View Full Version : off topic- what did you think of ........

14-07-2002, 10:16 PM
tonights target? sparkies in the dog box again ?

Terry Porritt
14-07-2002, 10:25 PM
Well, if 4 out of 4 registered electricians carry out illegal shoddy work with no certificates of compliance, then I may as well do my own illegal work 'n' times better than they could ever do and save myself a packet too :)

Terry Porritt
14-07-2002, 10:34 PM
Oh, I forgot, under the older regs, 1976, "No plug socket shall be installed in any bathroom, except that provision may be made for the use of electric shavers only........"

I presume newer regs allow this if the socket is fitted with a residual current device, but one of these fitted was a new FAULTY one, so much for Quality Control (again see?) by the manufacturers.

It has been not unknown for people to have electric fires balanced on the bath edge to keep them warm while having a bath, now if you have a faulty RCD....

Poppa John
14-07-2002, 10:38 PM
Am glad I am retired & out of it. This is the second time we have been clobbered at least. It doesn't say much for the Trade. I don't mind the programme content but find the condecension a bit wearing. As if they are experts at everything, nobody is, although I came close to it !! I am a very modest ex-sparky as you can see. :D :D Brilliant Poppa John :8}

14-07-2002, 10:54 PM
There are a set of "zones" in bathrooms that dictate what can be fitted where.

RCDs are needed, but in some zones not even those are allowed.

Its all covered under the ECPs, but they are shortly to be replaced by AS/NZS 3000:2000. But lets not go there...

14-07-2002, 11:07 PM
kinda reminds me of a certain importer who brought a line of electrical goods in that had the phase and neutral wires back to front. it was a standard moulded lead which fits all sorts of goods so all they had to do was replace the lead. but no they just put a sticker on it saying that it had to be used only with that applaince. one way to get around the regs. no doubt those leads will be used on something else......

Billy T
14-07-2002, 11:56 PM
Sorry tweak'e

That story is probably an urban myth. No amount of labelling can get around that one. The colours for flexible cords are laid down in Regulation 71 of the 1997 Electricity Regulations.

Phase is open to choice but neutral must be black or light blue and earth must be green or green and yellow. Therefore it is not possible to (legally) transpose phase and neutral.

Interestingly, the choice of phase or "active" colours for single or multiphase fixed wiring is open to all choices other than black, green or green & yellow. (Source NZS 3000:1997)

Incorrectly coloured flexible cords are illegal under all circumstances.


Billy 8-{)

15-07-2002, 12:12 AM
mmmm.....not according to a tech mate who came accross them. it may be because its a 2 wire lead for double insulated devices. i don't know on the law side but my mate was not impressed when he saw it.

15-07-2002, 09:56 AM
my boyfriend is a sparky, and we both watched target last night. He was totally hacked off by it, as it basically put down the whole electrical industry. I can understand there are "cowboys" out there, but hey the program only showed 4 (?) different companies, so why basically say that the whole industry needs to assess their procedures.

I also agree with the comment made above, how can that guy know everything? Is he trained in every industry?

Billy T
15-07-2002, 10:35 AM
Hi tweak'e

Your mate probably didn't understand the Regulations any better than the electricians did on Target last night. Mind you, Target were off beam a bit on the RCD testing too because despite the obvious flaws, functional testing by pushing the button is currently recognised by officialdom as acceptable. Costs of compliance are always an issue and compulsorily requiring everyone in the industry to buy an RCD tester at $2000 would not be considered appropriate.

I have some sympathy for that argument, but it is real easy to make a plug-in RCD tester that at least checks that there is a sound earth connection and that the device will trip at the rated threshold current. For a 30mA trip current a 6.8k resistor between phase and earth inside a 3pin plug will do the job, though obviously it won't tell you the trip time.

Me? I'm a unrestricted EST (one of the old RS/RES types) and frequently work with electricians. I carry all the necessary electrical test equipment because they often turn up with nothing more than a set of Duspols and a tool belt. I've even had guys turn up in an empty van without even a tool belt, God knows what they thought they were going to achieve with a wheelbrace and jack ?:|.

Of course Duspols are the Swiss Army knife of the electrical industry. There's nothing you can't do with Duspols, you can do brain surgery, repair computers, remove Boy Scouts from horses' hooves, check your credit balance on line or even deliver a baby with the Duspol wonder tool. Some electricians even use them to see if a circuit is live before they work on it.

Actually, you can probably functionally test an RCD with one too if they draw enough current on test, and if only they knew how. S'magic y'see, the little button pops if sumfink ain't rite.

Before I get flamed or fried by some of our electrician contributors here, I'm not being derogatory about electricians in general, I work regularly with very good tradesmen and have the highest respect for the electrical trade overall, but I am taking the pi** out of those who do not take safety seriously, and those who lack the professionalism to equip themselves with adequate test equipment and tools.

