Why Independant Testing is Best

Expert testing is your key to good design, safe construction, and reliable electrical system operation. In fact, when you think about the complex equipment and systems being specified and installed, and the maintenance know-how required to keep it running, it becomes obvious that skilled testing is vital to your welfare. Furthermore, the proliferation of fast-track projects, high-speed manufacture, expeditious design, and speedy installation can lead to mistakes and problems anywhere along the way.

  • Are you absolutely sure your "isolated ground" is safe, works properly, and meets NEC requirements? Who's responsible if something goes wrong, someone is injured, or worse?
  • Are your premium-efficiency motors compatible with their control? Could excessive motor starting currents cause an equipment burnout or plant shutdown?
  • What about those solid-state controls on your circuit breakers, protective relays, on your alarm systems, and/or life-safety systems? Will they operate effectively?
  • Will harmonics creep up in your distribution system and cause data errors, computer shutdowns, or even fires?

Was electrical system design impeccable? Is construction perfectly safe? Has maintenance been unquestionably correct?

If not you're open to the viagaries of reliability, safety, and liability. And in today's world, it will cost you dearly in terms of dollars - but worse, in the event of injury, the effect on your conscience could be intolerable.

OK--so you haven't had a major problem in years; your systems are working well and, apparently, safely. But there are hundreds--no--thousands of stories that say otherwise. Electrical equipment and systems are operating inefficiently, unnecessarily driving up electric bills. Facility shutdowns, accidents, and injuries run into the thousands every year; costs easily reach into the millions of dollars annually.

The sad truth is that a great many of these accidents and injuries do not have to happen. They can be stopped by effective electrical testing. Moreover, it costs so little to avoid these problems, no matter whether your a designer, installer, or maintenance person. It is essential to call for third-party acceptance testing for new installations and maintenance testing on existing equipment.

When equipment is received, handled, and installed, parts can be broken, bolts loosened, and insulation damaged. And sometimes, simple defects will go unrecognized, even by the manufacturer, until after the guarantee period. Why risk it? And why risk unscheduled downtime?

Call in an expert tester to be sure your equipment and systems are safe, work properly, meet all applicable codes, and are legally certified as such. Electrical testing should be a required procedure for all new installations, modernizations, or electrical maintenance programs.

Who do you call? There are thousands of capable test enterprises available. Numerous firms are quite skilled and capable in their testing skills. Often, an experienced International Electrical Testing Association (NETA) test firm is recommended. These test firms, which are located throughout the U.S., are highly qualified, experienced, skillful, and able to back-up your design, construction, or maintenance.

These firms, over the last 25 years, have developed precise and extensive standardized test procedures for acceptance testing and maintenance tests. They demand exacting qualifications from member firms as well as technicians. For example, each technician must have at least 4000 hours experience in the testing and maintenance of power distribution systems, worked full time in this field for at least two years, and passed extensive tests on power theory, testing maintenance, and troubleshooting.

The NETA firms must be corporately independent, meet all established guidelines, and follow all accepted published test procedures and electrical maintenance practices. They must have a professional engineer on staff or under contract to review all short-circuit, overcurrent, and coordination studies, and other engineering reports. Standardization of technician skills, test methods, and repair procedures ensures that the independent test firm in any part of the country will do a quality job.

Remember that on a new installation, asking a vendor to test his or her own equipment is like asking an author to review his or her own book. An independent, unbiased third party is bound to be more objective. Although a manufacturer may know its own equipment very well, it is unlikely that its experts will be asked to do any field testing. Also, vendor engineers are trained on details concerning only their own equipment and, as such, may overlook common problems in other brands of equipment. An independent test company has no vested interest in the equipment and is trained on a wide variety of brands. It approaches troubleshooting and maintenance in a thorough, step-by-step manner as prescribed in its manuals. It has no preconceived bias.

Save your grief. Don't let litigation get to you. Without third-party acceptance testing performed by qualified test personnel immediately prior to energizing, potential problems could go undiscovered. Also, electrical testing is critical to effective maintenance of existing electrical equipment. Be sure to call for independent testing that will serve as your defense against a professional liability suit. Keep safety on your side--independent electrical testing is best.

Robert J. Lawrie
Senior Editor