Field Evaluation/Special Inspection – What is it about?

Quite often we take certain things for granted.

Apparently understanding of “field evaluation or special inspection” is one of such subjects. Although field evaluation process is well-established in the industry, the objective of it and application of this process is not consistently understood by the industry stakeholders.

To clarify this subject, let’s review the following facts:

  1. Rule 2-024 of the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I (CE Code) mandates that only approved equipment must be used in electrical installations (see below):


“2-024 Use of approved equipment (see Appendix A) Electrical equipment used in electrical installations within the jurisdiction of the inspection department shall be approved and shall be of a kind or type and rating approved for the specific purpose for which it is to be employed.”


  1. “Approved” is a defined term in the CE Code, and this definition states the following:

    “Approved (as applied to electrical equipment) —

(a)  equipment that has been certified by a certification organization accredited by the Standards Council of Canada in accordance with the requirements of

(i)   CSA standards; or

(ii)  other recognized documents, where such CSA standards do not exist or are not applicable; or

(b)  equipment that conforms to the requirements of the regulatory authority (see Appendix B).


Appendix B Note on definition “approved” clarified this definition for the Code users as follows:



It is intended by this definition that electrical equipment installed under provisions of this Code is required to be certified to the applicable CSA product standards as listed in Appendix A. Where such CSA standards do not exist or are not applicable, it is intended by this definition that such electrical equipment be certified to other applicable standards, such as ULC standards. Code users should be aware that fire alarm system equipment is deemed to be approved when it is certified to the applicable product standards listed in CAN/ULC S524”.


If, for example, a panelboard is “approved”, it means that the panelboard is certified to the CSA safety standard C22.2 No. 29, listed in Appendix A.1 of the CE Code. If the panelboard is certified by the CSA in its role as the certification organization, then “CSA” monogram appears on the panelboard, in accordance with requirement of Rule 2-100(1)(l) of the CE Code below.


“2-100 Marking of equipment (see Appendix B)

(1) Each piece of electrical equipment shall bear those of the following markings necessary to identify the equipment and ensure that it is suitable for the particular installation:

(a) the maker’s name, trademark, or other recognized symbol of identification;

(b) catalogue number or type;

(c) voltage;

(d) rated load amperes;

(e) watts, volt amperes, or horsepower;

(f) whether for ac, dc, or both;

(g) number of phases;

(h) frequency in hertz;

(i) rated load speed in revolutions per minute;

(j) designation of terminals;

(k) whether for continuous or intermittent duty;

(l) evidence of approval; or

(m) other markings necessary to ensure safe and proper operation”:


  1. Approval by means of certification.

If any (other than CSA) accredited certification organization (not based in Canada) certifies this panelboard to the CSA standard C22.2 No. 29, monogram of such certification organization must indicate a small letter “c” at 8 o’clock, and this indicator means that the CO which is not based in Canada, certifies the panelboard to the specific CSA (Canadian) standard. Thus, if a UL certifies this panelboard for use in Canada, then the UL monogram must be shown on the panelboard with a small letter “c”. If, for example, ETL certifies such panelboard for use in Canada under rules of the CE Code, the ETL certification monogram must show small “c” as well. Each such certification by UL or ETL would demonstrate that the panelboard has been, indeed, certified to the CSA safety standard C22.2 No. 29 listed in Appendix A.1 of the CE Code.


  1. Approval by means of “field evaluation or special inspection“. 

As it can be seen from condition (b) of the CE Code definition “approved”, the equipment could be also considered to be “approved”, if such piece of equipment “conforms to the requirements of the regulatory authority”. This (so far mysterious) criteria of the referenced definition is clarified in Appendix B Note of the CE Code as follows: “This definition is also intended to reflect the fact that equipment approval could be accomplished via a field evaluation procedure in conformance with the CSA Model Code SPE-1000, where special inspection bodies are recognized by participating provincial and territorial authorities having jurisdiction. For new products that are not available at the time this Code is adopted, the authority having jurisdiction may permit the use of products that comply with the requirements set out by that jurisdiction.”


  1. Application of SPE 1000.

It should be noted that each authority having jurisdiction publishes a list of Special Inspection bodies which are accepted in that jurisdiction to perform special inspection/field evaluation servicers for equipment approval. The AHJ may also set up specific conditions under which equipment approval by means of special inspection is accepted in the jurisdiction.

As it was indicated above, a field evaluation for the purpose of equipment approval is performed by a special inspection body acceptable to the AHJ, to the CSA Field Evaluation Code SPE – 1000.

Introduction to SPE 1000 also reflects this fact (see below):



Field evaluation of equipment in accordance with this Model Code should be undertaken only by fully qualified and competent persons. These persons should be experienced in conducting field evaluation and field testing of electrical and electronic equipment to Canadian safety requirements or other requirements acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).”

SPE-1000 has been developed under control of the group of the provincial/territorial electrical safety regulators which participate in the development of the CE Code, and such group is called “Canadian Advisory Council on Electrical Safety”. Subcommittee on the CSA Model Code for the field evaluation of electrical equipment SPE-1000 consists of the experts representing various special inspection bodies accredited by the Standards Council of Canada – to perform such field evaluations.


Scope of the SPE-1000 states the following:

“1.1.1 This Model Code provides marking and test/construction requirements for the field evaluation of electrical equipment by an inspection body, where certification of that equipment is impracticable or otherwise unavailable.


1.1.2  Field-evaluated equipment found to be in conformity with the requirements of this Model Code is considered to be acceptable to the AHJ.


