The use of IR windows for safe electrical panel inspection is becoming more common place. Some electrical panel manufacturers now pre-fit their panels with windows to make them more IR friendly. IR thermography is the fastest growing predictive maintenance technology in the world today, with the number of IR equipment manufacturers increasing significantly over the past five years.
In the US, regulation NFPA 70E determines the “Flash Protection Boundary” of electrical panels. The flash protection boundaries define the safe working distances in which any tradesman can operate from an energised component. Thermographers must be fully conversant with these regulations, especially if they intend to remove covers to allow access for a live inspection to be completed. Also, these regulations stipulate that unless the thermographer is a certified electrician and fully conversant and qualified on the equipment that he is inspecting they will need to be accompanied, thus increasing the manpower requirement for the inspection.
Although not common in South Africa, some organisations prohibit live inspection of energised HV equipment. IR windows are the alternative to doing nothing. They remove the risks and downtime associated with live inspections. Their use in a thermographic inspection program removes almost all the triggers of arc flash incidents whilst improving electrical safety by allowing safe, regular IR inspections of energised and loaded electrical switchgear.
Contact R&C Instrumentation, Tel 071 471-2056, firstname.lastname@example.org