It seems like the NFPA Standards Council just approved the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC), and now the 2011 edition has been approved and was issued in August. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Revising the NEC is a ton of work for the 19 technical committees each cycle. The NEC is in a continuous revision process due to its inherent dynamics. It is a core document in the electrical construction business, and contractors must be diligent in staying current with the ever-changing rules and ensuring that the rule-making process results in Code rules that are practical, understandable and enforceable.
There were 5,077 Code change proposals and 2,935 public comments that the NEC technical committees acted on during the 2011 NEC development process. Articles 310 and 392 have been reorganized to provide a more logical order and layout. Three new articles have been added to the NEC this cycle. Please note: This article does not present all of the 2011 Code changes, and the changes it covers are in the numerical sequence in which they appear in the NEC.
Article 90 Introduction
Section 90.2(B)(5) d. Not Covered (New)
The revision to this section incorporates the term “other written agreements” in a new list item d. As revised, this section should help avoid conflict at regulatory bodies, the state and local jurisdictional levels regarding jurisdictional boundaries and which codes or standards are or are not applicable. Further, this section, as revised, avoids utility interest to modify 90.2(B)(5) by local revision of the NEC scope in its adoption processes, which has already occurred in some areas for the 2008 NEC. As such, confusion will be avoided in the field regarding installations where legally acquired easements and rights-of-way cannot be obtained. Installations not meeting the specific conditions of this section do not qualify for exclusion from the NEC requirements.
Section 90.2(C) Special Permission (Revision)
This section was revised by changing the term “service-entrance conductors” to “service conductors” and replacing the words “or terminate immediately inside a building wall” with the words “or terminate inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors” at the end of the section. This revision makes clear that the special permission addressed in this section may apply both to service conductors and equipment for an overhead system and to those from an underground system that enter a building or structure. The new text at the end of this section provides a closer alignment with the provisions in 230.70(A)(1) and clarifies that service conductors can enter a building or structure in some instances under the permission afforded by this section. Under these conditions, 230.70(A)(1) regulates the location of the service-disconnecting means.
Section 90.5(C) Explanatory Information (Revision)
Section 90.5(C) has been revised to remove the term “Fine Print Notes” and the acronym “FPN” and replace them with the term “Informational Notes.” This revision applies globally, resulting in a revision of all instances where fine print notes previously appeared throughout the NEC. A new subdivision (D) has been added to address the Informational Annexes provided in the back of the Code.
Chapter 1 General
Article 100 Bathroom (Revision)
The definition of the term “bathroom” has been revised. This revision clarifies that other plumbing fixtures, in addition to a tub, shower, toilet and basin, provide the features and functions that qualify a room or area as a bathroom. Bathrooms are used primarily for human waste excretion and sanitation of the body. Including urinals, footbaths and bidets is appropriate because of how they function and where they are typically installed in occupancies. The revision also addresses other “similar plumbing fixtures,” to allow the definition to remain open-ended in coverage of rooms that would qualify as bathrooms when constructed with fixtures typically used in bathrooms.
Article 100 Grounding Conductor (Deleted)
The definition of the term “grounding conductor” has been deleted because it is unnecessary to have two defined terms that describe the same component of the grounding system. The definition of the term “grounding-electrode conductor” applies to instances where the term “grounding conductor” was previously used. Revisions have been made to Chapters 7 and 8, accordingly, to replace the term “grounding conductor” with the term “grounding-electrode conductor” or the term “bonding conductor,” depending on which is appropriate for the particular rule.
Article 100 Separately Derived System (Revision)
The definition of “separately derived system” has been revised to clarify what constitutes a separate system specifically as they relate to the direct connection between system conductors. The second sentence now makes it clear that, although there can be direct connections between equipment-grounding conductors and equipment-bonding conductors, the circuit conductors of other systems are not directly connected other than through metal enclosures, earth, metallic raceways or equipment-grounding conductors.
