Siemens Circuit Breaker Expands Design Possibilities

Siemens 3VA Molded Case Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker such as the Siemens new 3VA molded case circuit breaker line is an essential piece of safety equipment that protects critical infrastructure from the harmful effects of short circuits and overloads.

MCCBs rank among the most important safety components in low voltage power distribution.  An estimated 30 million MCCBs are installed each year around the globe.

Siemens 3VA5 molded case circuit breaker.

The new UL-certified series of 3VA molded case circuit breakers from Siemens was designed for low-voltage power distribution in buildings, infrastructure, and industrial applications. But the line was not just designed to protect devices today, but to grow as applications demand and needs change.

Siemens 3va electrical circuit breaker line is built around a modular concept with a variety of models and accessories.

Steiner Electric has placed in inventory Siemens 3VA products that meets the needs of Chicago-area contractors, electricians, MROs, OEM personnel and more.

The 3VA Family

This wide-ranging list of devices include multiple circuit breaker types, auxiliary switches and alarms, a variety of trip options, and the lugs and wire connectors that keep it all together.

 

Siemens 3VA5 circuit breakers are available in 125 A and 250 A
Siemens 3VA5 circuit breakers are available in 125 A and 250 A frames with a variety of options for each.

Steiner offers these breaker boxes based on two Siemens 3VA5 frame families.

  • The 125 A frame is a 3-pole breaker box with 25 kA @ 480 V interruption rating that come in models that trip at 15 A, 20 A, 50 A, 100 A, and 125 A.
  • The 250 A frame has a 35kA @480 V interruption rating, and trip circuits are rated at 150 A, 200 A, 225 A, and 250 A.

Both devices require minimum space because of their compact design. The footprint for the 3VA5 125 A frame model is 3 in. by 3.8 x 5.5 in. and the footprint for the 250 A frame is 4.13 in. x 4.21 x 7.28 in.

Safe Tripping

For safe operation, the 3VA5 Siemens circuit breakers are based on the concept of thermal magnetic trip units (TMTUs). These TMTUs are two separate tripping mechanisms – thermal and magnetic—that are built into the same device.

In a thermal-magnetic circuit breaker, the trip unit includes elements designed to sense the heat resulting from an overload condition and the high current resulting from a short circuit.

The thermal safety component works on thermal inverse-time, meaning the higher the current, the faster the breaker trips. The thermal element is a bimetallic strip, which means it has two different metals bonded together that have different thermal expansion characteristics. As that strip warms up, the thermal differences cause the metals to twist and bend and eventually contact a trip bar causing the contacts to spring open.

The second safety component is the magnetic trip. The circuit breaker has a trip unit that senses a magnetic field generated by current to detect a short circuit. This type of circuit breaker trips immediately when a short circuit occurs, but delays an appropriate amount of time before tripping in the event of an overload.

Array of Design Options

Steiner offers a wide range of Siemens’ internal accessories that can fit in any of the 3VA products. They can be adapted flexibly, quickly and easily to individual specifications. Color coded for simple installation process, they are designed to always be installed at the correct position in the circuit breaker.

A door mounted rotary operator. Just one of the many options available from Steiner.
A door mounted rotary operator. Just one of the many options available from Steiner.

Accessories include multiple operator options, including door mounted rotary operators that come either with illumination, which provides a clear indication of the switching position, and without an illuminating kit.

Also available is the Max Flex flange mount operating system that allows the user to locate the circuit breaker almost anywhere within an enclosure. It uses a flexible cable that connects to a breaker operator mechanism and a handle located on the enclosure’s flange.

Also available are auxiliary and alarm switches that can be integrated with all sizes of Siemens breakers. The switches snap for easy installation and to swap out as needs change.

3VA9, UL, UVR undervoltage release
The Siemens 3VA9, undervoltage release switch.

Auxiliary switches can be used to operate indicator lights, relays or other accessories to provide the breaker’s status. Alarm switches indicate that the circuit breaker has tripped due to an overload, short circuit or ground fault. A shunt trip will trip a breaker remotely, and an under voltage trip release will activate when voltage shuts off or dips.

So, when looking to install new or replacement breakers, consider the 3VA5 products that offer myriad design possibilities.

Hubbell Disconnect Switch Enhances Safety with LED Phase Indicators

Hubbell Insight Circuit Lock with LEDs

The National Electronic Code requires that disconnect switches be in the line of sight of a user, motor and the equipment the motor drives. This allows the motor to be shut down for maximum safety. Now, Hubbell Wiring Device-Kellems has upgraded its 30amp disconnect switches to include LED lights that takes this line-of-sight visibility to the next level.

