Proving the age-old adage that good things come in small packages, the Space Saver EMT Set Screw and Compression Connector from Cooper Crouse-Hinds garnered the most votes from EC&M readers to secure the Platinum Award in the magazine's 2005 Product of the Year competition.
Space Saver EMT connectors are used to join EMT conduit to a box or enclosure. Designed with the male threads on the locknut, the Space Saver takes up virtually no room inside the box. Angled teeth on the locknut bite into the box, which prevents loosening from vibration, and the smooth, rounded inside surface eliminates the need for a bushing or insulated throat. As simple as this product appears, readers were impressed by how innovative it is. Who would have thought that you could offer so much improvement on a fitting that has been around for more than a hundred years?
As is often the case, the idea for this product originated out of discussions with the guys who install these products on a daily basis — electricians. “One of the big things that's been discussed in the field lately is the use of labor-saving products,” says Jack King, commercial marketing manager of Cooper Crouse-Hinds. “When you try to put a switch in a handy box with a traditional EMT fitting you always have to clip the device screw to get it to fit. We realized this was a pain and waste of time for the electrician. So we set out to design a better product.”
The connectors are UL and cUL Listed and come in trade sizes of ½-inch, ¾-inch, and 1-inch in set-screw and compression styles. The set-screw connector features a tri-head set-screw that may be installed using a slotted Phillips- or Robertson-head screwdriver. The compression connector features a split compression ring, which ensures both solid attachment to the conduit and good ground continuity. The hex surfaces on the compression nut allow for quick wrenching.
Although the Space Saver was designed for use in a steel surface-mounted box, a few innovative electricians have already found a few other uses for it. “One contractor used the space saving connector to make a transition from threaded conduit to EMT,” King says. His use was more of a material savings approach than a labor savings approach.
But the custom applications don't stop there. “A Connecticut-based contractor took the chase nipple type nut off, threaded in a traditional squeeze connector and used it as a combination coupling going from EMT to FMC,” King says.
Just as the Space Saver has taken on a life of its own, so has the Product of the Year competition. Now in its fifth year, the competition was established to honor excellence in new product development for the electrical industry. The prestigious Platinum Award showcases the most innovative product of the past year and recognizes inventive products that help electrical professionals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
This year's contest pulled in another record-breaking number of entries — 136 in all. Product submissions represented every major product category offered to the electrical construction and maintenance markets. In fact, this year's group of category winners represented some of the most innovative products in the contest's history. The diverse selection of products ultimately led to the closest competition to date, with just a few votes separating the top three vote getters. The first and second runners-up are listed above.
But in the end, it was a little space saving product that took home the biggest prize.
Industrial Clamp Meter with Tight Sight Display. The first runner-up in this year's competition was the 700 series of 600A and 1,000A industrial clamp meters with the TightSight display from Ideal Industries. These unique meters feature a second display at the bottom of the unit that allows users to view readings in dark, bright, or tight locations. The clamp meters have audible and visual high-voltage indication over 30VAC/DC on all functions, and they're CAT IV-600V and CAT III-1,000V rated. They also feature a one-touch backlight button for green display illumination, tapered jaws with a hook tip for wire separation in tight locations, and a data hold button and offset thumb wheel for one-handed operation.
Romex SIMpull Type NM-B Cable. The second runner-up in this year's competition was Southwire Co.'s tear-resistant, reduced-friction nonmetallic Type NM-B cable. The cable features a non-greasy, reduced-friction jacket that cuts down on the force required to pull the cable through wooden joists and rafters, and around corners. The new jacket is easier to strip than previous versions and offers reduced burn-through when it's pulled across previously installed cables. It meets all the requirements of UL 719 Nonmetallic-Sheathed Cables standard.
EC&M would like to congratulate Steven Thomas, owner of All Over Electric in Hagerstown, Md., who won $100 for voting in the EC&M 2005 Product of the Year competition. The editorial team randomly selected Thomas' name from the list of voters who participated in this year's event.