National Electrical Code Top Ten Tips: Article 525, Carnivals, Circuses, and Similar Events
- Article 525 applies to the installation of portable wiring and equipment for carnivals, circuses, fairs, and similar functions. This includes wiring in or on all structures.
- A "portable structure" is one that's designed to be moved [525.2]. Some people pretend to be confused on this to avoid meeting requirements, but basically anything that is not left in place on that fair grounds (or similar venue) all year round is a "portable structure."
- The requirements of Chapters 1 through 4 also apply, except as modified by this Article.
- Other Articles from Chapters 5 and 6 may apply [525.3].
- Conform to the overhead clearances specified in 225.18. But when running overhead conductors to portable structures, conform to 525.5(B).
- Portable does not mean temporary. You must use raceway as appropriate to protect the wiring [525.6].
- Install service equipment in a location that is not accessible to unqualified persons, and/or ensure it's lockable [525.10]. Ideally, you will do both. For liability purposes, also ensure you provide adequate signage. Adding a hidden camera or two is also prudent.
- Where you use flexible cords, ensure they are rated for hard usage. [515.20(A)]. To avoid damage, route them out of the way of traffic as much as is practical. Also use cord guards where those make sense. Taping a cord in place reduces the likelihood of theft and also prevents a tripping hazard; standard duct tape works well for this purpose.
- For rides, tents, and concessions, provide a disconnect within site of and within 6 ft of the operator's station [525.21]. If it's accessible to unqualified people, it muste be lockable.
- You don't need GFCI for receptacles dedicated to equipment (only for convenience receptacles). For equipment receptacles, ensure they are of the locking type [525.23(B). GFCI is not permitted for egress lighting [525.23(C)]. When installing GFCI receptacles, connect the load and line wires to the correct terminals so the unit actually provides GFCI protection.