It’s Not All Bad…

Photo by Good Good Good on Unsplash


We’re almost halfway through 2020!  It’s no secret that this year has been challenging for most of us and that it is sometimes difficult to stay positive.  However, with all of the bad there’s also a lot of good in the world.  In the wake of our pandemic, actor John Krasinski from the show The Office created an entire online news program called Some Good News, which was dedicated to sharing good news that’s happening in the world.  This has inspired us to share some good news with you. 

Here are a few positive things that have happened so far in 2020:

  1. 7-year Old Holds Prom for His Babysitter:  When Rachel Chapman’s prom was cancelled due to Covid-19, young Curtis decided to take matters into his own hands.  He surprised her with dinner and a dance.  Curtis dressed up and picked out a menu based on what they would eat together when she babysat: peanut butter and apples, Chick-fil-A, and smoothies.
  2. 99-year-old Veteran beats Covid-19 and Surprises Granddaughter on Wedding Day:  WWII veteran, Vincent Simeone, was hospitalized for Covid for two weeks.  When he recovered, he was able to surprise his granddaughter, Amy Zimmerman at her wedding on May 24th.  This also would have been his late wife Millie’s 100th birthday. 
  3. Iowa Teen Launches Free Grocery Delivery Service for Seniors:  Seventeen-year-old Tenner Kenin has a mission to keep senior citizens safe during the pandemic.  He started T’s Angel Hands to help out seniors who are struggling to find delivery times and aren’t able to go to the store for fear of getting sick.  He and dozens of volunteers are not only helping seniors, but they are also helping people with underlying health issues and pregnant women.  
  4. Canadian Company Aims to Plant 1 Billion Trees by 2020 Using Drones: Flash Forest, a Canadian startup, is using drones to drop seed pods into areas that may otherwise not be reached.  They are currently able to plant 10,000-20,000 trees per day, but are hoping to reach 100,000 trees per day.
  5. Singer Rents Cherry Picker to Sing to a Senior Center: Since nursing homes currently do not allow visitors, Colette Hawley of Chicago decided to take matters into her own hands.  She rented a 30 foot cherry picker bucket truck to lift her up to sing through the windows of Chicago Methodist Senior Services.  The grateful residents were seen clapping and waving through the windows.  Some were even brought outside to dance.

Hang in there.  




National Electrical Safety Month

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

May is National Electrical Safety Month!  This month is a great time to double check all of your electrical equipment in your home.  It’s also a great time to learn about electrical hazards and how to avoid them.

Electrical Safety Checklist:

  1. Check all electrical cords for fraying and replace any that may be damaged.
  2. Keep all electrical appliances away from water.
  3. Don’t nail or tack cords to the wall or floor.
  4. Use outlet covers to protect children from electrical outlets.
  5. Never touch a downed powerline!  Stay at least 35 feet away and call 911.
  6. Don’t plant trees near utility equipment or under power lines.
  7. Stay at least 10 feet away from all overhead power lines.
  8. Do not touch anything that’s touching a powerline.
  9. Check your extension cords.  These are meant to be temporary and not a permanent fixture.  All appliances should be plugged directly into the wall and not into an extension cord.
  10.  Don’t overload your electrical circuits.  Flickering lights, warm or discolored wall plates, and mild shock from appliances or switches can all indicate overloaded circuits.

   Have a safe day!

2021 NFPA 70E – Review of Major Changes

2021 NFPA 70E

2021 NFPA 70E – Major Changes

By Jim Phillips

The 2021 Edition of NFPA 70E is right around the corner and with it – many changes.

Every three years I have the privilege of writing about the upcoming changes for the National Electrical Contractor Association’s Electrical Contractor Magazine.

A summary of the major changes for the 2021 edition was published in the May 2020 Edition of Electrical Contractor Magazine.


I will also be conducting a FREE live streaming class at 10:00 AM Pacific/1:00 PM Eastern Time on June 18th to discuss the major changes.

2021 NFPA 70E Changes Article

Live Streaming 2021 NFPA 70E Update – June 18, 2020


Other Upcoming Live Streaming Classes:

Arc Flash Studies – IEEE 1584

Electrical Power System Engineering Course

Captain Murphy, Dirty Harry and Electrical Safety

Murphy's Law - Sled

Rocket Sled that Inspired “Murphy’s Law”

OK, not the most professional sounding title for an article about electrical safety.  But play along, you will be able to connect the dots rather quickly.

 Captain Murphy
Around seventy years ago, Captain Murphy was an aerospace engineer who worked on safety-critical systems.  He became involved with high-speed rocket sled experiments used to determine what G-forces a human could experience while being hurled down the rails at an alarming speed – 632 miles per hour back then. Note: speeds today can exceed well over 6000 miles per hour!

The “passenger” would be restrained by a harness that contained a series of measurement sensors – however, during the sled’s run, the sensors were not functioning!  A subsequent investigation found Continue reading

Arc Flash Studies – IEEE 1584 Live Streaming Sample

Below is a sample of the Live Streaming of my class about Arc Flash Studies and the 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584.  It includes a brief discussion of calculations, an example problem that we solve in class and a discussion about shallow enclosures including an arc flash test of a shallow enclosure. I teach this class several times a year and can also conduct this class live or live streaming at your site.


[See Arc Flash Course Schedule]

Plasma – Modify the Arc Rating or Modify the Incident Energy Calculations?

Plasma – Modify the Arc Rating or Modify the Incident Energy Calculations?

I am frequently asked questions about the application of the 2018 edition of IEEE 1584 – especially electrode configurations and more specifically, about HCB (Horizontal Conductors/Electrodes inside a Metal Box/Enclosure).

I recently had the privilege of co presenting a paper at the IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop that focused on PPE, arc ratings and the arc flash hazard. I made a last-minute addition to the presentation that was not included in the published paper.  It provides a direct correlation between using the 2018 IEEE 1584 HCB configuration and conclusions from a 2010 technical paper about de-rating PPE for outward convective flows Continue reading

National Lineman Appreciation Day


Photo by American Public Power Association on Unsplash

National Lineman Appreciation Day 

Imagine being quarantined without power.  No Netflix.  No refrigerator.  No video games to keep your kids occupied while you’re trying to work.  No computers to allow you to work.  No power or technology of any kind.  Thanks to linemen, we are able to have all of these things.  Saturday was Lineman Appreciation Day.  Linemen work around the clock to make sure that we have power.  They work under high risk conditions on a daily basis.  Without them, we would not be able to function in our high-tech world.  How did this appreciation day come to be?  On April 10, 2013, U.S. Senate Resolution 95 declared April 18th as Lineman Appreciation Day.

Here are a few facts about the history of linemen:

  1. The profession began in the 1840’s due to the invention of the telegraph.  Lines were originally strung on trees, but eventually wooden poles were put in place.  There was very little training available and the job was extremely dangerous.  They were responsible for connecting communities to the ever growing power grid.
  2. Between the 1890’s and 1930’s, line work was considered one of the most dangerous jobs in existence.  One in 3 linemen were killed on the job, typically from electrocution.
  3. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, electricity became more publicly dependent.  Maintenance of power lines and quick repairs became more important.
  4. In the 1950’s, some electric lines began to be installed underground.
  5. Now, industry standards and best practices have been put in place to protect our linemen.  There are 3 organizations leading lineman health and safety: International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, National Electrical Contractors Association, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

If you see a lineman, thank them.  If you see anyone on the front lines, thank them, too.  There are many essential workers on the frontlines right now.  We at Brainfiller appreciate ALL of you who are still working to keep life as normal as possible for us during this time.

Stay safe!


A Socially Distant St. Patrick’s Day – Virtual Celebrations

Photo by Hoan Vo on Unsplash

What a week! Like everyone else, we at Brainfiller have been following the COVID-19 news closely.  For many of us, we are so used to the hustle and bustle of life that when we are forced to stay home and slow down, we are unsure what to do with ourselves.  If you’re like me, you’re home with your kids trying to entertain them and make sure that they are staying happy and healthy.

