Some questions for the Canadian guys

JFletcher

Senior Member
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
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
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
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).
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
So why are the load centers sideways in housing?
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.
 

peter d

Senior Member
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
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
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.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
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.
Then we would run into 240.81.
 

WarrMann

Senior Member
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?



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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?



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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...
 
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.
 
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.
 
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
 
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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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...
I agree for safety they should be tied, but they don’t have to be and rarely is done. No labeling required. We are used to it and know to look for it.
For instance, in most commercial buildings they will have three circuits for lighting, all sharing a neutral on three single pole breakers. At 347 volts you can put many lights on one 15 amp circuit so when you turn off one of them, it could turn off all the lights on half of the floor. Then if you get into the junction box assuming power is off but there still is potential danger working on the neutral supplying the other two circuits.
 

electrofelon

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...
I disagree. I find handle ties increase the shock Hazzard significantky on mwbc's in the real world. that was a horrible code change.
 

GoldDigger

Moderator
Staff member
I disagree. I find handle ties increase the shock Hazzard significantky on mwbc's in the real world. that was a horrible code change.
I can see how handle ties make it more difficult to handle [sic] a problem on just one line circuit. But other than making you more reluctant to turn both or all three sides of the circuit off to work on one and thus being motivated to work hot, I do not see a safety problem.
Can you elaborate on that?
 

electrofelon

Senior Member
I can see how handle ties make it more difficult to handle [sic] a problem on just one line circuit. But other than making you more reluctant to turn both or all three sides of the circuit off to work on one and thus being motivated to work hot, I do not see a safety problem.
Can you elaborate on that?
Yeah pretty much its the working hot thing, due to uncertainty what the other two circuits are and/or them being in use. For me personally I have worked many times hot due to this, and Im sure there are plenty of other idiots like me out there ;)
 
I disagree. I find handle ties increase the shock Hazzard significantky on mwbc's in the real world. that was a horrible code change.
I agree that the NEC rule on this was not necessary, but to say that handle ties increase the shock hazard significantly is an incorrect statement. It’s not the handle tie that is the hazard. It is you being worried about not disconnecting other circuits and choosing to work live. Turning off someone’s computer is not a hazard.
 

414Mhz

Member
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?

Thoughts and comments?
Differences I can think of:
Outside receptacle is dedicated outlet here, not for you.

SABC, seems you can feed other loads from this. (ie, fridge). Our counter receptacles are dedicated.

Bathroom circuit, for us it's just part of the 12 receptacles on the circuit. From what I understand NEC allows recepts for more than one bathroom, but then you can't use it for lighting ??

We can load up resistive heating to maximum rating of conductors, and upsize OCPD to meet 80%

We can use the 75˚ column for cables (for the most part). Seems NEC only allows this with conductors, not cables ??

All I can think of for now.
 

electrofelon

Senior Member
I agree that the NEC rule on this was not necessary, but to say that handle ties increase the shock hazard significantly is an incorrect statement. It’s not the handle tie that is the hazard. It is you being worried about not disconnecting other circuits and choosing to work live. Turning off someone’s computer is not a hazard.
Well if the NEC is going to try and brother-in-law proof things, then they should think about other real world stuff then too :p

Differences I can think of:
Outside receptacle is dedicated outlet here, not for you.

SABC, seems you can feed other loads from this. (ie, fridge). Our counter receptacles are dedicated. fridge and dining room

Bathroom circuit, for us it's just part of the 12 receptacles on the circuit. From what I understand NEC allows recepts for more than one bathroom, but then you can't use it for lighting ?? yes. It can do lights in the bathroom if its just that bathroom, or plugs in multiple bathrooms, but then no lights

We can load up resistive heating to maximum rating of conductors, and upsize OCPD to meet 80% The "80%" rule in the NEC is (in general) for conductors and OCPD's

We can use the 75˚ column for cables (for the most part). Seems NEC only allows this with conductors, not cables ?? NM and UF are restricted to 60 degree, other cable types are 75. SE cable was on the merry go round for a few code cycles, now its back to 75.

All I can think of for now. Teck cable! I want
 
Here’s another one. We can not put wires from different sources in the same raceway unless they are for the same piece of equipment.
 

Reltek

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.
Yes the service switch (main breaker) compartment is for the service conductors only, but the panel can be mounted either sideways or vertical. Most of the panels I've seen in BC are vertical and I always try to mount mine vertical unless there just isn't room.
 

ccst

Member
Figured I'd start off the new forum section with a few questions for our neighbors to the north:
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?
I am in Western Canada and have yet to see a 480 system here. I know BC Hydro will not support it for the service entrance unless you supply all of the transformer equipment. The norm for most new commercial warehouse type buildings going up is to have the lighting on 347 and a smaller 25 or 50 kVA step down transformer near the main panel to supply the utility outlets.

There are several NEMA options available for L-N and L-L connections. They have a 347 straight blade receptacle for light duty applications like air dampers or lighting (NEMA 24-15), though the twist locks (NEMA L17-30 for example) are more commonplace for plug in equipment.
 

funksparky

Member
Yes the service switch (main breaker) compartment is for the service conductors only, but the panel can be mounted either sideways or vertical. Most of the panels I've seen in BC are vertical and I always try to mount mine vertical unless there just isn't room.
I just wanted to reiterate that, at least from what I’ve seen, most resi panels are not mounted sideways here. But we can. I personally try to avoid it- I hate it. It can be helpful in some situations and like [MENTION=69382]eddycurrent[/MENTION] said in service upgrades with short existing wires. I worked for a guy for awhile who liked to install his panels sideways, but I didn’t inherit that method. Interesting thread!


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