14 Things to Know About SPE-1000: Model Code for the Field Evaluation of Electrical Equipment
If you’re faced with unique circumstances or challenges that make it impractical, or even impossible for you to undergo the regular certification process, a field evaluation – or special inspection as it is referred to in Canada – may be the ideal solution to get your product to market. A field evaluation is a service that allows a qualified field evaluation expert to assess your uncertified product against required safety and other applicable standards and codes. In Canada, compliance with SPE-1000 can help you gain product acceptance by Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Here we break down the 14 things you need to know about the Code.
- SPE-1000 addresses construction, marking, and test requirements for electrical equipment
The Code addresses minimum construction, marking, and test requirements that are consistent with maintaining a certain level of safety for electrical equipment and products so that they do not present an undue hazard to people or property. The Code does not address efficacy, performance, or quality.Annex A is a mandatory part of the Code that addresses compliance with standards that supplement SPE-1000, requirements that reduce or eliminate a hazard, construction and materials, sizing of insulated conductors based on ampacity tables, and the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I (CE Code), electrical insulation, and testing for multi-voltage equipment.
- Special inspections are suitable for equipment and products that are not meant to undergo regular certification
Special inspections are suitable for custom-built equipment for special applications, equipment manufactured on a non-repetitive basis, equipment already installed or ready for use on-site and awaiting acceptance by the AHJ, and equipment with a production run of no more than 500 units per model, per year.
- Field evaluations or special inspections are not suitable for every case
It’s important to remember that a special inspection is not a certification service. It’s not meant to be used if your production run is over 500 units on a national basis, per model, per year. It’s also not meant to be used for wire and cable, wiring devices, medical products, equipment connected to a line voltage in excess of 46 kV, hazardous locations equipment, manlifts, elevators, climb assists, or for components that need further evaluation as part of the end product.
- There are six main hazards covered in the Code
Each of these hazards are defined and provided with the associated safety and protection requirements: electric shock, energy, fire, mechanical, heat, and radiation.
- Enclosures are subject to construction and assembly requirements
The Code outlines the construction and assembly requirements that help ensure the equipment’s strength and rigidity to resist abuses. It also addresses environmental conditions for intended use, resistance to burning, and preventing access to internal hazards. There are specific considerations in this section which cover openings, stability of casters, and interlocks.
- CAN/CSA C22.2 No. 4 is referred to for bonding requirements
The methods and materials used for bonding equipment or parts have to comply with CAN/CSA C22.2 No. 4. For permanently connected equipment, a stud or a pressure-type lug of suitable size should be provided as the bonding terminal means and be identified. A bonding terminal may consist of an approved connector, grounding lug, or a screw assembled with a metal part of equipment to provide a bonding terminal means.
- The Code contains a specific clause for motor circuits
This clause addresses requirements and safety considerations for disconnecting means, overcurrent protection, control, overload protection, and wiring.
- The Canadian Electrical Code is also referred to for control circuit requirements
Section 16 of the CE Code, Part I outlines requirements that help ensure the safe limitation of voltage, current, or power used by Class 1 and Class 2 circuits, which are typically found in industrial instrumentation systems, alarms, thermostats, medical equipment, and other products.
- There are overcurrent, overload, and overtemperature requirements for protective devices
Overcurrent, overload, and overtemperature protective devices should be approved types and designed appropriately for the intended application. All primary circuit fuses and circuit breakers should be suitably rated for the purpose intended and have the rating marked in a visible manner. C22.2-18 Section 28 covers these requirements in-depth.
- The Code outlines requirements for the protection of heaters and heating elements
Heater elements must be supported within the enclosure and protected against mechanical injury and contact with outside objects. Heating elements should be supported to the point that under any conditions, there will be no short-circuits between turns, sections of the heating elements, or between bare live parts and non-current carrying metal parts. A temperature test must be conducted to verify that no extreme temperatures are present that could result in a fire hazard or insulation breakdown.
- There are general wiring requirements
These requirements cover permanently connected equipment, internal wiring, interconnections, ampacity of wire and cables, and temperature limitations.
- A separate clause addresses high voltage equipment
Clause 4.32 applies to a deadfront indoor enclosed and an outdoor enclosed assembly of switchgear and components:
- that was modified from the certified original;
- where adequate testing and review is performed; and
- where documentation is provided to support type tests and construction review per C22.2 No. 31.
- Tests in SPE-1000
Tests include dielectric voltage withstand, flame, strain relief, input rating, temperature, abnormal test, leakage current, stability, rain, impact, and bonding impedence.
- There are three general steps to the special inspection process in Canada
These steps include project initiation, equipment evaluation, and writing and submitting a field evaluation report to the customer. To prepare for the evaluation, you will need to provide your Inspection Body with documentation such as schematics, constructional diagrams, bill of materials (approvals), a manual (in English), label drawings (nameplates), specification of critical components, related certificates, and client test data.
Still wondering if a field evaluation is right for your business? Read our article 7 Reasons to Seek Field Evaluations for Your Products to get your answer. CSA Group can execute field evaluations and special inspections from virtually anywhere in the world. Contact CSA Group today to learn more and schedule your next project.
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