Today is St. Patrick’s Day.  A day when many of us would be out socializing and celebrating.  Just because we are social distancing, that does NOT mean that we can’t still celebrate!  Here are some fun activities that you can do to celebrate from home:

  1. Dropkick Murphy’s Livestream: Every year, the iconic Celtic-punk band Dropkick Murphy’s puts on a live show to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This year, they will be doing a livestream concert for the entire world to watch.  You can watch it on their YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.  For more information, please visit Dropkick Murphys.
  2. Virtual Milwaukee Irish Fest: With the trend of putting everything online, the Milwaukee Irish Fest will also be live streaming for your enjoyment. They will also be featuring artist-curated videos, Irish Fest throwback videos, and more.  For more information, please visit Irish Fest.
  3. Shamrocks & Shenanigans Virtual 4 Miler: Just because you’re social distancing, doesn’t mean you can’t go outside and run (from a distance). This virtual race will be held all month long. To sign up go to Shamrocks & Shenanigans.
  4. Virtual St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The parades have been cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! People all over Twitter have announced that they will be having their own virtual parades in their homes. Dress up in green and orange and have a parade in your own living room!
  5. LemonAid – St. Patrick’s Day Virtual Festival: This virtual festival has several artists performing and will have two virtual stages – one on Facebook and one on Instagram Live. This is taking place from 1pm – 10pm ET and has no cover charge. However, they will be suggesting ways to support the artists.   Check it out at their Facebook event page: LemonAid – St. Patrick’s Day Virtual Festival.
  6. Gardening: This is a great day to try out your green thumb and start planting some flowers and vegetables for the summer. You can do this indoors if it’s still too cold, or outside if the weather is nice. You can even plant shamrocks for a fun St. Patty’s Day addition.
  7. Green Volcano: If you’re at home with your kids, you should create a green volcano! This is a fun experiment for kids of any age.  You can get instructions at: Science Fun! Don’t forget to add some green food coloring.
  8. Tie-Dye Fun: Another fun project for today would be to tie-dye T-shirts! Use green and orange for a fun St. Patrick’s Day project.
  9. Green Food: Try to eat only green foods today. Turn it into a game for your kids by telling them that the Leprechaun’s rule is that they must only eat green today.  It can be a fun way to get them to eat their green vegetables.
  10. Virtually Tour St. Patrick’s Cathedral: There are many museums and tourist attractions available to view online right now. One of them is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. You can view it on their app or on their website at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

We hope that you all stay safe and healthy.  Have a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day!


IAEI News – May, 1932 – Vol. IV No. 3

The May 1932 issue is packed with many stories and technical articles from the perspective of almost 90 years ago.

Grounding Multiple Meters (Page 33) An early interpretation of bonding service switches when two, three or four are installed as permitted by the 1931 National Electrical Code.

A Squirrel Story (Page 39) Even back in 1932, squirrels were a possible cause of a power outage.  This one gnawed through the lead sheath. Continue reading

IAEI News – March, 1932 – Vol. IV No. 2

The IAEI March 1932 issue had quite a few great articles including:

Grounding (Page 27) Water Pipe Ground where the secondary is grounded at water pipe at two or more locations outside building served and more.

Portable Light Causes Explosion in Flour Mill (Page 33) Story of a dust explosion of a flour mill when a light bulb broke.

Hazardous Locations Classifications (Page 35) A diagrammatical analysis of the requirements of Article 32 from 1932 regarding classified locations. Continue reading

IAEI News – January, 1932 – Vol. IV No. 1

Inside the January 1932 edition are articles such as:

Four Wire AC Secondary Networks (Page 12)  This extensive article explores the growth (1932 perspective) of AC networks, Radial systems, DC networks, network protectors and more.

Hazardous Locations – Groups (Page 37) “It is recognized that various gases and various combinations of dust, possesses varying characteristics.”  Using Groups for hazard locations is common but back in 1932, the concept was just being introduced. Continue reading

IAEI News – November, 1931 – Volume III No. 6

Many topics such as “new” electric hot water heaters are discussed in the November 1931 issue.

Electric Hot Water Heaters (Page 42) This article reviews the New “electric hot water devices allegedly adaptable for practically any purpose for which hot water was a requirement”

Licensing of Electricians (Page 46) A 1932 perspective about licensing electricians. Continue reading

National Love Your Pet Day


February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day!  We at Brainfiller have many fur babies whom we love and adore.  From cats and dogs to ferrets and lizards, we love them all.  Above is a picture of our pug Skittles dressed up as Thor.  Did you know that about 85 million households in the U.S. own at least one pet?  Although most of them have dogs and cats, there are many other types of animal companions.  As if we need another reason to love our pets, today is the day to give them some extra love and attention.

Here are some ways to celebrate your pets today:

  1. Make a special treat: Here is a link to recipes for homemade dog treats: Good Housekeeping Pet Treats
  2. Spoil your pet with a new toy: Visit your local pet store to buy a new toy for your pet. If possible, visit an independently owned store.
  3. Give them some extra play time: Take your pet to the park or play in your home. Either way, your pet will love and appreciate the extra attention they are getting from you.  You can also try to teach them a new trick.
  4. Arrange a pet playdate: If your pet loves to socialize, this is the perfect day to let them play with or make new friends. Dog parks are the best places to help socialize your pup.
  5. Take them to a pet spa: Take your pet to get a nice massage and grooming.
  6. Give them some extra cuddle time: Fuzzy or scaly, all animals love to get cuddles from their favorite humans.
  7. Take your pet to a pet friendly restaurant: This one is typically just for dogs, but that’s not always the case. I was recently at a restaurant in Las Vegas, NV and saw a girl carrying around her bearded dragon on her shoulder.
  8. Take your pet for a walk in a new place: Or maybe go hiking! Animals love getting to explore new places and smells.  Just remember to bring plenty of water for your pet.
  9. Drink with your pet: Companies like Pet Winery and Apollo Peak make pet-safe mocktails, beer, wine, and champagne so they can celebrate life with you.
  10. Share pictures of your pet on social media: Tag #brainfillerpets so we can see your adorable pets!

Have fun with your pets today!


Case Study – Arc Flash While Switching – Normal Operation?

A common question that I often hear in my NFPA 70E and IEEE 1584 Arc Flash Studies training courses is:

“Can simply operating a device such as a fusible switch or circuit breaker cause an arc flash?”


I respond to the question with a very specific answer which is:

 “It depends.”



Arc Flash Aftermath

Learning the Hard Way

A good friend of mine here in Arizona has a client that found the answer the hard way. An electrical contractor was performing electrical work at their facility.  The work involved creating an electrically safe work condition at the 277Y/480 Volt main service switchboard following NFPA 70E 120.5 Process of Establishing and Verifying an Electrically Safe Work Condition.

The main service switchboard contained four separate mains as permitted by NEC 230.71 – commonly referred to as the Six Disconnect Rule. One of the mains was a 1200 Amp bolted pressure switch with 1200 Amp fuses that fed a downstream distribution switchboard in another room. As required by NEC 240.95, ground fault protection was also provided on the main since the disconnect exceed 1000 amps and was a solidly grounded 277Y/480V system.

The work began by interrupting the load by opening each of the smaller fusible disconnects at the downstream switchboard.  Once the load was interrupted, the 1200 Amp main was opened along with the three other mains. However, the line side of the mains in the switchboard remained energized – and still hazardous.

