This piece was originally published in the November/December 2019 issue of electroindustry.
The electricity sector may account for only 2 percent of U.S. GDP, but the other 98 percent of the economy depends on it virtually 100 percent of the time. Behind the electronics and electrical products that power modern life are essential—but largely out-of-sight—building infrastructure technologies. Said differently: “What’s behind your walls?”
The impact these quality products have on modern commerce and society cannot be restated often enough—NEMA Members power our country’s economy all the while doing so safely, reliably, and efficiently.
But there is more to come. The Internet of Things and electrification more broadly are introducing new products, sensors, and connected devices. Increasingly these products include sensitive and expensive onboard computers and digital controls that will need special levels of surety such as from surge protectors. This cost- effective capability can prevent downtime, improve system and data reliability, and all but eliminate equipment damage due to transients and surges for both power and signal lines.
The average home in the U.S. conservatively has $15,000 worth of equipment that can be damaged by surges. but it is a common misconception that only lightning causes surges. And while surges, from lightning account for some 20 percent of events, many people think it is the leading cause. More than 80 percent of surges originate from internal building sources, such as those caused by starting and stopping any electrical load. And a whopping one billion dollars of insurance claims per year result when these sensitive pieces of equipment are not properly safeguarded.
NEMA successfully advocated for the inclusion of surge protective devices in the National Electrical Code®, which has been updated to add requirements for surge mitigation in residential dwellings. Further, NEMA recently published NEMA SPD 1.1-2019 Surge Protective Device Specification Guide for Low Voltage Power Distribution Systems, which educates users, provides clear guidance on how to specify these devices, and encourages contractors to purchase the reliably high-quality ones made by NEMA Members.
I urge you to join NEMA in promoting these sorts of products and systems by taking the opportunity to ask audiences of various types, “What’s behind your walls?” For more information about any of these activities, please contact Danny Abbate, NEMA Industry Director for Building Infrastructure (firstname.lastname@example.org). To join NEMA, contact Vi Lilly, Membership Director (email@example.com). ei
Kevin J. Cosgriff
NEMA President and CEO