In circumstances that call for temporary power, the long-standing approach has been to cobble together an electrical system using whatever extension cords and portable power supplies may be on hand. Although applications that call for portable power are inherently impermanent, it’s important not to sacrifice safety and increase the risk of trip-and-fall, electrical shock or other injuries. In fact, since these temporary power scenarios are typically found outdoors in the elements and require a significant amount of handling and transportation, extra attention should be paid to make sure the portable power equipment is safe, reliable and built to survive.
According to a 2015 report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the leading cause of non-fatal electrical injuries from 2003 through 2010 was from contact with the electrical current of a machine, tool, appliance or light fixture (7,450 injuries). When combined with the secondary cause – contact with wiring, transformers or other electrical components (7,130 injuries) – the two groups account for 72 percent of all non-fatal electrical injuries from that time period.
Ensuring your outdoor power equipment provides maximum safety protection can not only help prevent injuries but help protect your company’s reputation from harm.
Up to the Task
For safe and reliable use in outdoor environments like construction sites, petrochemical facilities and disaster relief areas, portable power equipment needs to be able to withstand inclement weather and potentially caustic substances. Also a staple at outdoor festivals and concerts, the power network should safely operate in heavy-traffic areas with large numbers of people.
Unlike a home or business, where the power network is concealed in a wall and
Traditionally made from painted steel, portable power boxes can become dented and cracked after frequent moves, making them more susceptible to rust, weakening connections and increasing potential for liability concerns. Because of these limitations, portable power boxes and their associated wiring devices have become viewed as temporary, somewhat disposable products due to the increased downtime and administrative hassle associated with the frequent reordering of components from multiple suppliers.
Shifting to a power distribution box made exclusively of vulcanized rubber can provide exponentially better durability, safety
A portable power system featuring a 100 percent rubber construction is resistant to shock,
While perhaps necessitating a higher up-front cost, products that utilize vulcanized rubber and are fully designated for temporary indoor or outdoor
A Sturdy, Secure Connection
When drawing various levels of current in a portable power application, it is also important to consider power management and ensure a balanced AC current load between phases. Systems that offer dual-identifier numbered and color-coded receptacles allow users to mentally distribute higher current loads and build a better-running portable power network and reduce the risk of power outages.
For safe and reliable use in outdoor environments, power boxes should be Type 3R weather resistant, UL-certified and meet NEC regulatory compliance by featuring legs that keep electrical components 6 inches above ground level.
Safety is also ensured with the proper use of heavy-duty polyurethane ramps to protect power and data cables, as well as air or water hoses. Built to withstand loads in excess of 16,000 pounds per tire, and featuring non-slip tread patterns, ramps prevent cables and hoses from being crushed or punctured allowing important functions to continue while eliminating safety hazards.
In applications that call for temporary indoor or outdoor power, maintaining the same level of safety and reliability one would expect from a permanently installed circuit breaker or panel is essential. Choosing products that offer maximum durability and safety protection can go a long way toward helping to reduce the risks of a power outage as well as any potential injuries.
Article originally published Nov. 13, 2017, and updated for accuracy and relevance .