To completely de-energize the switchboard, Continue reading

IEEE 3000 Series Standards – Update

My 1974 IEEE Gray Book from College – Now part of the 3000 Series of IEEE Standards

I have been a fan of the IEEE “Color Books” going all the way back to my Senior Year in college – yep, I had a class based on the 1974 Edition of the IEEE Grey Book!  Unlike so many other standards, the 13 IEEE Color Book series included many practical examples, pictures, diagrams and were always a great resource.

But (you saw that word coming) there was a lot of overlap between the different books creating the risk of subjects being out of synch over time.  For example, the topic of short circuit calculations/analysis could be found in the Gray Book (IEEE Std. 241), Buff Book (IEEE Std. 242), Red Book (IEEE Std. 141), Brown Book (IEEE Std. 399), and Violet Book (IEEE Std. 551) In addition to the overlap, the sheer size of each book would mean the revision process would sometimes take forever (or at least seem that way).

Beginning over a decade ago, IEEE began transitioning Continue reading

IAEI News – September, 1931 – Volume III No. 5

The September 1931 issue contains:

Rural Electrification Hazards (Page 3) Rural citizens should be protected from new hazards due to the “Revolutionary Change” brought about by the electrification of farms and small towns.

Electrical Fatality in Oven (Page 25) The victim was repairing an oven in a bakery. He had his head and shoulders in the oven and a frayed extension cord he was using made contact with the metal inside.

Difficult Obtaining Explosion-Proof Motors (Page 31) Back in 1931, explosion proof motors were difficult to obtain as this article explains. Continue reading

IAEI News – May, 1931 – Volume III No. 3

The May 1931 issue contains:

Electric Wires and Hose Streams (Page 11) With the electricity being more prevalent in 1931, fighting fires in the presence of energized conductors becomes a new problem.

Centralized Radio (Page 23) Radio now occupies a position in the modern building comparable to the telephone and the electric light.

Fatal Accident Reports (Page 26) Just as it sounds.  Electrification has its drawbacks. Continue reading

IAEI News – March, 1931 – Volume III No. 2

The March 1931 issue contains:

Polarity Identification of Systems and Circuits (Page 3)  An extensive article about identifying conductors in 1931.

Why 110 Volts is Often Fatal (Page 9) Opinion about why 110 volts is fatal and according to the author is equivalent to 310 volts dc.

Editor’s Comments about Unemployment (Page 10) Interesting read from deep in the midst of the Great Depression. Continue reading

IAEI News – November, 1930 – Vol. II No. 6

The November 30, 1930 issue contains:

Many pages of suggested revisions and additions to the National Electrical Code.  A few examples:

Multiple Service Switches (Page 4) A resolution to consider the subject of eliminating the requirement for a single service switch and permitting multiple service switches.  A.k.a. today’s “Six Disconnect Rule”

Knob and Tube (page 39) Continue reading

IAEI News – September, 1930 – Vol. II No. 5

The September 1930 issue:

Standardization of the investigation of electrical fires and accidents. (Page 3)  With the continued electrification, comes the hazards that go along with it and the committee report on the subject is published in this issue.

Insulation vs. Grounding (page 11) An interesting article about the protection 0f electrical equipment from a safety standpoint.

Motor Wiring Tables (page 27) This table is based on the 1928 NEC

Bare Bus Bars and Risers (page 29) This is quite new and involves many fine points of engineering.  The first large installation was in the Barclay-Vesey Building in New York City. Continue reading

IAEI News – July, 1930 – Vol. II No. 4

July 1930 Issue

In addition to many IAEI section reports, this issue contains articles such as:

How to Classify Hazardous Locations (page 3) “The Classification of Hazardous Locations is a subject which can be treated in little more than a very general manner” Really?  We have come a long way!

Fires in Radio Receiving Stations (Page 13) This article points out some of the causes and accidents. 27 radio fires were reported during 1929 to the New York Board of Fire Underwriters. Continue reading

Grey Matter (the brain not our newsletter)

Grey Matter Facts

The human brain consists of 60% white matter and 40% grey matter.  But what is grey matter? And why do we call this lovely newsletter by that name?

Grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control and sensory perception.  It is also vital to our intelligence and memory.  We at Brainfiller have a primary goal to fill all brains with as much knowledge as possible.  Your grey matter will help you to remember it.  Thus our reason for calling this newsletter, “Grey Matter.”

Allow us to fill your brain with these fun facts about your brain:

  1. Your brain produces enough energy to power a light bulb. Your brain can produce enough energy to power a 25-watt light bulb, even while sleeping.
  2. Brains are busier when you’re sleeping. We’re always told to get a good night’s sleep before a big test. This is why!  Brains spend your sleeping hours organizing and storing information you come across throughout the day, including all of that information you just studied for a big test.  Your brain is so busy when you’re sleeping that it has to produce a hormone that keeps you immobilized so you won’t react to any of the ideas that are going through your head.
  3. Grey matter isn’t actually grey. Don’t let the name fool you. Grey matter doesn’t turn grey until it dies. It is actually a healthy pink due to all the blood that’s constantly flowing through it.
  4. Humans use much more than 10% of their brains. We aren’t sure where this information about only using 10% came from, but we do know that it’s not true! Although you may not be using every part of your brain at every moment of the day, you will use every part at some point during the day.  Each part of our brain has a different purpose, but they’re all essential to function.
  5. Your brain doesn’t feel pain. Even though our brain will tell us loud and clear when we’re in pain, the brain tissue itself doesn’t contain pain receptors and thus cannot feel pain.
  6. Your brain is addicted to oxygen. Our brain makes up less than 2% of our body weight, and yet it consumes 20% of the oxygen in your bloodstream. The brain divides that oxygen up between grey and white matter, with white matter getting just 6% and gray matter taking in 94%.
  7. Your brain is mostly water. The average brain is about 73% water. Much of that water comes from blood. About a gallon of it flows through every four minutes.
  8. A fat brain is a healthy brain. The brain is the most fatty organ in the body and you want it to be! The fat is necessary to insulate neurons and allow messages to travel through the brain and the body without getting lost.

Have a brainy day!


IAEI News – May, 1930 – Vol. II No. 3

In the May 1930 Issue:

Chicago Civic Opera Dimming System (Page 3) An explanation of this “New” technology used for dimming and control for both stage and a portion of the house lights.

Surface Raceways (page 29) Modern use of electrical applications and lighting such as desk lamps, electrically operated office appliances, TELEGRAPH call systems etc. has created problems for those responsible for the construction of “modern” buildings.

Designation of Enclosed Switches (page 33)  Clarification regarding the three types of switches – disconnecting switches, general use switches and motor control switches.

…and of course, a whole lot more! Continue reading

IAEI News – March, 1930 – Vol. II No. 2

The March 1930 issue contains stories such as:

Adequacy Requirements for Branch Circuit Wiring (page 10) This article points out that the table with a minimum required watts per unit area of the NEC does not of itself assure an adequate wiring layout. This appears to be the predecessor of NEC Table 220.12

Ohio Supreme Court Ruling about Liability (page 25) This 1929 ruling clarifies the right to recover damages from the property owner if they are negligent of fire hazards and his tenants suffer fire losses as a result.

Electrical Accidents Reports (page 29) Fatality from wires that were not removed, Handyman falls and grabs live terminals (all while using a lantern for illumination) Long before NFPA 70E, this article provides many more unfortunate stories.

Steel Underfloor Ducts (page 26) Underfloor ducts as a standardized manufactured produce was almost unheard of until recent years.  This article references only one installation prior to 1920. Continue reading

National Maple Syrup Day!

Photo by nikldn on Unsplash

Pass the syrup, please!  Yesterday was National Maple Syrup Day!  Yep, we will celebrate anything here at Brainfiller HQ.

This natural sweetener was first discovered and processed by the indigenous people of North America.  European settlers later refined the art of making syrup.  Up until the 1930’s, the United States were the world leaders in maple syrup production.  Now, Canada has taken the maple syrup throne.

