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2011 NEC Requirements for Articles 514 through 525

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Electrical Construction and Maintenance

Mike Holt, NEC Consultant

Sun, 2012-04-01 11:56

The first four chapters of the NEC apply to all installations. Chapter 5 applies to special types of occupancies,
and it amends or replaces the requirements of Chapters 1 through 4. After providing the requirements for
hazardous locations in Articles 500 through 506, the NEC skips to Art. 510. It then begins a sequence of articles
(ending with Art. 517), and moves on to a second sequence (Art. 518 through 525).
The sequence that starts with Art. 518 provides requirements for specific types of occupancies where people
assemble (typically in large numbers). But what do Articles 510 through 517 have in common? They are specific
types of places where vapors or gases might ignite. Whether its a garage dispensing fuel or a hospital dispensing
flammable anesthetic, thats the common thread found in these Articles.

Motor Fuel Dispensing Facilities

Article 514 provides the requirements for facilities where vehicles are fueled from storage tanks. A single, large
table takes up about half of Art. 514. This table doesnt provide any electrical requirements, list any electrical
specifications, or address any electrical equipment. What it does tell you is how to classify a motor fuel
dispensing area based on the equipment contained therein. The rest of this Article contains specific provisions
and refers to other Articles that must be applied.
Vapors from flammable and combustible liquid will ignite when heated to the correct temperature (at the
correct volatile mixture). This type of ignition can occur from circuits that most users of electricity consider
safe, such as a Class 2 power-limited circuit. While a Class 2 circuit is safe from an electrical shock and fire
perspective, its still capable of igniting the vapors in the environment of a Class I location, such as those in fuel
dispensing areas.
Section 514.11 now clarifies that all circuits to the dispensing equipment in fuel dispensing facilities must have a
means to disconnect them from their power supply regardless of the voltage. In an effort to isolate the
dispensing equipment from any voltage sources present, the NEC has long required a disconnect located
remotely from the dispensing devices to disconnect all circuit conductors, including the neutral, simultaneously
from the source of supply [514.11]. This requirement includes low-voltage and limited-energy circuits, such as
data and communications, but that fact wasnt clear in previous editions of the Code. With the 2011 NEC, this
requirement becomes quite clear: Each dispensing device shall be provided with a means to remove all external
voltage sources, including power, communications, data, and video circuits and including feedback, during
periods of maintenance and service of the dispensing equipment [514.13], as shown in Fig. 1 (click here to see
Fig. 1).

Health Care Facilities

Article 517 focuses on those parts of health care facilities where patients are examined and treated. Whether
those facilities are permanent or movable, they fall under this Article. However, Art. 517 wiring and protection

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2011 NEC Requirements for Articles 514 through 525

requirements dont apply to areas such as business offices, patient sleeping areas, or waiting rooms. They dont
apply to animal veterinary facilities either.
Patient care areas include patient rooms as well as examining rooms, therapy areas, treatment rooms, and some
patient corridors. They do not include business offices, corridors, lounges, day rooms, dining rooms, or similar
areas not classified as patient care areas [517.2].
In patient care areas, do you bond metal boxes containing receptacles, using the insulated equipment grounding
conductor? With the 2011 revision, 517.13(B) clearly answers yes. This section also includes a change to clarify
the sizing of equipment bonding jumpers [517.13(B)(2)]. Although it was obvious to most NEC users that you
size equipment bonding jumpers the same as equipment grounding conductors in these areas, technically the
sizing wasnt addressed. This change eliminates that oversight (click here to see Fig. 2).
Receptacles with insulated grounding terminals (isolated ground receptacles) are no longer allowed in a patient
care area [517.16], as shown in Fig. 3 (click here to see Fig. 3). Whats the reason for this rather substantial
change? The wiring method in these locations requires two equipment grounding conductors: one of the wiring
method type; the other in the form of an insulated green conductor [517.13]. Using an isolated ground receptacle
defeats the entire concept of this dual equipment ground concept by effectively removing the metal wiring
method equipment grounding conductor.
In these areas, the patient is often involved in an invasive procedure. That is, the human skin is broken (typically
by an incision). When this is the case, the patient is much more vulnerable to electric shock. In fact, current
applied directly to the circulatory system of the patient can easily cause death at current levels lower than even a
GFCI will protect against.
Previous editions of the NEC included an Informational Note telling the Code user that the use of these
receptacles was a bad idea in these areas. With this change, the Code rule now prohibits the practice altogether.
If electrical noise is the concern, there are many other remedies available. Adding yet another difference of
potential via the isolated ground usually makes matters worse. To investigate further, see IEEE-142.
The 2011 Code clarifies that a Class 2 or Class 3 signaling or communications circuit, or a power-limited fire
alarm circuit, need not comply with some of the requirements of Art. 517 [517.80]. These requirements include
protection by a raceway system, using an insulated equipment grounding conductor, and protection from
physical damage like the circuits of the emergency system.
However, the new wording leaves some confusion regarding the rules for communications circuits, because they
arent classified as Class 2 or Class 3 theyre just communications circuits. Additionally, the Informational
Note regarding nonelectrical equipment was deleted.
In other than patient care areas, the installation of communications and signaling systems must be in
accordance with Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 as applicable [517.81].

Assembly Occupancies
When does Art. 518 apply? When a building or portion of it is specifically designed or intended for the assembly
of 100 or more people. Article 518 goes out of its way to eliminate any confusion about the occupancies to which
it applies by listing 19 examples [518.2].
Its much harder to evacuate 100 or more people from a burning building than to evacuate just a few. That
concept underlies much of the reasoning behind the requirements of this article.

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2011 NEC Requirements for Articles 514 through 525

Whats changed with the 2011 Code is that 518.3(B) is much clearer about the rules for GFCIs in temporary
installations in assembly occupancies. This section allows for receptacles that arent GFCI protected in
exhibition halls, which are typically a venue for trade shows, by following the rules of Art. 590 for temporary
installations (except for the GFCI requirements of 590.6). However, some Code users have read this as allowing
the GFCI protection requirements of 210.8 (for example) to be waived by this section. Section 90.3 clearly
requires that the rules of Chapters 1 through 4 of the NEC apply except where amended by Chapters 5, 6, and 7
for the particular conditions. This means that the GFCI protection requirements of 210.8 apply to installations
made under Chapter 5 unless specifically amended. Art. 518 does not make any such amendment.
Consider a kitchen trade show, for example. If the sinks are functional, that fact kicks 210.8 into play, and some
of the countertop receptacles require GFCI protection. Nothing in 518.3 waives that requirement [90.3], and
there is no Code basis for leaving the countertop receptacles near those sinks unprotected. To prevent
erroneously applying an exception to an obvious requirement, the 2011 revision is now explicit about this.

Article 525 covers the installation of portable wiring and equipment for carnivals, circuses, exhibitions, fairs,
traveling attractions, and similar functions [525.1]. At first glance, a couple of questions arise. Arent these just
like assembly occupancies? Why do we need Art. 525 if Art. 518 covers the same thing?
Yes, these locations are similar to assembly occupancies [Art. 518], but they are not the same. In fact, there are
two big differences:
1. Article 518 occupancies are not temporary; Art. 525 occupancies are.
2. Article 518 doesnt cover amusement rides and attractions; Art. 525 does.
You may want to compare these two Articles to see if you can spot other similarities and differences between
them. Doing so will help you understand both Articles better.
The disconnecting means requirements discussed in 525.21(A) were revised to correlate with the new term
lockable disconnect. However, the term lockable disconnect wasnt added to the Code. Although this change
was intended to be accepted only if the new term was added to the NEC, the term somehow found its way into
this section.
Section 525.23 was changed in a previous Code edition to help make the requirements for GFCI protection in
carnivals, circuses, and fairs easier to understand. Although the resulting text was easier to read and
understand, there was one glaring problem the language left this section without any enforceable
requirements. The 2011 version of the NEC creates a rule in the opening statement of the section, requiring GFCI
protection in the areas discussed. In addition, the requirement was reorganized to make a more logical and
consistent NEC rule.
GFCI protection is required for nearly all receptacles in carnivals, circuses, and fairs (click here to see Fig. 4).
One application that is afforded a more relaxed GFCI protection requirement is the use of receptacles for quick
disconnecting and reconnecting of electrical equipment, provided the receptacles are of the locking type.
The 2011 NEC now requires these receptacles to be high enough in elevation that they arent accessible from
grade level. Considering that these receptacles are only for quick interchange, it leaves some people wondering
if this allowance really serves any purpose. If a ladder is required to get to the receptacle, is that still a quick

Core Issue

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2011 NEC Requirements for Articles 514 through 525

It may be argued that one of the core issues for the occupancies covered in Art. 517 through Art. 525 is timely
evacuation. Consider these points:
A patient undergoing a surgical procedure, or confined in a hospital, is not in a position that would allow
swift evacuation.
Evacuating large numbers of people from a theatre, an assembly occupancy, or a location such as a
circus, carnival, or fair, where they are unfamiliar with the facilities can become a confusing, disorderly
Considerations such as these must be included in the design and installation of the wiring systems of these
special occupancies in order to provide a higher level of safety.
Holt is the owner of Mike Holt Enterprises, Inc., Leesburg, Fla. He can be reached at:
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