The ubiquitos wiring device is seeing the results of innovative design and engineering, as additional labor-saving and performance features are unveiled.

Product engineers have mitigated the problems associated with the high inrush currents of high-efficiency, low-harmonic ballasts. The solution is zero arc switching (or "zero crossing point switching," in reference to the zero crossing point of the sine wave). The switch monitors the line and turns on the power only at, or slightly ahead of, the zero crossing point. These switches also have a feature that eliminates contact bounce.

Today's switches make use of sound, ultrasound, infrared, and other sensing means for either automated or hands-free operation. Some of these new features are for compliance with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act); some are for user convenience; and some are for energy savings. Many of these switches feature manual overrides and easy setpoint adjustments.

When manufacturers incorporated ground fault circuit interruption (GFCI) into receptacles, they created a product that brought personal safety to new heights of reliability and convenience. Now they are doing the same thing for equipment safety, by incorporating surge protection into receptacles. One product, for example, has these features:

* 4 MOVs rated at 80 joules each

* EMI/RFI noise filter

* Steel springs that reinforce contact areas of both hot and neutral

* Compliance with Federal Specification WC-596F

* Available with isolated ground

* Audible warning tone to indicate loss of surge protection

* Replaceable module to allow renewal in case of protector expiration

* Dead front cavity - no electrical components accessible when module is unplugged

* As with GFCIs, protection to downstream receptacles

Surge strip advances continue. Enhancements include such features as better noise filtering, new mounting options, and new plug configurations. For example, it's now possible to buy a surge strip that has several 120V outlets and one or two surge-protected phone jacks. These may be incorporated into a surface power strip or used as stand-alone devices that plug into ordinary outlets.

Surface power strips are safe, prewired, flexible, and expandable. Prewired components include track, receptacles, starters, corners, and connectors that simply snap together. The low-profile system eliminates the mess and expense of modifying existing walls or rewiring circuits. Users can move receptacles simply by unsnapping them, repositioning them along the track, and snapping them back in place.

We all know that switches come in a variety of configurations: single-pole, 3-way, 4-way, double-throw, and single-throw. Also, the array of colors and shapes is not really news, even though new offerings have come on the market in the past year. Yet there is news beyond the issues of color and number of poles. For example, lighted "OFF" indicators are making use of LED and other technology (neon, for example) for longer indicator life and lower energy consumption.

Category Eleven

READER'S CHOICE

These items have appeared over the past year in EC&M's Product News section and received the highest reader response in their category.

Self-grounding receptacles

The latest addition to the Trade-Master line of products are three new receptacles that offer quick installation and ease of wiring in those situations in which local Code or customer preference demand the use of a metal box. Self grounding is accomplished through the addition of a ground clip to one end of the strap, which eliminates the need to attach a grounding wire.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Electric box extension

The DADJ electric box extension simplifies applying drywall or paneling over existing walls by allowing electrical devices to be placed at the correct depth. Unlike boxes that are commonly too deep or crooked within a wall, the product features a double-head collared screw that secures the device at the desired height.

McShane Industries

High-abuse wall plate

This new line of cast high physical abuse/security wall plates offers both architectural appeal and superior strength against physical damage. Made of tough, heavy wall, die cast zinc, and the wall plate features an attractive contoured front that provides for maximum device protection. Features reinforced ribbing at key stress points for added impact resistance.

Morlite Systems

Receptacle panel for hazardous locations

The CRP Series of corrosion proof, flush-mounted electrical wall receptacles for hazardous (classified) locations provides a way to connect portable electrical equipment in cleanroom manufacturing facilities. The receptacle's flush mounting and waterproof stainless steel enclosure with internal gasketing and concealed hinges eliminate "particulate-catchers" and contamination. Each panel is a double unit providing two different receptacles (in any combination of 16A or 32A with a variety of different voltage) to accommodate various equipment.

Killark Electric Mfg./Hubbell

Tamper-resistant receptacles

Featuring an internal spring-loaded shutter mechanism, these units meet UL requirements for tamper resistance receptacles, effectively preventing children from inserting any small object into either contact opening. Inside the face of the receptacle is a spring-loaded thermoplastic safety shutter. When an object such as a paper clip or small bladed screwdriver is inserted into only one of the openings, the safety shutter will not allow access to the live contact.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Weatherproof covers

These weatherproof covers are engineered to protect receptacles, plugs, and/or connectors in wet locations. Available in single- and two-gang standard and deep configurations, the product line meets the requirements of NEC 410-57(b) (weatherproof while in use when cover is closed).

Bryant Electric

Category Eleven

PRODUCT REVIEW

Hospital-grade GFCI outlet

This hospital-grade GFCI outlet is built for durability and reliability and designed with features that cut installation time and enhance installation accuracy. Clear line and load markings speed up installation and reduce the risk of wiring errors. Can be side- or back-wired with No. 14, No. 12, or No. 10 gauge solid or stranded wire. Available in 15A and 20A duplex configurations in a variety of colors. Complies with UL 943 and UL 498.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Rocker switch

The commercial specification grade Sierraplex II rocker switch features a single rocking butterfly contact for quiet, consistent, durable operation. The butterfly contact delivers equal, positive actuation. Available in 15A and 20A.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

See-through wallplate

This snap-on screwless wallplate, Cat. No. 80301-CL, provides a neat durable way to custom-match wallplates to paint or wall covering. Provides a subplate that can be painted to match wall color or be used as a template for wallpaper. Available in single- through 4-gang configurations.