Did you know that a maple syrup production farm is called a sugarbush or a sugarwood?  Here are some other fun facts about maple syrup:



  1. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States.
  2. Sap is boiled in a sugar house which is also known as a sugar shanty, sugar shack or a cabane à sucre.
  3. Although not limited to these maple species, it is usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees.
  4. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.
  5. Quebec produces about 2/3 of the world’s syrup.
  6. A quarter cup of syrup is high in minerals.
  7. The first written account of maple syrup production comes from 1606.
  8. A tree takes about 40 years before it’s large enough to tap.
  9. The International Maple Syrup Institute was founded in 1975 and their meetings include breakfast buffets.
  10. Sap is usually preferred to syrup in Korea. Since the ninth century, the gorosoe, or “tree good for the bones,” is a Korean maple that’s been tapped by southern villagers. Locals drink over 5 gallons in one sitting as a common practice.

Enjoy this day with some pancakes or waffles.  Or you can be like Buddy the Elf and try some syrup on your spaghetti.

Have an extra sweet day!


IAEI News – January, 1930 – Vol. II No. 1

The January 1930 articles include:

What the Industry Thinks of Inspectors (page 3) The electrical industry regards this great body of men in the light of an unorganized police force that undoubtedly contributes to safety in the use of electricity, but instead of keeping order, promotes disorder because it is unorganized.  OUCH!  That’s a bit harsh.

System Control for Electric Clocks (page 10) Did you miss your regular train this morning?  If so, it was not due to an error in your Telechron clock, as its timing is now automatically regulated to a high degree of precision by means of two frequency regulators installed on the Edison system.

What’s in a Name? (Page 15) This article provides example of industry terminology as it relates to specific geographic areas.  For example, “Standpipe” refers to Service Conduit in the North west. “Hard Lights” refer to Arc Lamps in Hollywood. Continue reading

IAEI News – November, 1929 – Vol. I No. 5

November 1929 is the fifth issue and contains articles about:

Application of Demand Factors in Determining Feeder Sizes (page 12) An introduction to the concept of demand factors complete with graphs and tables. “In any set of electrical mains supplying either the whole or a part of an electrical installation the loaded in amperes occurring at anytime rarely, if ever, equals the load in amperes which would be required if all the apparatus connected to these mains was in use at the same time and full loaded.”

Penny for Fuse Proves Costly for Householder.  (page 21) We have heard the stories and they go back a long time ago.  “Don’t use a penny if a light fuse blows out.”

Statement to Inspectors from Manufacturers of Armored Cable (page 30) After tow years of the most careful research by Underwriters’ Laboratories, the armored cable industry announce their adoption of a new armored cable standard. Continue reading

IAEI News – September, 1929 – Vol. I No. 4

The September 1929 issue has quite a bit to offer.

American Standards Association Approves 1929 NEC (page 5) The NEC has been the basic guide for safe practices in the wiring of consumer premises for use or electricity for light, heat, and power for 30 YEARS!

Important Legal Decision (page 7) For inspectors who are enforcing the NEC and others working under the code.  “Using Fixtures Forbidden by National Electrical Code Is Evidence of Negligence.  McIntosh vs. Alabama Power Company.”

Successful Western Section Meeting at Detroit (page 10) “They came by train, they came by auto, they came by boat, and some even came on foot for this meeting. (notice, no airplanes were mentioned) Continue reading

IAEI News – July, 1929 – Vol. I No. 3

From the July 1929 Issue:

The History of the National Electrical Code (page 3) from a 1929 perspective.  This includes a copy of the October 19th, 1881 letter adopting the standard for Electric Light Wires, Lamps, etc. subject to future additions. (Jim’s Note:  I believe there have been “a few” additions since then)

50th Anniversary of the Incandescent Lamp. (page 5) A few rules have been developed related to this incident lamp circuits.  The rules come from then leaders of industry including Mr. Thomas A. Edison.

Voltage Drop (page 8) “Drop in Voltage” has not been specifically provided for in the Code on the assumption that no fire or lie hazard was involved.  However, this article begins to address the issue.

Accident Reports (page 25) This includes the electrocution of a rat, electrocution in a “Beauty Parlor” and others. Continue reading

IAEI News – May, 1929 – Vol. I No. 2

In the May 1929 issue you can find:

Meeting of Electrical Council of Underwriters’ Laboratories Meeting (page 3) that addressed such topics as Cabinet Labels, Armored Cable, Circuit Breakers and more.  Circuit breakers are now divided into three classes based on characteristics.  This includes circuit breakers used for washing machine protection, one for replacing the cutout and the switch at the service entrance and a standard circuit breaker represents the third class.

Guidance for Three-Phase, Four-Wire Systems. (page 8) This type of system is rapidly coming into use throughout the country and this article helps clarify the terminology and application of these systems.

Separate Fuses for Bell-Ringing Transformers.  (page 13) It is recognized that the bell circuit which is frequently run with small size, paraffin covered wire is likely to short circuit.

Neon Signs (page 14) The Neon, sign, with its brilliant attractive, multi-colored glows, has met with very popular favor through the country during the past two to three years.  However, there are many questions that this article attempts to address.

See these articles and many more! Continue reading

IAEI News – March 1929 – Vol. 1 No. 1

In this issue from March 1929 are articles such as:

Talking Picture Equipment – Description of Circuits, Voltages Used and Methods of Installation. With this “NEW” emerging technology, what apparatus must be added to the ordinary motor driven motion picture projector, in order to run talking pictures (page 9).  Learn about the “new” safety provisions governing wiring in moving picture booths and more.  Quite a blast from the past.

High Tension Service In Chrysler Building, New York City (page 17) With the growing tendency toward construction of higher buildings, with the rapidly extending use of alternating currents for buildings in the congest districts of large cities this article discusses the power supply for the NEW Chrysler building.

Read about various meeting reports such as the Electrical Committee of NFPA’s 1929 Annual meeting (page 12) the New York Chapter’s visit to the Westinghouse Institute and a Meeting of the Ohio IAEI (page 15) Continue reading

DC Arc Flash Calculations

290 MW PV Installation in SW Arizona

When the 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584 was published last year, one subject was conspicuously absent –  DC arc flash.  DC power systems are everywhere and include sources such as rectifiers, photo-voltaic installation, transit systems and more.  The number and scale of DC systems continue to grow.

The original IEEE 1584 project for developing the next generation arc flash model had quite an ambitious scope and budget.  However, during the critical fundraising period in the early years, the great recession occurred and the DC effort had to be saved for another day.

To address arc flash protection for DC systems, many Continue reading

Evolution of Arcing Short Circuit Current Calculations

Arc Flash Duration Defined by Clearing Time of Upstream Protective Device 

One of the main variables that is part of an arc flash study is the arcing short circuit current.  However, going back through the evolution of arc flash calculations, consideration was not always given to this value.  Due to the impedance of the arc, the arcing current will always be less than the bolted short circuit current and the lower value could lead to a greater incident energy. Why?  Because the lower current could result in the upstream protective device taking longer to operate leading to a longer arc flash duration.

Let’s take a look at a few milestones regarding arcing current calculations up through the use of the Arcing Current Variation Factor found in the 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584. Continue reading

History of IEEE – 135 Years and going strong!

I was at the IEEE PCIC Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia last week where I had the privilege of being part of the first presentation with three great colleagues (actually thee great friends) The topic was the new IEEE 1584 standard.

During the presentation while I was looking out into the 1000 plus faces, it occurred to me, “I wonder how many people know how IEEE began?”  So, in case that very important question has been keeping you up at night, here is the short history from IEEE’s website. Continue reading

History of Arcing Short Circuit Calculations – 1980’s to Now

One of the main variables used for incident energy and arc flash boundary calculations is the arcing short circuit current. How the arcing current is calculated has gone through an evolution beginning back in the 1980’s up through today.

