Handling Change: Proposed Revisions for the 2011 NEC

The National Electrical Code (NEC) development process just keeps rolling along. It is hard to believe that the 2011 NEC revision process is already well underway. It seems like many have just started figuring out what changed in the 2008 NEC, and the 2011 edition will be here before we know it. This article is the first in a short series that takes a closer look at some of the more significant changes proposed for the 2011 NEC.

There were approximately 5,077 proposals submitted to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that suggest revision to the next edition. Public proposals amounted to 4,093, while 174 proposals came from the different panels. The changes include new arti-cles, revisions to existing requirements and, even, the deletion of some rules. There were several proposals calling for revisions of exist-ing definitions, and some new definitions have been included in Article 100.

The information in this article is intended to provide readers with a short description of changes that have been acted upon favorably by the NEC technical committees—a preview of coming attractions, if you will. These proposed changes have been accepted at this stage in the overall NEC process. Public comments on these proposals are yet to be received and acted on.

With change comes anxiety. Change should not happen just for the sake of change. It should happen for the sake of improvement and/or for addressing substantiated needs for adequate improvement of current rules. An effective method of handling changes in the electrical contracting business is to stay informed. The voice of the electrical contractor is important in the NEC rule-making process. It brings a practical “front lines” perspective to the Code development process. One could argue quite successfully that con-tractors, installers and inspectors are closest to where the rubber meets the road and are consistently identifying needs for changes to the rules. Representatives on the committees are concerned about developing the best possible Code—one that is practical, under-standable and enforceable.

The NFPA publishes a report on proposals (ROP) that includes all the details of the proposals, the panel actions, the vote results and the panel statements. The ROP document is very helpful to those looking to understand the reasons for changes within the NEC. The substantiation for some of the changes are obvious, while for others are not. To better understand the revisions and how they will affect electrical contractors, obtain a copy of this report from NFPA. It also is available in an electronic format for download from the NFPA Web site at www.nfpa.org.

The proposed changes covered in this article are only a high level review and presented in sequence consistent with the arrangement of the NEC.

Article 90 Introduction

Section 90.2(C) Special Permission

Proposal 1-33 Log No. 1454

(Revision) The words “structure, or terminate within service equipment at a location inside nearest the point of entrance of the serv-ice conductors” have been added to this section to clarify the extent of the conductors and equipment allowed to be covered under special permission provision. The revision also includes language consistent with that in 230.71(A) addressing similar requirements.

Section 90.5 Mandatory Rules, Permissive Rules, and Explanatory Material

Proposal 1-37a Log No. CP100

(Revision) In 90.5(C), the fine print notes have been designated as advisory notes and this revision is intended to apply Code-wide where fine print notes previously appeared. Explanatory material, such as references to other standards, references to related sections of this Code, or information related to a Code rule, is now provided in the form of advisory notes, which are informational only and are not enforceable as requirements

A new subdivision (D) has been added that references “informative annexes.” The informative annexes provide information related to Code requirements but are not rules. It is intended that the term “annex” will be replaced with the term “informative annex” throughout the Code.

Article 100 Definitions

Proposal 2-162 Log No. 701

Definition: (Relocation) Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI). A device intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and by functioning to deenergize the circuit when an arc-fault is detected.

The definition of arc-fault circuit interrupter has been relocated to Article 100 because it appears in multiple articles in the NEC. Section 210.12 has been renumbered accordingly to meet the requirements of the NEC Style manual.

Proposal 1-54 Log No. 206

Definition: (Revision) Automatic. Performing a function without the necessity of human intervention.

Proposal 1-110a Log No. CP101

Definition: (Revision) Nonautomatic. Requiring human intervention to perform a function.

The definitions of the terms “automatic” and “nonautomatic” have been revised to be consistent with the definitions provided in the NFPA Glossary of Terms. Similar proposals are being submitted to NFPA 70E, 96, 99, 101, 101B, 550 and 901 to promote consistency between NFPA standards using the same term.

Proposal 5-4 Log No. 2928

Definition: (Revision) Bonding Conductor or Jumper. A reliable conductor to ensure the required electrical conductivity between metal parts required to be electrically connected.

The definition of the term “bonding jumper” has been revised to cover both bonding jumpers and bonding conductors. Although the Code is silent on the length of bonding jumpers, they often are viewed as short lengths that provide a means of connection between con-ductive objects. These conductors can be long or short, and the revision is intended to clarify what conductor or jumper is covered by the rule in which the term appears. Coordinated Code-wide revisions also have been proposed for consistency.

Proposal 2-23 Log No. 2931

Definition: (Revision) Kitchen. An area with a sink and permanent provisions for food preparation and cooking.

