NEC Code Tips
 

Article 210 – Branch Circuits

March, 2000

Tip #35 Overcurrent Protection [210-20]

Branch circuit overcurrent protection devices must be sized no less than 125 percent of the continuous loads, plus 100 percent of the noncontinuous loads; see Section 210-19(a) for branch circuit conductor size for continuous loads.

Tip #36 Outlet Device Rating [210-21]

Receptacle and lighting outlet devices shall have an ampere rating not less than the load and shall comply with (a) and (b).

(a) Lampholder Ratings. Lampholders connected to a branch circuit with a rating over 20 ampere shall be of the heavy-duty type.

WARNING: Lampholders used for fluorescent lamps are not rated heavy duty; therefore, fluorescent lighting fixtures cannot be installed on circuits rated over 20 ampere.

(b) Receptacle Ratings and Loadings.

(1) Single Receptacle. A single receptacle installed on an individual branch circuit shall have an ampacity not less than the rating of the overcurrent protection device. A single receptacle is one receptacle on a strap or yoke. A duplex receptacle is a multioutlet receptacle; see Article 100.

(2) Multiple Receptacle Loading. Where connected to a branch circuit supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, receptacles must have the load limited to 80 percent of the receptacle rating, according Table 210-21(b)(2).

(3) Multiple Receptacle Rating. When two or more receptacles are on a single branch circuit, the receptacles must be rated and installed on a circuit in accordance with Table 210-21(b)(3).

Tip #37 Common Area Branch Circuits [210-25]

Branch circuits in a dwelling unit are only permitted to supply only loads within or associated with the dwelling unit.

Branch circuits for lighting, central alarm, signal, fire alarm, communications, or other needs for public safety shall not originate from a dwelling unit panelboard. This rule reduces the likelihood of the safety circuits being turned off by tenants, or of loss of power due to nonpayment of electric bills.

Note: This Section is not intended to prevent the dwelling unit panelboard from supplying circuits in locker, laundry, or garage facilities that are not safety-related.

Tip #38 Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlet Requirements [210-52(a)]

(a) Dwelling Unit Receptacle Outlet Placement. A receptacle shall be installed in every kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, parlor, libraries, den, sun room, bedroom, recreation rooms, and other similar rooms or areas according to (1) through (3).

(1) Spacing. A receptacle outlet must be installed so that no point along the wall space will be more than 6 feet (measured horizontally) from a receptacle outlet.

(2) Wall Space. Wall space is considered walls, fixed exterior glass, bar-counter and railing that are at least 2 feet long, unbroken along the floor line by doors or fireplaces. Sliding glass doors on exterior walls are not considered wall space.

The purpose of this rule in the placement of receptacles is to avoid the use of extension cords across openings such as doors.

Spacing of Receptacles. Receptacle outlets must be equally spaced where practical.

Floor Outlets. Floor outlets located within 18 inches of the wall are considered to meet the requirements of this Section.

Receptacles Not Counted. Receptacle outlets that are part of a lighting fixture or appliance, located inside cabinets, or located over 5 feet above the floor, shall not be used to meet the requirements of this Section.

Two or more small appliance branch circuits shall be required to supply receptacle outlets in the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room area. However, a receptacle for refrigeration equipment can be on the small appliance branch circuit.

The small appliance circuit cannot supply appliances such as disposals, dishwashers, hood fans, or lighting outlets.

Not Supply Other Outlets. The two 20 ampere small appliance circuits required in Section 210-11(c)(1) for these areas cannot supply any other outlet(s). This means that the kitchen light cannot be connected to the small appliance receptacle circuit.

Exception No. 1: Clock Outlet. A receptacle solely for an electric clock can be connected to the small appliance circuit, Fig. 5-31.

Exception No. 2: Gas Fired Appliances. Receptacles for supplemental equipment and lighting on gas-fired ranges, ovens, or counter-mounted cooking units can be connected to the small appliance circuit, Fig. 5-31.

Tip #40 Dwelling Unit Kitchen Counter Top Receptacle Outlet [210-52(c)]

Kitchen Countertop Receptacles, Two Circuits Required. 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacles used for countertop surface appliances in a dwelling unit kitchen must be supplied by at least two 20 ampere circuits [210-11(c)(1) and 220-16(a)]. These small appliance branch circuits can supply receptacles in the kitchen as well as the pantry, breakfast room, dining room, or other similar areas where food is likely to be served.

