The dangers of ‘small government’

So, yesterday, I had a odd thing happen – the main DC breaker for the summing bus on the solar panel tripped while I was charging the EV.

Now, it’s a 200 amp breaker, and my EV uses 140 amps to charge, so I knew something was wrong.. and when I went to reset it, the panel smelled of burned plastic and was hot to the touch. So, I didn’t reset it, instead I put off investigating for today and flipped the switch for the EV over to the ‘grid’ position.

Today, when I took the panel off, I discovered the insulation on the 4/0 that feeds the inverter had literally melted. Upon further investigation, I discovered when I installed the lug for that branch, I either stripped it or it came defective from the factory, thusly it was not snugging the wire all the way down into it’s little channel. I’m surprised it worked as long as it did.

What I want you to notice here is nowhere in this did we have fires, people dying, etc. Why? because the NEC requires breaker panels to be made of metal, and the plastic parts in them to be of self-extinguishing material. Ditto the jackets for wire.

*this* is the “Big Government” the republicans rail against. Not the police that murder citizens, not the army that murders innocents, but “regulatory oganizations” – things like the CSB, who make sure that chemical plants are operated safely, or the NEC, which makes sure that electrical distribution systems are safe.

Trump and his cohorts are, in essence, the guy at Chernobyl arguing to turn off the computer because it won’t let them pull all the rods out. (I remind you that Trump literally *fired the pandemic team*). Those of you crying about how you want more freedom apparently want the freedom to have your house burn down because the installer made a mistake, have your oil refinery explode and kill hundreds because a valve has rusted out, or have the freedom to know that you’re murdering immigrants in order to protect the jobs that no americans want to do.

We have big government because we tried small government, and it didn’t work out so well. I agree there are portions of our government we need to trim or axe – the portions murdering people. Precisely the portions republicans want to give more money to. However, the regulatory officials save lives every day. We should really consider whether we want the world’s next Chernobyl to be in America – if, indeed, it isn’t already.

One Response to “The dangers of ‘small government’”

  1. Brian Leeper Says:

    No, the NEC does not require breaker panels to be made of metal. There have been plastic breaker panels in the past, such as Square D’s Trilliant. This was not commercially successful for whatever reason, but was fully compliant with all relevant standards when it was made, in the early 90s.

    If an entity did require breaker panels to be made of metal, it would be the UL. Whatever applicable UL standard that applies to breaker panels likely requires that the breaker panel be made of either metal or self-extinguishing plastic that meets a UL flammability rating (such as UL 94 V0 through UL 94 V5).

    Looking at UL itself, the name stands for Underwriter’s Laboratory. That should give a pretty big clue as to how the UL came about, which is in fact through the insurance industry.

    So…the fact that your UL-listed breaker panel is made of a material (which doesn’t necessarily have to be metal) that won’t burn has a lot less to do with government and a lot more to do with the insurance industry, who naturally is interested in reducing claims, hence the creation of UL.

    The NEC itself, which applies to installation methods and practices, is a product of the National Fire Protection Association, a non-governmental organization formed in 1896 by a group of businessmen concerned about inconsistencies in the design and installation of sprinkler systems.

    By way of comparison with the NEC, the UL develops standards for products. There’s a standard for GFCIs, a standard for circuit breakers, a standard for electrical outlets, and so on. These standards are primarily designed to ensure that the product is safe.

    In summary, UL and NEC are, to a large degree, the product of self-regulation of the involved industries.

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