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NEMA Standards

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is an industry association for two types of manufacturers. The types are those who make equipment for the generation, transmission, distribution, control, and end use of electricity, and manufacturers who make medical imaging equipment.

NEMA publishes standards that cover the design, production, and distribution of electrical products such as:

  • electrical switches
  • electrical enclosures
  • electrical insulating materials
  • lighting systems
  • residential and commercial controls
  • medical imaging systems

NEMA standards exist to help provide electrical products that are safe and appropriate for the service and location where they will be used.  They help to eliminate misunderstandings between the customer and the manufacturer by providing uniform definitions and design standards. NEMA standards define a product, process, or procedure, addressing areas such as:

  • Nomenclature
  • Materials and composition
  • Equipment performance
  • Construction
  • Dimensions and tolerances
  • Safety
  • Operating characteristics
  • Testing and ratings
  • The location and service

In some cases NEMA adopts standards created by other organizations. For example, NEMA has adopted ANSI Z535 which covers safety signs and labels. It is numbered as NEMA Z535.

To give some examples of the wide range of electrical products NEMA covers, the following are a few of the titles out of hundreds of NEMA standards:

  • NEMA ICS 1-2000 (R2005, R2008) - Industrial Control and Systems: General Requirements
  • NEMA ICS 18-2001 (R2007) - Motor Control Centers
  • NEMA PE 7-1997 (R2003) - Communications-Type Battery Chargers
  • NEMA RE 2-1999 - Electrical Insulating Varnish
  • NEMA TP 3-2000 - Standard for the Labeling of Distribution Transformer Efficiency
  • NEMA VE 2-2006 - Cable Tray Installation Guidelines
  • NEMA LSD 65-2012 - NEMA Guide to Emergency Lighting

Reading NEMA Standards

Not every NEMA standard, nor every section of a NEMA standard, is applicable to what a specific person needs to accomplish. The standards address a variety of different types of people:

  • Specifiers
  • Engineers and designers
  • Installers
  • Contractors
  • Inspectors
  • Maintenance, repair, and operations

This means that the appropriate standard, and appropriate sections within that standard, must be found.  In addition to a search function, the NEMA website provides three ways to look through current NEMA standards:

  1. In order by number
  2. Organized by type of product
  3. Listed alphabetically by title

Once a standard that appears to apply has been found, read the scope description to determine if it is the appropriate standard. If it is the correct standard, then go to the table of contents to locate the section that is likely to have the needed information.

NEMA Standards - Labeling

NEMA standards include a number of labeling requirements. Some requirements are for labels manufacturers must apply. Others are for field applied labels. The following are some examples.

Street Lighting - NEMA standards require wattage labels on street lighting fixtures. These help ensure the correct replacement lamp is used. A color coding scheme is used to identify the type of lamp. The wattage is printed on the label in large numbers, with a smaller lamp type abbreviation printed in the lower right-hand corner of the label.

  • Yellow label - sodium vapor lamp (abbreviations: HPS/LPS)
  • Blue label - mercury vapor lamp (abbreviation: MV)
  • Red label - metal halide lamp (abbreviation: MH)

Transformers - NEMA recommends the use of “Mr. Ouch” labels on pad-mounted switchgear and transformers located in public areas adjacent to residential properties, shopping centers and schools. Mr. Ouch labels may also be used on equipment sited in utility or industrial properties that are not normally accessible to the general public. These labels are in addition to OSHA requires signs and labels. They do not replace the OSHA required labeling.

NEMA standard 260-1996 contains the specifications for Mr. Ouch labels, including specifications for the label size and colors.

Reading NEMA Standards

Not every NEMA standard, nor every section of a NEMA standard, is applicable to what a specific person needs to accomplish. The standards address a variety of different types of people:

  • Specifiers
  • Engineers and designers
  • Installers
  • Contractors
  • Inspectors
  • Maintenance, repair, and operations

This means that the appropriate standard, and appropriate sections within that standard, must be found.  In addition to a search function, the NEMA website provides three ways to look through current NEMA standards:

  1. In order by number
  2. Organized by type of product
  3. Listed alphabetically by title

Once a standard that appears to apply has been found, read the scope description to determine if it is the appropriate standard. If it is the correct standard, then go to the table of contents to locate the section that is likely to have the needed information.

Meeting NEMA Labeling Requirements

When you have a DuraLabel custom label printer handy, you can meet NEMA standards for labeling, as well as comply with all OSHA, NEC, NFPA, and other labeling requirements. DuraLabel is the label printer brand that does it all. With advanced technology, highly versatile printers, and tough-tested DuraLabel supplies, you can always get the job done right and economically.

Call DuraLabel today at 888.326.9244 and ask about DuraLabel's industry leading warranties.