GARY BUSBRIDGE: Expectant excursions
The Buzz is expecting in 2015 – no, I am not pregnant, just full of expectations for electrical Standards and the industry.
My calendar is filling up fast with Standards meetings and travel to various states for technical forums. It’s a good gig that allows me to interact with our industry’s stakeholders.
There are signs that the economy is on the up. Home loans have increased on the previous year, which will translate to more work and opportunity. On the domestic front we usually see improved sales about six months after construction starts.
Growth in commercial projects continues to impress, most of them being clinics, nursing homes and aged care facilities. No surprises there, considering the ageing population in Australia.
However, I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of contractors getting involved in the medical sector.
Industrial – specifically mining – is still volatile. Certain pockets are going ahead and others are pulling back due to low commodity prices. Keep your eye on this sector for opportunities.
Regarding industry in general, non-compliant and copy products continue to cause grief.
Imported cable is a big concern, and readers would be well aware of the Infinity cable debacle. About 400,000 dwellings could be affected – and probably more as the installations are tracked down.
Remember, the insulation on these cables will break down in quite a short time if exposed to heat (roof space temperatures in summer) and stress during installation (cable clips, ties, etc).
Another brand has been recalled for the same problem. Let me say it again – you only get what you pay for.
The next subject is not about inferior product, but it could be.
Replacement of halogen lamps with LEDs in downlights has caught me a little by surprise in recent times.
Some friends, thinking they were saving money, bought lots of LED lamps and proceeded to change them over.
After a few days the new lamps stopped working, or had a very bad flicker. The LEDs were a reputable brand but did not match the existing power supplies in the ceiling. Now those power supplies must be replaced – an expensive lesson.
If you recommend LEDs to customers to help them reduce energy bills, check the power supply and ensure that only a compatible lamp is used. Otherwise just install new power supplies and lamps.
So what is coming up on the electrical Standards front? Many committees are in the throes of revisions or amendments to some very important Standards, not least of which are the Wiring Rules.
The bible of the industry is being revised, and several issues are being sorted out as I write. A little sneak-peak is probably in order:
- RCDs on all final sub-circuits;
- the use of 10mA RCDs in primary schools;
- a total rewrite of the Safety Services section;
- clarification of outbuildings and bonding requirements;
- a total rewrite of the recessed luminaire section to incorporate classifications and subsequent markings;
- inclusion of electric vehicle charging installations;
- addition of arc fault detection devices for prevention of fire;
- reintroducing assessment of switchboards and clarity on recent developments in switchboard requirements;
- addition of prohibited zones around cooktops; and
- new figures to be added for damp areas.
These are just a few, but it’s early days. With publication scheduled for late 2016, it is all hands on deck to get this revision completed.
From an accessories (or ‘Bakelite’) perspective a new electrical conduits Standard has been adopted from our European friends.
This means there will be two Australian and New Zealand Standards for conduits: the existing AS/NZS 2053 and the new AS/NZS 61386. They will run in parallel, and both will be accepted for our market.
Don’t despair, as there is negligible difference between the two in regard to strength and performance.
The good thing about AS/NZS 61386 is that a classification system will be marked on the conduit, giving you a better understanding of performance for ‘light duty’ through to ‘heavy duty’ conduits.
In my view, more information always helps the user to understand the practicalities of installation.
Even the switchboards committee is getting ready to publish a new suite of Standards to align with the international requirements for switchboard building and installation. Those of you in this game should take note, as there are a few changes regarding safety and performance.
The lighting committee has been working hard to complete the recessed luminaire Standard. This will help overcome some of the anomalies in the market regarding where and how to install these items to achieve a safe outcome.
In short, a new classification adapted from our friends in New Zealand will have to be marked on the downlight. It is a great system, allowing contractors to choose the correct downlight for an installation.
The latest version of the Photovoltaic Installation Rules has been released. To finish off this project, inverter requirements and inverter installation Standards will be released soon. Designers, installers and regulators will be able to determine the correct product and installation procedure well into the future.
The Medical Installation Rules revision is well under way and is scheduled for release early in 2016. This will mean much better alignment with the Wiring Rules, and more contractors will be able to consider working in this field.
The definition of patient areas and the determination of other relevant areas are the most urgent matters dealt with. The revision also means that the rules cover everything from the smallest clinic to the biggest hospital project.
The allowances for home dialysis machines and 10mA RCD protection are to be issued as an amendment in the near future.
Well, that’s enough for the moment – except that there may be increasing opportunities for contractors in the near future. See you on the road.