Proposed Changes for the 2002 NEC

Over 4700 proposals were submitted to the National Fire Protection Association to amend the 1999 National Electrical Code. The 20 NEC Code-Making Panels met in January 2000, and took action on proposed changes to articles of the Code within the scope of each respective panel. Listed below is the first of a two-part brief summary of some significant changes accepted by the panels. The second part of the summary will be in the September/October issue. A more comprehensive coverage of accepted changes will be published following final action in 2001. The NEC is amended on a three-year cycle and follows the ANSI-approved National Fire Protection Association open consensus process of developing codes and standards. The code change process is open and anyone can submit proposals and public comments. Blank forms and information on submitting proposals and public comments are readily available for those wishing to participate. Code-Making Panels review and act on all proposals and public comments submitted to them.

Guidance was provided to the 20 Code-Making Panels on several issues that are to be addressed during the 2002 NEC cycle. One item for action is that of placing international units (SI) of measure as the primary number and locating the standard inch-pound measures in parenthesis following the SI units. The general application rule in the conversion is that of using a “hard conversion” where the SI value is not an exact conversion, such as where “30″ (762 mm)” is revised to read “750 mm (30″).” Where the measurement has an impact on safety, a “soft conversion” is used where the SI values are a more exact conversion. An example of the “soft conversion” is changing “30″ (762 mm)” to read “762 mm (30″).”

Another item involves the use of the term “luminaire.” Action taken by affected Code-Making Panels and the NEC Technical Correlating Committee resulted in the acceptance of the term “luminaire” as a replacement of the terms “lighting fixture,” “lighting fixtures,” and “fixture” in appropriate locations in the Code. The term “fixture” has many other uses than that of describing a complete lighting unit. The term “luminaire” is used in both national and international product standards. The NEC is an international electrical code and, as such, it is appropriate to use this internationally recognized term. In a effort to make the conversion easier, the word “fixture” or “fixtures” will follow the term “luminaire” in parenthesis. The definition of “luminaire” is also being added to Article 100.

The 2002 NEC is scheduled to undergo a significant change in its style. The numbering system will change to be more consistent with other standards and continuing effort is being made to make the document more user friendly. The number of exceptions to the general rules is being reduced and many of these exceptions have been converted into positive text.

Many article numbers in Chapter 3 will be changed for the 2002 Code. This action is being taken to make the Code easier to use by grouping articles covering related wiring methods. Some articles in Chapter 3 are proposed to be relocated to other chapters of the Code because they appear to be better suited to the scope of those chapters.

Article 80—Administration and Enforcement:

Article 80.

Proposal 1-3:A new Article 80 was accepted to provide a standardized set of administrative rules that can be used by adopting jurisdictions. The proposed new article is similar to NFPA 70L but Article 80 is intended to be used with the NEC. While proposed Article 80 is to be included in the NEC, it is to be informative unless specifically adopted by the local jurisdiction. This set of administrative rules will be very helpful to jurisdictions that are either adopting the Code for the first time or have adopted it but want to revise the existing administrative provisions. This proposed new article will provide a basis for the adoption of more uniform administrative provisions across the country.

Article 90 – Introduction.

90-1(c). Proposal 1-5:The recommendation in this proposal is to delete the wording in 90-1(c). This section presently reads “(c) Intention. This Code is not intended as a design specification nor an instruction manual for untrained persons.”” The proposer contends that the provision covering design specifications is both misunderstood and inappropriately applied. Section 90-1(b) states, “This Code contains provisions that are considered necessary for safety.” It is evident by the multitude of provisions presently in the Code that contain design requirements that it has never been the intent of the Code to restrict the inclusion of such provisions. Section 90-1(c) has been cited many times as an argument against rules being adopted into the Code because they had design provisions in addition to safety rules.

90-1(d). Relation to International Standards.

Proposal 1-6:A new 90-1(d) and Fine Print Note (FPN) was added to read, “(d) Relation to International Electrotechnical Commission Standards. The requirements in this Code address the fundamental principles of protection for safety contained in International Standard “Electrical Installations of Buildings, IEC 60364-1, Section 131.

“FPN: IEC 60364-1, Section 131 contains fundamental principles of protection for safety that encompass: protection against electric shock, protection against thermal effects, protection against overcurrent, protection against fault currents, and protection against overvoltage. All of the above potential hazards are addressed by the requirements in this Code.”

The National Electrical Code is an international electrical code and so states on the cover of the 1999 edition. The NEC has been adopted and used in several countries around the world, but it is contended by some that IEC 60364 is the international standard. As pointed out in the last sentence of the Fine Print Note, the NEC includes provisions addressing those principles in IEC 60364.

90-2. Scope.

Proposal 1-10:This proposal is a procedural follow-up on the action by the NEC Technical Correlating Committee to hold for further study Proposal 1-13 and Public Comment 1-18a of the 1999 Code cycle. Section 90-2(a) has been revised to read “90-2(a) Covered. This Code covers the installation of electric conductors, electric equipment, signaling and communications conductors and equipment, and fiber optic cables and raceways for the following:

1. Public and private premises including buildings, structures, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, and floating buildings.