The arcing current will always be less than the “bolted” short circuit determined by performing a “traditional” short circuit study that is used to evaluate the interrupting rating of protective devices.  During an arc flash, the short circuit current flows across an air gap which introduces an arcing impedance.  The result is that the arcing short circuit current Continue reading

Canada Classes – Arc Flash Studies / IEEE 1584

How to Perform an Arc Flash Calculation Study
2018 IEEE 1584
By Jim Phillips, P.E.

With special guests:
Len Cicero and Jim Pollard

Toronto, Ontario – November 4 – 5, 2019
Vancouver, British Columbia – February 24 – 25, 2020


For the first time ever, Jim Phillips is bringing his Arc Flash Studies class based on the 2018 IEEE 1584 to Canada! This very intense 2 day course includes an in depth discussion of:

Five different electrode configurations to enable more detailed modeling
More choices for enclosure types and sizes
Enclosure correction factor calculation to adjust for specific enclosure size
The effect of grounding has been eliminated
An arcing current variation factor calculation replaces the 85% factor
Calculations performed at 1 of 3 voltage levels with interpolation to actual voltage
The 125 kVA transformer exception was eliminated

Each calculation is now performed in 2 steps which includes an initial calculation based on one of three voltage levels and a second calculation interpolating to the specific system voltage.    The 125 kVA “exception” was replaced.  Learn why and what has replaced it.  What about the 2 second rule?

Loaded with Hands-On Calculation Problems

This class will be packed with many hands-on calculation examples using Jim’s worksheets.  The calculations will illustrate the various changes with the new edition and provide comparisons between the results using the 2002 Edition of IEEE 1584 and the 2018 Edition.

Hands-On Calculation Examples include:
Arcing Short Circuit Current – Intermediate and Final
Necessary Extrapolation and Interpolation
Enclosure Size Correction Factor
Incident Energy – Intermediate and Final
Arc Flash Boundary – Intermediate and Final
Low Voltage and Medium Voltage Calculations
DC Arc Flash Calculations

Jim will be joined by special guests Len Cicero and Jim Pollard who will be discussing CSA Z462 requirements for arc flash studies and how the study results are used to select appropriate arc rated clothing and PPE.

Questions?:  Contact our Program Director, Brenda:
480.275.7451 or [email protected]


Interview with Jim Phillips – How the New IEEE 1584 Standard Affects Arc Flash Risk Assessments in Europe

By: Rebecca Frain – Managing Director, Electrical Safety UK, Rotherham, England – A Brainfiller, Inc. Strategic Partner.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Jim Phillips regarding the new IEEE 1584 standard and what to expect with some of the new changes. In addition to being Associate Director for Electrical Safety UK and founder of, Jim is also Vice-Chair of IEEE 1584 and International Chair of IEC TC 78 – Live Working.

As an introduction, IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations was first published in 2002 and is the standard that defines the equations and methods used in many of the arc flash software packages used for arc flash risk assessments. The second edition was published towards the end of 2018 and is a real game changer.  Jim will be the Keynote Speaker at the upcoming International Arc Flash Conference on Tuesday September 24, 2019 in Manchester. Continue reading

Just Published – IEC 61482-1-1

It is once again a privilege to announce the recent publication of IEC 61482-1-1:2019 Live working – Protective clothing against the thermal hazards of an electric arc – Part 1-1: Test methods – Method 1: Determination of the arc rating (ELIM, ATPV and/or EBT) of clothing materials and of protective clothing using an open arc.  This standard is one of the dozens of standards that fall under IEC Technical Committee 78 that I have the privilege to Chair.

IEC 61482-1-1:2019 specifies test method procedures to determine the arc rating of flame resistant clothing materials and garments or assemblies of garments intended for use in clothing for workers if there is an electric arc hazard. An open arc under controlled laboratory conditions is used to determine the values of ELIM, ATPV or EBT of materials, garments or assemblies of garments. Continue reading

UK’s Electrical Review – 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584 – Major Changes

One of my latest articles regarding the new 2018 IEEE 1584 Standard was recently published in the United Kingdom’s premier publication Electrical Review.  In this article I take you through the major changes to new IEEE 1584 Standard – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculation Studies and what it means for arc flash studies and risk assessments.

View Article: 2018 IEEE 1584 – UK Electrical Review Magazine

This article is published in advance of the upcoming International Arc Flash Conference where I will be discussing the changes and providing calculation examples illustrating the new standard.

The conference will be held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 in Manchester, England.  For more information: International Arc Flash Conference

What is CENELEC?

I just returned from a CENELEC TC78 Live Working Standards meeting in Brussels, Belgium a few days ago and it occurred to me that many people may not know what CENELEC is – or does.

CENELEC is the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization and is responsible for standardization in the electrotechnical engineering field. CENELEC prepares voluntary standards, which help facilitate trade between countries, create new markets, cut compliance costs and support the development of a Single European Market.

Continue reading

2018 IEEE 1584 – Enclosure Size Adjustment Factor

Ever since the 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations was published a few months ago,  people continue to sift through the many  changes that have occurred.  One of the more significant changes is the introduction of a correction factor to adjust the calculated incident energy and arc flash boundary to account for the effect of the enclosure size.

When an arc flash occurs, the size of the enclosure can influence the arc flash hazard.  The smaller the enclosure, the more concentrated the energy is – focusing it more towards the worker resulting in greater incident energy exposure.  The opposite is also true.  Larger enclosures have Continue reading

Electrode Configuration and 2018 IEEE 1584

The most frequently asked question that I receive regarding the 2018 edition of IEEE 1584 is:

“How do I determine the electrode configuration?” 

The 2002 edition was based on arc flash tests with the electrodes oriented in a vertical configuration. When performing an arc flash study based on the 2002 edition, there were only two options available – an arc flash in an enclosure and an arc flash in open air – both based on a vertical electrode configuration.

Since the original 2002 edition was published, additional research has shown that incident energy can be influenced by the electrode configuration.  As a result, many new tests were conducted using additional new electrode configurations including vertical electrodes that terminate into an insulating barrier as well as horizontal electrodes in an enclosure/box and in air.  This is in addition to the original vertical configurations in an enclosure and in air.  The additional configurations and the resulting Continue reading

Arc Flash, Second Degree Burns (My Wife and a Chili Cookoff)

Yes, you read the title correctly – Second degree burns, my wife and a chili cookoff! And it all took place at home. But, before I get into that story, let me back up a bit.

Standards such as NFPA 70E, IEEE 1584 and several others address the arc flash hazard in terms of incident energy with the severity quantified in terms of calories per square centimeter (cal/cm2).  The generally accepted value for “the onset of a second degree burn” is 1.2 cal/cm2 as shown in the following examples.

The NFPA 70E definition of the Arc Flash Boundary contains an Informational Note that references the “the onset of a second degree burn on unprotected skin is likely to occur at an exposure of 1.2 cal/cm2

“The onset of a second-degree skin burn injury based on the Stoll curve.” is also found in Informational Note 3 of the definition of Arc Rating. Continue reading

2018 IEEE 1584 – 125 kVA Transformer Exception DELETED!

125 kVA – Going, going, gone!
After much speculation about the fate of the 125 kVA transformer “exception”, the 2018 Edition of IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations has finally been published and made it official.  The 125 kVA transformer exception has been deleted!

In its place is the new language:

“Sustainable arcs are possible but are less likely in three-phase systems operating at 240 V nominal or less with an available short circuit current below 2000A” Continue reading

IEEE 1584 – Changes to the Next Edition

It has been sixteen long years since IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations was first published in 2002.  This standard was highly celebrated back then because for the first time there was an internationally recognized standard that provided a method to calculate the arcing short circuit current, incident energy and arc flash boundary.  The results of these calculations are often listed on arc flash/equipment labels and have become an integral part of arc flash studies and risk assessments globally.

