need UL for new patent grounding electrode- technology is not 8 ft long (standards)

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
A recent example was the development of AFCI technology. UL simply refused to act on this technology until after the patent owners surrendered their rights to the 'public domain.'
Really?

As far as I know each manufacturer has been secretive about how their AFCIs work. (or are supposed to work)
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
Each manufacturer has treated the testing circuitry as 'proprietary.' This has been the issue with third-party testers, and the reason UL calls the testers something else. (Note that, by contrast, there ARE GFCI testers.)

As for the actual arc fault technology, anyone is free to make their own arc fault circuit interrupter, without fear of infringing on the patents. Which, of course, is why we're able to buy Square D AFCI's. Conceivably, our Chinese friends at Unique breaker could even make them for FPE panels (and I'd love to be a fly on the wall at UL the day the samples arrive!)
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
Regarding the corkscrew / bent plate discussion ... look to the "Ufer" for guidance.

Code only states the amount of metal in contact with the concrete .... your electrode need not be straight, can even be a coil.

The Ufer also gives us an indication of what the OP needs to do. He needs to present the code panel with substantiation that his electrode performs at least as well as any recognized electrode, and get the panel to recognize his method. Only then can he ask UL to evaluate his product.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I will tell you point blank, right now, that UL is NOT going to develop a standard or create a listing for anything that is patent-protected. UL will NOT become party to a proprietary marketing scheme.

A recent example was the development of AFCI technology. UL simply refused to act on this technology until after the patent owners surrendered their rights to the 'public domain.' Only then would UL consider examining the concept.

UL is simply not in the business of protecting your business model.

Finally, no matter what UL says, it has no authority to over-rule any code, standard, or law. All UL does is give their independent opinion that a product meets a safety-related standard.

Case in point: UL lists NM cable. You still cannot use NM in places that do not allow it.
Regarding the corkscrew / bent plate discussion ... look to the "Ufer" for guidance.

Code only states the amount of metal in contact with the concrete .... your electrode need not be straight, can even be a coil.

The Ufer also gives us an indication of what the OP needs to do. He needs to present the code panel with substantiation that his electrode performs at least as well as any recognized electrode, and get the panel to recognize his method. Only then can he ask UL to evaluate his product.
UL tests and lists more than just electrical items. Why would you need to get code panels to recognize a product before UL will evaluate it? I would think it would be just the opposite. If a NRTL recognizes a product can perform a specific duty that a code panel will be more willing to accept the use of it.

If the OP has a product that does what he claims there is no reason he can't take it to a NRTL and get it recognized by them. It would not be the first time someone has made or improved something and won't be the last. If he gets it listed Don is right - no code change is necessary it will be "other listed electrodes". Doesn't mean that in the future this particular electrode can't get specific mention, but until then it will still be allowed if listed.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
UL tests and lists more than just electrical items. Why would you need to get code panels to recognize a product before UL will evaluate it? I would think it would be just the opposite. If a NRTL recognizes a product can perform a specific duty that a code panel will be more willing to accept the use of it.

If the OP has a product that does what he claims there is no reason he can't take it to a NRTL and get it recognized by them. It would not be the first time someone has made or improved something and won't be the last. If he gets it listed Don is right - no code change is necessary it will be "other listed electrodes". Doesn't mean that in the future this particular electrode can't get specific mention, but until then it will still be allowed if listed.
Where is the phrase "other listed electrode" in the code?
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
"Why would you need to get code panels to recognize a product before UL will evaluate it?"

A good question, and the same answer can be derived in several ways. Let's look at one fairly recent example - the illuminated clothes rod - for guidance.

A firm began producing clothes rods with lights in them - they felt this was a particularly dramatic way to illuminate the clothes hung from the rods. They sought UL listing.

UL cited the NEC rule that said you could not have a light -any kind of light- within 6" of the clothing in a closet. UL explained that they could not call something 'safe' when the application was specifically forbidden by the NEC. Indeed, if you look at the standards UL would use to evaluate such a product, every one references the NEC (among other standards and codes) on the first page.

The manufacturer replied: these illuminated rods are not for closet lighting; they are display fixtures for show windows.

Aha! said UL, that's different. The rods were evaluated, listed, and plainly marked as 'display fixtures.'

Naturally, everyone and their favorite interior decorator began putting the things in closets. After, of course, the inspector left.

One member of this forum figured this was pure BS, and submitted a proposal to the NEC to have the requirements for closet lights changed, to allow for the evaluation of things like LED's. Here is where things got interesting.

The code panel rejected the proposal, asserting that there was no UL listed product. Do we see a 'Catch 22' developing? Well, the maker of the fixtures raised Cain, and UL explained things to the code panel. Things went back and forth a few times .... but, ultimately, the NEC was re-written with language remarkably similar to the rejected proposal, and the "Analysis of Changes" explanation was practically a reprint of the original proposal.

That's how it's done.

A look at the history of UL will show it to be as much a creature of the insurance business as is the NFPA. Indeed, it's hard to say which was the 'original' focus of both: fire sprinklers or things electrical. The two 'independent' groups are as thoroughly intermeshed as newlywed octopi. UL has folks on code panels, and the NFPA has representatives on standards committees. There is a similar situation with nearly every other code issue, from life jackets to table saws.

It would be irresponsible for UL to 'approve' things that are not allowed. OK, so we have countless jurisdictions, and you can't please them all. It's reasonable, though, for UL to reference some manner of common standard. In this case, the NEC is one of the primary references.

Mind you, UL does not operate in a vacuum. A look at UL's organization will show an extreme amount of participation in trade groups and standards associations. Conspiracy theories aside, UL has an interest in keeping 'in step' with the various markets they wish to serve. UL has had great success in the electrical construction and appliance industries. They have had very limited success in the control, pump, machine tool, and hot tub markets.
 
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