Comment: Using Power Leads: Facts & Regulations

While the overall message about joining leads etc... is basically correct there are some technical inaccuracies on how RCDs work.
Cable size/length/impedance/loads is related to overload protection tripping times and I think there is a little confusion in the article with difference between tripping times of an Overload Circuit Breaker (MCB) and of a Residual Current Device Circuit Breaker (RCD).
RCDs work on a balance transformer and detecting differences in flow between the active and neutral in that transformer. The impedance of the cable and/or load is not relevant. A standard house/RV based RCD will trip for a current difference > 30mA for a time > 0.4s (if that's the style you have and there are several different types).
The same is not true of MCBs which can alter tripping times due to incorrect/mismatched impedance in the cables/loads. There is a very good description here (http://kevinboone.net/cableselection_web.html) of how loads and cable characteristics affect tripping times in MCB circuits. If you join the wrong cables and/or loads together the breaker may not trip at all let alone within the required time. The danger here is more related to cable overheating and fires etc. rather than personal electric shock.
Increasingly the MCB and the RCD are combine into a single device (RCBO) but the individual tripping times are still quite separate.
Anyway the take home message is still the same: joining/extending cables or "mixing" circuits and circuit breakers is not a smart move unless you understand exactly what you are doing and even if you are qualified may still be illegal in some/all states.
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Reply By: Collyn R - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 16:27

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 16:27
I was attempting to avoid complication re CBs, RCDs and RCBOs. I have modified the copy to make it clear that it is the CB function that is primarily affected by extending cable length, and/or loads). Whilst cable tagging is not (at this time at least) a requirement for private use - it is an OHSR requirement applicable to caravan parks. rallies etc. The actual test method is described in AS/NZS 3760.

The changes should be made to the article shortly.

The main intent is to get across to those with no electrical understanding that there really are, as you point out, very good reasons for not extending power cords etc.

A major complication is that whilst RV electrical Standards by and large seem clear, their interpretation by regulatory bodies is (to put it mildly) not uniform across all States.

Thank you for your input.
Collyn
AnswerID: 511759

Reply By: Member - Rosss - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 22:47

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 22:47
Is it possible to write the above post in plain australian language so that we that have no or very little electrical understanding have some remote idea as to what you are talking about.
AnswerID: 511788

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 22:40

Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 22:40
HI Ross
The main message is:
DO NOT JOIN EXTENSION LEADS
It can prevent correct operation of safety devices
[overload circuit breakers]

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 790123

Follow Up By: Collyn R - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 17:43

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 17:43
Ross
That post was primarily a response to Jon's - and there seemed no point in attempting to make it generally clear as that would need a reply as long as the original article - and probably still unclear!

In essence it was by attempting to simplify, I did not make it clear that there are two main protection devices with different functions, but known mostly by acronyms. Some combine both functions in the same package, others do not.

As PeterQ says it's mostly about not joining extension leads - as it truly can prevent overload circuit breakers from working, but I did not make it clear it is that part of the protection mechanism that is affected by co-joining cables etc.

Even after 40 years of doing it, it is always a major problem attempting to explain complex technology in simple words - I for one cannot make head or tail of computer terminology - and have yet to find a book or article that does. It may not be possible.
Collyn
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FollowupID: 790248

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Friday, May 24, 2013 at 23:42

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 23:42
I guess that is why residual voltage devices (RVD's) make far more sense in an earth isolated environment such as a caravan or a camper fed from a generator.

It's just a pity very few people got behind Protectelec while they where alive.

Another brilliant Australian device confined to oblivion.

Now for the hand wringer section: No, I do not, have not and can't have any affiliation with the above mentioned no longer existant Australian owned business beyond having reviewed their very efficient and safe devices. Oh, I do own one, they are that good. Yes chief hand wringer, I did pay for it.
Geoff,
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Grey hair is hereditary, you get it from children. Baldness is caused by watching the Wallabies.

