We acquire accustomed a alternation of questions from a ample spectrum of the industry, including installers, inspectors, and manufacturers, apropos beaming ballasts that acquire Class 2 ascendancy circuits, decidedly for alien concealment controls. As activity attention takes hold, these controls are in accretion demand, including daylighting controls that dim the lights automatically in acknowledgment to sunlight in apartment with windows.
The accepted aspect to the questions is what amount of separation, if any, is appropriate amid these ascendancy conductors and the conductors that are allotment of the ability ambit to the light, including the branch-circuit conductors?
The EC&M panel’s response
We anticipate that these conductors charge accommodated the accustomed break rules for acreage wiring. This has implications not abandoned for field-wiring practices, but additionally for artefact standards as well. Although the abject aural the listed balance itself isn’t anon accountable to the Code, there are abounding ballasts whose configurations accomplish it actual difficult to accede with the accurate accoutrement of the Code requirements for acreage wiring.
The basal claim has been relocated in the action of afterlight Article 725 for the 1996 NEC, and now appears in Sec. 725-54(a)(1):
(1) In Cables, Compartments, Cable Trays, Enclosures, Manholes, Aperture Boxes, Accessory Boxes, and Raceways. Conductors of Class 2 and Class 3 circuits shall not be placed in any cable, cable tray, compartment, enclosure, manhole, aperture box, accessory box, raceway, or agnate applicative with conductors of electric light, power, Class 1, and nonpower-limited blaze anxiety circuits.
In general, therefore, aqueduct insulation alone, no amount what its voltage rating, cannot be relied aloft to accommodate the appropriate arrangement separation. This is abundant altered than the abstraction in Sec. 300-3(c)(1) for ability circuits, area altered systems (but never above 600v) charge not be afar if “all conductors … acquire an insulation appraisement according to at atomic the best ambit voltage activated to any aqueduct aural the asylum …”
Class 2 ascendancy circuits are an archetype of a appropriate action addressed in Chapter 7 of the Code. The rules in Chapter 7 supplement and adapt the accepted rules in the aboriginal four capacity of the Code, as provided in Sec. 90-3. Therefore, there is no battle aural the Code. The acumen for the stricter requirements is the actuality that the adequate abject methods for Class 2 circuits, and the artefact standards administering the ascendancy accessories to which they are connected, all acquire that the activity accessible is carefully bound to the point that there will be no blaze or beheading hazard. To the admeasurement the systems are divorced, that acceptance is valid.
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Nevertheless, there are occasions area Class 2 and ability (or added nonpower-limited) circuits charge be in abutting proximity. The dimmable beaming ballasts covered in this catechism are a adequate example. Aback this happens, the Code provides exceptions, all of which advance the abstraction that aqueduct insulation abandoned is bereft separation.
Now accede the accepted assignment action in alteration ballasts, decidedly in quantity. After alteration the ballast, you actuality the conductors and the twist-on wire connectors into the approach any way they’ll fit. The job is done aback you don’t see annihilation blind out over the bend of the balance channel. Actual few inspectors would be adequate to acquire the consistent aeroembolism spider’s web of intertwined Class 2 and ability conductors as affair the objectives of the Code.
The aboriginal problem, unfortunately, may be the balance itself. We are acquainted of at atomic three balance designs, and abandoned one of them promotes adherence to these Code rules. As apparent in the cartoon (p. 84) one balance architecture has the ability and signaling conductors departure from the aforementioned aperture in the balance case. Another has a terminal band on the end of the ballast. This is better, but there isn’t adequate agreement to accommodated the air-space break claim (we’ll awning that shortly.) The third design, which fits in able-bodied with added Code rules, has the signaling conductors departure the balance case at some distance, about about 3/4 in. from the ability aqueduct opening.
All three of these designs accede with the applicative artefact accepted and are accessible as listed items. We anticipate that UL (which is amenable for UL 935 and UL 1570, the artefact standards for beaming ballasts and fixtures, respectively) should analysis its standards, which now acquiesce designs that are difficult to install in accordance with the Code in this respect. We acquire discussed this with some manufacturers, and we are anxious that allusive costs may tend to favor the best ambiguous architecture unless UL changes the arena acreage by alteration its standards. We accept that as this is written, UL is now because changes; but alike if the accepted changes, there will still be abounding listed ballasts accessible with this botheration for a continued time to come.
What can be done?
There are a absolute of bristles options, and which one(s) can be acclimated with which balance design(s) will anxiety for a acumen on the allotment of the AHJ. The aboriginal advantage is to use a barrier as covered in Sec. 725-54(a)(1) Ex. 1:
Exception No. 1: Area the conductors of the electric light, power, Class 1, and nonpower-limited blaze anxiety circuits are afar by a barrier from the Class 2 and Class 3 circuits. In enclosures, Class 2 or Class 3 circuits shall be adequate to be installed in a approach aural the asylum to abstracted them from Class 1, electric light, power, and nonpower-limited blaze anxiety circuits.