For example, bolted connections to switchboard busbars must be adequately torqued to ensure a safe connection but in the last six years I have only once seen an electrician use a socket wrench to do this. The rest used pliers and mangled the nuts in doing so. Maybe I was unlucky and picked a biased sample just like Target did eh!

Anybody know what current a Duspol draws at 230 volts? Must Google it and see.


Billy 8-{)

Billy T
15-07-2002, 10:53 AM
Yeah well.

A standard Duspol draws 67 mA at 230 volts so it will easily trip an RCD but the trip threshold could be very high and go undetected.

The fancy ones (with phase rotation and LCD displays) draw 50 mA at 750 volts so will fall short of the trip current needed for 230 volts.

Bugger. Duspols can't do everything after all.


Billy 8-{)

Terry Porritt
15-07-2002, 11:16 AM
Four firms selected at random? from PN is quite a large sample really, it would be interesting to know how many domestic electrical contractors there are in the town.

No of course the blue coat man doesnt pretend to be an expert on every subject, it is a TV show, he obviously has expert advice to tell him what to say.

15-07-2002, 11:28 AM
I feel it's a bit of a fuzzy sample actually.
I think what I was really trying to get at is the fact that there are good electricians out there, but when the industry gets flack like that, it's like everyone's the bad guy. It would be the same with any industry Target reviews.

I know the blue coat man isn't an expert and that both of them are reading from cue cards. It would be interesting to know who their "experts" are thought perhaps.

15-07-2002, 12:04 PM
billy its properly just me looseing something in the translation ;-) will have to find out exact story next time i see him.

i have to agre with the rest of what u said. i know a lot of good sparkies but i've also had one of my customers houses burn down due to poor workmanship.

Billy T
15-07-2002, 01:38 PM
Yeah Codegirl, their "expert" makes me cringe sometimes too, but I do know the program is usually backed up by Industry acceptable experts.

I hate to say it but the problems in the electrical industry are probably more widespread that we would like to think. I see shonky and unsafe work everywhere I go. I was in an apartment building recently where every floor has a fairly big (walk-in) switchboard enclosure that tenants are inclined to use for storage. There are a lot of families in the building and plenty of kids.

The main board was not closed and a recent electrician had pulled a phase fuse to isolate an apartment during renovations. It was barely 500 mm off the floor and wide open for any inquisitive kid to poke fingers into to touch the shiny brass contacts. :O Made me shudder I can tell you. I removed the fuse cartridge (30 seconds work) and replaced the fuseholder, but why didn't the electrician do that, and why didn't he (or she) bother to close the SB door. The enclosure can't be locked for safety reasons so it was essential that the switchboards be safe.

How many contractors refer to a certificate of compliance (CoC) as a code of compliance? Happened yet again last night and shows that they have never used one. Why I don't know because although the buy price is regulated, the sell price isn't and they can be charged as an obligatory extra. Some electricians I know seized on CoCs as a profit opportunity and make a tidy sum every year from meeting their obligations.

To be truthful, I think that if Target did the same random checks anywhere in Godzone they would get pretty much the same outcomes.


Billy 8-{( :(

15-07-2002, 01:50 PM
Billy T - I agree. My boyfriend has told me a few jaw-dropping horror stories which he has had to re-do, one even in his just moved into home. The previous owner drilled a hole in the outer wall of the house incorrectly to do an outside light and it now leaks everytime it rains - the water runs through the hole down the wall into the light switch. I'm not sure whether this was a DIY job, or done by a sparky, but it's pretty dodgy!

It's just a shame that of the four they picked to review, they all did badly.

15-07-2002, 01:52 PM
>phase fuse.... shiny brass contacts

OUCH! touching that would be hair toasting to say the least.

Terry Porritt
15-07-2002, 01:56 PM
The big problem in this country is that for ever and a day, the electricians have maintained exclusive job protection, prevented electrical education, prevented mature people from entering the trade, and other restrictive practices, using safety as the reason.

It's then a bit rich to see the shoddy behaviour of cowboys in the trade. There shouldnt be any cowboys if the industry maintained its standards properly.

As in another posting, I come back to the situation at least as it was 25 years ago in the UK when I left, which didnt have any of these restrictive practices, and people were not dying from electrocution left right or centre.

Having worked for firms like Joseph Lucas, English Electric, I was quite competent to design, build and sell and install, machine tool control and hydraulic systems, I didnt need a 'ticket'. We just ensured our work conformed to the appropriate standards, either BS, German, or Italian, or sometimes company standards such as British Motor Corporation or SKF depending on where we were selling.
For the purposes of QA traceability it was neccessary to obtain independent certification of conformance to those standards from time to time.

Do any of these firms employing the cowboys we saw last night ever carry out a quality audit of their work?
It would seem not.