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AnswerID: 511791

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 22:36

Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 22:36
Hi Geoff
Do not dispair they are still going & available @a different Co, who took over

IMHO EVERYONE with a generator or inverter should have one
Try
iinfo@powerstream.com.au

That is not the NEW company name, but the owner is involved & can answer ALL questions
"'usual disclaimer"

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 790122

Follow Up By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 01:05

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 01:05
So Ian is involved now!

They'll do just fine with that old reprobate at the helm!

Geoff,
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Grey hair is hereditary, you get it from children. Baldness is caused by watching the Wallabies.

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Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 12:34

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 12:34
Hi Geoff
YES, deeply !!!
He was also involved with Protecelec

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 790139

Follow Up By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 18:26

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 18:26
Hello Peter,
Ian actually took me over to Protectolec's demonstration house at Mayfield for a look at the technology.

Very handy devices they where developing.

Geoff,
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 17:00

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 17:00
Collyn has provided some revisions to this article based on the feedback received over the weekend. As a result this article has had a revision dated 3pm WST 27/5/2013.
Michelle Martin
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AnswerID: 511948

Reply By: BOB&FAITH - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:46

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 10:46
BOB LISSON
30-5-2013
JON
IN MY PREVIOUS LIFE I WAS AN ELECTRICIAN NOW RETIRED

IN THE ORIGINAL" USING POWER LEADS" ARTICLE A STATEMENT WAS MADE THAT ANY WIRING WORK WAS TO BE CARRIED OUT BY AN "AUTO ELECTRICIAN"
I WAS LED TO BELIEVE THAT ANY 240VOLT WIRING EITHER CONNECTED TO MAINS SUPPLY OR NOT, HAS TO BE CARRIED OUT BY A ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR
AND A CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE ISSUED AND SENT TO OWNER AND THE DEPT OF FAIR TRADING

I DO NOT THINK AN AUTO ELECTRICIAN WOULD HAVE A COPY OF
1 THE CURRENT WIRING RULES
2 CONTRACTORS LICENCE NUMBER
3 MEGGER TO PROPERLY TEST THE INSTALATION
AnswerID: 512148

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 12:59

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 12:59
Hi Bob
Add another one

Know the relevant STANDARDS AS/NZS 3001:2008 AND AS/NZS 3000 :2007 PLUS amendments


PeterQ
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Follow Up By: Collyn R - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 11:09

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 11:09
Bob
Whilst not for a moment disagreeing with what you say, it does not help that cable, 10 amp and 15 amp plugs and socket can be bought from any hardware store.

Clipsal appears to take the pragmatic view that, as their (and others) products are sold this way, they include very clear connection details.
Following discussion with that company I now show them in two of my books, but with the warning that the regulations spell out that such work has to be done by a licensed electrician

It is also not assisted by Energy Safe Victoria interpreting the rules re who can do what in the manufacturing of RVs electrically in a manner different from other otherwise similar jurisdictions (it does not define a Victorian built RV as an 'electrical installation'). It requires the maker to meet AS/NZS 3000:2007 and AS/NZS 3001: 2008 - both as amended in 2012, but I have it in writing from that body that the 230 volt work does not necessarily have to be done by licensed electricians.

Peter Q may like to comment re this.
Collyn
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FollowupID: 790649

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:05

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:05
HI It is also not assisted by Energy Safe Victoria interpreting the rules re who can do what in the manufacturing of RVs electrically in a manner different from other otherwise similar jurisdictions (it does not define a Victorian built RV as an 'electrical installation'). It requires the maker to meet AS/NZS 3000:2007 and AS/NZS 3001: 2008 - both as amended in 2012, but I have it in writing from that body that the 230 volt work does not necessarily have to be done by licensed electricians.

Peter Q may like to comment re this.
Collyn


Hi
I can totally verify the above
Vic has a totally different interpretation of what is wiring work to the rest of Aus & considers the van as an"appliance" which can be wired by ANYONE ,but must be inspected & Certified as complying to the standards by a licensed electrician who SHALL issue it with a compliance certificate!!