1.1.3  Notwithstanding the requirements of Clauses 1.1.1 and 1.1.2, field evaluation is not intended to serve as a substitute for certification.


1.2    The following are examples of where this       Model Code applies:

a) custom-built equipment for special applications;

b) equipment manufactured on a non-repetitive basis;

c) equipment sold in quantities of not more than 500 on a national basis, per model, per year, per inspection body;

d) equipment not obtainable as “certified” under a regular certification program;

e) equipment already installed or ready for use on-site and awaiting acceptance by the AHJ;

f) complete systems or subassemblies that are all available for examination and testing during the evaluation process; and

g) other electrical equipment as determined by the AHJ.


Note: Where it is unclear or there is uncertainty as to whether the electrical equipment is to be field evaluated under the classifications of this Clause, the AHJ should be consulted for clarification.”


So, what types of electrical equipment (in conjunction with Clause 1.2 above) are usually subjected to a special inspection?

There is a wide range of various types of electrical equipment which is custom-built or which represent an integrated assembly of interconnected, already independently “approved” pieces of equipment.

Such integrated assembly could be performed at the plant or in the field in accordance with the shop drawings made by the manufacturer of such integrated assembly.

Unit substations, skids, large skeletal non signs and other similar integrated assemblies consisting of interconnected pieces of approved equipment are just a few examples which are suitable for such field evaluation.

Interconnection of such pieces of equipment (that will represent a complete assembly) cannot be performed by an electrical contractor under the electrical installation permit, as rules of the installation Code (CE Code) do not cover such interconnection requirements, and the electrical inspectors cannot perform inspections of work, which constitutes extension of the manufacturing process, performed in accordance with shop drawings of a manufacturer responsible for the integrated assembly.

It is interesting to note, that the definition “unit substation” has been recently adopted by the CE Code committee for inclusion into Rule 26-240 of 2018 edition of the CE Code, and installation provision for a “unit substation” was reflected in Rule 26-242 of the CE Code (see below).


“26-240 Transformers — General (see Appendix B)

(1) In this Subsection,

(a) “transformer” means a single-phase transformer, a polyphase transformer, or a bank of two or three single-phase transformers connected to operate as a polyphase transformer; and

(b) “unit sub-station” means an integrated unit consisting of one or more transformers, disconnecting means, overcurrent devices, and other associated equipment each contained in a suitable enclosure designed and constructed to restrict access to live parts.


26-242 Outdoor transformer and unit substation installations

(1) Except as permitted by Subrule (2), where transformers or unit substations, including their conductors and control and protective equipment, are installed outdoors, they shall

(a) be installed in accordance with Rule 26-014 if they are dielectric liquid-filled;

(b) have the bottom of their platform not less than 3.6 m above ground if they are isolated by elevation;

(c) have the entire installation surrounded by a suitable fence in accordance with Rules 26-300 to 26-324 if they are not isolated by elevation or not housed in suitable enclosures; and

(d) have conspicuously posted, suitable warning signs indicating the highest voltage employed except where there is no exposed live part.


(2) Dielectric liquid-filled pad-mounted distribution transformers, either independently installed or forming part of a unit substation, shall be installed at least 3 m from any combustible surface or material on a building and at least 6 m from any window, door, or ventilation inlet or outlet on a building, except where

(a) a wall or barrier with non-combustible surfaces or material is constructed between the transformer and any door, window, ventilation opening, or combustible surface; or

(b) the transformer is protected by an internal current-limiting fuse and equipped with a pressure relief device, with working spaces around the transformer of at least 3 m on the access side and on all other sides:

(i) 1 m for three-phase transformers; and

(ii) 0.6 m for single-phase transformers”.


New Appendix B Note for Item 26-240(1)(b) above will read as follows:

“Appendix B Note on Rule 26-240(1)(b)

The associated equipment of a unit substation each contained in an enclosure designed and constructed to restrict access to live parts is deemed to comply with the requirements of Rule 26-014(4)(a).”

When an integrated assembly representing a “unit substation” is shipped to the installation site in pieces, for the purpose of inspection by the AHJ in accordance with the CE Code, it remains a single piece of equipment, as only  installation of “approved” equipment is allowed by Rule 2-024 of the CE Code, and the manufacturer who prepared the shop drawings for such integrated assembly (i.e., unit substation) is responsible for its field assembly in conformance with the shop drawings and for its approval by means of field evaluation in accordance with SPE-1000.

It is also interesting to note that each piece of equipment comprising a unit substation, is a fully approved equipment certified to a specific standard for that particular equipment (i.e., high voltage load-interrupter switch being certified to C22.2 No. 193, a dry type transformer – being certified to C22.2 No. 47 and the LV switchboard – being certified to C22.2 No. 244).  Thus, the integrated assembly of these approved pieces of equipment must be also evaluated for shock and fire hazard, and such field evaluation/special inspection must be performed only by the SCC accredited SI bodies which are recognized by each provincial/territorial AHJ.

Hopefully, this discussion clarifies the subject of Field Evaluation/Special Inspection.

However, as usual – in each particular case, the local AHJ must be consulted on details of the equipment approval by means of a special inspection.

© 2015 Canadian Standards Association

Ark Tsisserev
Ark Tsisserev is president of EFS Engineering Solutions, Ltd., an electrical and fire safety consulting company, and is a registered professional engineer with a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Prior to becoming a consultant, Ark was an electrical safety regulator for the city of Vancouver. He is currently the chair of the Technical Committee for the Canadian Electrical Code and represents the CE Code Committee on the CMP-1 of the National Electrical Code. Ark can be reached by e-mail at: His company web site is: