UL 1640 for Portable Power Distribution Systems|
Article - August, 2016 By LarsonElectronics.com
UL 1640 for Portable Power Distribution Systems
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has created several guidelines that manufacturers may use to increase compliance with the latest UL standards in safety and production. For portable power distribution systems, the UL standard is 1640 (Standard for Portable Power-Distribution Equipment).
Portable power distribution units are large devices that regulate exceedingly high voltages to low voltages that can be used by machines in the applicable location. According to a report from Indiana Business Center’s publication branch, demand for power distribution machines is on the rise, with the largest increase between 2002 ($4.9 billion) and 2007 ($7.4 billion). UL 1640 acts as a gatekeeper in this trend, by ensuring that competitive manufacturers adhere to high production standards. Companies that successfully incorporate UL 1640 during manufacturing through inspection by a UL field representative may apply UL markings on approved components found inside the unit.
Overview and Applications of UL 1640
UL 1640 covers key components inside portable power distribution units, such as busbar clamps, internal wirings and etc. There are also testing protocols that may be applied to ensure that unforeseen vulnerabilities are carefully addressed before the release of the product. Such tests include (but is not limited to): Dielectric Voltage-Withstand Test, Strain-Relief Test, Corrosion Resistance Test and Resistance to Rain Test. Various rulings in UL 1640 are associated with articles from the National Electric Code (NEC). For such UL standards, manufacturers may refer to the specific NEC code to check on electrical safety compliance. One should note that NEC compliance is enforced by electrical inspectors; therefore, following UL 1640 guidelines on a manufacturing level does not automatically lead to NEC compliance.
UL 1640 is applicable in the following locations:
Exhibition halls (NEC Article 518)
Temporary installations in construction sites (NEC Article 590)
Television and movie production studios (NEC Article 530)
Carnivals, fairs and similar locations (NEC Article 525)
Theaters and television studios where audiences are present (NEC Article 520)
To show that a manufacturer and the portable power distribution unit are in compliance with UL 1640, special markings are placed on various parts of the machine. In order to be able to apply such markings, the components inside the unit needs to undergo testing. During the process, the manufacturer is required to submit product samples to the regulator (in this case, UL).
Recently, a new trend in UL marking has emerged, which introduced the application of QR codes on badges. Launched in 2013, the Enhanced and Smart UL Certification Mark and UL Certification Badge system is an innovative way for manufacturers to customize their markings for added distinction (via the Marks Hub). Scanning the QR code on the badge with a handheld device pulls up the following information about the UL approved component: product image, manufacturer information, certification details and product description.
Becoming a UL Panel Shop
To ease the UL product certification process, portable power distribution system manufacturers may consider becoming a UL Panel Shop. Acquiring such status could be advantageous for companies that want to mass produce portable power distribution units with UL Marks. First, it would allow the manufacturer to place UL markings on finished units during production. A UL Panel Shop could also engage in projects that must be fulfilled by UL Panel Shops only. Next, by offering UL approved products, customers can be sure that the unit is safe and less prone to malfunction.
UL Panel Shops are subject to inspections by UL field representatives. The inspections are randomized, and heavily influenced by the number of manufactured UL Labeled products over a set period of time. In addition to UL, manufacturers may also meet their compliance needs through other Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) that are recognized by the OSHA, such as Electrical Testing Labs (ETL) from the ETL SEMKO division of Intertek.
Below is a shortlist of portable power distribution units available from Larson Electronics:
150 KVA Power Distribution – 480V-208Y/120V - (3) 480V, (3) 208V) & (12) 120V Outlets
Double 75 KVA Power Distribution Substation - 480V-208Y - 200A 208Y Outlets
25 KVA Mobile Distribution Cart - 480V-120V - (6) 120V 5-20R GFCI Outlets
45 KVA Power Distribution - 480V-208Y/120V - (40) 120V 5-20R GFCI Outlets
Explosion Proof 37.5 KVA Power Distribution - 480V-120V - (10) EXP Outlets