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Re: [APD] light fixtures for aquariums

The insurance issue/fight would be civil, not criminal.
There's no law ungainst homemade lamps -- reckless
disregard for safety, negligience is easier to demonstrate
in a civil case if the one you are suing can't show any
standards fo safety that were applied. But yo have to be
pretty far out there for it to become a criminal matter.

UL is usually a pretty low standard if safety is your
interest, imo.  Like Automaker/federal safety standards
versus some of the insurance companay ratings.

Iirc, there is another national fire standards beside NFPA
that I can't remember the name of but up here in NY/NJ it's
sometimes a toss which one to follow in which place.

Oddity or believe it or not, NY still requires BX while NJ
accepts Romex or nonmetal jacketed wiring.

Thank goodness that UL approved aluminum wiring is a thing
of the past, at least where code changes required it's
remediation. ;-)


--- Bill Wichers <billw at waveform_net> wrote:

> Please note that I have shamelessly merged Scott's and
> Steve's posts 
> together for my own convenience in replying :-) Flames
> must, as a result, 
> be carefully scrutinized before sending so as to ensure
> the proper 
> individual is yelled at...
> >In the US, building codes are established locally at the
> >county or city level, although standards stated by
> national
> >standards organizations may be the basis for some codes.
> Most areas in the US, and I think also Canada use the NEC
> (National 
> Electrical Code) which is "NFPA 70" (National Fire
> Protection Association 
> document #70). There are often local codes that make
> things more stringent, 
> or that take into account any special local
> considerations.
> There can also be state-level codes and a few federally
> mandated ones. For 
> example, at least here in Michigan, any school requires a
> STATE fire 
> inspection -- not just a local inspector.
> >The building codes usually apply only to realty and not
> >personalty. IF hte hood isn't permanently attached, it's
> >not a building code item. There might additionally be
> fire
> >codes that apply to personalty and those definitely vary
> >from locale to locale. They are usually a subset of the
> >building codes though.
> [snip]
> The NEC says everything must be "approved", which is
> usually meant as 
> listed by a certified testing lab like UL, CSA, etc.
> The building codes do normally apply to things that are
> part of the 
> permanent structure, but many insurance policies will
> state that everything 
> must be listed/approved/whatever (remember that UL was
> originally out there 
> to protect *insurance companies*). If you ever have a
> fire, and your DIY 
> light fixture was found to be the cause, you might have a
> problem with an 
> insurance claim.
> >UL is a manufacturer-sponsored organization that gives
> >approval only to items submitted for approval along with
> >the appropriate fee. The standards are set, to some
> degree,
> >by the manufacturers.
> They are not exactly manufacturer "sponsored". They
> charge us lots and lots 
> to test and list things. Lots and lots. And lots. Arhhh.
> Some of the standards are set by industry groups like the
> IEC and NEMA, but 
> many of the testing methodologies are somewhat arbitrary
> and are set by the 
> testing labs. In the US, the government approves testing
> labs, and those 
> testing labs can then list items. UL has a competitor
> here but I can not 
> remember the name at the moment... CSA is the Canadian
> version of UL. There 
> are others in Europe. If you look at a product sold
> globally (many computer 
> power supplies, for example), you can see all kinds of
> testing lab marks on 
> their labels.
> >[snip]
> > > Apparently our hoods and hanging lighting fixtures
> made
> > > from wood aren't
> > > CSA or UL approved. No surprise since they're home
> made.
> > > According to
> > > the inspector, the ballasts and wiring are supposed
> to be
> > > entirely
> > > within a metal case. Wood just won't do.
> Nothing you don't submit to UL or CSA will ever be UL or
> CSA approved. The 
> testing labs do all kinds of things to products they test
> to determine how 
> flammable they are, how likely they are to self destruct,
> etc. It's not 
> cheap to do.
> The ballasts really *should* be in a vented metal
> enclosure though, and the 
> enclosure should be grounded. Ballasts occasionally fail
> in a rather 
> catastrophic way, and a wooden enclosure may well
> constitute a fire hazard. 
> Luckily cheap vented metal enclosures of suitable size
> are easy to find on 
> the surplus market. I have a 3-ballast MH unit I built
> using a $20 
> enclosure from Fair Radio Sales
> (http://www.fairradio.com) which may or may 
> not still be available. They have enclosures that might
> be useful, as do 
> lots of other places. Even Radio Shack has a small metal
> box with vents in 
> the sides that I've used to hold two 13 watt PCF
> ballasts.
> Metal is the best material for ballast boxes since it's
> not flammable and 
> won't have a problem with high heat levels. If you
> rebuild your ballast 
> box, make sure the metal enclosure is also *grounded*.
> Basic ballast 
> enclosures should have a grounded metal enclosure
> (preferably with vents), 
> and a fuse or circuit breaker in the "hot" line right as
> the power cord 
> enters the enclosure.
> > > Since we don't sell our fixtures, what exactly is the
> > > "law" regarding
> > > this? Does it differ from province to province and
> from
> > > state to state?
> Yep. It differs in different countries, and in different
> states/provinces 
> within those countries. You can get a copy of the NEC
> from the NFPA (it's 
> about a $60 book though), but it is difficult to read and
> understand if 
> you're not in the industry. It would be a lot easier to
> call your local 
> government office and ask to talk the electrical and/or
> fire inspector 
> since most of the codes relate to those two areas. They
> should be able to 
> give you an idea of how the local and national codes will
> apply to anything 
> you might want to do or construct.
> As soon as your are INSIDE EQUIPMENT though, the NEC
> doesn't really apply 
> any longer -- industry standards and UL/CSA specs take
> over. Groups like 
> the IEC and NEMA require certain spacings between
> terminals for certain 
> voltages, fusing in a certain location with a certain
> rating, and lots of 
> other things.
> > > Where are the regulations? How does this affect our
> home
> > > insurance
> > > policies? Do our governments provide these
> regulations
> > > anywhere
> > > convenient such as on a government website?
> The governments usually use the NFPA's code books at
> least as a starting 
> point, and they have a website at http://www.nfpa.org
> (they are a private 
> organization). The codes are commercial products though,
> so I don't think 
> you'll find any online versions. Local codes should be
> available from your 
> local government for free or for a document duplication
> charge. As above 
> though, your local inspectors should be able to offer you
> some freebie info 
> and advice. Your insurance agent might be able to offer
> some info too, but 
> they probably won't be very helpful except to say "if you
> built it and it 
> blows up, and it wasn't approved, then it's your problem"
> ;-)
> The NEC will probably be available in your library
> though, and NEMA 
> (National Electrical Manufacturer's Association) has a
> website WITH SOME 
> INFO at http://www.nema.org/ They have some design
> standard documents which 
> you may find useful.
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