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Thread: Is UL listing required for a battery powered portable instrument?

  1. #1
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    Is UL listing required for a battery powered portable instrument?

    We have an application where we need to run a small instrumentation package through an oil and gas pipeline to inspect the inside for corrosion, etc. The instrument package is housed in an explosionproof case about the size of a shoebox and runs on D cell batteries. It runs completely submerged in the oil except when it is being launched or extracted, during which time it is exposed to Class I conditions. the instrument is ATEX certified, but no UL listed device is available from any manufacturer. Is a US NRTL listing required for this application? Thanks!

  2. #2
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    The whole idea of explosion proof enclosures at least for the most part, is so you can put stuff in it that's not identified for use in classified areas. So I don't think you have an issue.
    Bob

  3. #3
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    Technically, ATEX is meaningless as a US certification. Without an NRTL certification, how would you know it's explosionproof?

    As a long shot, Section 500.8(A)(3) might apply (that's what ATEX actually is).
    "Bob"
    Robert B. Alexander, P.E.
    Answers based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbalex View Post
    Technically, ATEX is meaningless as a US certification. Without an NRTL certification, how would you know it's explosionproof?

    As a long shot, Section 500.8(A)(3) might apply (that's what ATEX actually is).
    I think he meant the instrument was atex but it was in an XP box.
    Bob

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersonra View Post
    I think he meant the instrument was atex but it was in an XP box.
    That is certainly a reasonable alternate interpretation. However, I do find it difficult to believe that an instrument that is only ATEX identifed is installed in an identifiable explosionproof enclosure.

    BTW, OSHA would still likely require the instrument to be NRTL certified.
    "Bob"
    Robert B. Alexander, P.E.
    Answers based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Merrick View Post
    no UL listed device is available from any manufacturer. Is a US NRTL listing required for this application? Thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by rbalex View Post
    BTW, OSHA would still likely require the instrument to be NRTL certified.
    I don't see how OSHA could require something that does not actually exist.

    I suppose it is possible another manufacturer might have something listed by some NRTL other than UL.

    Personally, I don't think this is subject to the NEC anyway as it has no connection to the premises wiring system, not even as a utilization device. It is more akin to something like a portable tool or a volt meter.
    Bob

  7. #7
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    The Scope of Article 500 [Section 500.1] covers Articles 500 to 504. It recognizes equipment in hazardous locations are covered by by the Articles. It makes no distinction about premises wiring. Portable and mobile equipment are covered by the Articles.

    OSHA does not necessarily require NRTL certification; but the distinction is whether a NRTL can certify a product not whether any manufacture has, in fact, obtained such a certification. If it can be shown the product can be NRTL certified, it must be. [See FedOSHA definition of Acceptable] There are plenty of UL product standards for certifying electronic instruments for Class I. (I have no idea why GP motors still seem to be an exception; there is definitely a UL product standard for them too.)
    "Bob"
    Robert B. Alexander, P.E.
    Answers based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  8. #8
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    More info

    The unit is called a "pig tracker." It is about the size and shape of a flashlight and is powered by from 2 to 5 C or D-cell batteries, depending on the model. The electronics are encased in a sealed stainless or titanium cylinder rated for pressures up to 7500 psi. Neither the cylinder nor the electronics are UL listed for hazardous areas; nevertheless, this unit is widely used in the US oil and gas industry as well as worldwide without any issues.

    What I have been told is that such a battery powered sensor package is not covered by the NEC under Article 90.2, primarily because such small battery powered devices are not being "installed." From that perspective, the pig tracker is really not practically different from carrying a flashlight, a multimeter, or a Motorola radio into the hazardous area. This is standard practice industry wide, but if it violates Code then the industry should be made aware.

  9. #9
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    You need to be aware of the relationship of Chapters 5 to 7 to Chapters 1 to 4. See Section 90.3. "Installation" is not necessarily a consideration in classified locations.

    With regard to ,"...carrying a flashlight, a multimeter, or a Motorola radio into the hazardous area", you should contact API's Subcommittee on Electrical Equipment (SOEE) to get their opinion about such unsafe practices; i.e., the industry is already aware.
    "Bob"
    Robert B. Alexander, P.E.
    Answers based on 2014 NEC unless otherwise noted.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Merrick View Post
    What I have been told is that such a battery powered sensor package is not covered by the NEC under Article 90.2, primarily because such small battery powered devices are not being "installed." From that perspective, the pig tracker is really not practically different from carrying a flashlight, a multimeter, or a Motorola radio into the hazardous area. This is standard practice industry wide, but if it violates Code then the industry should be made aware.
    I'd be willing to bet the flashlights, multimeters, and radios are intrinsically safe or protected in some other way if they are being carried into classified areas. There are some places that won't even let you bring a battery powered watch in.
    Bob

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