc-fault will trip is by seeing a ground-fault.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 5:14 pm 
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And your source(s) backing up this statement?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:24 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm
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Location: Odessa, Texas
My source? Controlled lab techniques. A GFI device will not trip without grounding conductor; hence the term "ground fault". An AFCI will not prevent an arc between a grounded and an ungrounded conductor. An AFCI will trip only when it senses current to a grounding conductor. The only difference between a GFIC and an AFCI is its current tripping point. The description Arc Fault is a misnomer. It leads one to believe that the device will prevent all arcs. It won't. Why are these results so difficult to believe?


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