Author Topic: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker  (Read 4783 times)

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Online Monkeh

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #50 on: February 03, 2021, 12:15:10 am »
Quote
UK is already ridiculous enough. You want to make it worse
so whats the real story behind that picture? yea at first glance it appears ridiculous,but  try  boarding a plane with any of those in your hand luggage
Police robbed a handyman walking down the street? It's had nothing to do with airport or sort of. Look at hashtag.

More likely a bunch of youths carrying whatever they could get their hands on.
 
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #51 on: February 03, 2021, 12:32:21 am »
In the case of a circuit breaker, at least in the countries I lived they weren't available without the local agency approvals (which could bring some level of scrutiny). The case for caveat emptor is if the person actually equipped their entire house with breakers bought from an international marketplace, bypassing the local regulations. In this case, it is not "victim blaming" but idiocy and no amount of rules can prevent that.

Unfortunately that does not address the case where a person hires someone else to do the work, as there are too many curious people acting as handymen or general contractors. In this case, you would have to resort to recommendations from friends and neighbours.

A similar case can be made for the fuses, but it is obviously much harder to enforce (size, low cost, relative brands, etc). In an ideal world, the marketplace store should not have possession of a counterfeit fuse in the first place, but unfortunately that is not possible at all.

You're right, the actual situation is complicated. I.e. It is not Black and White, but some funny shade of grey. It also, varies widely, depending on what items you are talking about.

So, for me to say "Victim Blaming", earlier in the thread, is NOT that clear case.

An example, could be someone who is doing lots of DIY electronics repair/upgrading, to their home in the UK. They have counted that they need 5 mains sockets, 5 light switches, 5 circuit breakers, 5 reels of wire, 5 bulb holders, and 5 junction boxes (obviously I'm making this example up!).

So this member of the public, who wants to save lots of money (compared to paying for a proper electrician to do all the work), has the big shopping list of items, to buy.

They soon discover, it would cost (made up figures), hundreds of pounds to buy from their local DIY stores (but would have been safety approved types). So, they go to the local markets and perhaps ebay.
Because they discover they can get the entire list for a fraction of the cost.

I'm NOT 100% sure. But I suspect these hypothetical members of the public, DON'T necessarily (some might know), that those cheap markets and cheap sellers on ebay. Might be selling shoddy/unsafe, unapproved items.
So they may just end up buying them, without realising how potentially dangerous they can be.

That's why EVERYTHING available for UK buyers (and really the Western world), should be safety approved items. They shouldn't be able to just pop along to their local market (which IS covered by UK regulations, and is at least partially checked, from time to time), or buy unsafe items on ebay.

But in practice they can. So I don't have any easy/quick/realistic answers. Except to say, the range of potentially unsafe items for sale on ebay (foreign sellers), has got to huge numbers.

Also, some items seem to cause disputes, as to if they are unsafe or safe, in practice. A good example that comes to mind is those 'live', directly mains connect/live, internally heated, shower head, things.

Mains chargers and powerful rechargeable batteries, can be especially dangerous (electric shock (charger) and fire risks, both items). Yet members of the general public (in my experience), DON'T appreciate the potential dangers of such items.

tl;dr
This is obviously turning out to be a big and complicated subject area. Any change, will probably have to be made by governments round the world, rather than by us, engineers and other professions/hobbyists.
Or we would need to decide what needs to be fixed, and then campaign hard for the solution to be implemented.

Worldwide agreement on what is safe is going to be tough.  Just look at all the threads here bashing the mains distribution systems of other regions of the world.
 
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Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #52 on: February 03, 2021, 02:34:55 am »
Quote
people should absolutely have the right to do electrical work themselves
if that was the case then fine,however the solution.part p ,restricts the  scope of work not only the diy'er can do,but also time served electricians who aint part of the cartel,an example of such work,changing a light fitting in a bathroom,that can only can only legally be changed by a part p registered sparks

You have to recognize that some people are going to do this stuff themselves, period. If you make it hard for them to do it properly then they will do it improperly and the end result is worse. I'm a strong advocate of giving people access to the information and materials they need to do the job right and encouraging them to hire a professional if they are in over their head, but you accomplish nothing positive by trying to mandate what people are allowed to do in their own home. Electrical wiring is not rocket science, there is no wiring in a house that requires years of training to do safely and quite a lot of it is fairly trivial. Any halfway competent person with the ability to follow basic instructions can do it safely, IF they have access to the proper supplies, tools and information. Those not competent enough are not likely to let that nor lack of the proper hardware stop them, you wouldn't believe some of the crazy crap I've seen. Stuff like lamp cord run through a wall and spliced in somewhere under a ball of electrical tape, or broken receptacles with completely exposed contacts because they couldn't afford to hire an electrician. In a few cases I've seen low voltage automotive wire used on mains voltage, people do the most stupid stuff trying to save a buck and the best way to combat that is to show them how to do it properly and still save a buck. 
 