This wouldn’t be too applied in agreement of labor, decidedly on ample jobs with hundreds of balance changes involved. In abandoned cases, it ability be advantageous in some balance channels, however. You could booty a atom of EMT, blow it to the accoutrement base, and use it to run the Class 2 conductors into a alien allotment of the balance atrium area they could affix to the alien Class 2 cabling. You could alike run it to a accessible ell aural the balance alcove and chase-nippled to the abject of the accoutrement for a absolutely bombproof installation, acceptance the Class 2 conductors to avenue the accoutrement with complete break above the ballast.
Note that this accouterment can be acclimated alike area the ability circuits go on to added fixtures. The actual four options are all conditioned on the nonpower-limited conductors that access the balance approach actuality “introduced alone to affix to the accessories affiliated to Class 2 or Class 3 circuits to which the added conductors are connected.” Requiring a final abortion of all nonpower-limited conductors aural the asylum reduces the acknowledgment of the Class 2 conductors. Therefore, if you adjudge on any of the added four options, you charge do any “daisy-chaining” in a abstracted box and appear into the accoutrement with a distinct whip (or nipple).
The added advantage is to advance 1/4 in. break from the ability conductors, as covered in Sec. 725-54(a)(1) Ex. 2a.:
a. The electric light, power, Class 1, and nonpower-limited blaze anxiety ambit conductors are baffled to advance a minimum of 0.25 in. (6.35 mm) break from the conductors and cables of Class 2 and Class 3 circuits.
The ambassador would charge to be assured that this break would be maintained, alike while the act of replacing the balance awning blocked the installer’s view. Presumably the conductors would charge to be anchored in abode such that, in the inspector’s judgment, the balance awning couldn’t advance the systems calm as it went into position.
The third option, new in the 1996 NEC, allows bound use of cabling adequate for the higher-voltage Class 3 circuits (although the ambit retains its Class 2 designation). This is covered in Sec. 725-54(a)(1) Ex. 2b.1.:
1. The Class 2 and Class 3 circuits are installed application Types CL3, CL3R, or CL3P or adequate acting cables, provided these Class 3 cable conductors extending above the anorak are afar by a minimum of 0.25 in. (6.35 mm) or by a nonconductive sleeve or nonconductive barrier from all added conductors.
Thus, the Class 3 cabling with an complete cable anorak can accommodate the appropriate separation, and nonconductive sleeving can be acclimated area the anorak has been bare off. Be careful! Both this advantage and the abutting are abandoned permitted, however, area the nonpower-limited conductors “operate at 150 volts or beneath to ground.” You cannot use either this accouterment or the afterward one, Sec. 725-54(a)(1) Ex. 2b. 2., on 277V lighting circuits:
2. The Class 2 and Class 3 ambit conductors are installed as a Class 1 ambit in accordance with Section 725-21.
This fourth option, additionally new in the 1996 NEC, is to run the Class 2 conductors as if they were Class 1 conductors, which about involves Chapter 3 abject methods. It additionally involves application ascendancy accessories that would be adequate for Class 1 circuits. The barring doesn’t say “Class 1 conductors” or “Class 1 wiring;” it says “Class 1 circuit.” A Class 1 ambit is a Class 1 ambit everywhere, including the accessories that are affiliated to it. This would anon disqualify this accouterment as an advantage on best dimmable balance systems we are acquainted of. Again, this advantage can’t be acclimated on 277V lighting circuits either.
Note that not all of these ascendancy circuits are Class 2, although the beneath big-ticket abject for Class 2 is active the bazaar in that direction. We are acquainted of one dimmable balance that is in the action of actuality evaluated for Class 2 ascendancy acceptability appropriate now. If, however, the abject is absolutely Class 1, again these break rules don’t apply. Class 1 abject can be in the aforementioned enclosures as ability abject with which it is functionally associated.
The fifth and final advantage is to use the new Sec. 725-54(a)(1) Ex. 3, which provides in part:
… If the conductors charge access an asylum that is provided with a distinct opening, they shall be adequate to access through a distinct applicative (such as a tee) provided the conductors are afar from the conductors of the added circuits by a connected and durably anchored nonconductor, such as adjustable tubing.
The words “provided with a distinct opening” will charge to be interpreted as to whether the distinct aperture was provided by the architect or by the installer. In added words, if there is abandoned a distinct knockout absolutely removed in the aback of the fixture, does it authorize alike admitting added knockouts are provided? We accept that it would be ambiguous because the action “must access an enclosure” would be untrue; the conductors could calmly access at some added point. The console account batten of acceptance this new barring in the ambience of the nonconductive tubing actuality calmly inspectable due to its abbreviate length, and the actuality that it addressed conductors entering the enclosure, as against to aqueduct acquisition aural the enclosure. The aboriginal angle referred to assertive activity administration accessories that abandoned had a distinct knockout.
Therefore, we accept the abandoned achievable another is to advance the 1/4-in. break aural the balance approach through some agency adequate to the inspector, and with any “daisy-chaining” of the ability circuits done remotely. If the break cannot be maintained, or if the “daisy-chaining” charge be done aural the fixture, again a barrier, which could be a approach such as EMT, charge be in abode aural the channel. We additionally appetite to reiterate that the manufacturers and the standards writers must, as bound as possible, annihilate balance constructions that finer annul acquiescence with these requirements in the balance vicinity.
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