More Code Catastrophes


As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious electrical safety questions.


Dock Lighting System

The electrical circuit supplying the light pole on this dock set up a rather unique installation. First, the electrical conduit served as a fence or railing for pedestrians. In addition to the missing covers on the conduit bodies, which leave exposed live wires accessible to the general public, there were exposed conductors at the top of the pole. In the close-up photo, you can see the cable isn't designed for this use. To top it all off, the equipment-grounding conductor is also missing. Per 410.15, metal poles are permitted to support luminaires and serve as a raceway to enclose supply conductors, provided the pole has a hand hole not less than 2 in. × 4 in. with a raintight cover to provide access to the supply terminations within the pole or pole base.




Required Horizontal Clearances

Although this switch can be opened to make repairs and replace fuses, access to the equipment looks like it may have been in violation of Code rules in effect 35 years ago (when it appears to have been installed). A check of the 1965 Code, Sec. 110-16(a) covering horizontal clearances for 0V to 150V to ground, shows that conditions 1 and 2 required 2½ ft, and condition 3 required 3 ft. When this equipment is eventually replaced, the AHJ can consider acceptance of the installation in accordance with 90.4.




Living on the Edge, or Should We Say Roof

This violation can be found in an alley behind a major shopping center in the Midwest. When this electrical metallic tubing (EMT) was first installed several years ago, it was supported by the straps located on the lower edge of the fascia board. However, those straps no longer serve their purpose. As such, the threadless coupling has pulled apart and left a break in the continuity of the EMT, violating the grounding rules in Art. 250. Use of this raceway as a support method for cables or nonelectrical equipment also violates 300.11(B), where raceways are allowed as a means of support for other raceways, cables, or nonelectrical equipment under specific conditions not present here. So how did the threadless coupling come apart? It didn't help that street people living on the roof of this building used the EMT as a pull bar when accessing the roof.




Open Air Panel

One of my students, an electrical engineer with Honda Corp. in California, sent me this picture. He and his new wife found this open air panel in a villa while visiting a foreign country on their honeymoon. I'm sure we all agree it doesn't meet the requirements of 110.2. Panelboards are required to be installed in cabinets and comply with Arts. 312 and 408.




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