by: L. Matthew Snyder, Director of Certification at Intertek
The 2020 edition of the National Electric Code (NEC) includes special provisions for reconditioned or refurbished electrical equipment, defined as “electromechanical systems, equipment, apparatus, or components” that have been reworked and restored to operating conditions. Under this version of the code, these products must be released with new model and serial numbers, and the rebuilt product must be evaluated and certified to applicable standards.
Section 110.21(A)(2) specifically outlines the requirements for this type of equipment, stating that the original certification mark (but not the entire equipment label) must be removed. It further clarifies that only certain types of equipment can be refurbished, while others cannot. Examples of equipment that cannot be refurbished include but are not limited to molded-case circuit breakers, receptacles, panel boards, transfer switches, luminaires/lamp holders and retrofit kits, and low- and medium-voltage fuse holders and non-renewable fuses.
Reconditioning differs from repair, servicing, or otherwise bringing a product back to working condition using the same components as those used in the certification report. In those instances, the original model, serial number, and certification are maintained because the makeup of the equipment is unchanged. Additionally, the repair is usually done by an authorized facility for the owner, with the product returned to said owner and not intended to be resold. Because of this, repaired products do not require reassessment or certification.
The refurbishment process can, however, use alternate components not part of the original certification. Even if the alternate components are certified, the equipment is not certified with those components; the overall makeup has been altered. Refurbishing or reconditioning invalidates the original certification, making additional evaluation and certification necessary. When alternate components are utilized, these changes must be evaluated and tested.
National Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs), like Intertek, can assess and certify these reconditioned products. The process is the same as for new products. At Intertek, for example, after conducting an application review, the lab evaluates the product to the current version of applicable standards, including amendments and notices. These evaluations may include component assessments, review of qualified staff training records, assessment of instruction manuals, and the review of the disassembly/assembly process.
Following the testing phase, all data is compiled into a report along with the original certification report and nameplate, new nameplate, identification of alternative components used in the refurbishment, remanufacturing instructions, information from a staff training and qualification review, and required environmental conditions. Using this information, a certification review is held and, if all needs are met, and the product is shown to comply with applicable standards, certification is issued.
As previously mentioned, equipment that is reconditioned requires a new nameplate and unique model name. This, along with the applicable refurbished certification mark, should be applied before the equipment is sold or placed in the field. Depending on the NRTL, the language may vary, but this is generally the NRTL’s typical certification mark accompanied by “refurbished,” “reconditioned,” or something similar. Following certification, factory surveillance along with maintenance activities will occur, just as happens with newly manufactured products.
When it comes to refurbished products, there are several considerations for inspectors and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) to keep in mind. Any refurbished equipment found at a job site should be marked as a reconditioned or refurbished product. If the equipment is identified with the original listing mark intact, it is in violation of the NEC, so the original listing mark must be removed, and the equipment must be re-certified. As such, the equipment should be red tagged. A field evaluation may be possible; however, it is important to keep in mind that the NRTL may require being able to witness the refurbishment process.
It is important to familiarize yourself with Section 110.21(A)(2) of the NEC to understand the new requirements and how to handle refurbished equipment in your jurisdictions and on your job sites. It will also detail which equipment can be reconditioned and which cannot. If in doubt about a product’s certification standard, contact the NRTL who issued the original certification or consult their online directory of certified products. Get to know how each NRTL denotes a refurbished product to better identify valid certification marks.
The changes to the NEC mean a higher but easily attained standard of safety for electrical equipment. It is important to be prepared to address refurbished equipment to these standards to ensure overall safety and performance and to keep projects on task and on time.