Author Topic: How's this for ironic???  (Read 497 times)
wide-lite 1000
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How's this for ironic??? « on: September 09, 2019, 07:52:34 PM » Author: wide-lite 1000
A Columbus City School building received est. 150 K in fire damage from the LED conversion they did to save money !  

  https://abc6onyourside.com/news/local/columbus-city-schools-to-vote-on-150000-needed-for-fire-damaged-school

 In a way, it's kinda funny !
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #1 on: September 09, 2019, 10:37:30 PM » Author: fluorescent lover 40
Interesting! Wonder how it could be the ballast though? Maybe it was a magnetic one?
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #2 on: September 10, 2019, 12:52:15 PM » Author: Ash
A ballast failure in a proper FL luminaire would never cause a fire since it is enclosed inside the metal luminaire body. But the plastic enclosures of LED drivers of most LED luminaires (that gets tucked in ceiling space) or plastic endcap of a LED tube (that can drip onto papers in the room) doesn't stop fire spreading if the circuit board inside caught fire

Last time i know of when FL caused a fire was in Zim building in Israel in the 1950's. And that involved FL luminaires with open back design (not meant for installation on flammable ceilings), installed on chip board ceilings (a material which in itself was allready then banned for use in construction due to flammability) and a stuck starter

With as much as icepacks with falling covers and burning ballasts in the 90s were scary, i never heard of a fire from one of them
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #3 on: September 10, 2019, 03:36:44 PM » Author: wide-lite 1000
Knowing the city , It probably didn't have the ballast cover installed , or they had insulation or something on top of the fixture .
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #4 on: September 10, 2019, 04:22:38 PM » Author: RyanF40T12
Actually there have been many fires of the years from fluorescent ballasts overheating and igniting ceilings and walls from the heat alone.   
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #5 on: September 10, 2019, 04:24:40 PM » Author: Lumex120
There was a case in my area a few months ago where a fluorescent light ballast apparently started a fire in a kitchen. Fortunately it didn't do any serious damage.
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #6 on: September 11, 2019, 11:38:32 AM » Author: Ash
Is it the case that the ballasts drip burning tar that can ignite something outside of the luminaire body ? I dont think it is possible for a "dry" ballast to overheat to the point of setting fire to something through the luminaire metal body (that spreads the heat over bigger area and acts as heatsink)
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #7 on: September 11, 2019, 05:28:07 PM » Author: GE101R
Is it the case that the ballasts drip burning tar that can ignite something outside of the luminaire body ? I dont think it is possible for a "dry" ballast to overheat to the point of setting fire to something through the luminaire metal body (that spreads the heat over bigger area and acts as heatsink)
I have had 277V VHO ballasts short and the breaker fails to open and the wiring insulation melted all the way into the ceiling conduit and the ballast tar dripping onto the floor. It was very close to starting a fire. I have also had double pole breakers overload and fail to trip resulting in a hole the size of a golf ball burn thru the side and breaker never tripped. The owner of the house smelled it burning and called us. Luckily it was in a house power panel on the outside of the residence. It of course welded the breaker to the bus bar and we had to replace the panel and all the breakers since the heat transferred into the other breakers from the bar. The plastic that held the bar melted some as well but never went to ground.
Strange things happen in a short or overload sometimes when the protective device fails.
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #8 on: September 11, 2019, 09:16:17 PM » Author: Ash
For the isolation to melt back to the ceiling means that it melted past the wire nuts connecting the ceiling wiring with the ballast wiring. That cannot happen by heat conduction - only by arcing at the wiring

And this indeed is only possible when the breaker is failing to trip or extremely overrated for the circuit, to the point that it won't trip to an arcing short between Phase/Neutral or Phase/Earth
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #9 on: September 11, 2019, 09:42:11 PM » Author: GE101R
For the isolation to melt back to the ceiling means that it melted past the wire nuts connecting the ceiling wiring with the ballast wiring. That cannot happen by heat conduction - only by arcing at the wiring

And this indeed is only possible when the breaker is failing to trip or extremely overrated for the circuit, to the point that it won't trip to an arcing short between Phase/Neutral or Phase/Earth
I did a service call to a house in Dallas owned by a landlord. He said the receptacles in one room were not working on his rental house. Arrived and found pennies behind the fuses on the knob and tube wiring. Tried to unplug the space heater and the entire receptacle disintegrated. The wiring to that receptacle had burned into and when I cut around the receptacle box, the wall collapsed where the knob and tube ran upwards. The interior of that wall was scorched all the way up to the center fire block and the old insulation had burned off. It was nothing more than a oven element and I was shocked that the house had not burned but apparently the plaster walls helped prevent it along with the porcelain knobs and thick exterior walls.
Yes, a wire can heat up with an overload while non fused and the heat produced at the overload or direct short can travel up the circuit. There was no main breaker, just four 20 amp screw fuses with pennies that had turned purple color.  
 
