National Electrical Code Articles and Information
National Electrical Code Top Ten Tips: Article 110 -- Installation Requirements
by Mark Lamendola
Our remarks in are parentheses. Please note, we do quote from
copyrighted material. While the NFPA does allow such quotes, it does so
only for the purposes of education regarding the National Electrical
Code. This article is not a substitute for the NEC.
These are the 10 NEC Article 110 items we deem most important, based
on the pervasiveness of confusion and the potential costs of same.
- NEC 110.3. Examination, Identification, and Use of Equipment. This
section gives 8 requirements for examination in part (A). In (B), it
says "Listed or Labeled equipment shall be installed and used
in accordance with any instructions included in the Listing or
Labeling." In other words, use the product as intended.
Unauthorized modifications void the Listing and expose the modifier
to civil, and potentially criminal, litigation and liability.
- NEC 110.12. Mechanical Execution of Work. "Electrical
equipment shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner."
Why is the NEC so vague on this? Well, it’s hard to quantify and
describe something like that. The Code is basically giving the
Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) the power to reject work that
doesn’t meet industry standards. It’s a situation where
"everyone knows the rules," and the AHJ can make sure
those rules get followed. One reason contractors back such language
is they can use this rule to level the competitive playing field
against "fly by night outfits" that do sloppy work. The
costs associated with work that isn’t "neat and
workmanlike" are enormous—a small investment in upfront costs
saves the customer big money over the life of the equipment. One
requirement many people often overlook is that of filling unused
openings in enclosures—the omission of which is potentially
- NEC 110.13. Mounting and Cooling of Equipment. This requirement is
always in dispute, it seems. Cramming equipment into an overcrowded
arrangement to maximize revenue per square foot sounds like a really
good idea until that equipment starts failing left and right, or the
whole place just burns down.
- NEC 110.18. Arcing parts. This is one of several code requirements
that rule out using an electrical equipment room as a storage area
for combustible materials.
- NEC 110.23. Current Transformers. "Unused current transformers
associated with potentially energized circuits shall be
short-circuited." Leaving the leads to dangle is an invitation
for disaster. A testing firm will always insist on leaving these
shorted—this is why.
- NEC 110.26. Spaces about electrical equipment (600V or less). Most
people wrongly assume working clearances (depth of working space)
are three feet. Under some circumstances, the NEC requires them to
be more. Beyond simply safety, good engineering or maintenance
practices may require more still. Don’t assume just because you
have 2 feet and 10 inches you are "good enough" or if you
have 3 feet 2 inches you must fill in that 2 inches so you don’t
exceed the Code. Also, the Code has minimums for the width and
height of working spaces. These widths are outdated, as they are
based on an earlier era of less "girth endowed" workers.
Use common sense, with safety as your goal.
- NEC 110.27. Guarding of live parts. Various methods exist, including
construction of a mezzanine level, restricted access to an area (via
locked door), and so on. It is more than just ensuring the factory
covers are in place.
- NEC 110.54 (A). Grounded and Bonded. This requires "effective
grounding," which is defined in Article 100. It does not
include the common practice of connecting to a ground rod that is
not bonded to the grounding system.
- NEC 110.54(B). Equipment Grounding Conductors. This requires you to
run a grounding conductor "with circuit conductors inside the
metal raceway or inside the multiconductor cable jacket."
- NEC 110.58. Disconnecting Means. You must have a disconnect within
sight of each transformer or motor. This allows a person to lock out
the transformer or motor for maintenance, or to shut it off quickly
in case of misoperation.
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How the NEC is arranged
- The first four Chapters of the NEC apply to all installations.
- Article 90 precedes Chapter One, and establishes the authority of the NEC.
- Article 80 follows the body of the NEC; it exists as Annex H. It provides the requirements for administration.
- Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are the "special" chapters, covering special: occupancies, equipment, and conditions (in that order).
- Chapter 8 provides the requirements for communications systems.
- Chapter 9 provides tables.
- The appendices provide mostly reference information.
- Appendix D contains examples that every NEC user should study.
Try your NEC moxy:
- Do you know the difference between bonding and grounding? Hint: Look in the NEC, Article 100.
- Does the NEC refer to grounding incorrectly in any of its articles? Yes! So be careful to apply the Article 100 definitions. Don't ground where you should bond.
- When doing motor load calculations, which Article covers hermetic motors? Answer: While Article 440 covers the application of hermetic motors, it does so only by amending Article 430 because hermetic motors are a special case of motors. For motor load calculations, refer to Article 430.
- Does the NEC provide a voltage drop requirement? Yes! It does so in a special case, which is Article 648 Sensitive Electronic Equipment. But for general applications, it does not provide a requirement; it merely provides a recommendation in a couple of FPNs.
- Take our Code Quizzes.
Remember other applicable codes, rules, standards, and references:
- OSHA's electrical worker safety rules.
- IEEE standards.
- NETA standards.
- NFPA standards.
- International Codes (if applicable to the installation).
- State Codes (if the state has them).
- Local ordinances and permit requirements.
- Local fire codes.
- Manufacturer requirements or guidelines.
- Customer security requirements.
- Industry standards.
- Your company's own internal standards, practices, and procedures.
- Engineering drawing notes.
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