The Top 25 Proposed Code Changes for 2002

Aug 1, 2000 12:00 PM, By James Stallcup, Sr.

As the next edition of the NEC begins to take shape, here's a look at the top 25 most important proposed Code changes that will affect you as an electrical professional.

As you can imagine, revising the National Electrical Code (NEC) is no small task. To ensure the Code keeps up with changing trends and technologies, enforces the highest safety standards, and strives to maintain consistent language, updating and revising this document is a lengthy and exhausting process that takes years to complete. But when you're dealing with such a comprehensive document, how does a change actually get made? Here's a quick explanation of how the process works.

To date, a total of 4700 proposals have been submitted and processed through 20 Code-Making Panels (CMPs). Each of these Panels has processed the proposals pertaining to their area of responsibility and forwarded them with comments to the Technical Correlating Committee (TCC) for review. The release of the document Report of Proposals (ROP) represents all of the work done by these committees. A copy of this report is available through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in Quincy, Mass.

Even though this report shows progress toward an approved 2002 Code, the process is far from complete. All proposals must still go through panel review and a public comment period. Although there were many changes proposed to the 2002 NEC, this article highlights the top 25 proposed additions and revisions that will affect you.

In this article, the author references sections and uses terms and symbols based on the 1999 NEC.

Code Administration and Enforcement: Art. 80 -- new. This new article will cover Code administration and enforcement rules, including provisions for existing nonconforming installations and appointment requirements for the authority of electrical inspectors and inspection procedures. Other items describe the creation of an electrical board having the power to appoint, regulate, and discipline inspectors.

This new article also has requirements for plan review, permits, and This new article also has requirements for plan review, permits, and record keeping. In the past, these requirements always appeared in building codes, which the electrical department typically adopts. The rule that will inevitably have the greatest impact is the authorization to connect and disconnect power from a source of power supplying a premises wiring system. For such an article to be enforceable, a jurisdiction must adopt its provisions. Until then, the rules can only function in an advisory capacity.

Definitions: Art. 100 (Luminaire) -- new. CMP 1 accepted a new definition of "luminaire" (lighting fixture) to replace the term "fixture," used in Art. 410 and other articles in previous editions of the NEC. In conjunction with this change, you'll see the term "fixture" or "lighting fixture" referred to as "luminaire." The TCC decided the former terminology will remain in the Code for the current cycle.

Flash Protection: Sec. 110-15 -- new. This new section will require you to mark panelboards, switchboards, and motor control centers (installed in buildings other than residential occupancies) in the field to indicate the incident energy in calories per square centimeter for a worker at a distance of 18 in. These requirements attempt to correlate with rules appearing in NFPA 70E (2000), Electrical Safety Requirements for Employee Workplaces.

Author's note: If the incident energy level is known, the worker knows the type of protective equipment and tools to wear/use while servicing the equipment.

Dedicated Equipment Space: Sec. 110-26(f) -- revision. CMP 1 revised Sec. 110-26(f) to require a dedicated space running from the floor to the structural ceiling, or 6 ft above the electrical equipment in locations with high ceilings. This rewrite will ensure electricians have adequate access to the equipment after installation, inspection, and acceptance by the owner.

Author's note: The intent of this Code change is to prohibit workers from installing foreign items in this space; except for suspended ceilings.

Means of Identifying Grounded Conductor: Sec. 200-6 -- revision. CMP 5 revised Sec. 200-6 to delete the word "natural" from the term "natural gray." The expression "natural gray" came into the NEC in 1923 to reflect uncolored latex and the cotton cloth served around it. Since this technology became obsolete roughly two generations ago, manufacturers no longer produce this insulation.

Electrical professionals widely control and use the color gray to identify a neutral conductor on 480/277V, 3-phase, 4-wire systems. They also use gray to identify the grounded conductor on a corner grounded 3-phase delta system. The Panel also added an FPN to alert electricians that they must use caution when working on gray colored conductors in electrical systems.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interruption: Sec. 210-12(b) -- revision. If approved, this section will require installers to connect all outlets (such as receptacles and luminaires, previously referred to as "lighting fixtures," installed in bedrooms of dwelling units) to arc-fault circuit-interruption (AFCI) protected circuits.

