Resources for the Resourceful: Electrical Fundamentals

Given that neither the mechanical systems I am so enthralled
with, nor the systems that control them will function very well
with out electricity, I have made a point of spending a little of
my self learning time focused on electricity, especially on
electrical fundamentals and electricity as it relates to building
systems. One of the resource I have found to be very helpful in
that is a little magazine called Electrical Apparatus,
illustrated below.

By spending a few minutes with the July issue, I

From the letters section, I learned
that the wye point on a NEMA Design D oil well pump motor operating
at 796 volts phase to phase is grounded so that the maximum voltage
from any part of the winding to ground is 460 volts, well
below the standard 600 volt rating for insulating systems in ac

From the automation section, I learned
that there are several different bar code standards in use and that
each is targeted at a specific application and has its pros and

From a feature article, I learned that
there is a hotel
outside Quebec City
that is completely made of ice.

Some of you may be wondering why a middle aged
commissioning provider would care about any of that stuff. Here are
my reasons: 

796 volt motor connections: While most
of my work occurs in commercial and institutional buildings, I’m
occasionally out in the process and industrial sector and this
tidbit of knowledge could come in handy.

Plus, there is just something intriguing to me about how, based
on the fundamental relationships that exist in a three phase power
system, you can apply something that is rated for 600 volts on a
system that is rated at 796 volts and have everything be just fine
because the highest phase to ground voltage it will see will be 460

That aside, I suspect I learn something from the letters section
of the magazine every month.  There’s been more than one
instance where I’ve read a question there and though “Hmm, I
always wondered about that myself
“, and proceeded to find out
the answer.

Bar code article: I’ve been meaning to
learn a bit about bar codes because I run into them more and more
in the field as various clients apply bar coded stickers to their
equipment to allow them to automate some of their preventive
maintenance and inventory control systems.

Ice hotel article: I’d like to think this
bit of knowledge and the little Internet session it triggered make
me a bit more of a rounded individual.  As much as I like it,
there is more to life than engineering, and this little tidbit
gives me something interesting to talk about besides technical

Bottom line, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes
to explore the Barks
Publications web site
. In addition to their magazine, you will
find they publish a series of books with practical electrical
information in them on electrical topics with a commissioning angle
like controls,
motors, and troubleshooting. You may
even decide to subscribe so you can read up on the next steps in motor
, the feature article in the August issue and a topic
of interest to any of us involved in making buildings and building
systems more efficient.

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