The 2015 revisions to the UL 943 require improvements in GFCI performance that will provide better protection from serious injury and electrocution from electrical shock. These improvements include:
1.) Auto-Monitoring or Self-Test function: This function allows for periodic, automatic testing of the ability of the GFCI to respond to a ground fault. If the Self-Test function detects a problem, the GFCI must deny power or provide visual and/or audible indication.
2.) Reverse line-load misfire function - repeated: If the line cable is wired to the load terminals of a receptacle GFCI, power to the receptacle face will be denied. This requirement applies to the initial installation and any subsequent re-installations.
To maintain UL certification, all manufacturers must meet these revisions with GFCIs produced after 2015.
It is important for property owners to be aware of these and other changes because changes in codes and products can create an atmosphere where second rate, counterfeit materials can flourish. The responsibility of not allowing substandard substitutes to be used at your properties becomes your responsibility, the person who has the last word; final say.
The quality of the materials used is a critical factor to a successful project. Substandard fuses, circuit breakers, wiring devices, timers, switches, motors or anything electrical for that matter can cause fires, electric shock or explosion risks that may cost tenants or workers their lives, cause serious property damage and involve unpredictable financial liability to you. Fake component often will void warranties for entire systems and can also result in severe financial losses and liabilities for you the owner. Think of it this way: who is going to be responsible when a counterfeit circuit breaker fails to trip and lives are put in jeopardy because of the risk of fire or other life safety issues?
So how do you protect yourself? How do you know you are getting what you bargained for? Although a lot of counterfeit parts originate in China, counterfeits could almost come from anywhere so the point of origin is not a surefire clue. How can you be sure what is being installed meets all of the current codes and is real, not just a great looking knock-off?
Your first line of defense is dealing with reputable suppliers. Suppliers who are invested in their industry. Suppliers who understand and appreciate their responsibility to you the property owners. Owners should emphasize to all contractors and representatives the importance of using only the most up to date and authentic parts.
Many manufacturers will tell you that nothing is safe from counterfeiting and counterfeits are often difficult to identify because of their designed appearance and packaging. The products themselves are often sub-standard and may not perform like an authentic product. Manufactures claim that more than half of the counterfeit products produced have some sort of critical performance failure when tested. Fraudulent parts are not held to the same quality control standards and are a big safety concern.
Write your job specifications in such a way that they leave little room interpretation. Evaluating proposals from different organizations can sometimes be challenging however, if you make your specification strong enough, you can feel confident you will be receiving the desired level of service at the expected price without excessive change requests during the installation or repair. When evaluating price proposals be sure you are comparing apples to apples. It is important to ensure that the service, parts, or processes being supplied are comparable. Large differences between proposals should raise a red flag. Remember, if a price looks to good to be true, then it might not be what it appears to be.
Speak to one of our experts while at the POA show to learn more about some of the changes to the National Electrical Code that can impact your properties. Stop by the Jewel Electric Supply booth while at the POA show.
Bob Kilroy is the vice president at Jewel Electric Supply Co. in Jersey City, NJ.