Receptacle Outlet Location: Sec. 210-52(c)(5) -- revision. If adopted, this section will include three adjustment rules for receptacles located above and below dwelling unit kitchen countertops.

The vertical limit of acceptability for the height of a receptacle above a countertop changes from 18 in. to 20 in. to accommodate receptacles in the underside of upper cabinets.

If you want to install a receptacle on the underside of a countertop (when working with an island or peninsula countertop that overhangs the base by more than 6 in.), make sure the receptacle isn't more than 6 in. from the edge. You can install a tombstone receptacle above the counter.

Over 600V: Art. 225, Part C -- revision. CMP 4 revised Part C to provide specific requirements for facilities supplied with over 600V systems. The Panel accepted allowances for facilities having their electrical systems designed and installed under engineering supervision and under the supervision of qualified maintenance personnel. Such personnel must have proof of documented training and experience in electrical systems rated over 600V.

Note: The Panel also added comprehensive requirements for calculating and sizing outdoor medium-voltage feeder and branch-circuit conductors (based on the 125% rule for loads "operated simultaneously"). As a result, you must consider at least 100% for transformer (XFMR) nameplate ratings. In other words, use 100% of XFMR nameplate plus 125% of the "designed potential load."

For supervised installations, CMP 4 added provisions pertaining to calculations based on assessments of loads and their characteristics. Qualified personnel, under engineering supervision, must evaluate such loads. Note: This supervised installation technique is optional to the 125% plus 100% rule above.

This article also includes requirements for overhead clearances of conductors, based on the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC), for the first time. It lists the actual height in feet and inches from finished grade instead of referring to the NESC to get such dimensions (see Secs. 225-60 and 225-61).

Used as Switches: Sec. 240-83(d) -- revision. If adopted, this section will require manufacturers to mark circuit breakers (used as a switch to control HID lighting) with the letters "HID." You can also use these circuit breakers to switch and control fluorescent lighting units. Note: You can use circuit breakers marked "SWD" to switch and control fluorescent lighting units, but you shall not use them for "HID" units.

Feeder and Branch-Circuit Conductors: Sec. 240-92(b)(1) -- revision. This revision appears to extend the tap allowances for large industrial facilities by permitting a 100-ft secondary connection where 150% primary-side protection is reflected in the winding ratio. The 75-ft allowance including differential relays or engineered short-circuit calculations may disappear, which will allow unlimited lengths under certain conditions.

Grounding Electrode Conductor: Sec. 250-30(a)(2) -- revision. CMP 5 revised the requirements to permit a No. 3/0 grounding electrode conductor to extend from the grounding electrode system and through the building to an accessible location near the separately derived system. You must use irreversible crimp connectors to connect the grounding electrode conductor from the separately derived system to the No. 3/0 copper conductor.

You may also use exothermic welding or connections to copper busbars not smaller than a quarter in. 2 2 in. for this purpose.

Grounding Electrode Conductor: Sec. 250-32(f) -- revision. CMP 5 revised this section to require you to size the grounding electrode conductor for bonding and grounding the electrical system to the grounding electrode system per Sec. 250-66. This change does not require such a conductor to be larger than the largest ungrounded supply conductor. This rule ends the controversy over whether Table 250-122 (based on the OCPD ahead of the feeder-circuit conductors) or Table 250-66 (based on the size of the feeder supply conductors) applies.

Author's note: The Panel reidentified the term "grounding conductor" as the "grounding electrode conductor."

Gas Pipe Bonding: Sec. 250-104(b) -- deletion. CMP 5 deleted the gas pipe bonding requirement extracted from NFPA 54 (National Fuel Gas Code). This requirement was one of the most controversial rule changes in the 1999 NEC. The rule basically required a bonding connection to the aboveground gas piping system upstream from the equipment shutoff valve.

This was in addition to the bonding connection required in Sec. 250-104(c) on the load side of the equipment using the equipment-grounding conductor of the circuit that might energize the gas piping.

Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors: Art. 285 -- new. The use of TVSS products has greatly increased in residential, commercial, and industrial installations. A new article, Art. 285 for "Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors" (TVSS), allows you to install TVSS devices on the load side of the service disconnect and overcurrent protection devices. UL 1449, Std. Transient Voltage Surge Suppressors, tests these devices at lower surge current levels than those for surge arresters covered in Art. 280 in the NEC and evaluated under IEEE standards. Requirements in this new article provide unique rules for TVSS devices and clarify the differences between these devices and surge arresters.

Wiring Methods: Chapter 3 -- completely revised. Electricians won't recognize any of the Articles in Chapter 3 in the 2002 NEC. If the Usability Task Group's proposal of renumbering Chapter 3 is accepted at the ROC stage, only even numbers will appear in this revision cycle. Odd numbers will be reserved for future Code cycles. Art. 380 and 384 will relocate into Chapter 4, and Art. 305 will move to Chapter 5. The Table, on page 32, lists the new numbering scheme for each article.

Receptacle Outlets: Sec. 305-6(a), Ex. 2 -- deletion. The exception to Sec. 305-6(a) has been deleted. The exception permitted industrial establishments to employ an assured equipment-grounding conductor program (AEGCP) as an alternative to GFCI-protection for 125V, single-phase, 15A, 20A, and 30A receptacles used for construction, remodeling, and maintenance purposes.

Adjustment Factors: Sec. 310-15(b)(2)(a), Ex. 5 -- new. This new exception to Sec. 310-15(b)(2)(a) permits you to install up to 20 No. 12 copper current-carrying conductors in a group of bundled Type AC and MC cables without applying ampacity adjustment factors. You must apply a 60% derating factor for runs longer than 24 in. To apply this rule correctly, you must limit each cable to three current-carrying conductors .

Made of Insulating Material: Sec. 410-18(b), Ex. -- new. This new exception allows you to install a luminaire (lighting fixture) with exposed conductive parts at an existing outlet where the wiring method does not provide an equipment-grounding conductor. In such cases, this rule allows you to install and use a separate equipment-grounding conductor in accordance with Sec. 250-130(c). This rule change provides a legal means for installing a luminaire (fixture) with exposed metal parts on existing branch-circuits without the existing wiring method having an equipment-grounding conductor means.

Specific Load: Sec. 430-62(a) -- revision. CMP 1 revised this subsection to clarify once and for all that you can base the "maximum permitted value" for the branch-circuit OCPD on an OCPD selected by the percentages in Table 430-152 as modified per Sec. 430-52(c)(1), Ex. 1. This means you can automatically round up to the next higher size. If the motor fails to start and operate after using the smaller size OCPD (round down) or next higher size (round up) per Sec. 430-52(c)(1) and Ex. 1, you can size the motor OCPD per Sec. 430-52(c)(1), Ex. 2.

Sign Markings: Secs. 490-4(b), 490-21(b)(7), and 490-21(c)(2) -- revision. These proposals revise the text in Art. 490 to allow for appropriate development of hazard signs that will comply with ANSI Z535. Many feel that in some cases the existing NEC warning in these sections and other sections in different articles may not provide the proper warnings for the particular hazards involved with the equipment.

Hazardous (Classified) Locations: Sec. 500-2, FPN -- new. CMP 4 accepted a new definition pertaining to the acceptance of equipment for the term "identified" to be applied in Art. 500 through 516. With respect to equipment clarification, the hazardous location articles in past editions of the NEC always used the term "approved" (acceptable to the AHJ) where equipment was not listed. The FPN points to other acceptable sources of identification, including manufacturer's self-certification or plant engineering evaluations (if acceptable to the AHJ). The material in the FPN is more liberal on approval of equipment than the rules of OSHA 1910.399 in Subpart S of CFR 29. The panel replaced the word "approved" with "listed" in some articles and the term "identified" in other articles. However, it retained "approved" for acceptance of equipment in many sections of existing articles.

Author's note: The TCC balked at having two different definitions and asked CMP 1 and CMP 5 to work together to solve the problem of the definition and FPN.