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Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #53 on: February 03, 2021, 02:42:30 am »
Quote
UK is already ridiculous enough. You want to make it worse
so whats the real story behind that picture? yea at first glance it appears ridiculous,but  try  boarding a plane with any of those in your hand luggage
Police robbed a handyman walking down the street? It's had nothing to do with airport or sort of. Look at hashtag.

Pretty sure at least some of that stuff can be carried on planes. At least in the US the TSA rules are notoriously inconsistent, for example last I checked I could not bring my tiny little Leatherman pocket tool because it has a teeny tiny knife in it, but I could bring a pair of sharp metal knitting needles if I wanted, or a pair of scissors under a certain length which could easily be disassembled into a pair of sharp knifes. Nearly all of it is security theater, making people think the government is "doing something" to keep them safe. The ineffectiveness of the whole mess is masked by the one big boost to security they did implement, locked cockpit doors. I miss being able to go check out the flight deck during cruise but it is virtually impossible to hijack a plane if you can't breech the cockpit. You could let people carry on swords and machetes and it's still extremely unlikely they would gain control of the aircraft. Even if they threaten to harm people, everyone knows now that letting them into the cockpit is unlikely to save anyone.
 

Offline MK14

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #54 on: February 03, 2021, 05:32:31 am »
I'm sure that Agnes, 92, of Kent, considered all these things carefully before voting to dump the working generation in it...

Obviously one of the huge efficiencies of the EU single market is that 28-1 countries don't all have to do this on their own, duplicating this kind of work 28-1 times...

...As you say, just copying EU regulations is the only sane thing to do, until the brexiters figure out a way to float the entire island on pontoons and tow it to Asia?  :D

To an extent, you have a point. But on the other hand, they (the EU), tend to over do it, in practice.

Take LED lamps as an example.

If just the UK on their own (going back 5 or 10 years or so, when they became or were becoming a thing), were sorting things out, they may have proceeded as follows:
EDIT: The first list is purely HYPOTHETICAL, and was NOT implemented in practice. As we were part of the EU, at that time, so the UK left it for the EU to sort out.

  • A new 8% tax, introduced on inefficient filament bulbs, of certain applicable types, starting in 2 years time (i.e. plenty of warning)
  • 50% VAT relief on all LED bulb types, amounting to a 10% price reduction (for the next 8 years, by which time they expect LED lamp prices to have fallen dramatically)
  • Lots of government sponsored adverts, such as in newspapers and on TV. Outlining the benefits of LED lamps and lighting
  • Big grants and tax savings, for any new or existing, LED or LED lamp factories/companies, operating in the UK
  • Home and business grants, for upgrading the current lighting to new LED lamps

Whereas the EU does the same thing, in a much more horrible, messy, red-tape ridden, huge number of extra clauses and things, making it rather heavy handed, and partly impracticable.

So the UK can have a nicer, more gentle nudging kind of way of gradually introducing LED lighting, with only half a page, of clear/concise new regulations/laws, in support of it.

Whereas the EU does it, with a 500+ page set of new laws, outright banning of virtually all filament bulbs, leaving people in the dark (both literally, and intentional pun, as regards the new regulations, i.e. people won't know about them, until it is too late).

Some usage cases, still potentially merit filament bulbs, in my opinion. Examples follow:
  • Existing light fixtures, which are unsuitable for new LED lamps. E.g. Oven lights, which would be too hot, to easily put LED lamps in
  • Toilet or cupboard lights. Which are potentially only on for a minute or so. So the inefficiencies of the filament bulbs, don't really apply, or matter. Because other types, either can take a while to get to full brightness (some compact florescence types, I'm looking at you), or LED bulbs, many of which only have limited on/off duty count cycles, such as 10,000. As a busy household, can soon rack up those 10,000 on/off cycles, and hence break other types of bulbs
  • Situations where you want the specific lighting 'colour' of the tungsten (possibly halogen) filament type bulb. E.g. Relaxing at night, and wanting to gently rest your eyes
  • Dimmable lights. Until fairly recently, LED lamps either didn't cope with dimmers, or would cost a small fortune to get in dimmable types
  • Special reasons, such as applications, which use the heat of the bulb, to perform extra functionality. E.g. An electric fireplace lamp, which makes a metal disc spin round (via heat), to simulate the flickering of flames
  • Many other reasons and exceptions
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 05:55:22 am by MK14 »
 

Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #55 on: February 03, 2021, 05:44:47 am »
To an extent, you have a point. But on the other hand, they (the EU), tend to over do it, in practice.

