Essential for pre-study works, the wiring diagram allows the cable list to be produced. If the wiring diagram is useful during the pre-study phase, it is also an important tool for the design of the installation functional scheme. Starting with the wiring diagram, the user can start producing his installation as a pre-study, and then launch his study during the installation cabling, allowing a reduced production time.
Unlike a pictorial diagram, a wiring diagram uses abstract or simplified shapes and lines to show components. Pictorial diagrams are often photos with labels or highly-detailed drawings of the physical components.
A set of wiring diagrams may be required by the electrical inspection authority to approve connection of the residence to the public electrical supply system. Wiring diagrams will also include panel schedules for circuit breaker panelboards, and riser diagrams for special services such as fire alarm or closed circuit television or other special services.
The first electrical codes in the United States originated in New York in 1881 to regulate installations of electric lighting. Since 1897 the US National Fire Protection Association, a private non-profit association formed by insurance companies, has published the National Electrical Code (NEC). States, counties or cities often include the NEC in their local building codes by reference along with local differences. The NEC is modified every three years. It is a consensus code considering suggestions from interested parties. The proposals are studied by committees of engineers, tradesmen, manufacturer representatives, fire fighters and other invitees.
Since 1927, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has produced the Canadian Safety Standard for Electrical Installations, which is the basis for provincial electrical codes. The CSA also produces the Canadian Electrical Code, the 2006 edition of which references IEC 60364 (Electrical Installations for Buildings) and states that the code addresses the fundamental principles of electrical protection in Section 131. The Canadian code reprints Chapter 13 of IEC 60364, but there are no numerical criteria listed in that chapter to assess the adequacy of any electrical installation.
Although the US and Canadian national standards deal with the same physical phenomena and broadly similar objectives, they differ occasionally in technical detail. As part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) program, US and Canadian standards are slowly converging toward each other, in a process known as harmonisation.
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