Commercial/Industrial Wiring Devices

After writing an article about residential wiring devices, I'm finally 
back to more familiar turf... commercial and industrial environments. 
But even though I've been around this stuff for a long time, the 
improvements and innovations continue to keep me interested.<br><br><b>Some device considerations</b><br>When choosing the right wiring device for a particular operation or use, you must consider various factors. Hubbell Incorporated

Steve Maurer, IME

After writing an article about residential wiring devices, I'm finally back to more familiar turf... commercial and industrial environments. But even though I've been around this stuff for a long time, the improvements and innovations continue to keep me interested.

Some device considerations
When choosing the right wiring device for a particular operation or use, you must consider various factors. A device that is suitable from an electrical standpoint might not be the best choice when you consider other factors such as environment and personnel handling.

You must consider how the device and attached wiring is handled. For example, equipment that is critical for operation may need a twist lock type connector rather than a straight blade. This ensures that inadvertent unplugging of the equipment is lessened, if not abated.

It should be obvious that disconnect and cord connector ratings must match the physical environment as well. For example, a cordset rated for washdown duty might not be rated for hazardous locations containing flammable dust, vapor or gas environments. I've seen this obvious consideration ignored, however.

It's not my intention here to specify what you should or should not use in a particular installation. There are codes and regulations for that from various governing bodies and testing organizations. Consult them should any questions arise about device suitability. These include OSHA, NFPA and of course, the NEC.

An interesting and fairly recent development is the use of biologically safe or bio-resistant materials in wiring devices, particularly important in food and beverage processing facilities. This is something to keep in mind should you be installing power systems in these locations.

Personnel/equipment protection considerations
The people handling devices during production must also be protected by accidental exposure to live conductors. GFCI devices were developed first, followed by arc fault protection. But protection also extends to the construction of wiring devices.

Where equipment disconnection under power is possible—whether intended or accidental—the devices should be switch-duty rated. Mechanical disconnects, whether fused or non-fused, can be rated as such. Again, check your application against the various codes and standards to determine the suitable device required.

Finally, don't forget surge suppression. Often the box or power strip comes to mind. But, wall mounted receptacles are available that provide adequate surge protection. In many hospitals and similar applications, this can save sensitive, expensive equipment from damage.

Always remember... match the wiring device to the application, environment, and personnel protection. All devices are not created equal, even though similar.


Photo courtesy of Hubbell Incorporated