210.70(A)(2) Lighting Outlets Required

Requirements specifying wall switch-controlled lighting outlets (or receptacles) are covered in 210.70. This section contains three subsections: dwelling units, guest rooms and other than dwelling units. Although other occupancies are covered, most of the requirements pertain to dwelling units. Last month’s In Focus continued the discussion of 210.70(A)(1) Exception Nos. 1 and 2. The discussion also included a section in Article 410 covering bathtub and shower areas. Before continuing with additional locations for required lighting outlets, this month’s In Focus will discuss luminaires (light fixtures) in clothes closets.

There is an increasing demand for larger clothes closets in dwelling units, and with this demand comes a need for lighting. Unless a closet is large enough to be considered a habitable room, no wall switch-controlled lighting outlet is required. If lighting is installed, a good understanding of the provisions pertaining to luminaires in clothes closets is essential. Article 410 covers luminaires, lampholders, pendants, incandescent filament lamps, arc lamps, electric-discharge lamps, the wiring and equipment forming part of such lamps, luminaires and lighting installations. Provisions pertaining to luminaires in clothes closets are located in 410.8(A) through (D).

Before discussing the luminaires and their locations, the term “storage space” must be defined. Understanding the storage space area is important because it helps in determining the location for luminaires installed in clothes closets. A detailed definition of storage space is located in 410.8(A). Most of the definition pertains to the sides and back of the closet. The last part of the definition pertains to areas in a closet permitting access to both sides of a hanging rod.

A storage space is the volume bounded (or bordered) by the sides and back closet walls. The defined space does not extend beyond or through the closet walls. In bathrooms, the bathtub or shower zone may not necessarily rise all the way to the ceiling. In clothes closets, the area defined as a storage space rises to the ceiling regardless of the ceiling height.

The depth of the storage space may change at a height of 6 feet (1.8m). Up to 6 feet (or the highest clothes hanging rod), the depth is 2 feet (600mm). Above 6 feet (or the highest clothes hanging rod), the depth is 12 inches or the width of the shelf, whichever is greater. The upper storage space still extends to the ceiling.

For example, the clothes-hanging rod is 5 feet above the closet floor. Although the hanging rod is only 5 feet above the floor, the storage space rises 6 feet (1.8 meters) above the floor. The depth of the horizontal distance is 24 inches (600mm) from the sides and back of the closet walls.

If the height of the clothes-hanging rod is more than the specified height, the storage space continues up to the height of the rod. For example, a clothes closet has upper and lower hanging rods. The height of the upper rod is 7 feet above the closet floor. Since the rod is more than 6 feet above the floor, the storage space extends to the height of the highest clothes-hanging. Because of closet organizers, not all clothes-hanging systems are rods, some are wire racks. This definition is applicable whether the clothes-hanging system is a rod or a wire rack.

If the shelf above the 6-foot specification (or highest clothes-hanging rod) is less than 24 inches, the depth of the storage space can be reduced. The storage space continues vertically to the closet ceiling parallel to the walls at a horizontal distance of 12 inches (300mm) or the width of the shelf, whichever is greater. For example, the shelf above the highest clothes-hanging rod is 10 inches deep. Although the shelf is less than 12 inches, the depth of the uppermost storage space must be 12 inches (300mm) deep.

If the shelf above the 6-foot specification (or highest clothes-hanging rod) is more than 12 inches, the depth of the storage space must be equal to the depth of the shelf. This storage space continues vertically to the closet ceiling regardless of the ceiling’s height. For example, the shelf above the highest clothes-hanging rod is 18 inches deep. Since the shelf is 18 inches, the depth of the uppermost storage space must also be 18 inches deep.

Where a clothes closet has access to both sides of a hanging rod, the space includes the volume below the highest rod extending 12 inches (300 mm) on either side of the rod on a plane horizontal to the floor and extending the entire length of the rod. For example, a walk-in closet has a clothes-hanging rod in the middle of the room. This rod juts out into the center of the room and is perpendicular to the rods on the back wall. Because of its location, this clothes-hanging rod is accessible to both sides. The storage space includes the area below the highest rod on a plane horizontal to the floor. The storage space extends 12 inches (300mm) on both sides of the rod.

Sometimes, clothes-hanging rods and shelves are built back-to-back in clothes closets. This type of design incorporates two separate hanging rods, not one rod that is accessible from both sides. With this type of design, the storage space definition will be applicable to both sides of the clothes racks. For example, a large walk-in closet has back-to-back hanging rods in the middle of the room. A 3/4-inch plywood board divides two hanging rods and two 12-inch shelves. Since there are two hanging rods, the first part of the storage space definition will apply. The storage space extends from the closet floor vertically to a height of 6 feet (1.8m) or the highest clothes hanging rod. The area extends from each side of the plywood divider horizontally to a distance of 24 inches (600mm). The storage space above the 6-foot specification (or highest clothes-hanging rod) continues to the closet ceiling at a horizontal distance of 12 inches (300mm) or the width of the shelf, whichever is greater.

While certain types of luminaires are permitted in clothes closets, others are not [410.8(B) and (C)]. The following types of listed luminaires can be installed: 1) surface-mounted fluorescent, 2) recessed fluorescent, 3) surface-mounted incandescent with a completely enclosed lamp, and 4) recessed incandescent with a completely enclosed lamp. It is very important to note that lamps within incandescent luminaires (fixtures) must be completely enclosed. The following types of luminaires (fixtures) cannot be installed in clothes closets: 1) incandescent luminaires with open or partially enclosed lamps and 2) pendant luminaires or lampholders.

Next month’s In Focus, will finish discussing luminaires in clothes closets and continue the discussion of required lighting outlets in dwelling units. EC

MILLER, owner of Lighthouse Educational Services, teaches classes and seminars on the electrical industry. He is the author of “Illustrated Guide to the National Electrical Code” and NFPA’s “Electrical Reference.” He can be reached at 615.333-3336, charles@charlesRmiller.com or www.charlesRmiller.com.