However, it did not take long before the focus began to shift towards what comes next. Continue reading

Don’t Automatically Reset a Circuit Breaker that Trips!

Circuit Breaker SettingsThe circuit breaker just tripped.  Production is down, alarms are sounding in the background.  Panic time.  For many, this scenario would mean quickly re-set the circuit breaker and “see what happens.”  Not the best idea – the question needs to be asked – why did the circuit breaker trip?  This situation can become an even larger problem if the circuit breaker has setting adjustments.  Before I go any further, let’s back up a few steps. Continue reading

IEC Standard 60900 was just published.

IEC 60900The fourth edition of IEC Standard 60900 Live working – Hand tools for use up to 1,000 V AC and 1,500 V DC was just published.  This standard is applicable to insulated, insulating and hybrid hand tools used for working live or close to live parts at nominal voltages up to 1000 V AC and 1 500 V DC.

This fourth edition cancels and replaces the third edition, published in 2012. This edition constitutes a technical revision. This edition includes the following significant technical changes with respect to the previous edition: Continue reading

Effective Training Presentations – A Few Tips From Jim’s 35+ Years Of Experience.

Bull by the HornsFor many, it is nightmare scenario.  Your department manager just came by and asked you to prepare and present a short training program for a client.   It doesn’t matter if it is about Electrical Safety, Arc Flash, the latest National Electrical Code or any one of an infinite number of topics, your reaction could range anywhere from feeling faint to watching your life pass before your eyes or any number of other responses.  Today, training has become more important than ever and there is an increasing likelihood that someday you may be called upon to put on the show – if you haven’t already.

I conducted my first training program “under duress” back in the very early 1980’s.  It was exactly the scenario above – the department Continue reading

Zero-Sequence Impedance and Incident Energy

A question that I am often asked either on-line or in one of my arc flash training classes is in regards to incident energy calculations and line-ground short circuit current:

“Since it is possible for the line-to-ground short circuit current to be greater than the three- phase current, could the line-to-ground condition be the worst case for incident energy calculations using IEEE 1584 equations?”

The short answer: No.

The longer answer: Let’s look at the equations for each short circuit calculation using symmetrical components.

The equation for calculating the three-phase fault current is: Continue reading

IEC 61482-2 Second Edition Just Released!

IEC 61482-2As the International Chair of IEC TC78 Live Working Committee, I am excited to announce the recent publication of the second edition of IEC Standard 61482-2 Live working – Protective clothing against the thermal hazards of an electric arc – Part 2: Requirements.

This revised standard is applicable to protective clothing used in work where there is the risk of exposure to an electric arc hazard.  The document specifies requirements and test methods applicable to materials and garments for protective clothing for electrical workers against the thermal hazards of an electric arc. Continue reading

PCIC Conference – ANSI vs. IEC Short Calculations and Arc Flash Studies

The 65th Annual IEEE-PCIC Conference will be held this year in Cincinnati, Ohio on September 24-26.

This year I will have both my “IEEE hat” and “IEC hat” on and join a couple of colleagues in presenting a technical paper comparing the use of ANSI vs. IEC short circuit calculations as part of an arc flash study.  The official title is: “Comprehensive Overview and Comparison of ANSI vs. IEC Short Circuit Calculations: Using IEC Short Circuit Results in IEEE 1584 Arc Flash Calculations” Continue reading

IEEE 1584 Status Update

I have been receiving many questions lately about the status of the next edition of the standard: IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations.  As Vice-Chair of the IEEE 1584 working group, I would like to provide an update about the progress and current status.

The formal voting process (known as a Sponsor Ballot) for the next edition of IEEE 1584 was actually completed during August of 2017. However, that was only the beginning of a very long process.  As part of the first round of balloting, many comments were submitted by the voters which needed to be formally addressed.  There are over 160 people in the ballot pool that represent a wide cross section of the industry.

The IEEE 1584 Working Group voted to establish a Ballot Resolution Committee (BRC) which includes the Chair, Secretary and me along with a few others that represent various sectors of the industry.  Continue reading

40 cal/cm^2 Deleted – But Some Confusion Remains.

140 cal/cm^2 Arc Flash Suit

When the topic of incident energy above 40 calories per square centimeter (cal/cm^2) comes up, the discussion can be quite interesting.  People will sometimes refer to the high values in terms of a bomb or some other sensationalized description.  Although a higher calculated incident energy can be more hazardous, all is not as it appears to be. Is the large value due to a very strong source or is it simply due to a protective device possibly taking a long time to clear?    Each will behave differently.

When performing an arc flash study, if the calculated incident energy exceeds cal/cm^2 at any locations. people often just shake their head and ask, “Now what do we do?”
 We need to place the equipment into an electrically safe work condition but that in itself poses some risk.

When the 40 cal/cm^2 value is exceeded, it is often treated like an absolute go/no-go threshold and can trigger many different responses and comments that are not always correct. Above 40 cal/cm^2, arc flash labels may have the statement “No PPE Available.” This value also frequently triggers using the signal word “DANGER” on the label.  There may be comments made such as, “Above that value, the blast pressure will kill you.” My favorite sensationalized comment that I have heard is, “Above that level, PPE just Continue reading

IEEE and IEC Standards Update

By Jim Phillips

March has been a busy month for me with Standards Committee work.  I just returned home from three weeks of travel that included IEEE Standards meetings in Ft. Worth, Texas and various IEC meetings held at British Standards Institute (BSI) in London, U.K.

On the IEEE front, the IEEE 1584 Standard where I am Vice-Chair, has made significant progress over the past year and has completed the formal consensus ballot process, resolution of numerous comments from the balloters and has proceeded though another round of balloting. This new edition will provide more detailed equations for the calculation of incident energy from an arc flash as well as more detailed arcing current and arc flash boundary equations.  Although I can’t provide a date when it will finally be published, the draft has been clearing Continue reading

Short Circuit Calculations with Transformer and Source Impedance

Short Circuit Calculations – Transformer and Source Impedance

An infinite bus short circuit calculation can be used to determine the maximum short circuit current on the secondary side of a transformer using only transformer nameplate data.  This is a good (and simple) method for determining the worst case MAXIMUM short circuit current through the transformer since it ignores the source/utility impedance.  Ignoring the source impedance means it is assumed to be zero and voltage divided by zero is infinite, hence the often-used term “infinite bus” or “infinite source”.

Continue reading

Global Use of IEEE 1584

IEEE 1584 – It’s a Small World
The world’s electrical systems do not discriminate when it comes to electrical safety.  Electric shock, electrocution and arc flash hazards can occur anywhere on the planet that has electricity.  An interesting side note is that according to an International Energy Agency Report, around 1.2 Billion people do not have electricity.  Hard to imagine as I type this on my laptop, with good lighting and the heat pump working away.

Earth at night

IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations has been gaining global traction every day since it was first published in 2002. Although the IEEE 1584 standard has its roots in the United States, it has gained widespread international use as the most common method for Continue reading

Arc Flash Labels – Information No Longer Required (maybe)

New Label ExceptionNew Exception 130.5(H) Exception No. 2 – Arc Flash Label Information May Not Be Required.
It is amazing how the requirements for arc flash labels have evolved with each new edition of NFPA 70E. Known as Arc Flash Warning Labels by the National Electrical Code and Equipment Labels according to NFPA 70E 130.5(H), most people simply refer to them as arc flash labels.