Take LED lamps as an example.

If just the UK on their own (going back 5 or 10 years or so, when they became or were becoming a thing), were sorting things out, they may have proceeded as follows:

  • A new 8% tax, introduced on inefficient filament bulbs, of certain applicable types, starting in 2 years time (i.e. plenty of warning)
  • 50% VAT relief on all LED bulb types, amounting to a 10% price reduction (for the next 8 years, by which time they expect LED lamp prices to have fallen dramatically)
  • Lots of government sponsored adverts, such as in newspapers and on TV. Outlining the benefits of LED lamps and lighting
  • Big grants and tax savings, for any new or existing, LED or LED lamp factories/companies, operating in the UK
  • Home and business grants, for upgrading the current lighting to new LED lamps

Whereas the EU does the same thing, in a much more horrible, messy, red-tape ridden, huge number of extra clauses and things, making it rather heavy handed, and partly impracticable.

So the UK can have a nicer, more gentle nudging kind of way of gradually introducing LED lighting, with only half a page, of clear/concise new regulations/laws, in support of it.

Whereas the EU does it, with a 500+ page set of new laws, outright banning of virtually all filament bulbs, leaving people in the dark (both literally, and intentional pun, as regards the new regulations, i.e. people won't know about them, until it is too late).

Despite those efforts, LED bulbs in the UK were very expensive and not very common for years after they started getting cheap and widespread over here. I started buying Philips and Cree LED bulbs around 2010 when they were $40+ each and then within about a year they were half that and not long after they were just a few dollars each. I remember my friend over there lamenting at the lack of variety and high cost relative to what I could get which I thought was unusual given he was paying literally 3 times what I was for electricity and the US is not exactly known for jumping on the cutting edge "green" technology bandwagon.

There are definitely still applications where incandescent makes sense, but for the most part they were obsolete for general illumination 20 years ago. CFL had its issues but it was good enough that I had converted over to them by 1999.  Regarding on/off cycles, that was an issue for CFLs but it should not be a problem for LEDs, no more so than with filament lamps at least. There are LED sign bulbs that work fine with chasers/scintilators that flash them rapidly all night long.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 05:47:20 am by james_s »
 
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Offline MK14

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #56 on: February 03, 2021, 05:47:03 am »
The uk had the chance to make it black and white when part p was being discussed,one option was limiting the sale of  electrical accessory's  to  licensed personnel only,but pressure from the  diy chains put a stop to that idea.

I have very mixed feelings about that, some of which other poster(s), have already pointed out.

It is tricky to get the balance right, between the heavy handed outright banning of any sale or work of an electrical nature, being done, unless you are currently a qualified electrician, to the necessary standards.

Or alternatively, complete mayhem, whereby anyone can do what they like (electrically), anywhere in the country.

I'll just post a couple of pictures (Warning, the pictures are really SHOCKING!   :-DD ), to see what that can look like:



« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 05:50:41 am by MK14 »
 

Offline MK14

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #57 on: February 03, 2021, 06:08:04 am »
Despite those efforts, LED bulbs in the UK were very expensive and not very common for years after they started getting cheap and widespread over here. I started buying Philips and Cree LED bulbs around 2010 when they were $40+ each and then within about a year they were half that and not long after they were just a few dollars each. I remember my friend over there lamenting at the lack of variety and high cost relative to what I could get which I thought was unusual given he was paying literally 3 times what I was for electricity and the US is not exactly known for jumping on the cutting edge "green" technology bandwagon.

There are definitely still applications where incandescent makes sense, but for the most part they were obsolete for general illumination 20 years ago. CFL had its issues but it was good enough that I had converted over to them by 1999.  Regarding on/off cycles, that was an issue for CFLs but it should not be a problem for LEDs, no more so than with filament lamps at least. There are LED sign bulbs that work fine with chasers/scintilators that flash them rapidly all night long.