PeterQl
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FollowupID: 790662

Follow Up By: Collyn R - Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 12:07

Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 12:07
Thank you Peter

At risk of restarting that previous thread, 'protection' by enclosing an electric device in a plastic bag is not effective. Condensation builds up within that bag within a few minutes..

I have just checked again the communication from Energy Safe Victoria against the actual Standard and am, to put it mildly, surprised that whilst it quotes the main Clause 1.4.47 correctly (as follows): but it omits 1. and its clarification (2.)

'In Victoria, the Electricity Safety Act 1998 (the Act) defines an Electrical installation as - electrical installation means electrical equipment that is fixed or to be fixed in, on, under or over any land but does not include a supply network that is owned or operated by a major electricity company;' (i.e. it has been cut off at that ;).

1. 'An electrical installation usually commences at the point of supply, and finishes at a point (in wiring) but does not include portable or stationary electrical equipment connected by plug and socket-outlet (except where a socket- outlet is used to connect sections of the the fixed installation'.

2. Unless the context otherwise requires, the term 'installation' is used to mean electrical installation.

Despite this, Energy Safe Victoria's advise continues: 'The Act is law and overrides the definitions within AS/NZS3000, therefore a caravan or mobile home (RV) is not considered an electrical installation.

ESV require manufacturers of any equipment to ensure compliance with standards at the time of manufacture and to have a process that ensures each manufactured product is compliant. In the case of RV most manufacturers use a Licensed Electrical Inspector to ensure initial production complies and develop a testing regime to ensure all units comply. ESV audits this process and inspects at random all manufacturers in Victoria about once every 2 years to ensure compliance.

Because the RV is not an installation a licence is not required to perform the electrical work and a Certificate of electrical safety is not required.'

Note that neither inspection nor a Certificate is required (that last one caught me out as, like PterQ, I had assumed that Cert was required. But seemingly not even that!

This saga reminds me of Humpty Dumpty's comment in Alice in Wonderland:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

Collyn
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FollowupID: 790701

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 22:53

Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 22:53
HI Colllyn
Quite truthfully, I do not believe ESV know Arthur from Martha
One gets a different story every time one speaks to them.
When the transformer situation arose I was lucky enough to get a very sensible person, Who understood what I was talking about
& showed HE UNDERSTOOD the problems,
HE WAS ASTOUNDED THAT STEP DOWN TRANSFORMERS WERE BEING USED IN THAT WAY
He SAID THE CONSEQUENCE WOULD BE SAD FOR ANYONE FOUND WITH ONE.
t But interestingly he also said that Vans etc were not Fixed wiring under under VIC's Electrical Act & are classed as :"appliances"

But he did say quite positively that they SHALL comply to the requirements of both AS3000 &AS3001 as applicable, a compliance satisfactory WAS required from a licensed CONTRACTOR stating that & SHALL be sent to ESV,who pass a copy on the the Vic RTA.


PeterQ
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FollowupID: 790760

Follow Up By: Collyn R - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 08:05

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 08:05
Peter
Re Arthur and Maratha I can only agree.

My quotes in my posting however come DIRECTLY,in a personal response to me (seeking formal clarification) from: Neil Fraser, Executive Manager Electrical Installations, Licensing and Equipment Safety. Energy Safe Victoria.

His unabridged comment re certification, that I still have on file, is:

'ESV require manufacturers of any equipment to ensure compliance with standards at the time of manufacture and to have a process that ensures each manufactured product is compliant. In the case of RV most manufacturers use a Licensed Electrical Inspector to ensure initial production complies and develop a testing regime to ensure all units comply. ESV audits this process and inspects at random all manufacturers in Victoria about once every 2 years to ensure compliance.

'Because the RV is not an installation a licence is not required to perform the electrical work and a Certificate of electrical safety is not required. This is the same as the manufacture of all electrical products for example a switchboard or evaporative cooler made in a factory.'

