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2005 NEC Changes Articles 200 to 220

Mike Holt's 2005 NEC Changes Summary — Articles 200 through 220

Chapter 2 Wiring and Protection

Chapter 2 provides general rules for wiring and protection of conductors. The rules in this chapter apply to all electrical installations covered by the NEC-except as modified in Chapters 5, 6, and 7.

Communications systems (Chapter 8) aren't subject to the general requirements of Chapters 1 through 4, or the special requirements of Chapters 5 through 7, unless there's a specific reference in Chapter 8 to a rule in Chapters 1 through 7.

As you go through Chapter 2, remember its purpose. Chapter 2 is primarily concerned with correctly installing and protecting circuits. Every article in Chapter 2 deals with a different aspect of these purposes. This differs from the purpose of Chapter 3, which is to size correctly and to install the conductors that make up those circuits.

Chapter 1 introduced you to the NEC and provided a solid foundation for understanding the NEC. Chapters 2 and 3 (Wiring Methods and Materials) together form the heart of the NEC-they form a solid foundation for applying the NEC. Chapter 4 applies the preceding chapters to general equipment. So, once again, you find yourself needing to learn the NEC in a sequential manner because each Chapter builds on the one before it. Once you've mastered the first four Chapters, you can learn the next four in any order you wish.


Article 200. Use and Identification of Grounded (Neutral) Conductor

This article contains the requirements for identification of the grounded (neutral) conductor and its terminals. If you go back to Article 100, you will see that the grounded conductor isn't the grounding conductor. Make sure you clearly understand the difference between the two before you begin your study of Article 200.

This article isn't very long, and it's not very complicated, and following these requirements can mean the difference between a safe installation and an electrocution hazard. The illustrations will help you form mental pictures of the key points.

Article 200 - 2005 Changes

  • The means of identification of grounded (neutral) conductors larger than 6 AWG was revised to allow gray as well as white markings at terminations.
  • New sentence added to remove confusion and misinterpretation in the field on the requirements for reidentifying white conductors in cable assemblies when they are used as ungrounded conductor.


Article 210. Branch Circuits

This article contains the requirements for branch circuits, such as conductor sizing and identification, GFCI receptacle protection, and receptacle and lighting outlet requirements. It consists of three parts:

Part I. General Provisions
Part II. Branch Circuit Ratings
Part III. Required Outlets

Table 210.2 of this article identifies specific-purpose branch circuits. When people complain that the Code "buries stuff in the last few Chapters and doesn't provide you with any way of knowing," that is because they didn't pay attention to this table.

The rest of the material is also important. But mastering these key items will give you a decided edge in your ability to do work free of Code violations.

Article 210 - 2005 Changes

  • New FPN alerts the Code user to ensure that the continuity of the grounded (neutral) conductor of a multiwire circuit isn't interrupted (open), because doing so can result in a fire and/or destruction of electrical equipment because of under- or over-voltage.
  • The requirement for branch circuit identification was relocated from 210.4(D) to 210.5(C) and the text expanded to require circuit identification for all circuits, not just those that are multiwire.
  • Changing the word "receptacle" to "device or equipment" was intended to bring 210.7 in line with other NEC sections to create more consistency in the Code and to expand the requirements.
  • Revised text to require all 15 and 20A, 125V receptacles within 6 ft of the dwelling unit laundry or utility sink to be GFCI protected. This is because irons, hair dryers and similar items with ungrounded polarized and nonpolarized cord caps are commonly used in this area and present the same shock hazard found in other areas where the NEC currently requires GFCI protection.
  • The GFCI protection requirement for commercial kitchens was clarified by adding a definition of a kitchen. New requirement expands the GFCI protection requirements for 15 or 20A, 125V receptacles to include receptacles located outdoors that are accessible to the public. And new requirement expands the GFCI protection requirements for the required 15 or 20A, 125V receptacle for heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration equipment [210.63].
  • Because there have been at least three electrocutions over a three-year period from boat hoists, a new subsection was added. The rule specifies that GFCI protection is required for "outlets" that supply boat hoists, not just "receptacle outlet." This will ensure GFCI protection regardless of whether the unit's cord- and plug-connected or hard-wired.
  • Revised text to require, after January 1, 2008 that all dwelling unit bedroom branch circuit AFCI protection devices must be listed as a "Combination Type AFCI." And new exception permits AFCI protection by a device that isn't a circuit breaker (such as a receptacle), but only if it meets stringent requirements.
  • New section to ensure that branch circuits, receptacle, lighting, and switch outlets in guest rooms and guest suites having permanent provisions for cooking must meet the same requirements as dwelling units.
  • New exception and diagram added to clarify that a counter top receptacle outlet isn't required on a wall directly behind a rangetop or sink. And change clarifies when an island countertop is to be divided into separate sections when determining the number of required countertop receptacle outlets.
  • A new exception permits the required bathroom receptacle outlet to be mounted on the basin cabinet. This exception provides an alternative location for the required bathroom receptacle outlet, especially where the walls are all mirrored.
  • New rule requires at least one outdoor receptacle outlet for each grade level dwelling unit with an individual entrance. This will help remove the need to run an extension cord through a door or windows to provide power for outdoor equipment, such as lawn mowers and hedges clipper, radio's etc.
  • New rule requires receptacle outlets in guest rooms or guest suites provided with permanent provisions for cooking be installed in accordance with the requirements for dwelling units [210.52].
  • New exception clarifies that a receptacle outlet isn't required within 25 ft of evaporative coolers at one- and two-family dwellings.
    • Author's Comment: This exception doesn't make sense. Since evaporative coolers are listed per UL standard 507 - Electric Fans, they aren't heating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration equipment and a receptacle outlet isn't required anyway.
  • Revised text and two new exceptions clarify that lighting outlets in guest rooms or guest suites provided with permanent provisions for cooking must be installed in accordance with the same requirements as those for dwelling units [210.52].