15-07-2002, 02:02 PM
>It's just a shame that of the four they picked to review, they all did badly.

is it?

its only a tiny sample but if the industry was up to scratch you would have thought at least two-three would have done it right.

but on the catch side if they did the job properly it would have cost more and more often than not the customer would have got someone esle to do it cheaper. catch 22 get all the gear do every job to the letter of the law and you risk priceing your self out of the market.

(side note- osh tried to make changes to one of the types of work i do and they reliased if they put the changes through there would be no industry as no one would pay double the price due to the increase in costs.)

15-07-2002, 02:08 PM
>Do any of these firms employing the cowboys we saw last night ever carry out a quality audit of their work?

also as i have had myself alot of firms contract out and hide behind contracts. oops sorry the mickymouse did that badly so we will find some one esle.......meet mickeymouse no2. pay peanuts get monkeys.

not sure about electrical regs but i seen a few industrys gone that way.

15-07-2002, 02:33 PM
> but on the catch side if they did the job properly it
> would have cost more and more often than not the
> customer would have got someone esle to do it
> cheaper. catch 22 get all the gear do every job to
> the letter of the law and you risk priceing your self
> out of the market.

I totally agree with this comment.

it's a bit of strange situation..
on one hand it's opening the eyes of the consumer, on the other it's giving electricians a bit of a bad name. who is the consumer to trust now for electrical work?

I guess it will be a bad week for sparkies this week! ;-)

15-07-2002, 02:43 PM
just one last (i promise ;-)) comment- i think customers need to be taught the value of safety.

i've had cust try to force me to work (under contract) on a metal roof with power tools in heavy rain. sorry but i don't get paid well enough to risk getting electrocuted. i wont mention the amount of home made leads with the wires mixed up, or the one i was getting belts off their gear because they had sprayed water (removing wallpaper) all over there power points/leads/tv/radio/lamp in the room.

trust me when you've been 'bitten' (zapped) a few times you learn the value of safety.

15-07-2002, 02:44 PM
The policing of the industry is also flawed.

If work by a registered person is found to be unsafe, that person is (correctly) disciplined.

If, on the other hand a lay person does something similar, is similarly reported, then in most cases nothing happens (or at worse a slap with a wet bus ticket). I have seen this occur even with full evidence provided, and when the activity endangered other people.

Step outside the industry and look at parallels. Drive badly with a licence, you will lose it and face disciplinary action. Drive badly without a licence and you face the same disciplinary action plus more for no licence.

On the "off topic" there is a reason why CoC's are not used. If you don't put one in you won't be audited...

Poppa John
15-07-2002, 02:47 PM
I think the Trade was better in my day. Old Fogie Poppa John
:O :O (once or twice)

15-07-2002, 05:14 PM
The electrical industry in NZ is its own worst enemy. There is no excuse at all for the shoddy work as shown on Target, but the idiots in the industry seem to think that the only way to survive is to undercut the next guy, and to do that you must cut corners. "Testing is only done when something doesn't work" is a common catchcry. Mind you, the customers are to blame here as well. Nobody seems to think twice about paying a mechanic $60 an hour to work on their beloved Ford or Holden, but Heaven help them if a sparky tries to charge more than about $30. (But wait, I'll do it for $25" says the next one). What' s safety got to do with it when all we want is a cheap job!!?? If the public wants a better standard of service, then stop employing the cheapest cowboys in town!
And Billy - ECP 28 and the regs both state that in a 3 phase system, phase conductors may be any colour except green or green/yellow in combination. These are definitely for earthing conductors only in all systems (unless you have a really old german AEG drill with the red earth wire!!).

15-07-2002, 06:11 PM
I was told once by someone who was once involved with that show that they can go through 100 tradesmen to find 4 bad ones.

Makes you wonder how many good sparkies got it right to find those four!

Billy T
15-07-2002, 07:53 PM
Sorry Andy, read again!

ECP 28 (2.3.2) says the neutral must be black, the earth green or green & yellow. Colour choice is restricted to the phase conductors only. I quoted NZS 3000 but the two are essentially the same.

ECP 28 is a trifle ambiguous on flexible conductors but 2 and 3 core must use P-Brown, N-Blue and E-Green/yellow.

Multicore flexible cords (more than 3 cores) are open to choice with only the earth colour specified.

NZS 3000 is equally ambiguous in that 301.4.5 says the active conductors of flexible cords may be any colour except green, but 301.4.2 precedes and preempts that by saying tha colours must conform to Table 1. Not surprisingly, Table 1 specifies Black for the neutral and allows free choice of phase conductors only for multiphase systems but that table doesn't apply to flexible cables.

Since the ECPs and Standards are considered to be a "means of compliance" only i.e they are not binding and you can do it some otherway if you can prove that it is equally safe (brave men/women only should attempt this), however the regulations would take precedence in my opinion as they are statutory provisions and legally enforceable. As such they are the basis of all disciplinary actions by the EWRB (not the ECPs or the standard).