What first began as a simple requirement to warn people of the arc flash hazard, has morphed into a list of required information found in NFPA 70E 130.5(H).  As an example the evolution of label requirements was the information to aid in selecting Personal Protective Equipment and Arc Rated Clothing.  In the past, the requirements began with Hazard Risk Category Tables, then it became using the Hazard Risk Category Tables OR the calculated incident energy.  Today the Hazard Risk Category Table is now the PPE Category Table and there is an array of options listed in 130.5(H). Another evolution was with the term originally known as Flash Protection Boundary.  It was later changed to Arc Flash Protection Boundary and finally to Arc Flash Boundary.  It is interesting to look at labels today and see what term is being used.  You still see some of the earlier terms but regardless of terminology, the Arc Flash Boundary remains as the distance (approach limit) from an arc source where the incident energy is 1.2 calories/centimeter2  (cal/cm2).  This is boundary is for the case when an arc flash hazard exists.

Fast forward to the 2018 Edition of NFPA 70E and yet another change to the labeling requirements has been added.  130.5(H) Exception No. 2 now permits eliminating the detailed information from the arc flash label!

No Information on the Label??!!           What?  Huh?  Are you kidding me?

Continue reading

The Elephant in the Room – Condition of Maintenance and Properly Maintained

panel not properly maintainedThe 2018 Edition of NFPA 70 provides a new definition for the term “Condition of Maintenance” :

BUY NOW: 2018 NFPA 70E Changes Part 1

The state of the electrical equipment considering the manufacturers’ instructions, manufacturers’ recommendations, and applicable industry codes, standards and recommended practices.

Another term that is cited in NFPA 70E is “Properly Maintained” —these two words often will have people scratching their heads. And often, developing a legal disclaimer. The term is often a hot topic (pun intended) when discussing the arc flash hazard. Why? Because protective devices such as circuit breakers and relays that have not been properly maintained may not operate as quickly as they should. This means that during an arc flash, a longer duration will result in a greater total incident energy, creating an even greater arc flash hazard.

Calculating the prospective incident energy from an arc flash depends on many variables including the available short-circuit current and the time it takes an upstream protective device to clear the fault. IEEE 1584 – IEEE Guide for Performing Arc-Flash Hazard Calculations provides equations that can be used for Continue reading

Don’t Be a Dummy – Poster

While I was conducting a 2 day electrical safety training program for a large electric utility, we took a substation tour for a demonstration.  Upon entering the control house, there it was.  A pole top rescue dummy just begging to be photographed and have a caption added.

Of course the first thing that came to mind (after I stopped laughing) was the seriousness of working around the hazards associated with electricity. One wrong move and anyone can be like the dummy.

Download your copy of the poster here.  Don’t be a dummy! Continue reading

IEEE Opens Its European Technology Center in Vienna, Austria

IEEE continues to expand its global presence with the opening of the European Technology Center in Vienna. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and official opening were just recently held on September 22. The center will provide support and services to the European technical community, focusing specifically on the needs of academia, government, and industry. In addition, the center will contribute to IEEE’s programs globally. The new office is located in the Austrian Standards Institute building.

“Establishing the European Technology Center marks an important step in furthering IEEE’s global, strategic activities within Europe and beyond,” says Karen Bartleson, 2017 IEEE president and CEO. “We see a strong foundation Continue reading

Electrical Safety Training – More then just “Checking the Box”

Jim Phillips, P.E.

One word.  Deadly!  If someone performs energized electrical work without being properly trained, the results can be catastrophic – and deadly!  I have seen this play out regularly during accident investigations and legal cases.  The victim was either not properly trained, or perhaps ignored a few steps from the electrical safety training program.

Many companies are very pro-active and make sure their employees are not only trained, but that they receive refresher training at least every three years based on NFPA 70E requirements.  Many even use shorter intervals for refresher training or updates.  Either way, refresher training is important for staying up to date with current standards and it can be a reminder to those that pick up bad habits along the way.

Electrical Safety Training – More than “Checking the Box”

However, a looming problem is that for some companies, training is either way down the list for various reasons or was not very thorough.  I have seen many companies that simply want to “check the box” i.e. state they had training without much regard to what the content was and check it off their to do list.  after all, what could possibly go wrong?

Continue reading

IEC TC 78 Live Working Standards

By Jim Phillips, P.E.
International Chairman IEC TC 78

Jim at the IEC Central Office in Geneva

As the International Chairman of IEC TC 78, a frequent question that I receive is “What is IEC TC 78?”

IEC is the acronym for the International Electrotechnical Commission based in Geneva, Switzerland.  TC 78 standards for Technical Committee 78 which is the Live Working Committee.  This committee is responsible for over 40 different International Live Working standards and documents and is represented by 42 countries via National Committees which includes 136 individuals known as Experts. Before I go any further, let’s back up a few steps first. Continue reading

The 2017 NEC and Arc Flash

By Jim Phillips

The 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC) contains several changes regarding arc flash:

Download FREE Arc Flash Calculations

  • 110.16(B) Arc-Flash Hazard Warning of Service Equipment
  • 240.87 Arc Energy Reduction (Circuit Breakers)
  • 240.67 Arc Energy 
Reduction (Fuses)

The severity of an arc flash is largely dependent on two key variables which include the available short-circuit current and the duration of the arc flash. The short-circuit current is determined by performing a short circuit study involving extensive calculations. The duration is normally defined by determining how long it takes an upstream overcurrent device, such as a circuit Continue reading

Arc Flash Labels and ANSI Z535

If you ask five different people what an arc flash label should look like, you will likely receive five different answers.  Although there are no hard and fast rules regarding the label format, there are some minimal requirements found in NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC).

American National Standards Institute’s Z535 Series, known as “Series of Standards for Safety Signs and Tags.” is referenced as additional guidance by NFPA 70E for the labels.  However, it is interesting that according to a survey conducted at, a large percentage Continue reading

Utility Short Circuit Data – Different Formats

National Electrical Code 110.9 Interrupting Ratings states that:

Equipment intended to interrupt current at fault levels shall have an interrupting rating at nominal circuit voltage at least equal to the current that is available at the line terminals of the equipment.

Download FREE Arc Flash Calculations

To comply with this requirement,  a short circuit studies is typically performed to determine the available fault current  for comparison to the protective devices interrupting rating.   The results of a short circuit study are also a critical component  for other studies such as an arc flash study. Requesting the available short-circuit data from the electric utility company should be one of the first tasks in performing the study. This information is very important because it defines the magnitude of current that could flow from the utility and is used as a starting point for arc flash calculations.

In addition to requesting this data for normal operating conditions, for an arc flash study the request should also include minimum short-circuit current conditions, if available. The minimum condition could be for a utility transformer or transmission line out of service or similar scenario. The minimum value can then be used to determine if the lower current could result in a protective device operating more slowly, which may increase the total incident energy during an arc flash.

Having been in charge of the Short Circuit Studies group for a very large electric utility company in a past life, the accuracy of the Continue reading

2018 NFPA 70E Update – What’s New? What’s Changed?

Published: June 2017

By Jim Phillips 
Based on Jim’s article originally published in the
May 2017 Issue of Electrical Contractor Magazine.

It is hard to imagine that three years have passed since I wrote the 2015 NFPA 70E update article for Electrical Contractor Magazine My latest article about the changes for the 2018 Edition was just published in last month’s May issue and is also printed here.

Once again there are many significant changes such as a major reorganization of Article 120, the introduction of many new definitions, an even greater emphasis on the Risk Assessment, moving the hierarchy of risk control methods to mandatory language and the deletion of the informational note containing the 40 cal/cm2 reference. So get a jump on bringing your electrical safety and arc flash training programs in line with the soon to be released 2018 Edition of NFPA 70E.

Around 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with the saying, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Who knew this ancient proverb would apply to NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace? The 2018 edition is right around the corner, and once again, change is a constant theme. From both minor and major revisions to new additions and major reorganizations, this 11th edition contains many changes.

This article does not contain every change, and some language is paraphrased due to space limitations. Since the final document has not yet been formally approved, additional changes are possible before publication. Therefore, refer to the final approved version once it is published.