Sorry, my original post you replied to, was poorly written in that respect, so I've retrospectively attempted to edit it. I was being purely hypothetical with the first list. The UK government, did NOT do any such thing.
Because we were part of the EU, at that time, so the EU made the laws for LED lighting.
I was trying to show, how it COULD have taken place in the UK, if we were NOT part of the EU, at that time.
Sorry again, for any confusion I've caused.

You're right. LED lighting can handle, most/all jobs, required of it.

But people have their homes and businesses, in certain ways. So many people would much prefer to just replace the burnt out tungsten filament bulb, with a new 50p (£0.50) light bulb, than pay £10 or whatever for a new fangled LED light, which they DON'T understand, or want to touch with a very long barge pole.

Analogy:
Some people like/love the new (probably around 40+ years old now), digital display watches. But it is a sort of 'Marmite', you either love it, or hate it, type of situation. Whereas, other people still much prefer, the mechanical/analogue type of watch (display), even if the Quartz electronics and batteries, are still inside it and ultimately making it work.

I.e. Although you personally really like LED lamps, and have gotten on very well with them. That doesn't mean that everyone else does. Other people, have different preferences, financial situations, house/dwelling types, priorities. So, they may not be prepared (at the moment), to change all their lighting systems, to LED ones.

Hence new laws, effectively forcing LED lamps (and similar), onto everyone. Regardless of if they like it, and are ready or NOT. Is a rather horrible way of going about things (in my opinion).
Which seems to have happened in the EU.
 

Offline Gregg

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #58 on: February 03, 2021, 06:13:50 am »
In the US there were many thousands of Federal Pacific brand circuit breaker panels installed that turned out to be sub-par
https://www.allelectric.com/blog/2019/october/the-danger-of-federal-pacific-circuit-breaker-pa/
There should have been a recall, but many of these are still in service just waiting to burn somebody's house down.  The point being that greed often over powers safety  no matter where you may be. 
A big thanks to Big Clive for pointing out these totally fake breakers.
 
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Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #59 on: February 03, 2021, 07:33:26 am »
But people have their homes and businesses, in certain ways. So many people would much prefer to just replace the burnt out tungsten filament bulb, with a new 50p (£0.50) light bulb, than pay £10 or whatever for a new fangled LED light, which they DON'T understand, or want to touch with a very long barge pole.

That's exactly why we ended up with bans and mandates, although I'd have preferred a tax on less efficient lamps to help level the playing field while keeping them available for those who really want them. Most people are either incapable or unwilling to do the math and figure out that a "cheap" 50p lightbulb that uses £20 (just pulling that number out of nowhere for example) worth of electricity is actually more expensive than that £10 LED bulb that uses £2 in electricity over the same period of time. It has never made any sense to me but I've seen it over and over and over, people only look at the immediate price tag and don't even consider the total cost of ownership. Even with the cheap electricity we have over here $40 LED bulbs were a bargain compared to incandescent, mine paid for themselves multiple times over. A few of the old ones are still in service, others I replaced due to technological obsolescence with newer LED bulbs that are almost twice as efficient as the old ones. A small number of them have failed but at almost 10 years old I guess I can't complain. LED bulbs are so cheap now that they're competitive with incandescent just for the longer life even if electricity were free. 
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 10:08:28 pm by james_s »
 
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Offline themadhippy

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #60 on: February 03, 2021, 01:35:19 pm »
Quote
. Electrical wiring is not rocket science, there is no wiring in a house that requires years of training to do safely and quite a lot of it is fairly trivial.
if thats the case why is uk  domestic electrical work one of the most regulated areas? Theirs  nothing stopping anyone from  wiring  a factory or renting a generator and cobbling together the power for an outdoor event,the only thing that would be used against them,and only if things go wrong, is the electrical supplies act.meanwhile dare to do something as trivial as putting  a fan in the shower room and your in a world of illegality
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #61 on: February 03, 2021, 02:34:25 pm »
In the US there were many thousands of Federal Pacific brand circuit breaker panels installed that turned out to be sub-par
https://www.allelectric.com/blog/2019/october/the-danger-of-federal-pacific-circuit-breaker-pa/
There should have been a recall, but many of these are still in service just waiting to burn somebody's house down.  The point being that greed often over powers safety  no matter where you may be. 
A big thanks to Big Clive for pointing out these totally fake breakers.
Yes, you are right. The story below is my anecdotal evidence that even someone that is interested and knowledgeable about electricity can still fall prey to misinformation. 

