Code HunterRead the article: CODE HUNTER — Health Care Facilities, 2017 NEC
TIME FLIES when you’re having fun. And it’s about that time again—a brand new electrical code is upon us. Say hello to the 2017 National Electrical Code! I’m here again writing for IAEI magazine and I’ve got my top picks for this new edition of NFPA-70. I like to think of them as the “Top Ten Electrical Code Changes.” Sure, there are a bunch of changes, but I always feel obligated to pick out the “Top Ten” as I see them. For me, it’s fun. So without further ado, here they are:
Keep in mind that these requirements are for other than a dwelling unit. Article 210.8 is so important for life safety. I think we should all read it over from time to time so as to keep these requirements fresh in our minds.
(1) Not exposed to physical damage
(2) Exposed to physical damage
(3) Smaller than 6 AWG
(4) In Contact with Earth
I will be honest with you; I really pushed for subsection (4) In Contact with Earth. One of my pet peeves when I do an electrical service inspection is to find a grounding electrode conductor running along the surface of the ground without any protection … just lying there. The 2014 language left the reader with the impression that a grounding electrode conductor lying on the earth didn’t need protection – ever. That was never the intent. It needs protection if it is subject to physical damage. The new language states that a grounding electrode, if in contact with the earth, shall not be required to comply with 300.5, but shall “be buried or otherwise protected if subject to physical damage.” So if you are an electrical inspector and feel that the grounding electrode conductor is subject to people walking on it, kicking it, tripping on it, or whatever do me a big favor and have the contractor bury it a little bit. I really have to thank my code panel (CMP-5) for adding this new language. It makes enforcement so much easier for the inspector!
It was never the intent of the National Electrical Code that swimming pool reinforcing steel be used as a grounding electrode conductor. In fact, in the beginning of Article 680-22 (1996 NEC) there was a Fine Print Note that read:
“It shall not be the intent of this section to require that the No. 8 or larger solid copper bonding conductor be extended or attached to any remote panelboard, service equipment, or any electrode, but only that it shall be employed to eliminate voltage gradients in the pool area as prescribed.”
Distances for natural gas are given in NFPA 52-2013 (Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code), distances for hydrogen are given in NFPA 2-2011 (Hydrogen Technologies Code), and distances for liquid propane gas are given in NFPA 58-2014 (Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code).
The National Electrical Code is a living document. Code changes help to increase the safety of any electrical installation. All code changes are important, and the ones listed here are just a few, but I believe they are very significant. Don’t stop here; take the time and familiarize yourself with the entire 2017 National Electrical Code! Many resources, such as IAEI’s Analysis of Changes, NEC 2017, are available to help you. I hope that you share these changes with colleagues and trade professionals. In closing, I wish you all happy and safe wiring!