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A clear advantage in reducing low voltage arc flash risk

August 2011

Using Fluke CLV Infrared (IR) Window and thermal imager

Using Fluke CLV Infrared (IR) Window and thermal imager.

You might think you don’t have to worry as much about arc flash danger at 600 V as you do at 38 kV or 50 kA. The fact is that arc flash and electrocution danger are not based on the voltage level of your equipment. A 600 V circuit, although classified as “low voltage,” can generate an arc flash every bit as deadly as high voltage circuits.

Arc flash is caused by an arc fault, an especially hazardous type of shorting fault that often occurs when the insulation or air separation between high voltage conductors has been compromised. When this happens, a plasma arc - an “arc flash” - may form between the conductors, and produce a potentially explosive release of thermal energy. Arc faults may be caused by a dropped tool or rust forming between or near energized components that compromises the insulation clearances. Or a worker may have failed to de-energize the equipment properly. Sometimes an arc flash occurs when a worker simply removes the cover from a piece of equipment or when a component fails. While an arc flash may only last microseconds, it can carry a powerful punch which can ignite vapor or dust to cause an explosion.

Beware of the Arc Flash Zone

The National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 70E®: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, 2009 Edition helps to reduce the risk to workers in arc-flash hazard zones by requiring that a flash protection boundary be established. That boundary specifies the area - based on the type of equipment being inspected and the voltage involved - inside which workers must wear personal protective equipment (PPE). That PPE can be cumbersome to work in and restrict visibility, so anything that can reduce exposure to arc flash risk and reduce the level of PPE required gets a thumbs-up from technicians.

Fluke CLV Infrared (IR) Window with cover opened slightly

Fluke CLV Infrared (IR) Window with cover opened slightly.

Installing properly certified infrared (IR) windows that give you a clear view of the switchgear with either the naked eye or with a thermal imager can make it easier to achieve NFPA 70E compliance. With IR windows you can inspect the equipment without removing the panel cover, which reduces arc flash risk, decreases inspection time, and can also reduce the level of PPE you have to wear. Not to mention that you can skip the headaches involved with lock-out/tag-out and live work permits.

Affordable IR Windows for Low Voltage Environments

In the past, IR windows have been used mostly in high and medium voltage environments because the cost of outdoor-rated IR Windows required too large an investment for indoor, low voltage applications. Now Fluke has added the CLV Infrared (IR) Window for low voltage applications to its medium and high voltage offerings. The affordable CLV is designed specifically to meet the technical and cost requirements of indoor, low-voltage applications. It is the first and only IR window certified for UL 50V and the 1558 Low Voltage Switchgear Standard for circuits up to 600V. So it’s a great choice for manufacturing facilities, refineries, electric and water utilities, commercial buildings, and hospitals.

High End Features

The CLV has virtually all the features that make the other Fluke IR Window models so unique. Each CLV window features a 3-inch (76-millimeter) diameter viewing area that provides a clear, unobstructed view of the equipment inside, whether you use a thermal imager or just your eyes. Imagine having the ability to see inside, at any time, enclosures you normally only open once a year. And, with Fluke’s exclusive CLIRVU® optic, which is impervious to moisture and degradation, you can be assured you will have a clear view of the inner workings of your equipment for years to come.

Because CLV IR Windows eliminate the need to remove the panel cover, it only takes one technician to perform inspections, which saves time and can make it practical to run more frequent inspections. This makes it easier to comply with the NFPA 70E standard and can save a significant amount of labor costs. You’ll save time on installation, too. The CLV IR Window mounts on the front of the panel only, unlike some IR windows that sandwich the panel cover between a front and back plate, which makes for a more time-consuming installation.

To learn more about how the CLV and other Fluke IR Windows are helping increase safety and reduce inspection costs, go to Fluke IR Windows »