2. Yards, lots, parking lots, carnivals, and industrial substations.

3. Installations of conductors and equipment that connect to the supply of electricity.

4. Installations used by the electric utility, such as office buildings, warehouses, garages, machine shops, and recreational buildings, that are not an integral part of a generating plant, substation, or control center.” The existing FPN following this section remains unchanged.

Section 90-2(b)(5) has been reworded to read, “Installations under the exclusive control of an electric utility where such installations consist of wiring for service drops or laterals or are located in legally established easements, right-of-ways, or on property owned or leased by the electric utility for the purpose of communications, metering, generation, control, transformation, transmission, or distribution of electric energy.”

Section 90-2(a) was editorially revised to more uniformly group similar types of installations together and to make it easier to read. Section 90-2(b)(5) was revised to better define the wiring identified as not covered by the NEC. The proposed wording in 90-2(b)(5) is an attempt to focus on more readily definable areas such as easements and specifically includes service drops and laterals. Local authorities, such as Public Service Commissions, generally have jurisdiction over dedicated areas for utility wiring. The wiring identified by ownership or lease and by purpose as not covered by the NEC is specified in 90-2(b)(5).

90-4. Enforcement.

Proposal 1-93:The second paragraph of Section 90-4 has been revised by adding the wording “by special permission” at the beginning of the paragraph and will read: “By special permission the authority having jurisdiction may waive specific requirements in this Code or permit alternate methods where it is assured that equivalent objectives can be achieved by establishing and maintaining effective safety.”

This change has the effect of requiring the authority having jurisdiction to specify in writing variations from Code requirements given by that AHJ. Special permission is defined in Article 100.

Article 100 – Definitions:

Article 100 – Qualified Person.

Proposal 1-178: The definition of qualified person has been revised to read: “Qualified Person. One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the equipment and has received safety training on the hazards involved.”

This revised definition is a better description of a qualified person. Being qualified is more than just being familiar with the construction and operation of the equipment and the hazards involved.

110-15. Flash Protection.

Proposal 1-235:A new section was added to read: “”110-15. Flash Protection. Switchboards, panel-boards, and motor control centers installed in other than residential occupancies shall be marked in the field to indicate the incident energy in calories per square centimeter for a worker at a distance of 18 in.””

This new section addresses the concern over the protection of electricians who have to work equipment while it is energized. While it is necessary to work some equipment hot, the worker can be better protected against flash burns if the proper type of protective equipment is selected.

110-26(c).Entrance to Working Space. Proposal 1-260a:This title of Section 110-26(c) has been revised, the exceptions have been amended and located as part of the standard text, and the section has been restructured. The wording “Access and” has been removed from the title and it will now read “Entrance to Working Space.”” A new sentence has been added to the newly designated “(2) Large Equipment” to read, “Where the entrance has a personnel door(s), 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 change addresses the concern for the safety of people who work on energized equipment described in this section and their ability to get out of personnel doors that provide access to and exit from that area during an emergency. The door opening devices that operate on simple pressure as required by this section will permit an injured worker to exit the area more easily than they could if they had to operate a standard door knob.

110-26(f). Dedicated Equipment Space. Proposal 1-271a:This section covering “dedicated equipment space” has been revised by deleting the existing wording in the exception under 110-26(f)(1)(a) and adding the wording, “Suspended ceilings with removable panels shall be permitted within the 1.8 m (6 ft.) zone.” The wording in 110-26(f)(b) has been revised to read: “(b) Foreign Systems. The area above the dedicated space required by 110-26(f)(1)(a) shall be permitted to contain foreign systems provided protection is installed to avoid damage to the electrical equipment from condensation, leaks, or breaks in such foreign systems.”

This revision should clarify that equipment not associated with the electrical equipment covered in this section is not permitted to be installed in the six-foot area above the electrical equipment. The question of suspended ceilings within the six-foot required clearance is also addressed by the addition of the new wording.

110-33. Entrance and Access to Work Space.

Proposal 1-291a:This section has been amended by adding the same wording regarding doors that open under simple pressure as that inserted in 110-26(c).

Article 200. Use and Identification of Grounded Conductors:


Proposal 5-9:The word “natural” has been deleted from this section and other sections in the Code where used as part of the term “natural gray.” A new Fine Print Note has been added to read, “FPN: The color gray may have been used in the past as an ungrounded conductor. Care should be taken when working on existing systems.”

This action will address the concern expressed by many that the term “natural gray” is not defined and there is no recognized color or tint that one can readily associate with that term. The Fine Print Note is cautionary because gray has been used in some cases as the ungrounded conductor.

Article 210. Branch Circuits:

210-6. Branch-Circuit Voltage Limitations.

Proposal 2-16:A new 210-6(e) has been added to read: “(e) Over 600 Volts Between Conductors. Circuits exceeding 600 volts nominal between conductors shall be permitted to supply utilization equipment in installations where conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons will service the installation.”