Kitchen and Dining Countertop Receptacle Location. In kitchens and dining rooms of dwelling units, receptacle outlets for counter spaces shall be installed according to (1) through (5) below. GFCI protection is required for all 125 volt, 15, and 20 ampere receptacles that supply kitchen countertop surfaces [210-8(a)(6)].

(1) Wall Counter Space. A receptacle outlet must be installed for every kitchen and dining area counter wall space 12 inches or wider. Receptacles must be installed so that no point along the counter wall space is more than 2 feet (measured horizontally) from a receptacle outlet.

(2) Island Countertop Space. This Section mandates only one receptacle outlet to be installed at each island countertop that has a long dimension of 24 inches or greater, and a short dimension of 12 inches or greater.

(3) Peninsular Countertop Space. This Section mandates only one receptacle outlet to be installed at each peninsular countertop that has a long dimension of 24 inches or greater, and a short dimension of 12 inches or greater.

(4) Separate Spaces. When breaks occur in countertop spaces (ranges, refrigerators, sinks, etc.), each countertop surface is considered a separate counter for determining receptacle placement.

(5) Receptacle Outlet Location. Receptacle outlets shall be located above the countertop, but not more than 18 inches from the countertop surface. Receptacles shall not be installed in a face-up position in the work surfaces or countertops and they must not be located on the sides of cabinets.

Receptacles that are rendered not readily accessible by appliances fastened in place, or appliances in dedicated spaces (dishwasher, microwave, etc.), are not considered meeting the receptacle outlets as required by this Section.

Exception. The receptacle outlet required for the countertop can be installed below the countertop where necessary for the physically impaired or where there is no wall space above the island or peninsular counter. The receptacle must be located not more than 12 inches below the countertop surface and it cannot extends more than 6 inches measured horizontally from the counter’s edge.

Tip #41 Dwelling Bathroom Receptacle Outlet [210-52(d)]

At least one receptacle outlet must be installed within 36 inches of the outside edge of each basin and the receptacle shall be located on a wall that is adjacent to the basin location. This rule insures that a receptacle is located next to each basin to keep equipment cords from being draped across a sink.

Note: One receptacle outlet can be used between two basins, if the receptacle is located within 36 inches of the outside edge of each basin.

Tip #42 Dwelling Unit Outside Receptacle Outlet [210-52(e)]

One-Family Dwelling Unit. Two receptacle outlets shall be installed not more than 6˝feet above grade, one at the front, and one at the back of the one-family dwelling. GFCI protection is required for these receptacles [210-8(a)(3)].

Two-Family Dwelling Unit. Each grade level unit of a two-family dwelling must have two receptacles outlets installed not more than 6 feet, 6 inches above grade, one at the front and one at the back of each dwelling unit at grade level. GFCI protection is required for these receptacles as well [210-8(a)(3)].

Note: This Section does not require a receptacle outlet to be installed for dwelling units in a multifamily dwelling building. However, if a receptacle outlet is installed outdoors of a dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling it must be GFCI protected [210-8(a)(3)].

Tip #43 Dwelling Unit Laundry Area Receptacle Outlet [210-52(f)]

All dwelling units shall have at least one 20 ampere receptacle for the laundry area receptacles. The Code does not require a separate circuit for the washing machine but it does require a separate 20 ampere circuit for the laundry receptacle outlet(s) [210-11(c)(2)].

Exception No. 1: Multifamily Building. If in a multifamily building laundry facilities are available to all building occupants, than a laundry circuit is not required to be installed in each of the dwelling units.

Tip #44 Dwelling Unit Basement and Garage Receptacle Outlet [210-52(g)]

Basement Receptacles. For a one-family dwelling, at least one 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacle outlet, in addition to any provided for laundry equipment, shall be installed in each basement. Where a portion of the basement is finished into a habitable room(s), a 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacle outlet shall be installed in the unfinished portion of the basement.

Note: Section 210-8(a)(5) requires 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacles installed in the area of a basement not intended as a habitable room to be GFCI protected. The combination of Section 210-52(g) and 210-8(a)(5) insures that the unfinished portion of a basement has one GFCI protected 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacle outlet, even if a portion of the basement is finished into a habitable room(s). This prevents an extension cord from a non-GFCI protected receptacle to supply power to loads in the unfinished portion of the basement.