My prior house had a Federal Pacific distribution box with their breakers. Being new to the country (mid 2000s), I didn't know better and the inspector mentioned that this brand was not recommended anymore, mentioned that the cost of replacement would go upwards of one thousand dollars but said nothing about a real and present danger. My google searches at the time also did not mention anything in the direction of fires but only a similar sentence as shown in the linked article as well: "The CPSC claimed that the data did not establish 'that the circuit breakers pose a serious threat of injury to consumers.'" Being caught in the crossfire between contractors trying to reap the most money out of your pocket, the sheer amount of stress moving to a new country and reassured by the statement above, I ended up not replacing the panel.

If it were in my home country, my years of experience told me that a specific series of the Westinghouse/Eletromar brand is (or was) very widespread due to its low cost. Not being temperature compensated (among a few other shortcomings), it would be a very bad choice in specific conditions if the wiring was not properly sized according to the local electric code (and inescrupulous builders would cheapen out on this front).
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Offline Alti

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #62 on: February 03, 2021, 04:08:29 pm »
This is a link to Rapex database.
It is an EU database of dangerous non-food products.
Select: Category "Electrical appliances and equipment" and press "Search".

A dreamland for Big Clive.
 
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Offline MK14

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #63 on: February 03, 2021, 07:39:47 pm »
This is a link to Rapex database.
It is an EU database of dangerous non-food products.
Select: Category "Electrical appliances and equipment" and press "Search".

A dreamland for Big Clive.

Useful website. Except I get a warning message, at some early point in its use (but it does still allow me to use it, at the moment).
It can come up with a warning (political), as follows:

Quote
Brexit content disclaimer
The Commission is in the process of updating some of the content on this website in light of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.


If the site contains content that does not yet reflect the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is unintentional and will be addressed.

Which is fair enough, under the circumstances.

Although, Brexit has happened, and I won't go into the good or bad points about it. I will say one thing.

Some of the shared DATABASES, such as this dangerous product database/website, are things which probably would be better if done in a common way. It seems sad, if the UK is being deleted or blocked from it, or whatever action(s), they are taking.

Similarly with the shared criminal database thing, which has been blocked/stopped, as regards the UK. It was something which is obviously for the COMMON good, so everyone suffers, if it is deleted or barred from the UK.

tl;dr
I guess I'm saying we (the UK), want our cake (Brexit), and we also want to eat it (use things lost because of Brexit, such as that database).

Hopefully in the future, apparently sensible things like this database (bad products), can be done in a joint way. But I'm NOT sure that is going to happen.
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #64 on: February 03, 2021, 08:21:39 pm »
My prior house had a Federal Pacific distribution box with their breakers. Being new to the country (mid 2000s), I didn't know better and the inspector mentioned that this brand was not recommended anymore, mentioned that the cost of replacement would go upwards of one thousand dollars but said nothing about a real and present danger. My google searches at the time also did not mention anything in the direction of fires but only a similar sentence as shown in the linked article as well: "The CPSC claimed that the data did not establish 'that the circuit breakers pose a serious threat of injury to consumers.'" Being caught in the crossfire between contractors trying to reap the most money out of your pocket, the sheer amount of stress moving to a new country and reassured by the statement above, I ended up not replacing the panel.

I don't know your exact timeline, but there was a class action lawsuit and explicit recall of Federal Pacific service panels in New Jersey, but the CPSC, as you note, did not demand a recall initially and by the time everyone realized that they should have, Federal Pacific was long gone.  There are still thousands of homes here in CA with those as well as Zinsco/Sylvania boxes with the infamous Magnetek breakers.
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit 7.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 
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Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #65 on: February 03, 2021, 10:21:19 pm »
if thats the case why is uk  domestic electrical work one of the most regulated areas? Theirs  nothing stopping anyone from  wiring  a factory or renting a generator and cobbling together the power for an outdoor event,the only thing that would be used against them,and only if things go wrong, is the electrical supplies act.meanwhile dare to do something as trivial as putting  a fan in the shower room and your in a world of illegality

You'd have to ask the politicians who put all those regulations on it, if your politicians are anything like ours, I wouldn't expect a lot of logic and reason to be involved. Often it's a case of one or two random incidents that cause someone to get a bee in their bonnet and pass legislation to put a stop to whatever rare incident occurred, unintended consequences be damned. Not to suggest that all regulation is nonsense, but there is no shortage of poorly executed regulation that does little or nothing to fix whatever perceived problem it was meant to fix, while directly or indirectly leading to a bunch of arguably worse problems. In our case, the trade unions have had a great deal of influence on the regulations and there are many that exist simply to make it harder for anyone to get around paying union workers. The IBEW would love to mandate that one must hire a union electrician to replace a lightbulb.

