25 Feb 2020

IEEE 1584 is New (ish)! Are You Ready for Your Next Arc Flash Study?

Arc flash studies are recommended evaluations for your industrial facility to identify hazards and risks in relation to your electrical systems. They are required every five years or when changes occur in the electrical distribution system that could affect the results of the analysis.  This study results in proper arc flash equipment labelling, fault current and coordination analysis, and recommendations for improvements for your staff’s PPE, if required.

Robust Changes for Improved Study Results
With the updates to the IEEE 1584-2018: Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations, companies must adjust expectations on what their upcoming arc flash studies now involve. Until the introduction of IEEE 1584-2002, there was not an in-depth, well-documented standard for companies to follow, which resulted in potentially increased safety risks of a facility’s operations staff. While IEEE 1584-2002 provided improved techniques and calculations for determining the arc flash hazard distance and the incident energy to which employees could be exposed to, it still required further development as industry standards and technology changed.

Through the introduction of new procedures, calculations and formulae in IEEE 1584-2018, companies are now required to include additional equipment evaluation as they pertain to arcing faults and arc flash events. Specific changes that impact arc flash studies include the addition of more rigorous calculations, inclusion of equipment enclosure coefficients based on enclosure sizes and electrode configuration in the enclosures, the assumption of more protective device failure and  variation of arcing current, thereby requiring improved protection for workers. As more companies conduct arc flash studies using the IEEE 1584-2018 standards, they may be required to modify their electrical safety programs, change electrical protection equipment, improve how workers are trained, modify existing standards and work practices, and/or purchase new equipment to allow their workers to conduct their tasks safely.

To ensure alignment with the new IEEE 1584-2018 standards, the following must be considered to ensure a facility meets its obligations in relation to these new standards.

Additional Evaluation Requirements
With a number of introductions, the time required to prepare for and complete the study typically increases. Below are items we’ve identified that impact the timeline of a study.

  • More Evaluation: With correction factors updated, more evaluation and awareness of equipment configuration is required. The updated standard provides more realistic answers rather than the conservative results provided previously. For instance, the range of voltage that must be included in the study has increased. Previously, arc flash studies only required a minimum number of electrical equipment pieces to be evaluated since some of them were fed by transformers smaller than 125 kVA and at voltages lower than 240 V. Now, you have to evaluate more equipment based on the Voltage and Short Circuit Current availability, to see if you have to do an arc flash evaluation. By including these additional evaluation criteria, the time for the required arc flash study increases.
  • More Information: Companies requiring an arc flash study must also provide more information than they have in the past. For example, to ensure the right values are being used in calculations, Catch Engineering requires information on the equipment itself, such as its dimensions and the specific electrical configurations within them. The new values required for proper calculations typically require more work to obtain because of the increase in volume of information. No longer can we make certain assumptions as we could in the past, improving the identification of real overall risk. While this helps present a more realistic risk analysis, studies now require significantly more information than in years past. This does not necessarily mean studies now take significantly longer. It simply means that by needing to obtain more information, more time is typically required to complete the study in compliance with the new standards.

Introduction of Increasingly Complex Calculations
One of the most important updates is the introduction of increasingly complex calculation methods. More in-depth, these calculations now require studies to be completed on the full range of voltage, 208 to 15,000 volts; refine how small, low voltage systems are addressed; identify additional electrode configurations; adjust results based on enclosure size; account for an adjustment factor for arc current variation; and remove the previous 125kVA Transformer Rule.

With these more complex calculations to consider, companies require specialized software to complete these studies, such as ETAP software. As a registered solution provider, Catch has the know-how and capability to effectively conduct these arc flash studies to keep clients compliant with the standards while improving the safety for their workers.

There is no question that your upcoming arc flash study will be significantly different from previous years. However, these improvements and standards are there to support your safety obligations to your people.

If you know that your facility’s arc flash study is approaching or you’re interested in learning more about the recent IEEE 1584 updates, Catch Engineering is here to provide guidance. Contact us and share what you’re looking for.

Additional IEEE 1584-2018 Resources:
The above provides a high level of why and how the updates will impact your facility’s upcoming study without diving into the specific technical updates. These technical updates are crucial for the individuals conducting an arc flash study to understand. If you’re interested in learning more about the specific technical changes beyond how the changes directly impact your operations, below are excellent industry resources:

PDF link of the EIEEA RP on IEEE 1584 Rev 0

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