E.D. Div./Leviton Mfg.

Electronic wall switches

This is a line of Decora-styled timer wall switches for timed control of lights and appliances in intervals ranging from 2 min to 12 hrs. There are various ratings from 5A to 20A, and there are different time control settings.

E.D. Div./Leviton Mfg.

Flexible receptacle

The "4 Screws In" receptacle has been added to the TradeMaster line of wiring devices. For fast installation, the unit handles the UL-man-dated 14 AWG wire for speedwire and 12 AWG wire on its screw terminals. Shipped with screws. Can be used for various installation methods. UL listed and available in white, ivory, and brown.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Straight blade plugs and connectors

These straight blade plugs and connectors are designed for long life and ease of installation. All feature a nylon body to resist impact and chemicals on the job. In addition, a heavy-duty, all internal cord grip prevents undue strain and maintains contacts under pressure. Brass alloy blades and contacts and a reinforced ground pin are standard.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Jack plates for modular furniture systems

This line of furniture jack plates, designed for snap-mounting high density and 110 series jacks into modular furniture systems, has been expanded. Plates are available for three of the most popular furniture raceway openings. Installation is easy and inexpensive because the plates snap onto the furniture raceway covers to provide a durable termination mounting for individual Category 3, 4, and 5 jacks, USOC-wired jacks, or BRBTN series blank inserts.

Hubbell Premise Wiring/Hubbell

Commercial-grade receptacles

The CR/BR series of receptacles comes in side wire only (CR series) and side and back wire models (BR series) capable of accepting No. 14 to No. 10 AWG copper and copper-clad wire. Features a thermoplastic body and nylon face for superior impact-resistance and durability along with a plated wrap-around strap for corrosion resistance. Available in 15A/125V and 20A/125V models. All models are UL-listed, and all 15A models are CSA-certified.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

GFCI extension cord

The Fireshield, an extension cord with plug at one end having a GFCI, has a conductive shield around the current-carrying conductors. The shield is designed to sense leakage currents and then automatically open the circuit. Both series and parallel type faults are recognized.

Technology Research

Outlet strips

More than 20 commercial- and computer-grade outlet strips, with a wide variety of configurations and features, make it easy for users to match performance to application. Incorporate multi-stage, MOV-based (metal oxide varistor), and hybrid suppression circuits. Outlet strips have a rating of 15A and voltage clamping levels of 256 or 340V.

Intermatic

Hospital-grade receptacle

The 15A and 20A, 125V hospital-grade tamper-resistant receptacle complies with NEC Art. 517-18(c) by using a reciprocal contact energizing system to prevent accidental shock by insertion of a foreign object into a power blade slot. The reciprocal contact energizing system consists of two separate switches and contacts for the top and bottom of a duplex receptacle.

Wiring Device-Kellems/Hubbell

Hospital-grade and industrial receptacles

This new top-of-the-line hospital-grade and 5362 heavy-duty receptacle is designed for long life and superior performance in the most abusive environments. Features include a one-piece wraparound brass strap (nickel-plated C688 brass in the hospital version) with integral ground contacts for superior strength and high ground pin retention. The strap is locked into the back body and secured by two drive screws that go through the strap and back body and anchor the assembly to the face.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Plugs and connectors

An expanded line of plugs and connectors now includes five NEMA configurations commonly used for 15A and 20A, 125V and 250V applications. Cord clamps provide full strain relief and a tight seal around the cord entry port. The line also includes armored plugs and connectors with rugged steel cases and clamps, rubber-like elastomeric plugs and connectors for rough use applications, and angle plugs.

Leviton Mfg.

Weatherproof covers

New weatherproof covers for flanged inlets and outlets have been designed for the user's convenience. Constructed of unbreakable glass-filled polycarbonate, these covers are delivered with all gas-keting preattached, to eliminate the necessity for time-consuming alignment of cover and gasket during installation. Available in two sizes: 1.96 and 2.32 in. dia to cover a range from 15A/20A straight blade to 15A/20A Tumlok. Products are UL-listed and CSA-certified.

Pass & Seymour/Legrand

Wiring device support

This nonmetallic, nonconductive wiring device support offers a safe, fast way to eliminate device push back in oversized drywall holes. Also provides rigid support for the device and prevents broken cover plates. Can be installed while the receptacle is hot, without the need to remove the device.

Arlington Industries

Combination switches

Two uniquely designed decorator wall switches offer multiple controls from a single-gang wall box. The triple rocker switch is perfect for places like hotels or offices where a light, fan, and heat lamp are controlled from one location. Since they utilize a single box instead of two or three, time and money are saved.

Eagle Electric Mfg.

Plugs and connectors

The Python Line of industrial specification grade plugs and connectors features industrial- and hospital-grade straight-blade devices in 15A and 20A, 125V and 250V ratings; Canadian versions of the 20A/125V and 20A/250V configurations; and 15A and 20A 125V angle plugs. Industrial-grade devices are available in high-visibility yellow, gray, and black. Hospital-grade devices are available in white.

Leviton Mfg.

Commercial-grade wiring devices

A new line of commercial-grade switches and receptacles has been redesigned for quality, reliability, and fast installation. Switches feature precision-fit toggles to assure safety and provide a finished appearance to the switch face. Also have long-life conductivity with silver alloy contact buttons, a spring-action copper contact arm, arc protective barriers, and neoprene bumpers. Feature impact-resistant, all-nylon construction throughout. Eight back-wiring holes with clamp-type terminals permit feed-through split-circuit wiring.

General Electric