Garage Receptacles. At least one receptacle outlet must be installed at each dwelling unit garage with electric power. Section 210-8(a)(2) requires 125 volt, 15, or 20 ampere receptacles installed in the garage to be GFCI protected.

Note: The laundry outlet required in Section 210-52(f) is not permitted to satisfy the receptacle outlet requirement for either the basement or garage.

Tip #45 Dwelling Unit Hallway Receptacle Outlet [210-52(h)]

One receptacle outlet shall be installed for each hallway*.

*Hallway. A hallway is a corridor that is at least 10 feet long measured along the centerline of the hall without passing through a doorway.

Tip #46 Receptacles in Guestroom for Hotels and Motels [210-60]

Receptacle Requirements. Guest rooms in hotels, motels, and similar occupancies shall have receptacle outlets installed in accordance with Section 210-52, such as:

Number of Receptacles. Receptacle outlets shall be installed so that no point along the floor line in any wall space is more than 6 feet, measured horizontally, from an outlet in that space, including any wall space 2 feet or more in width [210-52(a)].

Bathroom Receptacles. A receptacle outlet shall be installed within 36 inches of the outside edge of each basin supplied by a 20 ampere branch circuit [210-52(d)].

Receptacle Placement. The total number of receptacle outlets shall not be less than the minimum number that would comply with the provisions of Section 210-52(a). However, the receptacle outlets can be located so as to be convenient for permanent furniture layout, but at least two receptacle outlets shall be readily accessible to eliminate the need for extension cords by guests for ironing, computers, refrigerators, etc. Receptacles installed behind a bed must be located so that the bed does not make contact with the attachment plug, or the receptacle must be provided with a suitable protective guard.

Tip #47 Receptacles for Rooftop, Attic, and Crawl Spaces [210-63]

Heating, air-conditioning, refrigeration equipment located on roof tops, or in attics and crawl spaces, shall have a 125 volt, 15 or 20 ampere receptacle outlet for servicing the equipment. The receptacle shall be installed at an accessible location within 25 feet of the equipment. Receptacles located on the roof must be GFCI protected [210-8(b)(2)] and must not be connected to the load side of the equipment disconnect. See Section 210-70 for the requirement of a lighting outlet for equipment requiring service.

Exception. Receptacle outlets are not required for rooftop equipment in one- and two-family dwellings.

Tip #48 Lighting Outlets Requirements [210-70(a)]

Habitable Rooms. At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room and bathroom.

Exception No. 1: Switched Receptacles. In other than kitchens and bathrooms, a receptacle controlled by a wall switch can be used instead of a lighting outlet.

Exception No. 2: Occupancy Sensors. Occupancy sensors integral with the wall switch, if a manual override is included can control lighting outlets.

Other Locations. At least one wall-switch controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in bathrooms, hallways, stairways, attached garages, detached garages with electric power, and illumination must be provided on the exterior side of outdoor entrances or exits that have grade level access. A vehicle door (garage door) in an attached garage is not considered an outdoor entrance.

Note: The Code contains the requirement for the location of the “lighting outlet”, but does not specify the switch location. Naturally, you would not want to install the switch intentionally behind a door or other inconvenient location. However, the Code does not require the switch to accommodate the swing of the door, Fig. 5-38.

Interior Stairways. When the difference between floor levels is six steps or more, 3-way and 4-way wall switches are required to control the lighting outlet for the interior stairways. Long pull chains will not meet Code requirements.

Note: It is not the intent to require 3-way switches for basements that are dead-ended when you must return to the same location you entered.

Exception: Remote or Automatic Controls. In hallways, stairways, and at outdoor entrances, remote, central, or automatic control of the lighting outlet is permitted, Fig. 5-39.

Storage and Equipment Rooms. Areas used for storage, or containing equipment requiring servicing, such as attics, underfloor spaces, utility rooms, and basements, must have a lighting outlet located near the equipment. The lighting outlet must contain a switch (pull chain fixture) or be controlled by a switch that is located near the point of entry to the attic, underfloor space, utility room, or basement, Fig. 5-40.

Tip #48 Commercial Attic and Underfloor Space Lighting Outlets Requirements [210-70(c)]

Attics and underfloor spaces containing equipment requiring servicing must have a lighting outlet located near the equipment. The lighting outlet must be controlled by a wall switch installed at or near the point of entrance to the attic or underfloor space.

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