Article 100 Uninterruptible Power Supplies (New)
The term “uninterruptible power supply” is used in various Code articles, which qualifies it for a definition in Article 100. The new definition is consistent with national product safety standards covering uninterruptible power supply equipment. The definition describes the functions of uninterruptible power-supplies, which include serving as a backup source of power, and may include such functions as power filtering, stabilizing voltage and frequency regulation. It should be noted that the new definition applies to an uninterruptible power supply that could be in the form of an assembly packaged into one piece of equipment or a system that serves to provide a backup source of power in the event of normal power interruption.
Section 110.10 Circuit Impedance, Short-Circuit Current Ratings, and Other Characteristics (Revision)
The title of this section has been revised by adding the words “Short-Circuit Current Ratings,” and the second sentence has been revised by adding the word “equipment” before the term “grounding conductor” and adding the words “permitted in 250.118.” The word “equipment” has replaced the words “components and products” within this section.
The revision to the title is appropriate because short-circuit current ratings are one aspect of compliance with this rule. The word “equipment” was added before the term “grounding conductor” to correlate with the deletion of this term and its associated definition.
Section 110.14 Connections (Revision)
A new last sentence was added to Section 110.14 that reads: “Connectors and terminals for conductors more finely stranded than Class B and Class C stranding as shown in Chapter 9, Table 10 shall be identified for the specific conductor class or classes and the number of strands.” The revision to 110.14 requires that terminals for fine-stranded conductors be identified for the specific conductor or class of stranding.
Section 110.16 Arc-Flash Hazard Warning (Revision)
The title of this section has been changed from “Flash Protection” to “Arc-Flash Hazard Warning.” The word “occupancies” has been replaced by the word “units” in the first sentence of this section. This requirement in Article 110 addresses a requirement for a field-applied warning label. It does not provide any requirements dealing with flash protection. Flash protection requirements are provided in NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.
Section 110.24 Available Fault Current (New)
A new section included in Part I of Article 110 calls for a field-applied label indicating the maximum available short-circuit current being supplied at the line terminals of the service equipment, which will demonstrate compliance with Section 110.9. The label must include the date of installation. The modifications to electrical systems covered in subdivision (B) address installations that are often experienced by the system and equipment over time that can result in equipment with inadequate SCC ratings. It should be understood that this new field-applied marking is for equipment rating purposes only and is not for use in arc-flash hazard analysis. The exception relaxes the labeling requirement for industrial establishments and is only applicable under the controlled conditions described in the exception. This new requirement will assist engineers, designers, contractors, workers and inspectors in attaining compliance with 110.9, not only for new installations, but those remodels and retrofits that happen sometime after the original equipment was first energized.
Section 110.26(A)(3) Height of Working Space (Revision)
The requirements of 110.26(A)(3) and 110.26(E) of the 2008 NEC were effectively the same. This revision combines the two sections to improve clarity and usability. The “headroom” requirements of 110.26(E) were limited to service equipment, switchboards, panelboards and motor-control centers. The revision also clarifies that the minimum height requirements are applicable to all equipment that qualifies for minimum working spaces governed by this section. The reference to “headroom” has been deleted to reduce confusion between what constitutes “headroom” and what qualifies as “minimum heights of the working space” about equipment.
Section 110.26(D) Illumination (Revision)
The words “and shall not be controlled by automatic means only” in the last sentence have been relocated to the first sentence of 110.26(D). The words “in electrical equipment rooms” have been removed from this section. This revision clarifies that the illumination is for all working spaces about service equipment, switchboards, panelboards or motor-control centers installed indoors, regardless of room designation or location. This revision ensures that all areas referred to in this requirement have the necessary lighting for safe servicing, examination, adjustment, maintenance and other operations associated with the type of equipment covered in this requirement. The requirements in this section apply to work spaces and areas about electrical equipment and not just to rooms identified as “electrical equipment rooms.”
More to come
This concludes Part 1 in this series on 2011 NEC changes. The November issue of Electrical -Con-tractor will feature part 2.
For more detailed information about these or any other important NEC changes, refer to the textbook “2011 NEC Significant Changes” published by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee. Additional detailed information about each proposal and comment resulting in NEC changes is provided in the NFPA Report on Proposals and Report on Comments for the 2011 NEC.
JOHNSTON is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is former director of education, codes and standards for IAEI; a member of the IBEW; and an active member of the NFPA Electrical Section, Education Section and the UL Electrical Council. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.