Anyone who has attended a conference in a hotel or other meeting space knows there can be a lack of receptacles to provide power for portable equipment. Sometimes, extension cords or relocatable power taps are plugged into wall receptacles and daisy-chained together to provide power to tables. Depending on the amount of equipment connected to the circuit or circuits, overloading could occur and trip circuit breakers or blow fuses. In addition, extension cords and power taps are not intended or permitted to be daisy-chained.


If you have experienced these problems, you likely will applaud the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements in Section 210.71, which state, “Each meeting room of not more than 1,000 feet2, in other than dwelling units, shall have outlets for nonlocking-type, 125-volt, 15- or 20-ampere receptacles.” 


Two informational notes within this subsection detail the purpose of these rules and provide examples of rooms that are not meeting rooms. The first informational note states: “For the purposes of this section, meeting rooms are typically designed or intended for the gathering of seated occupants for such purposes as conferences, deliberations, or similar purposes, where portable electronic equipment, such as computers, projectors, or similar equipment is likely to be used.”


The second informational note provides examples or applications of rooms that are not considered to be meeting rooms, such as auditoriums, schoolrooms and coffee shops. These applications would not require the extra receptacles detailed in 210.71. Further information in 210.71(A) states, where a room or space is provided with movable partitions, each room size shall be determined with the partition in the position that results in the smallest size meeting room; in other words, with the partitions extended out in place and not retracted. Outlets required by this subsection must be installed in accordance with 210.71(B).


In 210.71(B), the total number of receptacle outlets, including floor outlets and receptacle outlets in fixed furniture, must not be less than determined in 210.71(B)(1) and (B)(2). However, unlike many receptacle locations in other parts of Article 210, these receptacles are permitted to be located as determined by the designer or building owner. For fixed walls, receptacle outlets must be installed in accordance with 210.52(A)(1) through (A)(4). Receptacles must be installed so that no point measured horizontally along the floor line of any wall space is more than 6 feet from a receptacle outlet.


As used in sections 210.52 and 210.71, a wall space includes the following: Any space that is 2 feet or more in width, including space measured around corners, and unbroken along the floor line by doorways and similar openings, fireplaces and fixed cabinets that do not have countertops or similar workspaces; the space occupied by fixed panels in walls, excluding sliding panels; and the space afforded by fixed room dividers, such as freestanding bar-type counters or railings.


In 210.52(A)(3), receptacles in or on floors shall not be counted as part of the required number of receptacle outlets required in 210.71(B) for fixed walls, unless these receptacles are located within 18 inches of the wall. In 210.52(A)(4), receptacles installed in countertops and similar surfaces shall not be considered as the receptacle outlets required in 210.52(A) and in 210.71(B) for fixed walls.


Floor receptacle requirements in 210.71(B)(2) state that a meeting room that is at least 12 feet wide with a floor area of at least 215 square feet shall have at least one receptacle outlet located in the floor at a distance not less than 6 feet from any fixed wall for each 215 square feet or major portion of floor space.


An example of this requirement is a room that measures 30 feet by 30 feet with three fixed walls (on the north, west, south sides), one wall (on the east side) that is a movable partition, one 3-foot-wide single door on the northwest corner, and one double 72-inch-wide door in the middle of the south wall.


The measurement for the north wall is 27 feet divided by 12 feet. This equals 2.25, or three receptacles. Twelve feet on each side of the double door is 12 feet divided by 12 feet, equaling one receptacle on each side of the door. On the west wall, 30 feet divided by 12 feet equals 2.5 (three receptacles). The calculation for floor receptacles is 30 feet by 30 feet, leading to 900 square feet divided by 215 square feet equals 4.186, or four floor receptacles located at least 6 feet from each wall.