The word “facilities” has been replaced with the word “provisions.” This revision aligns this definition with that for dwelling units. The word “provisions” recognizes that all kitchen appliances are not permanent, such as electric ranges that are cord-and-plug con-nected, but yet occupy a dedicated location in the kitchen.

Proposal 1-99 Log No. 2301

Definition: (Revision to FPN) Nonlinear Load.

“FPN: Electronic equipment, electronic/electric discharge electric-discharge ballasts both inductive and electronic, and light-emitting diode (LED) drivers for lighting …”.

The advisory note (FPN) following the definition of nonlinear load has been revised to address both inductive and electronic ballasts and light-emitting diode (drivers) for lighting. A coordinated proposal was submitted for two new definitions of “luminaire, light-emitting diode (LED) type” and “light-emitting diode (LED).”

Definitions of Terms Related to Service Conductors

Proposals 4-3, 4-8, 4-15, 4-16, 4-18, 4-20a

Various definitions that use the term “service entrance” have been revised to remove the word “entrance” from the definitions. These changes were part of a larger coordinated effort to clarify which portions of electrical services and service conductors are covered by the NEC, which are not and which NEC rules apply. Many coordinated proposals also were submitted to revise the rules Code-wide where these terms appeared.

Article 110 Requirements for Electrical Installations

Section 110.3(B) Advisory Note (FPN) No. 2

Proposal 1-111 Log No. 1691

(New) This advisory note recognizes special conditions of use and other pertinent information may be marked on the equipment or on an accompanying “certificate,” which may be issued by the equipment manufacturer or by a listing organization. Certificates are recog-nized as a means of including instructions for installation and/or use.

Section 110.10 Circuit Impedance, Short-Circuit Current Ratings, and Other Characteristics

Proposal 1-130 Log No. 4403

(Revision) The words “short-circuit current ratings” have been added to the title of Section 110.10 because short-circuit current ratings are addressed in the rule. These ratings are an important part of the overall design that is directly related to equipment operating in a manner that does not result in extensive damage.

Section 110.20 Enclosure Types

Proposal 1-172 Log No. 4579

(Relocation) This section and associated Table 110.20 have been relocated to Part II of Article 110 (new Section 110.28). This section and table are applicable to equipment enclosures rated 600 volts nominal, or less. Part I provisions apply generally to all of Article 110 unless other-wise modified within a particular part. The appropriate location for the enclosure requirements and Table is Part II. No technical revisions have been made to these requirements.

Section 110.24 Available Fault Current

Proposal 1-183 Log No. 4783

(New) This new section requires service equipment to be field-marked with the amount of available short-circuit current when installed. When modifications to the system occur that cause changes to the available fault current, the marking has to be updated accordingly. An ex-ception is provided for industrial installations that provide conditions controlled by qualified persons.

Section 110.26(D) Illumination

Proposal 1-227 Log No. 2142

(Revision) This section has been revised to clarify that working spaces for service equipment, switchboards, panelboards, or motor control centers installed indoors cannot be controlled by automatic means. The revision expands the occupancy sensor lighting control restrictions to beyond just electric rooms. It applies to illumination for working spaces for the equipment identified in this section.

Article 200 Use and Identification of Grounded Conductors

Section 200.2 General

Proposal 5-31 Log No. 315

(Revision) This section was revised to remove the list of sections exempted from this general requirement to have a grounded conductor (of-ten a neutral) with all wiring systems or circuits. The revision removes the limitations imposed by having a list in the requirement. The panel statement clarifies that not all circuits are required to have grounded conductors included with the other conductors, such as for wiring a single-pole switch or other wiring application where a neutral or grounded conductor is not used.

Section 200.8 Neutral Conductors

Proposal 5-49 Log No. 3644

(New) Neutral conductors shall not be permitted to be used for more than one multiwire branch circuit or for more than one set of un-grounded feeder conductors unless specifically permitted elsewhere in this Code.

This new rule generally prohibits neutrals from being used for more than one multiwire branch circuit or one set of feeder conduc-tors. No rules actually and specifically prohibited the use of common neutral conductors in other cases.

To be continued …

This article provides readers with information about proposed Code revisions that have been accepted by the technical committees at this stage in the 2011 NEC development process. A future issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR will feature part 2 of this series with additional significant proposed changes. Readers are encouraged to participate in this process by submitting comments. Comments on the proposals are due to NFPA by Oct. 23, 2009. The comment forms and a copy of the report on proposals (ROP) can be obtained from NFPA. Visit www.nfpa.org. Get involved. It’s your Code.

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 mjohnston@necanet.org.

About the Author

Michael Johnston

Executive Director of Standards, NECA
Michael Johnston is NECA’s executive director of standards and safety. He is chair of the NEC Technical Correlating Committee. He served as a principal representative on NEC CMP-5 representing IAEI for the 2002, 2005, and 2008 cycles and is currently...

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