This change clarifies that circuits exceeding 600 volts are permitted when maintenance and supervision ensure that qualified persons will service the installation.

210-7. Receptacle and Cord Connectors. Proposals 2-18 & 2-19:Existing Section 210-7 is proposed to be relocated to a new Article 406 covering receptacles, cord connectors, and attachment plugs and will be under a heading of “General Installation Requirements.” A new 210-7 has been created to read: “210-7 Branch-Circuit Receptacle Requirements. Receptacle outlets shall be located in branch circuits in accordance with Part C of Article 210. Specific requirements for receptacles are covered in Article 420.”

The relocation of this material is more appropriate because the proposed new Article 406 covers general requirement for how receptacles are installed and these requirements in existing 210-7 fall within that scope.

210-8(a)(7). Wet Bar Sinks.

Proposals 2-53 & 2-54:The last sentence of 210-8(a)(7) that reads: “Receptacle outlets shall not be installed in a face-up position in the work surfaces or countertops” is to be reworded and relocated to new Article 406 under the heading of “Receptacles in Countertops and Similar Work Surfaces in Dwelling Units.” This provision is more appropriate for Article 406 than it is for Article 210.

210-8(a)(8). Boathouses.

Proposal 2-57:A new 210-8(a)(8) has been added to read, “(8) Boathouses.”

Requirement for GFCI protection for receptacle outlets in residential boathouses in Section 555-3 has been deleted from that location and relocated to Article 210. This is the result of a change in Scope of Article 555. Article 555 will no longer cover single-family private residential docking facilities.

210-12. Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

Proposals 2-102, 103, 110, 112, 113, 115, 116: Theterm “receptacle” and the last sentence in 210-12(b) have been deleted. Section 210-12(b) will now read, “(b) Dwelling Unit Bedrooms. All branch circuits that supply 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere outlets installed in dwelling unit bedrooms shall be protected by an arc-fault circuit interrupter(s).”

This change will extend the arc-fault circuit-interrupter protection to all outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms. The requirement previously applied only to the receptacle outlets.

210-19(a), Exception.

Proposal 2-130:The word “allowable” has been added before the term “ampacity” in the first sentence of the Exception and a new last sentence has been added to read, “In no case shall the ampacity be less than the rating of the overcurrent device.”

Adding the word “allowable” clarifies that the ampacity of a conductor includes the application of adjustment factors if they apply. The last sentence requires the conductor ampacity to be not less than the rating of the overcurrent device for an overcurrent device that is listed for 100 percent operation.

210-19(d), Exception No. 1.

Proposal 2-133: The exception to 210-19(d) has been revised by adding a provision in the main paragraph requiring the tap conductors to have an ampacity sufficient for the load served. This will clarify that tap conductors must be properly sized.

210-23. Permissible Loads.

Proposal 2-142(a):210-23(a) has been revised to improve readability and has integrated language in 210-23(a)(1) to require cord- and plug-connected utilization equipment to be listed and marked to inform the user of the necessity for providing an individual branch circuit for such equipment that exceeds 80 percent of the branch-circuit.

210-52.Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlets. Proposal 2-153(a): A new first sentence has been added to 210-52 to read, “This section provides requirement for 125-volt, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets.”

The added first sentence clarifies that the required receptacles are to be 125-volt, 15- or 20-ampere configuration only. If other configurations are desired, they may be installed in addition to the required ones.

210-52(c)(5).Receptacle Outlet Location. Proposal 2-171: The maximum distance above a countertop that a receptacle serving that countertop is permitted to be mounted has been changed from 18 inches to 20 inches. This action was taken because some top cabinets are more than 18 inches above the base cabinet and this change would permit the installation of receptacles on the bottom of the top cabinets to serve the countertop spaces.

Philip Cox
Former IAEI Executive Director, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief for the IAEI News, Philip Cox was formerly employed with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association as a field representative covering a 17-state area. He is a member of NFPA NEC Technical Correlating Committee. He served on Code-Making Panel No. 6, representing IAEI during the Code cycles for the 1984 and 1987 editions of the NEC. He served as chairman of CMP-1, representing the National Electrical Manufacturers Association during the 1996 cycle. He served as acting chairman of CMP-1, representing IAEI for the 1999 cycle and remains as a member of that panel for the 2002 Code cycle. He is a member of NFPA Electrical Section; UL Electrical Council; ITS Technical Advisory Council; and former member of The Chauncey Group International Board of Governors for the National Certification Program for Construction Code Inspectors; and former member of the IEC United States National Committee Executive Committee. He also served as chief electrical inspector for the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, and was secretary to the Little Rock Electrical Examining Board, developing and administering examinations for master, journeyman and specialty electricians. He was appointed as electrical safety coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Labor and administered the Arkansas state electrical licensing law. Cox is past president of the Western Section, IAEI, and served on the IAEI Board of Directors as board member and fifth vice president. He has been involved in the development and presentation of IAEI training programs on both chapter and international level.