210.70(A)(2) Lighting Outlets Required

Lighting outlet and wall switch provisions for dwelling units, guest rooms (hotel, motel and similar occupancies) and certain areas in non-dwelling occupancies are covered in 210.70(A) through (C). The first subsection, covering dwelling unit provisions, contains the majority of this section’s requirements. In dwelling units, lighting outlets must be installed in accordance with 210.70(A)(1), (2) and (3). Unless meeting one of two exceptions, at least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet must be installed in every habitable room and bathroom. In certain locations, one or more receptacles controlled by a wall switch can be installed in lieu of lighting outlets. Last month’s In Focus concluded with the required wall switch-controlled lighting outlets on the exterior side of outdoor entrances and exits with grade-level access. This month’s discussion continues with wall switches controlling interior stairway lighting.

Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed for interior stairways, there must be a wall switch at each floor level and landing level that includes an entryway, to control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between floor levels has six risers or more [210.70(A)(2)(c)]. The word “step” was changed to “riser” in the 2002 National Electrical Code. Depending upon the number of risers, it may be necessary to install more than one wall switch for the interior stairway lighting. Where the interior stairway between floor levels has five risers or less, only one switch is required. For example, a one-family dwelling has five steps separating the family room from the recreation room. The number of steps is a factor in determining if more than one switch is required, but not in determining if a lighting outlet is required. At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet must be installed in each dwelling stairway. Two recessed step lights with louvered faceplates will be installed as the required lighting outlet. Since the number of risers between floor levels is only five, only one wall switch is required (See Figure 1). Although not required, it is permissible to install a wall switch at each floor level when the number of risers between floor levels is less than six.

Where there are at least six steps between floors, there must be a wall switch at each floor level to control the lighting outlet(s) illuminating the stairway. For example, a one-family dwelling has six steps separating the family room from the recreation room. Two recessed step lights with louvered faceplates will be installed as the required lighting outlet. Since the number of risers between floor levels is six, a wall switch must be installed at each floor level (See Figure 2).

Various staircases include one or more landings between floor levels. Unless the landing includes an entryway, no switch is required at the landing. A landing with no entryway is counted as one of the risers. For example, a dwelling has 13 steps between the first and second floor—seven between the landing and first floor and six between the landing and second floor. The landing does not include an entryway and therefore no wall switch is required at the landing. Because of the number of steps, a wall switch must be installed at each floor level (See Figure 3).

A wall switch must be located at each floor level and landing level that includes an entryway, where the stairway between floor levels has six risers or more. Part of this specification is a new addition to the 2002 National Electrical Code. Previous editions did not mention intermediate landing levels. An “entryway” is defined in the dictionary as a passage for entrance. It does not matter whether the entryway leads to the dwelling’s interior or exterior. Although an entryway can have an actual door, it can also be an opening without a door. If the landing includes an entryway and the stairway between floor levels has six risers or more, a wall switch must be installed at the landing and each floor level. For example, the door leading to the garage is located between the first and second floor. There are seven steps between the landing and first floor and six steps between the landing and second floor. Because the landing has an entryway and because each stairway between floor levels has at least six risers, at least three wall switches must be installed. A wall switch to control the interior stairway lighting must be at the landing level and at each floor level (See Figure 4).

There is an exception to the three provisions in 210.70(A)(2). In hallways, stairways and at outdoor entrances, remote, central or automatic control of lighting can be installed. Unlike the second exception to 210.70(A)(1), this exception does not require installing the occupancy sensor in addition to the wall switch. Nor does it require locating the occupancy sensor at a customary wall switch location. While an occupancy sensor is an acceptable method for controlling lights in hallways, stairways and at outdoor entrances, it is not the only method. Low-voltage switches, power line carrier switches, photocells and time clocks are other methods permitted by this exception. Apartment complexes often employ photocells and time clocks to control lighting in common areas. For example, an apartment complex with multiple buildings has eight units in each building. Access to each apartment is through outdoor hallways and stairways. Common area lighting, such as hallway and stairway lighting, is controlled by photocells instead of wall switches. Because of this exception, wall switches are not required (See Figure 5). With today’s technology, more options are available than ever for controlling lighting outlets.

Next month’s In Focus, resuming with 210.70(A)(3) will continue 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