I'd be more interested in the data showing the prevalence of improperly done amateur domestic electrical wiring, virtually impossible to accurately measure so perhaps the data on incidents caused by such wiring would be more useful. Then compare that to incidents caused by professionally done wiring. That of course wouldn't give you any data on what happens if individuals are banned from doing any of that work themselves and become unable to buy the proper supplies, forcing them to improvise or bypass by purchasing sketchy stuff on the international market.

As far as factories and stuff, it's a lot easier to regulate what is done in factories and commercial buildings than private homes. Most large businesses will hire a professional instead of calling that guy they heard knows about electricity that will work for beer money.
 

Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #66 on: February 03, 2021, 10:32:27 pm »
I don't know your exact timeline, but there was a class action lawsuit and explicit recall of Federal Pacific service panels in New Jersey, but the CPSC, as you note, did not demand a recall initially and by the time everyone realized that they should have, Federal Pacific was long gone.  There are still thousands of homes here in CA with those as well as Zinsco/Sylvania boxes with the infamous Magnetek breakers.

We have a Zinsco panel in our cabin which was wired in 1973. They're notorious for being problematic but this one is in very good condition and I inspect it regularly so I don't plan on replacing it unless it has problems. It helps that it's a vacation home so it spends most of the time shut off. I'm also not the sort who is going to ignore obvious signs of a problem like flickering lights or arcing noises.

That reminds me, years ago I came home to the house I was renting with a roommate and noticed the porch light was flickering. I entered the house and a couple other lights were flickering intermittently too. I asked my roommate what was going on and he shrugged and said there was something weird with the electrical and went back to watching TV.  :palm:   I investigated and standing near the panel I could clearly hear the buzz of arcing. Digging a little deeper I discovered that a circuit breaker had developed a bad connection and was arcing where it attached to the aluminum bus bar. I cleaned it up and replaced it with a spare breaker I found laying around and it was fine after that. In the process I noticed another spot on the bus indicating the same problem had occurred at some previous time. We told the landlord the panel needed replacing and they kind of shrugged it off and we moved the next year anyway because the landlord wanted to move back into the house. A lot of people seem to be blissfully unaware and just put up with symptoms that should tell them something is obviously wrong.
 
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Offline bdunham7

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #67 on: February 03, 2021, 11:06:00 pm »
We have a Zinsco panel in our cabin which was wired in 1973. They're notorious for being problematic but this one is in very good condition and I inspect it regularly so I don't plan on replacing it unless it has problems. It helps that it's a vacation home so it spends most of the time shut off. I'm also not the sort who is going to ignore obvious signs of a problem like flickering lights or arcing noises.

You're braver than I am.  Bus bar arcing is the most spectacular problem that people notice, but the other problem with these is that the breakers may not trip on even a severe overload.  You can buy new imported clone breakers for these nowadays, those are probably better than the originals.
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit 7.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #68 on: February 04, 2021, 12:44:26 am »
I wish that hiring professionals, union or licensed electricians assured that the work was done correctly.  In some ways I would rather see an amateur do the work.  Then I know to look it over carefully.

My son recently bought a house and it took me three days to straighten out most of the problems.  The story from the previous homeowner was that the electrician he hired to fix the problems just got started and then killed himself in a recreational activity.  A second electrician was hired but was making little or no progress.  The son was in a hurry to close the purchase and accepted it as is. 

Numerous improperly wired and totally unmarked 3-way switch circuits.  Numerous improperly wired GFI outlets.  And cross wired ground and neutral in a few locations (no wonder he was having trouble getting the GFI to work properly.  It was confusing to figure out what was wrong and correct it, but if I with no formal electrical training (my training is in software and electronics and the overlap is surprisingly small) could do it a properly skilled professional should have been able to handle it relatively easily.  One of the steps in figuring it out was marking the wires as is required by code as they were figured out.  There was no evidence that either of the professionals had started down this path.

