Article 90: Simple But Important Changes

By: Dennis Bordeaux | Mar 23, 2017

When reading a book, how often do we skip past the introduction and start with the chapters that interest us? That happens to those of us that use the NEC as well, but understanding the introduction to the code in Article 90 is key to properly applying the technical requirements in the other chapters of the NEC. Changes in the Introduction may appear simple, but simple does not mean unimportant.

One thing that has not changed is the purpose of the NEC under 90.1. The stated purpose remains,  “the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards arising from the use of electricity.”

An exhaust fan was removed, but the NM cable was not terminated in a box as required by 300.15.

There are limits to what any code or standard can do in protecting human beings from our own mistakes, but as we look at the changes that have been introduced this year in Article 90 and elsewhere in the NEC, we should keep in mind the purpose of the Code: the practical safeguarding of persons and property from electrical hazards. Fires, explosions, and electric shock continue to take lives and destroy property each year; as we study the changes in the 2017 we should think about the link between the change and the stated purpose of the NEC.

One such change appears in 90.2. Previous editions of the NEC stated that, “This Code covers the installation of electrical conductors, equipment, and raceways;” However, the requirements that apply when conductors or equipment are removed have sometimes been overlooked. For example, 590.2(D) requires the removal of temporary wiring upon completion of construction, 390.8 requires removal of circuit conductors in underfloor raceways when outlets are abandoned, and 110.12 requires unused openings in electrical equipment to be closed. Section 725.25 and requires the accessible portion of abandoned Class 2 and Class 3 cables to be removed while 800.25 requires the same for abandoned communications cables. In the 2017 NEC, 90.2 states that the code covers, “the installation and removal,” of electrical conductors, equipment and raceways.

The 2017 NEC covers the installation and removal of electrical conductors, equipment, and raceways.

The point of the change is that the removal of electrical conductors, equipment, and raceways be done in such a manner that the electrical system remains in compliance with the safety requirements of the NEC. Since the NEC is adopted by many states and local jurisdictions for regulatory purposes, clarifying that the code applies to both the installation and removal of conductors and equipment reinforces the importance that electrical work be performed by qualified persons and in compliance with the NEC regardless of whether the work involves the installation or removal of electrical conductors, equipment or raceways.

Another significant change is found in 90.3 Code Arrangement. For many years, the accepted arrangement was that Chapters 1-4 applied generally and Chapters 5, 6, and 7 applied to special occupancies, special equipment, or other special conditions. It was accepted that Chapters 5, 6, or 7 could modify the general requirements in Chapters 1-4. While this is true, in fact the requirements of Chapters 5, 6, and  7 may “supplement or modify” requirements within any of the 7 chapters- not just Chapters 1-4.

For example, an electric sign installed within a fountain must comply with the specific provisions found in 680.57, which modify the basic requirements for electric signs in Article 600. The disconnecting means for the sign must comply with both the sign disconnect requirements in 600.6 and the pool maintenance disconnecting means required by 680.13. Since Article 680 is written to address the specific hazards associated with electrical equipment around swimming pools and fountains, it is logical that the more specific requirements in Article 680 will supplement of modify the general requirements for signs in Article 600 just as Article 600 supplements or modifies the general requirements in Chapters 1-4.

Sign in fountain

The changes in 90.3, Code Arrangement, make it clear that the NEC is a comprehensive document. As we study the 2017 NEC changes, we cannot just pick out individual sections to apply independently of related requirements in other chapters. As stated in 90.1(B), compliance with the NEC and proper maintenance will result in an “installation that is essentially free from hazard.” The practical safeguarding of persons and property from electrical hazards should be our goal for every electrical installation. Jade Learning offers courses on the 2017 NEC changes as well as exam prep courses to help you learn your way through the NEC. Power your career by registering for a free account!


2 thoughts on “Article 90: Simple But Important Changes

  1. JADE Learning,
    Thank you for continuing to supply sound, accurate examples of sorely neglected areas for us tradesmen’s education. We need to step up our performance to meet the value of money we draw (earn would sound much more satisfying but is not widely accurate).

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