Article 215. Feeders

The next logical step up from the branch circuit's the feeder circuit. Consequently, Article 215 follows Article 210. This article covers the rules for installation, minimum size, and ampacity of feeders.

This is a very short article, and that's puzzling at first glance. It might seem feeders would just be "heavier" branch circuits, and that Article 215 should just be another Article 210 but with more stringent requirements. But this isn't the case at all.

If you go back and look at Article 210 again, you'll see it covers many permutations of branch circuits. It also devotes extensive space to dwelling-area branch circuits. Dwelling units do not have many feeders. A multifamily dwelling building will have at least one feeder for each occupancy.

Here's an object lesson in the value of Article 100. Go there now and review the definitions of branch circuit and feeder. Once you've done that, you will understand why Article 215 is so much shorter than Article 210.

Article 215 - 2005 Changes

  • New sentence requires the feeder grounded (neutral) conductor to be sized so that it has adequate fault-current capacity, in the event a short circuit occurs between an ungrounded conductor and grounded (neutral) conductor.
  • Load calculations often result in a grounded (neutral) conductor that is very small in comparison with the ungrounded conductors. Should a fault occur from an ungrounded conductor to a grounded (neutral) conductor, the grounded (neutral) conductor could be damaged before the overcurrent protection device opens if it isn't sized to carry the available fault current.
  • New section contains the identification requirements for feeder conductors so that they are similar with the branch circuit identification requirements contained in 210.5(C).

Author's Comment: Electricians often use the following color system for power and lighting conductor identification:

  • 120/240V single-phase: black, red, and white
  • 120/208V three-phase: black, red, blue, and white
  • 120/240V three-phase: black, orange, blue, and white
  • 277/480V three-phase: brown, orange, yellow and gray, or brown, purple, yellow and gray


ARTICLE 220 Branch-Circuit, Feeder, and Service Calculations

This article provides the requirements for sizing branch circuits, feeders, and services, and for determining the number of receptacles on a circuit and the number of branch circuits required. It consists of five parts:

  • Part I. General
  • Part II. Branch Circuit Load Calculations
  • Part III. Feeder and Service Calculations
  • Part IV. Optional Calculations
  • Part V: Farm Load Calculations

Part I describe the layout of Article 220 and provides a table of where other types of load calculations can be found in the NEC. Part II provides requirements for branch-circuit calculations and for specific types of branch circuits. Part III provides requirements for feeder and service calculations, just as the title says. Part IV provides some shortcut calculations you can use in place of the more complicated calculations provided in Parts II and III-if your installation meets certain requirements. Part IV covers just what it says it will, Farm Load Calculations.

The typical electrician is wise to focus on Parts I, II and III. Whether to do the optional calculations is typically a decision made by the project manager or design engineer. You need to be aware that there can be two right answers when doing the calculations because the NEC allows two different methods.

The cost of improperly applying Article 220 can be staggering. In the best of all possible worlds, the price of misapplication is just an expensive callback and some rework. In reality, the costs can easily involve catastrophic destruction and the loss of human life.

So study Article 220 carefully. If something doesn't make sense at first, make a note of it and take a short break from your studies. Then go back to that item and read through the explanation, using the illustrations to help you understand. Your learning will really stick if you also consider the why, not just the how.

Article 220 - 2005 Changes
  • All sections contained in Article 220 were renumbered to enhance the usability of the article.
  • New section informs the Code user that other requirements may alter the calculations performed in Article 220. The new Table 220.3 should be a useful tool for those who perform NEC electrical calculations.
Mike Holt's Comment: If you desire more information about any of the above changes, be sure to order my 2005 changes book and / or library (Video/DVD).

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