Questions from a prospective member for the AOLP

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by irrig8r, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I'm not looking to stir up any arguments. Please help me understand. Your website says that one of the AOLP's goals and objectives is:

    "To provide a Standard for Installation of Low Voltage Architectural & Landscape Lighting Systems that meets all of the requirements of the National Electrical Code and the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) "Standard for Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Systems".

    Unique Lighting Systems is a major AOLP sponsor and as far as I know still takes a stand contrary to UL 1838. At least one other manufacturer/ sponsor also offers (last I checked) some equipment that doesn't comply with the UL 1838 standard.

    So my questions are:
    1. How do you reconcile the two positions?
    2. Which standard is reflected in the current CLVLT study guide and test?
  2. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    WOW........the first thing that comes to mind here is that this UL1838 argument is so 1999. When are we going to understand that UL1838 is not the LAW and is not the only SAFTEY STANDARD.

    Greg, do you or do you not put lights on structures such as eaves, columns, posts, overhead structures?????? Well if you do technically your UL1838 unit is not in compliance.

    I think the AOLP came around that UL1838 is not the only standard for outdoor lighting. It is one that was written for it but it isnt the only one available for outdoor lighting. Our units are perfectly safe and allowed to do what they do, power up lights in a landscape and power up lights on a structure. Our units can go in a garage, 1838 cant. Our units can go in a crawl space or attic, 1838 cant. Our units can power up lights on a structure such as a home or gazeebo, 1838 cant. Now I understand that a UL1838 tf is safe to power up a light in an eave but if you are so UL approval specific then you should practice what you preach all the time. (I dont know that you do this, but it is safe to assume.) We have more UL compliant TF's then any of our competiton so you should not try and pin us into this dangerous catagory any more. These are the scare tactics our competitors used for ever and they tried to get us ripped off shelves. AGAIN I ASK< IF WE ARE SO DANGEROUS THEN WHY DO WE CONTINUE TO DO BUISNESS ALL OVER THIS CONTINENT AND BEYOND???????? We are selling 100's of thousands of units every year and only a fraction are 1838. Oh yeah we have 1838 too. Our ompany has more field experience then any of our competitors and I will say that loudly and proudly. There are plenty of reasons why the AOLP would allow us to join, UL1838 is just not going to hold them back anymore!

    (I am not speaking for the whole AOLP, I am sure some loayalists still feel the same way as you Gregg but I can assure you a HUGE chunck of them do not feel this way anymore, they too have found the benefits of our memebership!)
  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    It really isnt so much an argument over the safety of the transformer in the hands of a trained professional so much as it is an argument over the potential danger of that same transformer when hooked up and used improperly.

    I think if you really examine most safety standards and codes, it is that potential for danger that they are trying to limit and eliminate. Its the "what if" that the standards try to eliminate.

    If you choose only UL1838 transformers for your landscape lighting systems, you should not be posed with the situation of someone following you, over lamping all the fixtures on a 900w transformer that has NO secondary side load protection built in and melting down the wires in the ground. ( I have seen it done) ACME and Marcus and 'other' transformers that are used in landscape lighting systems may meet some safety ratings (there are many to choose from) but do pose inherent risks if altered and used incorectly.

    On another note.... I recently heard from a reliable source that there is a risk of skin piercing electrocution at voltages over 15v with the amperages we are using. Perhaps another reason that CSA and UL1838 do not permit LV Landscape Lighting transformers to be rated higher then 15V. I will look into this further and see what I can find.

    The great debate continues!
  4. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    UL has been trying to change 1838 for years to increase the voltage limit but has been blocked by one manufacturer (I won't name them so don't ask) - and it has nothing to do with the safety.

    According to the NEC, voltages under 30V are safe from harmful electric shock. This has been confirmed by the IEC in a recent comprehensive study (IEC TS 60479-1) that has become the defacto authoritive report. The relevent finding from that study is that there is negligable risk of electrocution with any current below 30 mA (for a 10 second exposure).

    [from the IEC report] A typical worst-case scenario of contact from hand to hand with both hands covered in sweat (salt water) yields a bodily resistance (for 25 volts) that varies from 960 ohms (5% of the population) to 1,755 ohms (95% of the population). This resistance (in combination with voltage) determines the amperage of the current.

    If we use 1,000 ohms as a reasonable worst-case bodily resistance then it will take a 30 volt current to deliver 30 mA (the minimum current to deliver a lethal shock).

    As to the comment about "skin-piercing electrocution" for low voltage circuits, my research finds that it has never happened. An OSHA study over a period of 12 years finds no deaths for any current below 120 volts. And a worldwide search of OSHA, NIOSH and several engineering database fails to find a single death for contact with any voltage under 47 volts going back 20 to 30 years.
  5. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    One more quick comment from Jame's post. There is a misunderstanding that a lighting circuit's amperage has an influence on risk of electric shock. It doesn't. The only applicable values are voltage and bodily impedence.

    System amperage is only important in discussions of fire risk. I'm currently working on looking more closely at fire risk.

    If anyone has any info on how to assess fire risk in electrical currents, please pass them on. I wrote a letter to the NFPA but they haven't responded. So far, I've heard a couple anecdotal reports of fires caused by running wires through walls, but need to find sources of reliable reports.
  6. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Thanks, Steve, for some info that's new to me.
    Is there in fact another "official" standard that applies to voltage above 15V but less than 30V?

    Does anyone have a link to the complete text of either the UL 1838 (what I've read up until now are summaries) or the "competing" standard(s)?

    And again, what (if anything) does the CLVLT test/ study guide have to say about it? In opther words, does the test have a bias either for or against? And further, what formula for voltage drop is used?
  7. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    .....YEAH....What Steve Said!!


  8. eskerlite

    eskerlite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    We dont have a bias towards 1838 for or against. We want to educate not discriminate.
    Our voltage drop formula is lenth of wire x watts divided by constant times 2.
    Sean Curran
    Past president AOLP
    Certification Board liason
  9. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    I agree with most of what has been said. As the current President of the AOLP I would echo Sean's comments. The AOLP does not take a stance on UL listings. It is not our place to lean one way or the other, that is the option open to every contractor, manufacturer, and distributor. Not to mention the fact that it would be foolish for us to take a stance on such an issue that has divided the landscape lighting community for so many years. And what is to show for it, not much in my opinion. The AOLP is working hard to bring this industry together so that we can insure a great future for us all, no matter what your stance or opinion is on any of these issues. I would not discount the opinion of someone who feels strongly one way or the other, that is your right but I don't think that we should segregate our industry because of opinions, it makes the industry look unprofessional. For myself though I tend to go by what my state license states which is that I am only restricted to voltages of 30 or less. Whether you are for or against the UL listing should have no bearing on joing the AOLP we have members from both sides of this issue and welcome them all.

  10. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Thanks Sean!

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