The company has introduced technology, dubbed inSIGHT™, that incorporates six LED phase-indicator lights. Three LEDS show the status of the line side and three lights represent the load side wiring. The electrical status of each phase is within sight and clearly displayed on the cover so that users are provided a secondary way to confirm make/break on all phases prior to removing the enclosure cover. For example, if there is a welded contact or dropped phase the operator can determine that a problem exists (see Fig. 1).

Hubbell non-metallic disconnect switch with LED lights

With an ever growing focus on safety improvements, Hubbell disconnects provide a difference you literally can see.

Hubbell phase-indicating disconnect switches are available in non-metallic, and stainless steel square top and sloped top versions. Replacement covers are available for upgrades to existing installations.

LED lights from Hubbell Wiring
Fig. 1: LED lights provide users with the status during different phases of line and load wiring.

The 30A Circuit-Lock Disconnect Switches are available with or without a jog switch to slowly move the motor forward or in reverse. Customers have the option to either purchase the entire disconnect unit or an LED replacement cover for compatible existing 30A Disconnect Switches.

As with most NEC-certified disconnect switches, when locked in the “off” position, the high-visibility red rotary handle complies with OSHA lockout/tagout requirements. When in the “on” position, the cover cannot be opened.

Hubbell's stainless steel sloped top disconnect.
Hubbell’s stainless steel sloped top disconnect

Designed to be tough, reliable and provide exceptional performance in the most grueling conditions, the disconnect switch’s IP69k rating means that it can withstand high-pressure, high-temperature washdowns. The units have been tested to withstand extremely hot water (176degF) and high-pressure water spray (1450psi) from various angles. In other destructive testing, the device is placed in a dust chamber for 8 hours while a vacuum attempts to pull dust into the sealed housing.

HHubbell's stainless steel square top disconnect.
Hubbell’s stainless steel square top disconnect

The switch is also certified by the NSF for use in food processing applications, and is UL Listed for Type 4X, which means that it can be used for either indoor or outdoor applications. It is also listed for Type 12 enclosures, which are enclosures constructed without knockouts for indoor use to protect personnel against access to hazardous parts, and to provide ingress protection for the electrical contents.

Features:
* Six highly visible integral phase identification LEDs
* External LEDs provide secondary means of visual confirmation of make/break on all phases
* Cover cannot be removed with switch in the “ON” position
* Certified by NSF for hygiene in Food Processing applications
* Highly visible red handle which meets OSHA LO/TO capabilities
* Available in 30 Amp non-metallic and stainless steel versions, with or without JOG switch
* UL witnessed IP69k and UL Type 4X and 12 Environmental ratings

 

Square D Road Warrior Trailer Rolls Into Steiner Electric

Industry leader Square D loaded up its new Road Warrior Trailer with some of its newest and most innovative products and is making appearances at three Steiner Electric branches in August.

From ready-to-install (RTI) panelboards to surge protection devices with myriad mounting options, meters, diagnostic devices and energy management systems, the products on display in the Square D Road Warrior Trailer are designed to speed-up installations, reduce mistakes, call backs and component lists.

The Road Warrior Trailer makes three stops at Steiner Electric in August. The first is Aug. 8, from 11am to 1pm, in Elk Grove Village. On Aug. 15, the trailer rolls into Rockford, and two days later it appears at the St. Charles branch from 10am to 1pm.

Units on display include ready-to-install (RTI) panelboards such as the NQ panel, which is designed to meet 240Vac maximum rating applications and offer powerful circuit protection. Additional features showcased include a group mounted (factory installed) SPD unit, finger guard on incoming wires as per new code, and CAFI and DF breakers.

Another line on display is the the HomeLine Plug-on group of circuit breakers and load centers that help contractors save time on installation, and meet NECs code regarding arc and ground fault requirements.

Homeline Plug-on features on display include, Plug on Neutral CAFI and DF breakers, incoming wires finger guard, push-to-test DF breakers, and Group mounted SPD.

Also on display is the QO load center for applications ranging from agricultural to industrial, commercial to residential with indoor and outdoor versions available. The QO is a load center and circuit breaker family that comes in single and three-phase, ¾ in. circuit breaker width, 30  to 400 amps, 2 to 42 circuits and separate flush or surface mounted covers.

Additional features on display for the QO Load Center (Plug on), include the finger guard requirement, Plug on Neutral CAFI and DF breakers, the Qwik Grip wire management system, hinged Trim with adjustable dead front, and Visi-Trip breakers.