Continue reading

Keeping Skills Current with FREE Training

Published: May 2017

By Jim Phillips

Part 2 of 2 Part Series

There is an endless list of reasons for keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date in the electrical industry. These days many electrical industry-licensing boards require a contractor to attend a minimum number of hours of training each year, often referred to as continuing education. However, the best reason is simply to stay current with the latest technology in the electrical industry.

Free Training

One of the biggest attractions to any program is the word “FREE.” It will draw attention to anything, and there are a lot of FREE resources out there. The following are some examples of FREE electrical industry training options and resources.

Webinars: Free webinars, and the invitations to them, are everywhere. Although some webinars may be a bit commercial, a growing number are jam-packed with the latest information about industry trends, products, methods and ideas.

Continue reading

Keeping Skills Current on a Limited Budget

2-Part Series

Published: May 2017
By Jim Phillips

Part #1 of a 2 Part Series:

What if you had been stranded on a deserted island for the past five years? By the time you were rescued, you would have missed the explosion of real-time social media, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, mobile marketing trends, as well as advancements in smart grids and wind and solar energy—it would be more than you could imagine. You may think, “I was only lost for a few years, how could industry and technology change so rapidly?”

What if you were stranded for just one year? You would have missed the latest Internet-of-Things (IoT) smart home technology, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology movies, toys and games. You even would have missed the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the 2015 soon to be 2018 edition of NFPA 70E.

Get the idea? Just as the world continues to turn, with or without us, technology continues to change at a very fast pace. If you pause for too long, it will pass you by, and catching up could become quite a challenge. If you’re leaning against the ropes, you might as well learn them, so you can rebound faster and better.

There is an endless list of reasons for keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date in the electrical industry. One reason is that many licensing boards require a contractor to attend a minimum number of hours of training each year, often referred to as continuing education. A participant receives credit known as professional development hours (PDHs) or continuing education units (CEUs). However, one of the best reasons is simply to stay current with the latest technology in the electrical industry.

What do competitive companies recognize that others do not?

Continue reading

What Could Go Wrong?

Creating An Electrically Safe Work Condition

Published: April 2017

By: Jim Phillips


“Kill the Circuit.” This phrase is a colorful way of saying, “De-energize the Circuit.” Easy enough — just open a switch or other protective device and the circuit is “dead.” It should then be safe to work on right?

WRONG! Simply opening a switch does not guarantee the circuit is de-energized. Really? What could go wrong?

There are many who still consider this simple “kill the circuit” approach to be standard electrical safety practice. This is a very dangerous method, for example, instead of the circuit being dead, the worker could end up dead!

According to NFPA 70E, there are many additional steps necessary to ensure the circuit is truly safe to work on. This multi-step process is known as creating an “electrically safe work condition,” which requires the following steps:

  1. Determine all possible sources of electrical supply – check up-to-date drawings, diagrams, etc.
  2. Interrupt the load and open the disconnecting devices.
  3. Visually verify that all blades of the disconnecting means are open if possible – drawout devices must be withdrawn to the fully disconnected position.
  4. Apply lockout/tagout devices in accordance with established policy.
  5. Use an adequately rated test instrument to verify absence of voltage.
  6. Apply properly rated ground connecting devices if there is a possibility of induced voltage.

(These steps are paraphrased from NFPA 70E 120.1 Process of Achieving an Electrically Safe Work Condition, which should always be used to define the complete procedure).

Continue reading

Arc Flash Study Top 10 FAQs Part #2

How Does Everyone Else Do This?

By Jim Phillips

3-Part Series



  1. Does your company or client permit energized work where the incident energy is greater than 40 calories per centimeter squared (cal/cm2)?

Continue reading

Arc Flash Study Top 10 FAQs Part #1

How Does Everyone Else Do This?

By Jim Phillips

3-Part Series


There are many frequently asked questions about performing an arc flash study (risk assessment) and understanding electrical safety requirements. A careful read of standards such as NPFA 70E or IEEE 1584 can answer some questions. Yet, other questions can be more complex, gray areas can lead to confusion, second-guessing and wondering how everyone else does it. Continue reading

Forensic Electrical Engineering Blog #3

Past – Present – Future

3-Blog Series

By Jim Phillips, P.E.


Blog #3: Evolution in Forensic Electrical Engineering

There has been much advancement in the field of forensic electrical engineering since the days of Morse, Latimer, Edison and others. A few of the more significant advancements include:

  • Better Understanding of Electric Shock and Arc Flash Hazards
  • Codes and Standards
  • Computer Simulations

Personal injury that is a result of contact or exposure to energized electrical conductors is usually due to electric shock/electrocution and/or burn injury from an arc flash. In the early years of electrical power systems little was known about these hazards other than they can occur. Today, research, testing and new and improved electrical standards have greatly expanded the knowledge of these hazards. Continue reading

Forensic Electrical Engineering Blog #2

Forensic Electrical Engineering

Past – Present – Future

3-Blog Series

By Jim Phillips, P.E.


History of Forensic Electrical Engineering

Some historical articles suggest the field of electrical investigations began hundreds of years ago when early attempts were made to provide a scientific understand lightning. Of course lightning has been around since the beginning of time and was usually explained using philosophical and religious views before scientific explanations were first made. Continue reading

Forensic Electrical Engineering Blog #1

Past – Present – Future

3-Blog Series

By Jim Phillips, P.E.


Blog #1: What is Forensic Electrical Engineering?

Welcome to my 3-part blog series about the Past, Present and Future of Forensic Electrical Engineering. In this blog series, you’ll get insights into what can be considered some of the first forensic investigations into electrical engineering. Beginning way back in the 1700s with the study of lighting and “bell ringers” up to today’s investigations using elaborate computer simulations to recreate events. Welcome back each week to digest the next bit of insight, data and information.
Continue reading

Electrical Safety Training: It Will Save Your Life!

By Jim Phillips

Performing electrical work without being properly trained can be deadly. I have seen this hold true during numerous investigations.

Many companies proactively provide employee training and refresher courses at least every 3-years. Some companies use shorter intervals for refresher training. However, for others, training is not thorough or a low priority. Some simply just want to check training off their to-do lists without much regard to safety for self or employees. In the end, does it matter? Continue reading

Utility Short Circuit Current Data, Arc Flash and Change

Webinar – Utility Short Circuit Current Data, Arc Flash Studies and Change
by Jim Phillips, P.E.

[See more about Jim Phillips]

Agua Caliente 1It goes up, it goes down, sometimes it is thought to be infinite (although it really isn’t!) and other times it seems impossible to find. “It” refers to the available short circuit current from the electric utility which is one of the more important pieces of information for an arc flash hazard calculation study. Used to help define the severity of an arc flash hazard, it represents the magnitude of current that could f
low from the electric utility during a short circuit. Continue reading

2015 NFPA 70E – 10 Item Check Up

With the 2015 Edition of NFPA 70E being published and all of the changes that it brings, it is time to review your arc flash study, labels and overall practices.  There are many key areas that should be evaluated.  Here ten of the more important areas to look at to give your site a check up. Continue reading

Specifying Arc Flash Studies and IEEE 1584.1

An arc flash study can be a bit complicated if you are new to this field.  Knowing where to begin, what to include, how far to go, how to use the software etc. can seem like an insurmountable undertaking.  WORSE – you are going to contract the study and don’t know what to ask for.  The good news, there are many well qualified consultants that can help guide you through the process.  The bad news – there are plenty of people ready to take advantage of the situation once they realize this might be your first study. Continue reading

NFPA 70E – Qualified Workers

“Raise your right hand”  Pretty intimidating words – especially if they are said in a court room and the trial is about an injury or death.  –  and you are on the wrong side of what happened.  Let’s face it in the litigious society that we have in the United States, it seems anytime there is an accident where there is a significant economic loss, personal injury or worse – someone died, there will almost certainly be legal actions. Continue reading