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Old 11-29-2010, 04:08 PM   #16
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NEC 2011...possible changes


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So what's the down-side?
One down side is that those devices (certain switches) that require a neutral to operate can't be made to work.

This is not a big deal, I don't think. If you want a switch leg, simply run three conductors to the switch box. In my mind, three conductors between a switch and outlet, regardless where the supply is run, is a good things. They give you lot's of flexibility, including all the options you describe.

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Old 12-30-2010, 09:39 PM   #17
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NEC 2011...possible changes


Ran into this in my bathroom, wanted to change the exhaust fan switch to a timer, pulled the switch off and discovered its only a 2 wire switch leg, Power is at the fan, now I have to wait till spring when we rip the carpet out upstairs to cut some holes in the floor and replace it with 3 wire. Id be doing a happy dance if it was ran with 3 originally.
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Old 01-03-2011, 03:19 PM   #18
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NEC 2011...possible changes


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... Id be doing a happy dance if it was ran with 3 originally.
But there's the problem. Should the NEC dictate what would be nice in the future, or what's safe today?

There have been times I'd have done the happy dance if a circuit was 20A vs. 15, but does that mean all circuits should be 20A now? Nope. 15 is still fine in most cases. Other times I wish every room was on it's own circuit, but again, not a safety issue. Or that switched outlets were run such that every outlet had a switched and unswitched part. Or that... But the NEC should be about safety, not ideal design.
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:16 PM   #19
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NEC 2011...possible changes


I see the requirement for a grounded conductor in switch loops as a safety issue... I wonder how many folks run out to Lowes/HD, buy a dimmer/timer that requires a neutral connection and end up using the ground wire in a switch loop instead?

Granted, you cannot use code to "idiot-proof" a property from every possible dumb thing that a homeowner/tenant may do in the future, but you can identify potentially common safety issues and attempt to mitigate them.

Last edited by clashley; 01-03-2011 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:22 PM   #20
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Good point WaldenL, if NEC starts getting into policies that are based on what ifs or future considerations where does it stop? Safety should be their primary objective, let the contractor/home owner worry about the what ifs.
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:58 PM   #21
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Not to contradict myself, but having reviewed some of the logic behind the change to require neutral @ the switch I can see it as a safety issue. Apparently people are using ground as the neutral if there's no neutral, and that's not what it's there for. So yes, running neutral to the switch is a safety issue.
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Old 01-03-2011, 05:56 PM   #22
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There have been times I'd have done the happy dance if a circuit was 20A vs. 15, but does that mean all circuits should be 20A now? Nope. 15 is still fine in most cases.
I think the key expression here is "most cases". The proposed amendment makes me suspect that the use of ground as a neutral has become commonplace enough to warrant action, all in the name of safety.

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Good point WaldenL, if NEC starts getting into policies that are based on what ifs or future considerations where does it stop?
While I agree with the concept of this, I still refer back to the code requirement governing the number of receptacles in a room. The only reason that this is there is to mitigate a "what if"....what if too-few numbers of outlets increases a homeowner's use of extension cords, which may cause a fire. Code has been in the "what if" business for years. This latest amendment is nothing new.

Where it stops, apparently, is a judgement call based on common usage. Apparently, using ground as neutral has become too common.
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:20 PM   #23
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Apparently, using ground as neutral has become too common.

It probably has, when I wanted to install that timer a friend actually said to me, "just use the ground, it will work". Yes it would, but that doesn't make it right or more importantly, safe. So the timer is still sitting in my tool box, waiting for a me to put in 3 wire.
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Old 01-07-2011, 06:37 AM   #24
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NEC 2011...possible changes


There are some electronic timers (ex: the Leviton 6161T) that are listed without for use without connection to a neutral (ungrounded) conductor, requiring only a a line, load and ground connection.

However 1) they require an effective ground and 2) those I have see are listed only for use with incandescent loads - I have seen them used "successfully" with LED bulbs and to control bathroom fan motors, but they are not listed for either use.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:37 AM   #25
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NEC 2011...possible changes


Speaking of neutral I guess we can expect to see AFCI breakers being required/replacement.
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:49 AM   #26
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Speaking of neutral I guess we can expect to see AFCI breakers being required/replacement.
Don't "expect" it. It's pretty much there in the 2011 cycle. Many "extension" to a branch circuit now require you bring the circuit up to AFCI protected status.
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Old 02-22-2011, 05:23 PM   #27
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DO NOT use the grounding/bonding system for a neutral return!
Where are these devices that use the grounding/bonding system instead of a neutral return made?
Possibly the timer uses the load side for a return thus putting the timer draw in series with the load.
Is this ground wire for all boxes or just the metal ones?
Is it for bonding or grounding purposes?
Ground wire possibly to be used for a GFI and/or arc protection system.

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Old 08-03-2011, 09:54 PM   #28
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NEC 2011...possible changes


I was just through a code update for the 2011 NEC. This was addressed and it is critical that a neutral be included to switch locations for the new style energy saving switches that use either a motion or PIR sensor. to operate. The older switches would use the ground as conductor for the milliamps needed to work. The problem starts to become a major issue when a high rise has several thousand of these devices and the ground current becomes a major issue. Enough to cause GFI circuits to operate in some cases.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:16 PM   #29
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I was just through a code update for the 2011 NEC. This was addressed and it is critical that a neutral be included to switch locations for the new style energy saving switches that use either a motion or PIR sensor. to operate. The older switches would use the ground as conductor for the milliamps needed to work. The problem starts to become a major issue when a high rise has several thousand of these devices and the ground current becomes a major issue. Enough to cause GFI circuits to operate in some cases.
I heard the same thing from a UL engineer who was our guest speaker at our local IAEI chapter in South Jersey. The problem arrises from the increasing use of occupancy sensors in buildings. Most (can't say all) state in the instructions that they have to be grounded in order to function. I found this to be true when I installed a few dozen in the building where I work. The units without a ground would not function. Each sensor imposes a few milliamps on the EGC. When hundreds or even thousands are installed, the current on the EGC really adds up.
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:09 PM   #30
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NEC 2011...possible changes


Switching neutral is looking for trouble. There are a couple of good NEC guides (like Gray's) out there that draw pictures for you folks that have trouble reading between the lines. There are still places using non-metal wireway or cable (NMCC/TCER) to and from the switch, so a ground at the box is essential to safely install and operate the switch. Properly sizing the wire and application should not challange the box fill and there is always the old mud ring trick we all know and love.

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