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.

Too Close for Comfort

This service drop and service entrance conductors are positioned much too close to this window. As per 230.9, “service conductors and final spans shall comply with 230.9(A), (B), and (C).”

The requirements of 230.9(A) state when service conductors are installed as open conductors or in a multiconductor cable without an overall outer jacket they're required to have a clearance of no less than 900 mm (3 feet) from windows that are designed to be opened. This same requirement pertains to doors, porches, balconies, ladders, stairs, fire escapes, or similar locations. An exception to this rule allows you to run the conductors above the top level of a window and exempts you from meeting the 900 mm minimum separation requirement noted above.

Extending Rules a Little Too Far

I found this installation on a church property in the Midwest. It was one of four similar arrangements at this location. The short piece of extension cord was connected to the pole's circuit conductors behind the taped up cover. The property was under renovation, so I have to assume the lack of an outdoor GFCI-protected receptacle led to this problem.

Extension cords are permitted by the NEC, but not for this use or where permanently connected. Take note of the following Code references:

• 240.5(B)(3), Extension Cord Sets — “Flexible cord used in listed extension cord sets shall be considered to be protected when applied within the extension cord listing requirements.”

• 240.5(B)(4), Field Assembled Extension Cord Sets — “Flexible cord used in extension cords made with separately listed and installed components shall be permitted to be supplied by a branch circuit in accordance with the following: 20A circuits, 16 AWG, and larger.”

In addition, flexible cord and cable uses permitted and not permitted are outlined in 400.7 and 400.8.

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