I say most of the problems because the son continues to uncover issues.

In another house that I owned a few decades ago the previous owner was a general contractor and all of the work on the house had been done by his company.  Such fun discoveries in this house as a switched electrical circuit that lead to bare wires buried in the ground behind the house and many grounded (three connector) outlets installed with no ground connection.

It seems to me that laws preventing homeowner maintenance are meant more to protect an industry than to assure quality.
 
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Offline RJHayward

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #69 on: February 04, 2021, 01:10:05 am »
Yes, I've thought about safety / negligence issues a lot as house-sharing with 'fools' who don't care or know what a shame a preventable house-fire can be.
So I'm saying, best get some real regulations, as folks themselves don't always care.
  I did some work, as mechanical 'assistant', go-for tasks for some qualified electricians and they didn't fool around, with safety issues.
   Some places in the U.S. you can avoid (any) negligence charges: Just claim there was 'METH' involved somehow. Sorry, but I can't imagine any significant risks, of getting a negligence charge, (by itself).
 
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Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #70 on: February 04, 2021, 04:04:37 am »
You're braver than I am.  Bus bar arcing is the most spectacular problem that people notice, but the other problem with these is that the breakers may not trip on even a severe overload.  You can buy new imported clone breakers for these nowadays, those are probably better than the originals.

Well they almost all get cycled every time we go there since everything except the fridge is shut off when we leave. From what I was able to find when I looked into it a while back the issue usually starts off with arcing or heating which melts part of the breaker housing causing it to not trip. Being just a little cabin there are not a lot of opportunities for overload as there isn't a lot of electrical equipment there and we're not pushing any limits. The lighting and appliances are all pretty much exactly as they were in 1973 and nothing more has been added.

There is some risk of course, but that's true of anything. I'm of the opinion that the problems with Zinsco panels are overblown and while they are not great, they are not as terrible as you'd think from the rumors. Remember that there were millions of them installed during their era and probably many thousands still in service, you only hear about the handful that burn up. I've encountered a lot of various stuff that had notoriously poor reputations and most of the time I've found it to not be THAT bad. That might say more about the state of things today with everything being cost reduced to the absolute limit than it does about the quality of the various notorious products of the past.
 

Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #71 on: February 04, 2021, 04:15:41 am »
I wish that hiring professionals, union or licensed electricians assured that the work was done correctly.  In some ways I would rather see an amateur do the work.  Then I know to look it over carefully.

My son recently bought a house and it took me three days to straighten out most of the problems.  The story from the previous homeowner was that the electrician he hired to fix the problems just got started and then killed himself in a recreational activity.  A second electrician was hired but was making little or no progress.  The son was in a hurry to close the purchase and accepted it as is. 

That's kind of surprising. Say what you will about unions, but I was under the impression that they did at least train their workers well. The only union electrician I ever knew was my uncle and he always did top notch work and taught me the same, but then he's just that type of person in general, he's the least sloppy person I know, his house has always been neat as a pin, even the attic is clean with lights and shelving and everything sorted, anyway you get the point.

A friend of mine had a house fire and the restoration company did terrible work. Sloppy stuff all over, I don't know if they were union or not but I suspect not. I fixed a bunch of stuff there after it was supposedly finished, some lights and receptacles didn't work, I found wires that had popped out of the stupid backstab terminals because they weren't pushed in all the way and the hardware was all the absolute cheapest of cheap residential grade junk. From what my friend told me it sounds like most of the actual work was done by an apprentice, who should have been well supervised but apparently was not.

My house is a split level that was one of those ones sold in the late 70s as an inexpensive starter home with an unfinished daylight basement. It was very obvious that the downstairs was wired by an amateur while the upstairs was done professionally. After I happened to change a couple of receptacles and saw the work it was clear that I needed to go through and redo it all. The guy didn't know how to fold the wires back in the junction boxes so he cut them off so they were just long enough that they could be poked into the backstab terminals as the receptacle was pushed back into the box.  :palm:  Not really unsafe, just sloppy and difficult to maintain. I had to pigtail every one of them. The biggest telltale for me to indicate amateur work is they will strip off just enough of the outer jacket to connect the wires, rather than stripping it back to within a half inch of the box entry as code requires. Again not really a safety issue but it's immediately recognizable as sloppy non-compliant work that merits further inspection.
 

Online james_s

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #72 on: February 04, 2021, 04:20:14 am »
So I'm saying, best get some real regulations, as folks themselves don't always care.