Other items on display include EZM corner section metering, Wiser Energy Load Center, which features a new load control with all-inclusive CT’s and communication package for metering, and a whole range of SPDs in unit mount, group mount and side mount.

Come See The Square D Road Warrior Trailer in August
• Elk Grove on Tuesday, Aug. 8, from 11am to 1pm
• Rockford Branch, on Tuesday, Aug. 15, from 11am top 1pm
• St. Charles on Tuesday, Aug. 17, from 10am to 1pm
Lunch provided during each event.

Come and Qualify for The 2017 IDEAL National Championship

Do you consider yourself one of the country’s best electricians? If so, test your abilities at the qualifying rounds of the IDEAL National Championship being held at Steiner Electric’s Rockford facility on June 22, and its Elk Grove Village facilities on June 29.

The events coincide with customer appreciation days at the two venues. In Rockford, Steiner will host its 20th Annual Pig Roast, which, in addition to the electrical competition, will also feature new products and prizes. The following week, in Elk Grove Village, Steiner will host its Great American BBQ.

It was at a Steiner event last year that the 2016 IDEAL National Championship winner, Greg Anliker, qualified to move on in the competition.  Anliker, an electrician with 20 years’ experience, will defend his title as the country’s best professional electrician at this year’s Championship Weekend, Nov. 10-11, 2017, in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Will you make it through the gauntlet of challenges to get a chance to challenge Anliker as this year’s champ?

In the IDEAL National Championship qualifying rounds, contestants are required to demonstrate problem-solving and physical skills across four categories: wire cutting, stripping, termination, and testing through a multi-station speed test judged by fastest completion time and overall accuracy of the wire connection.

Get Your Lighting Rebates with ComEd’s Energy Efficiency Program

Obtain Lighting Rebates

Are you getting the most money back on your investment in LED lamps, fixtures and other energy efficient products? If you buy your lighting products from ComEd-approved distributor Steiner Electric, you can receive rebates on your lighting purchases.

Steiner participates in two programs with ComEd to garner the greatest amount of savings for our customers. These rebates can provide significant financial incentives for the installation of energy-efficient products. Best yet, Steiner handles all of the paperwork.

The Standard Program

The ComEd Standard Program is a program designed for nonresidential applications such as for commercial and industrial uses. The products covered include new fixtures and other approved energy efficiency products. To be eligible, every project needs to be pre-approved before the customer purchases and installs the material.

Steiner handles all of the paperwork.  After the project is complete, a final application is submitted and the customer receives a rebate check about 4 weeks later.

Examples of applications that are eligible for these discounts, includes: relighting a warehousing facility from 400W metal halide (MH) to LED lighting or changing out a parking lot from HID to LED.

Another option for garnering additional rebates is by reducing wattage while still using the same technology. For instance, if a customer wants to change out its warehouse lighting with a 200W LED replacement fixture, but a second, equally viable option is to utilize a 175W fixture, the second option can increase the amount of rebate. Even though the application is the same, the rebate is determined using a formula that factors in the amount of wattage saved.

Essentially, the more energy you save, the higher the rebate.

Program 2, Instant Discounts

Another program administered by Steiner Electric allows you to get your rebates immediately at the time of purchase, without any pre-approval process. Previously known as ComEd Business Instant Lighting Discounts (BILD) Program, ComEd has simplified that name, rebranding the program as “Instant Discounts.”

How instant? Come to any of the Will Call counters at one of Steiner’s 9 convenient locations, purchase an energy efficient product from the Qualified Product List, and immediately get your rebate taken off the top of your invoice.

The program offers incentives to purchase high-efficiency lamps, exit signs and other energy efficiency products. Instead of a pre-approval process, Steiner Electric takes the rebate off the price of the material at the time of sale. On every applicable invoice, a line item is included stating the ComEd rebate. The objective of the program is to provide an incentive to customers to use more energy efficient products; for example, using (100) 4-ft LED lamps instead of 32W T8 lamps.”

To help you better understand the available lighting  incentives, contact your local Steiner lighting consultant by calling 1-800-STEINER (783-4637) or visit one of Steiner Electric’s 9 convenient locations and we will help you sort out your lighting needs. Steiner’s lighting experts can help determine the most appropriate lighting technology for a job, and help ensure that you receive the most bang for your lighting buck.

 

 

Designing an Efficient and Flexible Control Panel with ERIFLEX

Clean. Elegant.  A control panel that can be described in that fashion can also be thought of as one that is efficient, reliable, safe. Contrasted to individually wired, point-to-point systems, where operators need schematics to track a jumble of cables and wires that have been cut to various lengths, an optimized and efficient control panel can be installed more quickly, tested more confidently, and maintained more reliably.

