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 safety questions.

All references are based on the 2005 NEC.


Rich Romero, president of Assured Electrical Solutions, Inc., Sunrise, Fla., ran across this homemade light fixture while rewiring a bathroom at a residential property. The 1-pound coffee can unit was installed in the attic space directly above the shower stall supported by its own lamp cord. The crafty installer had also cut a 2-foot by 2-foot hole in the ceiling of the pre-molded shower unit and placed a piece of frosted plastic over the top of this opening to serve as a lens for the homemade light fixture.

“The amount of work that went into this installation is amazing,” Romero says. “Note how the installer spent the time to drill vent holes in the bottom of the can for heat dissipation. He even cut and bent in two sections of the top of the can to serve as mounting flanges for the keyless light fixture.”

As per 110.8 of the 2005 NEC, “Only wiring methods recognized as suitable are included in this Code.” Obviously, this installation doesn't meet this requirement. In addition, Part VII of Art. 410 outlines the construction requirements of luminaires (fixtures), including fixture marking, electrical rating, and design and material criteria. This homemade luminaire doesn't even come close to meeting the criteria set forth in these Code sections. This so-called “can light” also violates the temperature requirements noted in Part XII of the same Article (410.68).


Dan Naugle, P.E., engineering manager, Boeing Corp., Moore, Okla., happened upon this installation in the parking lot of a busy public facility. The cable serves as the feed for a parking lot lighting fixture. The light is located on one side of a driveway, and the supply is on the other. The conduit and buried cable cross the drive at a 90° angle; however, the conduit ends just about in the middle of the crossing.

You can find the wiring requirements for underground installations in 300.5. As per 300.5(A) and (B), “Direct-buried cable or conduit or other raceways shall be installed to meet the minimum cover requirements of Table 300.5. Cables and insulated conductors installed in enclosures or raceways in underground installations shall be listed for use in wet locations.” In addition, 300.5(D) states, “Direct buried conductors and cables shall be protected from damage in accordance with 300.5(D)(1) through D(4).”

Found a Code violation? E-mail your photos to Joe Tedesco at