Why would one have reason to trust the Low Voltage system (in this case 230 volts ac), built by any manufacturer in Victoria that does not, of its own choice, supply a Certificate of Compliance?

Collyn









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FollowupID: 790780

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 11:21

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 11:21
HI Collynn
The simple answer, as we know from past experience,
IS that YOU CANNOT TRUST THEM TO COMPLY OR EVEN BE SAFE!!

I fail to see how vans etc can ,in anyway, be considered similar to mass produced assemly line appliances
EACH & EVERY ONE EXACTLY THE SAME

Van etc wiring is individual carried out by untrained monkeys,again we have seen examples
Run differently ,different configurations , different appliances etc.

A final inspection& even testing of the finished van is just a joke
All that indicates that no faults are evident at the time of testing
It gives no indication of workmanship or potential problems

Intersting,another question to another Vic eso regarding non compliance got the reply
THAT
quote" if a later inspection,even if immediately after being purchased & delivered found a non compliance it was the NEW owners responsabily to sort it out as that could have been due to some changes made EX FACTORY"

No wonder Vic has the major share of van etc makers
They can virtually do what ever they like

PeterQ
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FollowupID: 790793

Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 13:49

Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 13:49
Gawk - now it's time to duck !!!!

The last thread on this ran for about 2 months, 100+ replies, and almost finished in blows...
AnswerID: 512158

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:12

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:12
Hi Scott
Unfortunately THAT problem is due to self proclaimed experts who do not fully understand the potential problems & the purpose & the intent of the Standards,in minimizing the risks.

You know the ones
THEY SAY
"I have done it my way for years & nothing has happened ,so it must be ok""
Those could be famous LAST words!!!

PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790664

Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:39

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 17:39
Peter, think it got done to death here....

ThreadID: 101523
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FollowupID: 790668

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 22:11

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 22:11
Hi Scott
Thanks for brining that tread up
You will find if you look at Jaycar's advert NOW

It has deleted ALL references to RV use & have highlighted that the unit
is not for use in the rain or exposed to weather


THEY got a message!!


{Quote]
Portable RCD with 15A to 10A Mains Plug Conversion

NOT FOR USE IN THE RAIN OR EXPOSED TO WEATHER
f
Convert your 15A power lead to fit a 10A power outlet whilst adding the additional safety of RCD earth leakage protection. Ideal if you only have a device with a 15A mains plug, and you are located somewhere that does not have a 15A power outlet available. Features a 10A circuit breaker/RCD in case you accidentally overload the device[end quote]
It was agreed by all authorities contacted that while the unit complies to the Standard for portable RCDs ,as do all similar units[Clipsal ,Arlec etc],

IT did not meet the requirements of AS /NZS3001 for suppling "Transportable Structures"


PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790682

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 22:16

Saturday, Jun 01, 2013 at 22:16
Hi Scott
While I agree it was done to death in that tread,it seems the old" I'll do it my way" posters have not changed their views

PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790683

Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 08:13

Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 08:13
Peter,
some seem to have a black and white view of the world.

I never ever said the 10 to 15a devise was weatherproof. But hell I can make sure water doesn't get on it and I am sure many others can do the same.

Now is it a transportable structure or a appliance. The rule makers can't even get that right around Australia.

If I only have a 10a outlet I won't be going without power because I will use the clipsal 10 to 15a unit and without any danger to myself or anyone else. It will do what it is intended to do and limit the current if overloaded exactly the same as you can have as many 15 outlets on a circuit as you like because you can limit the current through a circuit breaker.

Here you go. This is a photo of where I am plugged into a caravan outlet taken this morning and it's raining. I have taken your advise and not used the 10 to 15a rcd outlet as it it's dangerous.



This park is in a fairly big provincial town on the Newell. Wow.

No rcd at all. Well I could place my own 10 to 15a unit in line and sit it inside the enclosure to stay dry but I have taken you learned advise and not placed myself at risk.