Bonding and Equipotential Planes: Sec. 547-9 -- revision. CMP 19 rewrote Sec. 547-9 to be much more specific on which livestock areas must have an equipotential plane. For buildings, you must install equipotential planes in concrete floors of livestock confinement areas that contain metal equipment accessible to livestock that is likely to become energized.

Outdoor dirt and concrete surface confinement areas, such as feedlots, and indoor and outdoor dirt surface areas such as horse stalls and feedlots, shall have equipotential planes installed around metallic equipment that is accessible to animals and likely to become energized. The equipotential plane shall encompass the area around the equipment where animals will stand while accessing the equipment.

You shall bond equipotential planes to the building or structure electrical grounding system. The bonding jumper shall be copper, insulated, covered, or bare and not smaller than No. 8 AWG. The means of bonding to wire mesh or conductive elements shall be by pressure connectors or clamps of brass, copper, copper alloy, or an equally substantial approved means. Slatted floors supported by structures that are a part of an equipotential plane shall not require bonding.

Output Wiring and Listing of Amplifiers: Sec. 640-9(c) -- revision. CMP 16 added a second and third paragraph to Sec. 640-9(c) for output wiring and listing of audio amplifiers, which allow you to install audio amplifier output circuits and treat them as Class 1 circuits. The Panel deleted the former text, which did not allow you to install audio output circuit conductors in the same raceway as other audio circuits wired as Class 1 circuits (and the same for Class 2 and 3 circuits).

The accepted second paragraph reads as follows: "Audio amplifier output circuits wired using Class 1 wiring methods shall be considered equivalent to Class 1 circuits and be installed in accordance with Sec. 725-25, where applicable."

You must consider audio amplifier output circuits wired using Class 2 or Class 3 wiring methods equivalent to Class 2 or Class 3 circuits, respectively. They shall use conductors insulated at not less than the requirements of Sec. 725-71 and you must install them in accordance with Secs. 725-54 and 725-61.

Receptacle: Art. 680 -- revision. CMP 20 completely rewrote Art. 680. For example, it added a new item (3) to Sec. 680-6(a) that permits you to install one receptacle outlet at least 5 ft from the inside wall of a pool or fountain. The Panel did this because many smallresidential lots do not allow you to install a pool adjacent to the house and still comply with the outdoor receptacle outlet requirements per Sec. 210-52(e).

Note: If you can't install the pool or fountain more than 10 ft from the existing dwelling unit, then one receptacle can remain if such outlet is located at least 5 ft. from the pool or fountain. Also covered are the requirements for bonding and grounding double insulated (DI) motors at a pool.

Unsupported Cables: Secs. 725-5, 760-5, 770-7, 800-5, 820-5 -- revision. CMP 16 revised Secs. 725-5, 760-5, 770-7, 800-5, and 820-5 to allow you to install a limited number of cables as unsupported cables for buildings with existing cabling systems. To apply this rule, you must comply with the following requirements:

• Access to equipment shall not be denied by an accumulation of wires and cables that prevents removal of panels.

• You cannot install cables in such a manner that damages the cable by normal removal of panels.

• You must install cables in such a manner that will not damage the cable by normal building use.

• Where practicable, installation of cables shall comply with Sec. 300-11 and where impracticable to comply with Sec. 300-11, cables less than 13mm (0.5 in.) in diameter shall be permitted to be installed unsupported by the building structure under certain conditions of use.

• In areas having ceilings with access points or access panels, you can fish a maximum of three cables between access points in the ceiling.

• In areas having suspended lay-in ceilings, you can install a maximum of three unsupported cables on top of any one ceiling tile. The cables shall be run parallel to the ceiling grid.

These top 25 proposed changes to the 2002 NEC covered in this article represent only those changes that have been proposed and are going through the approval process. After the ROP is released, you can submit public comments to NFPA. Then, it will distribute these comments to the appropriate Code Panel.Their responsibility is to review these comments and forward the results to the TCC. After the TCC reviews the actions of each of the CMPs, it will publish the Report of Comments (ROC) and make it available to the public. Final adoption will take place at the annual meeting in May of 2001.

Author's note: This article was written from individual reports from each CMP -- not from the final ROP.