Some questions for the Canadian guys

JFletcher

Senior Member
Location
Williamsburg, VA
Figured I'd start off the new forum section with a few questions for our neighbors to the north:

1) for those familiar with the Canadian electrical code and the NEC, how similar are they, what major differences have you noted?

2) do you guys have 480 / 277 like us, or is it all 600 / 347v? I have read that both have similar arc flash potentials, the higher voltage seems desirable as, all other things being equal, one would have 25% more current capacity for the same size wiring. Thoughts and comments?
 

MAC702

Senior Member
Location
Clark County, NV
I worked in Colombia on a project and we were using North American wiring standards and devices. The head electrician was Canadian, so we had to use red, black, blue for phase coloring instead of black, red, blue that the rest of us were used to. I think he told me it was actually Code for them to do so up there, but I didn't sharpshoot him on it.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Figured I'd start off the new forum section with a few questions for our neighbors to the north:

1) for those familiar with the Canadian electrical code and the NEC, how similar are they, what major differences have you noted?

2) do you guys have 480 / 277 like us, or is it all 600 / 347v? I have read that both have similar arc flash potentials, the higher voltage seems desirable as, all other things being equal, one would have 25% more current capacity for the same size wiring. Thoughts and comments?
Never worked as an electrician in Canada, but I had a panel shop in Seattle where some of our customers were in Canada, so I had to become CSA certified. The codes are almost identical, just a few minor little differences, mostly additions. One thing that constantly bit me was that when you had something in a steel box, the door had to be grounded across the hinge by a wire, they don't consider the hinge itself a reliable ground path. My shop would forget that over and over so our panel would get rejected and I had to drive to BC or Alberta just to put on a freaking little green wire...

When a lot of lumber mills in the US started going under in the 80s and 90s, many of them were bought as surplus by Canadians and moved, lock stock and barrel, to BC and Alberta. They wouldn't change all of the motors, it was cheaper to just buy transformers. Some oil patch companies in Calgary and Edmonton AB did that too, bringing stuff up from Texas and Oklahoma. So there is a LOT of 480V in use in those areas. I remember one sawmill in BC that had the entire office complex done in 600/347, then the mill behind it was all 480/277. But if you get outside of BC and AB, it's mostly 600/347 for industrial / commercial. residential is all 120/240V exactly like us.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
One thing they do correctly is the name of the bonding conductor...theirs is correctly named as a bonding conductor while ours is incorrectly named as a grounding conductor (EGC).
 

peter d

Senior Member
Location
New England
Huge sidetrack here, but today I worked in an old vacant textile mill building with a 600 volt ungrounded delta. Those used to be very common here once upon a time and this is one of the few that now remain.
 

Adamjamma

Senior Member
In Canada the main breaker is isolated from the rest of the panel so entering the panel with branch circuits or feeders is not possible from the top of the panel. Hence the sideways setup.
Think that was inherited from UK codes... the main feeder is kept covered. Or separated.. so cannot touch those wires while servicing the breakers themselves... loads of stuff done concerning safety and touch covers over the wires.. even testers and tools have more insulation requirements now..
 

Besoeker

Senior Member
Location
UK
Figured I'd start off the new forum section with a few questions for our neighbors to the north:

1) for those familiar with the Canadian electrical code and the NEC, how similar are they, what major differences have you noted?

2) do you guys have 480 / 277 like us, or is it all 600 / 347v? I have read that both have similar arc flash potentials, the higher voltage seems desirable as, all other things being equal, one would have 25% more current capacity for the same size wiring. Thoughts and comments?
The times I've worked in Canada it was all 600V 3-phase, 60 Hz. But that was all on ships. Icebreakers. I don't know that is standard for other electrical systems in that great country. I don't recall 347V single phase. I'm pretty sure they use 120V for that.
 

John120/240

Senior Member
Location
Olathe, Kansas
In Canada the main breaker is isolated from the rest of the panel so entering the panel with branch circuits or feeders is not possible from the top of the panel. Hence the sideways setup.

I don't think I could do horizontal installation of panel. Its just not right. Keep the panel vertical & put the MAIN on the bottom side if I had to work in Canada.
 

WarrMann

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta, GA
Then we would run into 240.81.
Good catch, larry. Ive never paid too much attention to that paragraph. And can't recall it ever coming up in any inspections.