Today, OEMs face increasing needs for faster turnaround times to build Eriflex control panel optimizationand install the machinery they make, as well as the control panels that provide the power to the motor starters, contactors, relays, and pilot devices, as well as the myriad sensors, valves, actuators, pumps and other ancillary devices used in manufacturing facilities. Contractors and maintenance people also face pressure to maintain and troubleshoot control panels as quickly as possible; machinery downtime is a bottom-line killer.

The control panel of today has changed in design and build and its wiring needs have become more complex. To ease these challenges, suppliers have stepped in with new, smarter wire and cabling products.

One of the leaders in this wiring evolution is ERIFLEX, a Pentair brand that produces low-voltage power and grounding connections. The company has developed products to streamline control panel assembly and installation that can also be adapted to specific applications and customer needs.

Recently, the company introduced its ERIFLEX Flexibar solution, a flexible busbar wire replacement concept, that is designed to reduce weight and space and make cleaner connections using fewer materials.  The company says that the ERIFLEX low-voltage power and grounding connections are the next-generation alternatives to bulky wires and cables.

The Flexibar busbar is designed for low-voltage applications from 27 sq. mm up to 1,200 sq. mm and 125A to 2800A. A bus bar is essentially an electrically conductive strip or bar used to distribute power to multiple circuits in parallel. Busbar can also be used as a common tapping point for multiple ground or neutral terminals.

ERIFLEX’s Flexibar is made from thin layers of tinned electrolytic copper formed into a stack that can be easily bent, folded and twisted, improving assembly flexibility, shortening connections and decreasing foot print.

The copper layers are insulated with a high-resistance, self-extinguishing PVC or silicone compound. The insulating sleeve is grooved on the inner surface, reducing the contact surface with the laminates to less than 20%, increasing flexibility and making installation easier.

Additionally, the ERIFLEX line offers insulated braided conductors, Eriflex power distribution blockdistribution and power blocks, busbar supports, insulators and accessories.

The OEMs and electrical contractors who leverage this type of innovative, flexible technology for power distribution and grounding can gain competitive advantage. Because of installation speed, high-quality electrical connections and long-term reliability, early adopters will quickly see the bottom-line benefits, and be better positioned to stay ahead of the competition.

Hubbell Floor Boxes Available Same Day at Steiner Floor Box Central

Hubbell floor boxes and poke throughs

Need a floor box and need it fast? Steiner Electric can help as it has the largest inventory of Hubbell floor boxes in the Midwest. Visit Steiner’s Floor Box Central and find the right floor box and fire-rated poke-through for even the most demanding of multi-service applications. Not only will you find the floor box to fit your needs, but you can avoid costly overnight freight charges by picking them up at one of Steiner’s 9 convenient locations or have them delivered right to the job site.

Hubbell has expanded its floor box offering to provide an extensive range of products to fit your needs. Available in 5 finishes to match every décor, the floor boxes are available in 2, 4, 6 and 10 Gang Floor Boxes (rectangular and round), on-grade and above grade versions, and concrete and raised access floor boxes. All covers are ADA compliant, and fire-rated poke-throughs are available to accommodate every order. Hubbell offers a complete variety of traditional flush and recessed floor box options.

One of Hubbell’s most innovative floor box solutions is the SystemOne modular in-floor system that has been designed to give end users the ability to create solutions for a variety of power, data and audio/video requirements.

The SystemOne family of products include metal floor boxes such as cast iron, which is corrosion resistant for on-grade applications, stamped steel construction, which is economical and light weight for above-grade applications and Steel AV that can be used for high-capacity multimedia applications in 3 ½ in. minimum depth of pour.

SystemOne products are also available in a non-corrosive plastic construction that feature an oversized 1 ½ in. data conduit hub for increased cable capacity and bend radius.  Parallel conduit hubs reduce labor and material cost, facilitating easier wire pull.

The Hubbell SystemOne™ Universal Cover mounts directly to the floor box riser, eliminating the need for an additional adapter collar.  The Hubbell SystemOne Universal Cover features ScrubShield™ technology that exceeds UL514 scrub water exclusion requirements.

The ADA compliant covers and all SystemOne metal floor boxes are approved for use in the City of Chicago.

Remember, if you need a Hubbell floor box, and you need it fast, visit Steiner’s Floor Box Central.

