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Things You Should Know About Arc Flashing at High Voltages

Arc flashing is a serious issue in electrical systems involving medium and high AC voltages. Any time there is a electrical system that utilizes high voltages, the design of the wires must include thick enough insulation to prevent a flash over from occurring. Unfortunately, preventing this from occurring does not end after the design. There are many reasons that arcing can happen. The following are a few things to understand about this phenomenon as well as a few things to do about it.

What is arcing?

A build up of charge between two insulated conductors can create, essentially, a short between those two conductors. The charge slowly builds up until it reaches a flash over point, and this leads to a short circuit. Of course, this will destroy the electrical circuit, and even worse, it can create a fire. A conductor's insulation is rated for heat, but the temperature rise of the wire will increase dramatically when the wires short due to a rapid increase in the current flow. The speed at which the insulation heats up can cause it to melt, but it can also begin to burn. In either case, the surrounding area can catch fire. In some circumstances, an entire building can catch fire due to a flash over.

What causes arcing to occur?

There are many reasons for this to happen. Insulation on the wire can get old, so it no longer has the dielectric properties it once had. Other insulating materials that boosts the insulation properties of a circuit can also deteriorate over time. One of the biggest culprits is simply the build up of dust. Unfortunately, there is also the human element. People, working around electrical circuits, without the proper training, can become the cause of the breakdown. This is the reason why licensed electricians are used for high voltage work. Of course, not every electrician is qualified to work on circuits with high voltages. Those that are qualified have undergone special arc flash training.

Safety training includes special procedure

One of the biggest problems working around high voltage is electrocution, but unlike lower voltages, you can create a flash over with high voltage AC power. Many of the safety issues working with lower voltages are not sufficient to protect yourself when working around higher voltages. Special precautions must be taken when doing routine work. This includes measuring voltages, but also inspecting circuits while the power is on. Sometimes a single hand must be used to prevent death in the case of an unexpected shock.

Safety training is also about your environment

Safety training includes an awareness of your surroundings. Knowing the potential for being grounded enough for you to become a path of a flash over from a sudden arc of electricity. Articles of clothing become of increased significance at high voltages. Insulating yourself from things that are not normally thought of an issue, including the floor. Extra thick soles for your shoes to provide more protection from the ground plane.

The training that you need to work around high voltages only takes a few hours and is available in every state of the nation. This training is based upon OSHA rules and requirements, so you will be able to operate safely and according to all applicable regulations.