So, I go back to my original point that Reg 71 is the golden rule here. Reg 71 (3) (a) says that the neutral must be black (or light blue for flexible cords) for systems identified by colour. The wording of the Reg makes it clear that these two colours may NOT be used for any other conductor.

Therefore it stands that flexible cords cannot have reversible phase and neutral conductors.

Finally, I would not follow your own opinion for three phase systems if I were you as "any colour" for phase conductors definitely does not include black! It pays to read Regs, ECPs and Standards very carefully before being adventurous with neutral colour choices.


Billy 8-{)

Billy T
15-07-2002, 07:56 PM
Someone got it wrong then.

I've had dealings with Target (in defence of a subject) and they don't troll through the tradesmen to find the bad guys. Sadly the bad guys are all too easy to find.


Billy 8-{( :(

Billy T
15-07-2002, 08:32 PM
> The big problem in this country is that for ever and
> a day, the electricians have maintained exclusive job
> protection, prevented electrical education,
> prevented mature people from entering the trade, and
> other restrictive practices, using safety as the
> reason.

I don't agree with that assessment Terry, and the facts don't support it.

1) Electrical education has always been available to all who wanted it.

2) Mature people have always been able to enter the trade and I have personally assisted several to achieve that goal.

3) The electrical trade does not practice restrictive practices but I suspect you are referring to the Registration and Licencing system.

Registration is and always has been a New Zealand Government policy (since 1927 anyway). The hazards of electricity use and electrical work are deemed such that the general public need the protection annd assurance offered by a government administered licencing regime. Before you choke Terry, I should add that IMHO last night's efforts show that access has been too easy, not too hard. It is not job protection Terry, it is people protection.

Registration will be granted to any person who meets the skill, knowledge and experience requirements laid down in the Act and Regulations. Age is not a criteria, nor is good character, good looks or a Kiwi accent. Licensing will be granted to any person of any age and there has never been a agist policy or barrier to mature persons.

In my not inconsiderable experience in this area, I have found that the main impediment to mature persons entering the electrical trade has been their attitude that they should be granted some exemption that is not available to those of lesser years. I have been forced to give up on some individuals who simply refused to take the necessary steps to gain registration. I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that you personally would fall into that category, but there has been a pervasive belief among some immigrants that what was good enough back home will just have to do for the colonial upstarts.

The electrical trade does not control the industry, the people of New Zealand do, through their elected representatives who govern the industry, and through their freedom of choice to choose whom they will employ to carry out their electrical work.

The standard of electrical work will not improve through deregulation of the trade. It will improve better selection of trainees and through better training of those tradespersons (whatever their age).

I could go on (and on and on) but I'll leave it at that.


Billy 8-{)

Terry Porritt
15-07-2002, 10:18 PM
I will bow to superior experience and knowledge Billy, it was an impression that I got when I came here, eg. when Alan Martin was complaining he could sell items to people, but not tell them how to fit them.
I was also under the impression that the only way into registration was through an apprenticeship, that a graduate electrical engineer for example, also had difficulty getting registration unless they went through apprenticeship, but I may be wrong as you indicate.

15-07-2002, 10:25 PM
don't talk to me about apprenticeships (lack of) X-(

Billy T
15-07-2002, 11:20 PM
Hi Terry

Graduate Electrical Engineers were and still are exempt from registration, as were Registered Engineering Associates, now abolished more or less.

Alan Martin's issues were commercially driven. He didn't want to pay the Award rates or comply with award conditions. To be fair, he did pay well in dollar terms.

It was only necessary to go through an apprenticeship if starting from scratch. When colour TV came to NZ in 1973 local companies (principally Tisco and DTR) brought in hundreds of English TV techs. Many were company trained (Granada, Rediffusion etc if I recall correctly) and few had any formal training as we would recognise.

They were all granted provisional registration on arrival, submitted their work history and references for a "Ruling on Experience" and were granted full Registration as Radio-Electronic Servicemen on completion of the Regulations, Practical and first aid tests. Yes, first aid was necessary even then.

Few electricians migrated in that way, but all had the same options available.


Billy 8-{)

Elwin Way
16-07-2002, 12:23 AM
I posted, in another thread, about the sloppiness of general service in NZ today.

Watching target shows you about 95% of the time, serviceman or tradesman performing a lously job and / or overcharging for it. It's not just electricians.

I also find it hard to believe that Target do not weed out the bad. It's just too much of a coincidence to me that 95% of the people they show doing a job, do it poorly, and the other 5% only do it barely adequately. After all, the program viewers like watching stuff like builders rifiling through customers' draws, electricians zapping themselves, and plumbers sniffing the bed....

It's the entertainment factor that sells a show - not information.