For any canadians reading this 240.81 says "where circuit breaker handles are operated vertically rather than rotionally or horizontally, the "up" position of the handle shall be the "on" position.


Materials question... what is the voltage rating of the conductors used for 600/347 systems? Are you using conductors rated for up to 600 volts? Or do you max out that rating?



Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

Adamjamma

Senior Member
Good catch, larry. Ive never paid too much attention to that paragraph. And can't recall it ever coming up in any inspections.

For any canadians reading this 240.81 says "where circuit breaker handles are operated vertically rather than rotionally or horizontally, the "up" position of the handle shall be the "on" position.


Materials question... what is the voltage rating of the conductors used for 600/347 systems? Are you using conductors rated for up to 600 volts? Or do you max out that rating?



Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
so that may be why the multiple bus panels in Europe look the way they do..so all the breakers are on in an upward position... but think there is some other part of USA code that stops us from using European Three and four row panels in NEC areas... something about multiple bus systems... I have wired as many as six separate bus groups in a panel over here... even with two phase to them once..lol... since we started using the split bus systems with an RCD to a group of like five breakers...
 

Eddy_Current

Member
Location
Canada
600/347 is very common. Lighting and heat are 347, motors, elevators are 600.

new builds tend to stay with 208/120 for lighting due to the lower demand of led’s

Sideways panels are due to our service conductors having to be separated. Ressi panels that have a main breaker come with a barrier separating the service conductor section from the rest of the panel. We can not run any wiring in the service conductor area so mounting a panel sideways is common when we replace old fuse panels that had wires exiting the top of the panel. Otherwise we would have to junction and extend the circuits so they enter the side or bottom.
 

Eddy_Current

Member
Location
Canada
Good catch, larry. Ive never paid too much attention to that paragraph. And can't recall it ever coming up in any inspections.

For any canadians reading this 240.81 says "where circuit breaker handles are operated vertically rather than rotionally or horizontally, the "up" position of the handle shall be the "on" position.


Materials question... what is the voltage rating of the conductors used for 600/347 systems? Are you using conductors rated for up to 600 volts? Or do you max out that rating?



Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Maybe there is more to that code, but I read it as IF they are mounted vertically, not that they must be. Isn’t there another code in the NEC about gravity not turning on a breaker? I thought that was why you guys can not mount a panel sideways.

As for conductors we do have 1000 volt rated wire and our romex is only rated for 300 volts so people can’t use it on 347/600.
 

Eddy_Current

Member
Location
Canada
Figured I'd start off the new forum section with a few questions for our neighbors to the north:

1) for those familiar with the Canadian electrical code and the NEC, how similar are they, what major differences have you noted?

2) do you guys have 480 / 277 like us, or is it all 600 / 347v? I have read that both have similar arc flash potentials, the higher voltage seems desirable as, all other things being equal, one would have 25% more current capacity for the same size wiring. Thoughts and comments?
1) They are very close but there are differences. Here is a few of the top of my head.
-Like we have a 12 outlet max on any circuit. If the load is known, like with lighting, then we can exceed that limit.
-A few differences with Arc fault but we are catching up with the NEC on that.
-We don’t have to GFI garage circuits.

2) Yes we have 480/277 but it is not supplied to us by the utility. We transform to that voltage to supply US equipment. For instance I have done it at an airport in the helicopter mechanics garage for some equipment and at a place that made and cut granite countertops. We just use the same 600 volt panels and just label them 480/277
 

Eddy_Current

Member
Location
Canada
Another difference is we don’t have to use 2 or 3 pole breakers for multiwire circuits unless the circuits are all for the same device.


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Adamjamma

Senior Member
But, handle tie breakers should still be used rather than just sharing the neutral, if only for a safety consideration.. I mean, let’s say you are sharing a three phase circuit as three single phase live, one neutral, one ground, each phase on its own as far as outlets are concerned as all equipment is on 120 volts... even if you run a larger neutral and a larger ground than the live wires, there is still the potential of overload through heating of the neutral or of a fault that trips the one phase still allowing current on the neutral thus still faulting on the other phases but not tripping...

so, how do you account for it? With a sign that says if breaker x is tripped y and z need turned off to work on circuit?

Would rather a handle tie at least... and I am one of those they call a handyman who is studying code.. I think I am qualified to do a lot of electrical but this forum has taught me that I have a lot of learning to do...
 
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