You exceed the ampacity rating of a wire and it begins to heat up and you exceed the ampacity drastically and it can melt the insulation. That is why the NEC has ampacity ratings for sizing conductors and coinciding breaker/fuse sizes for that conductor. 
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 09:49:25 PM by GE101R » Logged
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #10 on: September 12, 2019, 06:32:32 AM » Author: sox35
You exceed the ampacity rating of a wire and it begins to heat up and you exceed the ampacity drastically and it can melt the insulation. That is why the NEC has ampacity ratings for sizing conductors and coinciding breaker/fuse sizes for that conductor. 
Ampacity, I love it..! If that isn't a proper word, it should be  Cheesy
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #11 on: September 12, 2019, 08:49:26 AM » Author: GE101R
Ampacity, I love it..! If that isn't a proper word, it should be  Cheesy

One of the basic principles of the National Electrical Code to prevent overloading conductors and causing fires. That and proper grounding are the framework of the NEC and NFPS (National Fire Protection Association) and you must know these areas like the back of your hand to pass the master's test for your license and be a licensed electrical contractor. The de-rating of conductors and conduit fill are some of the other code provisions that are used often.
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #12 on: September 12, 2019, 08:52:15 AM » Author: sox35
It's still a wonderful word..! Over here we'd just say current rating.
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #13 on: September 12, 2019, 01:30:54 PM » Author: Ash
In electrical engineering in the area of design of power systems (thats my area mostly) in Hebrew, we talk about current rating as there isn't specific term for ampacity. But we do in fact mean by the same term either the "rating" meaning (for things that are rated by the manufacturer) or "ampacity" meaning (for things where it is more of empirical data, like how much current can a conductor handle with a specific temperature rise)

And sometimes we also talk about current density (when trying to evaluate the current carrying capability of conductive parts that dont have specs other than size)



All cases mentioned here in which the conductors in the wall became oven heating elements, are not possible with properly working circuit protections. So it is not the ballast's fault. Ballasts and other electrical components are expected to sometimes fail short circuited

There is only one other case about which i might think that would cause wire overheating like that, and it is, if the Earth wire becomes a path of some stray currents (say between an appliance connected to remote Earth source, such as plumbing or data cables), or a Neutral to Earth short carries Neutral current of upstream loads in a broken Neutral condition

The latter though can be protected against with a GFCI

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GE101R
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Re: How's this for ironic??? « Reply #14 on: September 12, 2019, 04:23:47 PM » Author: GE101R
In electrical engineering in the area of design of power systems (thats my area mostly) in Hebrew, we talk about current rating as there isn't specific term for ampacity. But we do in fact mean by the same term either the "rating" meaning (for things that are rated by the manufacturer) or "ampacity" meaning (for things where it is more of empirical data, like how much current can a conductor handle with a specific temperature rise)

And sometimes we also talk about current density (when trying to evaluate the current carrying capability of conductive parts that dont have specs other than size)



All cases mentioned here in which the conductors in the wall became oven heating elements, are not possible with properly working circuit protections. So it is not the ballast's fault. Ballasts and other electrical components are expected to sometimes fail short circuited

There is only one other case about which i might think that would cause wire overheating like that, and it is, if the Earth wire becomes a path of some stray currents (say between an appliance connected to remote Earth source, such as plumbing or data cables), or a Neutral to Earth short carries Neutral current of upstream loads in a broken Neutral condition

The latter though can be protected against with a GFCI


Overloading the neutral when it is used for two or more branch circuits is another way to burn up a neutral bus and the wiring. Too many conductors in a conduit above the 40% fill can overheat them as well. The National Electrical Code is the bible to the electrical industry in the USA.
Yes, when a circuit breaker operates as it is specified to do and the wiring is installed properly, an trip of the device or the opening of a fuse will protect the circuit.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2019, 04:26:12 PM by GE101R » Logged
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