NEC Changes Around the Corner, Part 4

Part 1 of this article covered the most significant National Electrical Code (NEC) revisions in Article 90, Chapter 1. Part 2 covered many of the changes in NEC Chapter 2. Part 3 addresses Chapter 3 revisions. This article covers some of the more significant changes in NEC chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 of the NEC provides the requirements for equipment for general use, and Chapter 5 addresses special occupancies.

Chapter 4 Equipment for General Use
Section 404.2(C) Switches Controlling Lighting Loads (New)
In general, all switches installed to control lighting loads must now be supplied with the grounded-circuit conductor for the controlled lighting circuit in addition to the ungrounded conductor(s) being switched. This general requirement applies even if the grounded conductor (often a neutral) is not needed. Many electronic lighting control devices on the market and in use today require a standby current to maintain the ready state and detection capability of the device. Standby current flows at all times—even when the lighting load being controlled is off—to allow the “brain” of the device to stay active at all times to facilitate immediate switching of the load to the on position. Two exceptions relax this general rule: where the circuit is installed in a conduit or tubing wiring method or where there is access to cable-type wiring to the switchbox location, such as in a hollow wall that is accessible on the back side of the wall.

Section 404.9(B) Exceptions 1, 2 and 3 (Revision and New Exceptions)
The two new exceptions relax the requirement for equipment-grounding conductor connections to the mounting strap of switches that have nonmetallic yokes and for switches that are an integral part of a listed nonmetallic assembly. The new exception to 404.9(B) does not recommend and/or suggest that the grounding means required by 250.148 be eliminated but that the termination of such grounding means not be required for this unique plastic yoke snap switch. Generally, the grounding means should always be available and accessible in the outlet box and be properly grounded for replacement purposes or installation of metal-yoke devices. Snap switches with metallic mounting straps are required to meet the equipment--grounding requirements.

Section 406.4(D) Replacements (Revision and Relocation)
The changes to this section address receptacle replacements in three new list items. New list item (4) requires that where receptacle replacements are made at receptacle outlets that are required to be so protected, arc-fault circuit interrupter-protected receptacles must be provided. New list item (5) requires that where receptacle replacements are made at outlets required to provide tamper-resistant receptacles, the replacement shall be a tamper-resistant type. New list item (6) requires that where receptacle replacements are made at outlets that require weather-resistant receptacles, weather-resistant receptacles must be installed. The revision results in new requirements for receptacle manufacturers. Replacement receptacles have to meet current NEC requirements for arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) protection, have tamper-resistance features, and be weather-resistant.

Section 406.12 and Exception (Revision and New Exception)
The requirements for tamper-resistant receptacles have been expanded beyond dwelling units. A new subdivision (B) has been added that requires tamper-resistant receptacles in all public areas where children are predominately present, such as daycares, classrooms, churches, restaurants, restrooms, bathrooms, playrooms, activity rooms, playgrounds, swimming pools, and as described in 517.18(C). The new rule provides enhanced protection for unsuspecting children in occupancies other than just dwellings where children and the concerns are present. A new exception now provides four locations or conditions in dwelling units where the receptacles installed do not have to be tamper-resistant types.

Section 406.13 Tamper-Resistant Receptacles in Guest Rooms and Guest Suites (New)
This new section extends the tamper-resistant receptacle requirements of Article 406 to the guest rooms and guest suites of hotels and motels. This significant change means that the requirements for tamper-resistant receptacles are more consistently applied across occupancies likely to accommodate children and that protection of children is greatly increased.

Section 406.14 Tamper-Resistant Receptacles in Child Care Facilities (New)
This new rule expands the requirement for tamper-resistant receptacles to facilities beyond dwelling occupancies. The new requirement applies to all nonlocking, 125-volt (V), 15- and 20-ampere (A) receptacles in child care facilities. Additionally, a new definition of the term “child care facility” has been added to Section 406.2.

Section 408.3(F) Switchboard and Panelboard Identification (New)
A switchboard or panelboard supplied by an ungrounded system is now required to be marked in a manner similar to the marking requirements for equipment supplied by systems with a high leg. The specific wording of the marking is included within this requirement and is as follows: “Caution Ungrounded System Operating _____Volts Between Conductors.”

Section 408.4(B) Field Identification Required (New)
All feeder-supplied switchboards and panelboards in other than one- or two-family dwellings are now required to have a marking identifying where the source of supply originates. This is a significant revision and enhances safety for workers that will service switchboards and panelboards. This marking will provide the location of the source-disconnecting means so that the equipment can be placed in an electrically safe working condition and lockout and tagout procedures can be effectively implemented.

Section 409.22 Short-Circuit Current Rating (New)
Industrial control panels are now prohibited where the available fault current exceeds the short-circuit current rating of the industrial control panel. This short-circuit current rating requirement for industrial control panels parallels the general requirements in Section 110.9.

Section 410.130(G) Disconnecting Means (Revision)
Section 410.130(G) requires all fluorescent luminaires (fixtures) that use double-ended lamps and contain ballast(s) that can be serviced in place to be provided with a means to disconnect the ballast from the source of supply. The revision to this requirement is that a disconnecting means is required to be installed during a ballast replacement if a disconnecting means does not already exist.

Section 450.14 Disconnecting Means (New)
A section has been added to clearly require a disconnecting means. The required disconnect may be either within sight of the transformer or in a remote location. A means to lock the disconnecting means is required where it is not within sight. Where located in a remote location, the disconnecting means shall be lockable, and the location shall be field-marked on the transformer.

