Last chance to review and comment

The time for commenting on proposals is shortly coming to a close. On Oct. 20, 2006, 5 p.m., EST, the National Fire Protection Association will stop accepting comments on proposals that have been processed for the 2008 National Electrical Code (NEC).

Electricians, electrical contractors, electrical inspectors and electrical engineers should be active participants in the NEC process. This means you will help decide what issues will be accepted and may help influence key decisions that will affect the electrical industry for the next three years.

There were 3,688 proposals processed for the 2008 NEC, and many were accepted in one form or another. Some proposals dealt with editorial corrections or minor changes to the NEC, but others involve major changes to electrical installations in residential, commercial and industrial facilities. A thorough review of every proposal is not possible in this article, but I will try to cover some of the most significant suggested changes.

A number of proposals were accepted to modify Section 110.26 covering ready access and working space for electrical equipment. One of the more significant changes for the 2005 NEC was the deletion of the “over 6-foot” width requirement for 1,200-ampere or larger equipment containing overcurrent devices, switching devices or control devices.

This large equipment is required by 110.26(C)(2) to have one entrance to working space not less than 610 mm (24 inches) wide and 2.0 m (6½ feet) high at each end of the working space. Proposal 1-123 was accepted to modify the text in the first sentence of 110.26(C)(2) as follows (in italics): “For equipment rated 1,200 amperes or more and over 1.8 m (6 ft.) wide that contains overcurrent devices, switching devices, or control devices, there shall be one entrance to the required working space not less than 610 mm (24 in.) wide and 2.0 m (6½ ft.) high at each end of the working space.”
An additional change has been proposed and accepted for the second sentence in 110.26(C)(2), and may provide some clarity on the distance requirement for personnel doors for large equipment. The revised text is as follows: “Where the entrance has a personnel door(s) that is less than 1.8 m (6 ft.) from the working space, the door(s) shall open in the direction of egress and be equipped with panic bars, pressure plates, or other devices that are normally latched but open under simple pressure.”

This suggested change would provide some limitation on the applicability for panic bars, pressure plates or other devices on personnel doors in large rooms.

A significant change has been accepted on multiwire branch circuits as a new 210.4(D) and exception. This proposed change would require all ungrounded and grounded conductors of a multiwire branch circuit to be tied together in a group by wire ties or similar means at their point of origin or within the panelboard unless the circuit enters from a cable or raceway unique to the circuit making the grouping obvious.

The substantiation for this proposal suggested that this grouping would help ensure that the proper “neutral” and all associated conductors will be disconnected before working on the circuit. Personnel working on a multiwire branch circuit often do not realize the neutral conductor is still carrying the current from the remainder of the circuit.

Two major proposed changes have been accepted pertaining to receptacles. Proposal 18-33 has been accepted in principle for Section 406.8 to require receptacles installed in damp or wet locations to be a listed weather-resistant type receptacle. This requirement would become effective on Jan. 1, 2011. This proposed change would require the receptacle to be listed as weather-resistant, not just the enclosure. The effective date was chosen to permit the manufacturers to develop and list a weather-resistant receptacle.

The concern expressed in the substantiation: “Unfortunately, the use of these (weatherproof) plates is often not achieving the desired effect. Misapplications, poor installation and assembly, improper installations and improper reinstallations have all led to detrimental effects on outdoor outlets, which have led to product failure with the gravest consequences.”

The second possible change in Proposal 18-40 involves new Section 406.11 that would require all 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in dwelling units in accordance with Section 210.52 to be listed tamper-resistant receptacles. The panel statement indicated some concern over the amount of force necessary to insert a cord cap into a tamper-resistant receptacle.

Please spend some time reviewing the proposals for the 2008 NEC with the accompanying panel actions and make comments before it is too late.        EC

ODE is a staff engineering associate at Underwriters Laboratories Inc., in Research Triangle Park, N.C. He can be reached at 919.549.1726 or via e-mail at mark.c.ode@us.ul.com.