Key Differences Between Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Fuses and Circuit Breakers both serve the same purpose – which is to protect electrical circuits by preventing overloads that can cause fires. They both interrupt the flow of electricity, but in very different ways from each other. While a fuse is made of a piece of metal that melts when overheated, circuit breakers on the other hand, have internal switch mechanisms that can be tripped by an unsafe surge of electricity.

Fuses can be quicker for interrupting the flow of power, but when they melt they must be replaced; circuit breakers on the other hand just need to be reset. When comparing the two, we’ll take a look at some of the major advantages and disadvantages between fuses and circuit breakers to distinguish between them.

Fuses

Fuses come in different types – for both residential and commercial use. The most common type is made from a metal wire or a filament that is enclosed in a glass or ceramic and metal casing. In residential homes, the fuse is usually plugged into a central fuse box, where the building’s wiring passes through. When electricity flows, the fuse will permit the power to pass unobstructed across the filament between circuits. If overloads occur, the filament melts and stops the flow of electricity.

fuses

It will take some time for the filament to melt, and therefore any power surge is stopped. When a fuse is blown, it is to be discarded and replaced with a new fuse. There are different voltage and ratings that are available which handle different capacities of electricity. The best fuse for a circuit is usually one that is rated for slightly higher than normal operating current.

Circuit Breakers

Circuit Breakers have two different ways of working – the first is through the use of an electromagnet and the other is through the use of a bi-metal strip. In both instances, when turned on, the breaker allows electrical current to pass from a bottom to an upper terminal across the strip. Once the current reaches any unsafe levels, the magnetic force of the solenoid or strip becomes strong enough to throw a metal lever in the switch mechanism, breaking the current. The other option that can happen is that the metal strip can bend, throwing the switch and breaking the connection.

S-A Q2100

In order to reset the flow of electricity, the switch can just be turned back on. This reconnects the circuit. Circuit breakers in many cases are found in a cabinet of individual switches known as the breaker box. This simple switch action allows for an easy turn-off for individual circuits in a house when needed for working on a wiring in the location.

Circuit breakers have other applications, such as using for ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI. The function of this is to prevent electric shock, rather than just overheating. It breaks the circuit in an outlet if the current gets unbalanced. It can be reset by the touch of a button, and is generally useful in kitchens or bathrooms, where electrocution is a risk from the use of electrical appliances near water sources such as sinks or faucets.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Fuses are more inexpensive, available at nearly any hardware store. They react quickly to overloading, offering more protection to sensitive electronic devices. The only problem in this is that if the circuit is prone to surges that regularly cause fuses to blow, then the quick reaction to the overloading can be a disadvantage.

When fuses are blown, they need to be replaced. This can be difficult, especially in a dark room, or if the replacement fuse is not available at the time of need. In many instances, too, people find themselves replacing a fuse with the replacement fuses that actually has a higher voltage or current rating that is too high for the application or need – which can then cause an overheated circuit.

Fuses are generally speaking, easy to see which switch has been tripped, and which would need to be reset. The average homeowner would find it safe since there is no doubt about choosing the right fuse rating and all of the electrical connections are in the breaker box.

The disadvantage to using a circuit breaker is that it can be more expensive to install, repair and replace. Circuit breakers won’t react as quickly as a fuse in power surges. This means it would be possible that electronics connected to the circuit could be damaged by energy that is just let through. It can be more sensitive to vibration and movement, which may allow for a switch to trip for reasons that are unrelated to electricity overloads.

fusebox vs circuit

Circuit breakers and fuses are not interchangeable for all power applications. For instance, a fuse should not be used in situations that require a GFCI. Electricians are best qualified to make decisions on whether a fuse or circuit breaker system is better for any particular instance or scenario or electrical installation. If you have any questions about a particular project and would like to know more, you can talk to an accomplished professional at 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

The Skyscraper as a Small Town

Chicago_SkylineSeptember 3rd is Skyscraper Day, a date chosen in honor of Louis H. Sullivan, who is considered the father of skyscrapers. The first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885. It was a metal framed structure that reached a dizzying 10 stories into the sky. This was a time when most structures still relied on stone support and they worried that a human’s face would peel off if a train reached 60mph. Some continue to define a skyscraper as any building that reaches 10 stories, though most reserve the term for buildings that are at least 100 stories. Continue reading “The Skyscraper as a Small Town”

Planning for the Worst: No Electricty

Summer-Power-OutagesThe heat, the humidity, the storms: Summer in the Midwest. With the summer storm season in full bloom and a change of season around the corner (Sorry for the reminder), there’s no better excuse to make sure your home and business are prepared in case of a weather-related emergency. Continue reading “Planning for the Worst: No Electricty”