You can't legislate morality and you can't legally force people to give a damn. You can regulate and inspect new construction but it is absolutely impossible to control what people do in private homes unless it's something like an unpermitted addition that can be seen from outside. You can make sure people who insist on doing stuff themselves have what they need to do it properly though, that won't always work, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, nothing does work 100% though. It's all about improving the odds.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #73 on: February 04, 2021, 04:45:53 am »
I wish that hiring professionals, union or licensed electricians assured that the work was done correctly.  In some ways I would rather see an amateur do the work.  Then I know to look it over carefully.

My son recently bought a house and it took me three days to straighten out most of the problems.  The story from the previous homeowner was that the electrician he hired to fix the problems just got started and then killed himself in a recreational activity.  A second electrician was hired but was making little or no progress.  The son was in a hurry to close the purchase and accepted it as is. 

That's kind of surprising. Say what you will about unions, but I was under the impression that they did at least train their workers well. The only union electrician I ever knew was my uncle and he always did top notch work and taught me the same, but then he's just that type of person in general, he's the least sloppy person I know, his house has always been neat as a pin, even the attic is clean with lights and shelving and everything sorted, anyway you get the point.

A friend of mine had a house fire and the restoration company did terrible work. Sloppy stuff all over, I don't know if they were union or not but I suspect not. I fixed a bunch of stuff there after it was supposedly finished, some lights and receptacles didn't work, I found wires that had popped out of the stupid backstab terminals because they weren't pushed in all the way and the hardware was all the absolute cheapest of cheap residential grade junk. From what my friend told me it sounds like most of the actual work was done by an apprentice, who should have been well supervised but apparently was not.

My house is a split level that was one of those ones sold in the late 70s as an inexpensive starter home with an unfinished daylight basement. It was very obvious that the downstairs was wired by an amateur while the upstairs was done professionally. After I happened to change a couple of receptacles and saw the work it was clear that I needed to go through and redo it all. The guy didn't know how to fold the wires back in the junction boxes so he cut them off so they were just long enough that they could be poked into the backstab terminals as the receptacle was pushed back into the box.  :palm:  Not really unsafe, just sloppy and difficult to maintain. I had to pigtail every one of them. The biggest telltale for me to indicate amateur work is they will strip off just enough of the outer jacket to connect the wires, rather than stripping it back to within a half inch of the box entry as code requires. Again not really a safety issue but it's immediately recognizable as sloppy non-compliant work that merits further inspection.

AFAIK there is nothing about a union that allows it to violate the same rules of variable performance that apply to all other professions.  There will be above average and below average guys.  The unions do require training, and have tiered capability levels (Apprentice, Journeyman and Master).  The guys who are Masters are going to be generally pretty good, but even there it isn't 100%   There will always be a nephew of a big shot, or someone who has goat pictures, or someone who got too comfortable.
It gets worse as you go down the tiers.    The lower tier guys will be squeezed out of the big commercial jobs and are more likely to be found on residential, remodel and repair jobs.

Another factor, which definitely was part of the problem in the contractor's house that I mentioned is that no matter how good someone is in the profession it is no guarantee of competence in business.  When failings in that area lead to financial stress, even the best guys will look for ways to cut corners and stay afloat.
 

Offline AVGresponding

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Re: [BigClive] Inside a fake un-trippable circuit breaker
« Reply #74 on: February 04, 2021, 12:52:13 pm »
Quote
. Electrical wiring is not rocket science, there is no wiring in a house that requires years of training to do safely and quite a lot of it is fairly trivial.
if thats the case why is uk  domestic electrical work one of the most regulated areas? Theirs  nothing stopping anyone from  wiring  a factory or renting a generator and cobbling together the power for an outdoor event,the only thing that would be used against them,and only if things go wrong, is the electrical supplies act.meanwhile dare to do something as trivial as putting  a fan in the shower room and your in a world of illegality

Yes because in commercial and industrial situations, the onus of ensuring compliance is firmly the responsibility of the client.
If they don't, their fire insurance, public liability insurance etc will be void, not to mention lost revenue from down-time, so it pays (the ones who don't care to cut corners anyway, there are always greedy/stupid people) them to make sure the people they contract to carry out the works are competent and reputable.

Domestic customers aren't expected to have the expertise to vet the people they hire to carry out this kind of work, and hence the extra regulation to try and make them as safe as possible.
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