Chapter 5 Special Occupancies
Sections 501.30(B), 502.30(B), 503.30(B), 505.25(B), 506.25(B) Grounding and Bonding (Revision)
Each of these sections has been consistently revised to include the phrase “include an equipment bonding jumper of the wire type.” The revision to this section provides clear direction for users that the wire-type equipment-bonding jumper must be installed and that the sizing requirements for it are provided in 250.102.

Section 505.16(C)(1)(b) Conduit Seals (Revision)
This revision provides performance language that describes how the required seals are intended to perform at the boundary of a Class 1, Zone 2 location. This descriptive text is very similar to the same performance language included in 501.16 dealing with Class 1 locations. The new text indicates that seals are necessary to minimize the passage of gas or vapor across the seal at the boundary and that the seal does not have to be a flameproof or explosion-proof type. The sealing fittings addressed in this revision have to be identified to minimize the passage of gases or vapors and must be accessible.

Section 514.11 Circuit Disconnects (Revision)
The requirement for disconnecting all sources supplying dispensing equipment is now extended to limited-energy systems, for example, to data and communications circuitry routed to this equipment. This revision improves worker safety by requiring a disconnecting means or multiple means of removing all voltage sources and other sources of energy leading to or through dispensing equipment. The same requirements have also been incorporated into Section 514.13 that addresses motor fuel maintenance disconnecting means.

Section 517.13(B) Insulated Equipment-Grounding Conductor (Revision)
Section 517.13(B) has been restructured into a list format in accordance with the NEC Style Manual, and a new exception now follows the main requirement in 517.13(B)(1). Exceptions Nos. 1 and 2 now follow list item (3). The sizing requirement for equipment-grounding conductors and equipment--bonding jumpers is included as new list item (2). As revised, this rule now provides three permissible locations at which the required insulated copper equipment-grounding conductor must terminate. It can terminate on the grounding terminals of all receptacles, on metal boxes and enclosures containing receptacles, or on all noncurrent-carrying conductive surfaces of fixed electrical equipment.

Section 517.16 Receptacles with Insulating Grounding Terminals (Revision)
Section 517.16 has been revised, and the existing informational note has been deleted. This revision results in a restriction against the installation of any isolated-grounding receptacles and circuits in branch circuits serving patient care locations. This is significant because owners, engineers and medical equipment manufacturers still specify installing isolated grounding-type receptacles and circuits. Another interesting point to consider is that NFPA 99, Standard for Health Care Facilities, still includes performance and testing requirements for isolated-ground receptacles and installations installed in healthcare facilities covered by that standard.

Section 517.17(C) Selectivity (Revision)
The requirement for a six-cycle separation between the tripping bands of multiple ground-fault protection (GFP) devices has been deleted. The revision now requires conformance to the manufacturer’s recommendations on achieving the required separation between the tripping times to attain sufficient selective coordination between the multiple levels of GFP equipment installed to comply with 517.17(B).

Sections 517.18(A) and 517.19(A) Patient Bed Location Branch Circuits (Revision)
A new last sentence has been added to 517.18(A) and 517.19(A). The revision applies to branch circuits serving patient bed locations and indicates that such branch circuits shall not be part of a multiwire branch circuit.

Section 517.20(A) Wet Procedure Locations (Revision)
This section has been restructured into a list format to meet the requirements of the NEC Style Manual. List items (1) and (2) provide two clear methods of shock protection for wet procedure locations. The words “insulated copper” have been added to Exception No. 2. The words “where interruption by a ground-fault circuit interrupter cannot be tolerated” have been removed from this section.

Section 517.160(A)(5) Conductor Identification (Revision)
The phrase “along the entire length of the conductor” has been added to list items (1) and (2) and in the last paragraph of this rule. This revision clarifies that the single distinctive colored stripe for identification must be along the entire length of the conductor. In other words, the conductor has to be manufactured with this identification means on the insulation. The problem with the previous language was that compliance could be achieved literally by attaching a single stripe of marking tape around the conductor at exposed locations. This was never the intent of this new identification requirement accepted in the 2008 edition of the NEC. This revision clarifies what is required and will result in clear differentiation between conductors supplied by isolated-power systems and those conductors for general wiring supplied by the building electrical system.

547.5(G) Receptacles (Revision)
In the 2008 NEC revision cycle, a new last paragraph was added to this first-level subdivision, permitting a receptacle without ground-fault circuit interrupter-protection to supply a dedicated load, provided it was installed within 3 feet of a GFCI-protected receptacle. This allowance has been removed from the 2011 NEC. It is recognized that a dedicated load supplied from a receptacle can and will be easily moved to another location, leaving a available receptacle that is not equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupter protection. This revision enhances safety for personnel.

Section 590.6(A) Ground-Fault Protection for Personnel (Revision)
Section 590.6(A)(3) contains two new requirements. The first is that GFCI protection is now required for all receptacle outlets that are a part of a 15-kilowatt (kW) or smaller portable generator. Older generators manufactured or remanufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2011, are permitted where used with listed cord sets or devices incorporating listed ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel and identified for portable use. The second new requirement is that all 15- and 20A, 125- and 250V receptacles that are part of a portable generator and used in a damp or wet location shall comply with 406.9(A) and (B). Compliance requires that receptacles be listed for damp and/or wet locations and that enclosures be weatherproof in accordance with the requirements of 406.9(A) and (B).

This concludes Part 4 in this series on 2011 NEC changes. Part 5 will be published in the February issue of Electrical -Contractor. 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. It is also highly recommended that the 2011 NEC be referred to for complete information about the rules that have been added or revised in this edition.

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

About the Author

Michael Johnston

Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA

Michael Johnston is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is chair of the NEC Correlating Committee; chair of the NFPA Electrical Section; and a member of the IBEW, NFPA Education Section and the UL Electrical Council. Reach him at mj...

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