Or, 13 Things to Love About the 2014 NEC Updates!
Welcome to part two in what has wound up being a three-part series on the 2014 NEC Updates. (You can find part one here, and part two here.) Not all areas are implementing these at the same time – not all areas are implementing them at all. Regardless, this years updates are going to continue to shape and improve the future of construction – specifically in the electrical field. Awareness and knowledge of these changes will only strengthen the future face of building across the country.
551 – RV’s and RV Parks
While it might not be very exciting to read about how many circuits an RV park is required to have – especially when you get into how many circuits must be 50-amp, 30-amp, and 15-20-amp – or what kind of outlet configuration they need to provide, there is something fascinating to read between the lines here. What is interesting, is that the rising demand for higher-amperage outlets means that more and more campers are using RVs with high power-demand. This seems to be counterintuitive when compared with how we try to conserve energy usage at home, but there is something liberating in being on vacation that says it’s ok to run a 13kBTU air conditioner and eat 14 amps for ‘climate control’. Also, requiring the low-amperage (15-20) receptacles to have GFCIs indicates safety is still a concern for tent-campers.
600 – Electric Signs & Outline Lighting
Exterior lighting in the form of signs or outline lighting must be external, with an accessible disconnect at or for the pole or sign enclosure. All I could think of when I heard this was that someone is going to start making a game out of finding – and flipping – external sign disconnects.
This section deals with electric vehicle charging, and doing so specifically under the control of an automatic load management system. EVSE charging can be direct-wired (hard-wired into a circuit) or operated via a cord and plug system. EV chargers must be on dedicated circuits, as mentioned earlier, and if they are tied into an automatic load management system, the maximum load is that which is permitted by the energy management system. These directives probably serve to clarify questions and discussions that were bridged before – specifically about the ability of an energy management system to manage a non-house function, such as car-charging.
694 – Wind Electric Systems
This section was developed together with the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to develop new product standards (UL/ANSI 6141 and UL/ANSI 6142) applicable to wind electric systems. The standards and definitions were generated to address circuit requirements, sizing, current, over current protection, the circuits and equipment of the system, disconnect, turbine, wiring, fuses, installation – basically providing the entire systems with general guidelines and standards. Applicable both to small-scale residential and large-scale commercial applications, the coordinated development of this section means that with some exceptions it will become the standard for wind system installations.
750 – Energy Management Systems
This is a new article that specifically deals with the definitions and requirements for load management, alternate power sources, and system marking requirements. This section addresses the energy management systems rights and authority to monitor and control things like consumption and generation. Smart Grid Energy management and system restriction is smart and will help whole-building systems be more effective and less wasteful. These systems are designed, installed, and implemented with the intention of monitoring, controlling, timing, measuring, etc. the consumption of resources such as communications, lighting, HVAC, and more.
The most important factor here is that the energy management systems cannot supersede any emergency system – addressed earlier as ‘Essential Electrical Systems’. Especially applicable in healthcare buildings, it also applies to any structure that houses these management systems. Designers and builders are legally required to separate the standby systems and critical operations systems from the domain of the systems control. Systems like emergency lighting, fire pumps, smoke alarms and sensors cannot be under the control of an EMS (Energy Management System). While they can be monitored – as can elevators, escalators, stairway lifts or moving walkways – the system cannot be wired to disconnect their service in any way, shape, or form. Likewise, positive ventilating systems for hazardous locations (such as laboratories or underground spaces) can be observed by the EMS but cannot be set up for disconnect by the system or really any method of control.
The NEC code book is pretty technical reading – and the updates sometimes even more so; trying to enforce such specific and narrow definitions, regulations, and codes nearly impossible across the massive bulk and socioeconomic diversity of our country. Yet, the 2014 updates bring hope to my efficiency-engineering heart, and inspire the whole-building designer in me with anticipation. It is a tangible and definitive sign that the construction industry is quickly and aggressively gearing towards conservation, consideration, and long-term energy-saving investments. It means that as a fan of things like LEED and passive-house technology, I am not alone – nor do I feel like a fringe participant drowning in a stream of gross consumerism. Instead, the world of building is moving into the same channel I’ve been wading through – and I love it. We won’t get there tomorrow, but we are all going to come along for the ride, and that is to me the best and most exciting part.
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This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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