AFCI protection

Q
What is your interpretation of Section 210.12 of the 2002 NE Code? Also what are your thoughts pertaining to Code Article 210, when a bedroom contains a master bath with doors separating the master bedroom from the master bath, and without the door.

With the above in mind, in this master bath we have a 110V GFI-protected jacuzzi, a master closet with a light, vanity basin outlet(s) and a vanity light fixture. Do all these items have to be AFCI protected? Two more things: can an alarm plug, (110V) be in the master closet? Does the smoke detector circuit, for all smoke detectors, also have to be AFCI protected?

A
Under the 1999 NEC, only those branch circuits that supply 15A and 20A 125V receptacles in dwelling unit bedrooms are required to have AFCI protection. Note however, that it's the branch circuit that is required to be protected, not just the receptacles. This means that if you choose to put other outlets, such as lighting outlets or smoke detector outlets, on the same circuit, those additional outlets will also be AFCI protected. The 2002 NEC will require AFCI protection for all outlets in bedrooms of dwelling units, but for now, you could install one circuit for bedroom receptacle outlets and protect that circuit with an AFCI circuit breaker.

If the other circuits used for lighting and smoke detectors and so on do not supply receptacles in the bedroom(s) they do not require AFCI protection.

The NEC defines a bathroom as an “area” that includes a basin in addition to a tub, shower and/or toilet. The door has nothing to do with the NEC definition of a bathroom, in fact the bathroom itself may or may not be internally divided by doors. The bedroom and bathroom may be defined by lines on the plans without being separated by doors, just as a dining room and a living room may be divided only by an imaginary boundary or a change in finishes.

Just as dining room receptacles and living room receptacles are covered by different rules, the receptacles in bedrooms and adjoining bathrooms are covered by different rules.

Receptacle outlets in bathrooms are required by Section 210-11(c)(3) to have their own circuits. Those receptacles in the bathroom are required to be GFCI protected. Those in the bedroom are required to be AFCI protected.

As noted above, some of this will change in the 2002 Code, but only circuits supplying receptacles in bedrooms are required to have AFCI protection under the 1999 NEC.
Noel Williams

Swimming-pool insulations

Q
The NEC (680-25) requires the use of individually insulated equipment-grounding conductor for panelboards to swimming pool equipment. What is the big deal of individual insulation, especially all the way back to the main service, when the panelboard is fed from another panel that was properly installed, but may have been fed four-wire service cable with a bare equipment grounding conductor?

A
Two basic considerations in swimming pool installations drive the requirement for insulated equipment grounding conductors. The first is the reliability of the installation is somewhat more critical than in normal installations because of the increased hazard to persons in water, The second is that the conductors run to swimming pool equipment may be more susceptible to damage by corrosion because of the relatively high concentrations of chlorine. We may also want to decrease the likelihood of stray grounding currents. Insulation on equipment grounding conductors adds protection to the conductors and thus makes them more reliable. The situation you describe is covered by Section 680-25(d)(1) in the 1999 NEC. In the case of an existing panelboard that is remote from the service equipment and used to supply circuits to a pool installation, the equipment-grounding conductor between the service and the remote panelboard is permitted to be covered or insulated. A bare equipment-grounding conductor in a Type SER cable is considered to be covered by the overall jacket.

The grounding rules in Article 680 are modifications of the ordinary rules in Article 250. The modifications are intended to increase the reliability and decrease the difference of potential between parts of the pool equipment and are consistent with the similar special hazards and requirements for health care facilities and agricultural buildings. Note, however, that in these occupancies, the equipment grounding conductors must also be copper, as they must be for pool lighting and motors. Aluminum is permitted for grounding pool-related panelboards.
Noel Williams

Emergency system cable and conduit

Q
My question concerns using HCF cable instead of conduit for branch circuits and home runs of the emergency systems. Section 517-30C, mechanical protection of the emergency system, states that you must use conduit or MI cable. Section 517-13A, exception No. 1, states that you must use HCF cable for branch circuits and its home runs. This question has created quite a bit of discussion from different contractors working at the hospital.

A
Sections 517-30(c) and 517-13 cover completely different requirements. A product that meets the requirements of one section may well not meet the requirements of another section, and that is the case in your question. The “HCF” cable you refer to is not mentioned in the NEC. It is, I believe, a brand-specific identifier for a kind of Type AC cable that meets the grounding requirements for patient care areas in health care facilities. Such cables are recognized as having the two grounding paths (often called redundant grounding) required by Section 517-13. The bonded armor provides one equipment grounding conductor and an insulated equipment grounding conductor provides the other.

Section 517-30(c)(3) requires that certain methods be used to protect circuits of the emergency system and applies to all areas of a hospital, not just patient care areas. Generally, “nonflexible metal raceways” or Type MI cable are required for mechanical protection of emergency circuits. But 517-30(c)(3), Exception No. 5 permits the use of flexible cable assemblies only in listed prefabricated headwalls or office furnishings, or where flexibility is required, and as the fine print note points out, if used in a patient care area, the flexible cable must also provide the redundant grounding required by Section 517-13.

While “HCF” cable may meet the grounding requirements for patient care areas, it does not meet the protection requirements for fixed wiring for emergency circuits. Emergency circuits for patient care areas must meet both requirements, which means only nonflexible metal raceways can be used for emergency system branch circuits to patient care areas. The “HCF” cable can be used only for normal branch circuits in patient care areas. The permission to use flexible cables in the headwalls is essentially limited to the manufacturers of the headwalls. One rule applies to all emergency circuits and the other rule applies to all patient care areas. Only nonflexible metal raceways or Type MI cable will meet both requirements for emergency circuits in patient care areas. Note that Exceptions 3 and 4 to 517-30(C)(3) do not apply to patient care areas.
Noel Williams

CODE HAVE YOU STYMIED?

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO:

Mike Harrington, Managing Editor, CEE News

Primedia Business Magazines & Media 9800 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66212
E-mail:

mharring@primediabusiness.com
Include a sketch where appropriate.