Not so black and white is it. Sometimes grey is a wonderful colour.
1
FollowupID: 790689

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 23:08

Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 23:08
Hi
Rock ape

That caravan park SHOULD be reported to the state ESO
It would have to rectify quick smart or be shut down
IT does not comply even to the old standards in it's present condition,
that is even without RCDs which may not have been mandatory AT THE TIME it was built

TWO wrongs never did make a right
If you cannot see how unsafe it is then!!

RE Quote "No rcd at all. Well I could place my own 10 to 15a unit in line and sit it inside the enclosure to stay dry but I have taken you learned advise and not placed myself at risk[end quote]

"'To STAY DRY"??
That's a laugh,you obviosly do not see a problem other than RCDs with THAT power outlet box

OR YOU could use THE APPROVED DEVICE
EXACTLY THE SITUATION THEY ARE DESIGNED FOR!!
PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790762

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 23:17

Sunday, Jun 02, 2013 at 23:17
Hi Rockape
Re"Now is it a transportable structure or a appliance. The rule makers can't even get that right around Australia"
Yes,
Each state can determine what is FIXED wiring [Licensed electrical work]
That HAS BEEN made clear several times!
But the definition of a "Transportable Structure" STILL APPLIES
AS /NZS 3000 AND AS/NZS 3001,are still the relevant STANDARDS EVEN IN VIC!!
See above by Collyn & myself


PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790764

Follow Up By: Collyn R - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 08:29

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 08:29
PeterQ

In my formal correspondence with Energy Safe Victoria, at no time have they claimed that an RV is 'an appliance' - only that is NOT an 'electrical installation'.

This arose when I suggested that if it were an 'appliance', then it would surely be listed as a ' Declared Item' under the various jurisdiction's legislation, and be given a classification number etc accordingly.

As Peter will know, this list varies slightly between jurisdictions, but an RV (legally known as a 'caravan' even it is a motor home) is not listed as a Declared Item in any of them.

A locally made RV's electrics is primarily an assembly of fixed wiring and an assembly of Declared Items (some hard-wired) that collectively form an electrical installation.

It is unclear why Energy 'Safe' Victoria decide otherwise (but presumably handy for the local RV makers but not necessarily buyers).

Some one may care to approach the RVMA for a formal comment re all this: it is Victorian based.
Collyn
0
FollowupID: 790782

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 11:34

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 11:34
Hi
On the question of compliance of the Jaycar unit I did deal with a sensible officer
We BOTH agreed that it DID comply with the requirements for "Portable RCDS"

We BOTH agreed
IT DID NOT MEET the requirements for use with "Transportable Structures"

As it complied with the requirements of a "Portable RCD'' there was little THEYcould do!!

But he suggested it could be a question of FALSE ADVERTISING .

The advert was changed ,all reference to VAN use were removed
I leave that for others to make their own conclusions why

PeterQ
0
FollowupID: 790798

Follow Up By: Rockape - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 19:10

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 19:10
Peter,
I won't be reporting anything as these people who have the park have suffered enough from past events. I don't have a duty of care because I am simple and don't understand your electrical lingo.

Maybe you could go on the road and do a audit all the properties, showgrounds and van parks. That will keep you occupied for years.

Man there are far more things to worry about out there than some simple rule. Vic rules are interesting. I guess when something happens they may change them.

You seem to be more on a mission to stick to the letter of the law than offer some low cost simple protection to people.

One thing I know is Ian Grey wouldn't go down this track.

As I said black and white. My colour is grey.

0
FollowupID: 790870

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 21:22

Monday, Jun 03, 2013 at 21:22
Hi Rockape
re"One thing I know is Ian Grey wouldn't go down this track""

Are you suggesting that Ian would approve of the use of the Jaycar unit for the situatiions you suggest.
I very much doubt THAT!!!
Why not YOU ask HIM??
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FollowupID: 790884

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