An arc flash analysis quantifies incident energy to better protect against an arc flash hazard. The latest updates to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Std 1584TM 2018 Guide for Performing Arc Flash Calculations have made significant strides toward furthering electrical safety. The Guide, a widely accepted method for performing arc flash hazard calculations, is now backed by nearly 2000 additional tests — more than any other method — to provide the information necessary to complete an arc flash risk assessment.
Of course, arc flash analysis is never an exact science and, the use of IEEE 1584 is not mandatory. But I strongly recommend electrical engineers embrace the new version of IEEE 1584, as its formulas and mathematical models are based on a multitude of varied field conditions and the most up-to-date science.
New requirements lead to new questions
Consultants and electrical engineers have been using IEEE 1584 to calculate incident energy since the Guide’s inception in 2002. Many engineers have a comfort level with the 2002 version of the Guide and are very accustomed to its calculation methodologies, so they may have reservations about the 2018 version. Further, some professionals are beginning to raise questions as they apply the 2018 version in real-world scenarios.