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#212251 - 12/25/13 12:32 PM Exterior fixture with convenience outlet?
switches Offline
New Member

Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 9
Loc: FL
On the outside of my house I have a wall lantern that has a grounded convenience outlet on the bottom. I have seen bathroom fixtures with such an outlet but never an exterior fixture. The outlet does not have a weatherproof cover, and the outlet is only activated when the light is turned on. I do find the outlet convenient as I sometimes plug my shop vac into it to vacuum out the drain line for my central air.

Has anyone seen one of these? My house was built in 1976, but the builder seemed to often use old stock materials, so the fixture could be older. I don't understand how the manufacturer got away with not providing a cover for it.

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#212252 - 12/25/13 01:29 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
I see 2 possibilities.

The lantern was modified.

It was not intended for wet locations.

The requirement for the cover predates the 70s.
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#212253 - 12/25/13 05:04 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Don't over-think this.

Nearly every porch light I've seen has actually been placed in a 'damp' location, rather than a wet one.

Another thing to consider is that a cover isn't needed for a receptacle to pass a 'rain' or NEMA-3R test. All one need do is slightly recess it, or to point it downward, and the opening will not collect the 'rain'- water droplets that are falling at approximately fifteen degrees from the vertical.

As far as dates go, it wasn't until well into the 90's that UL paid any heed whatever to "NEMA" enclosure specifications. UL didn't even want to admit NEMA existed. Instead, UL had their own criteria for 'dry,' 'damp,' and 'wet.'

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#212254 - 12/25/13 06:47 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6785
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
IMHO, it sounds like a bath fixture that wound up on a porch.
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#212256 - 12/25/13 08:08 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
Reno the 1975 NEC 410.57(a) says receptacles in damp locations need "An enclosure that is weatherproof when the receptacle is covered (attachment plug cap not inserted and cover closed)".
That is basically what it says now.
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#212258 - 12/26/13 05:13 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Well, there's the key ... define "weatherproof."

No need to run to Webster's laugh The earlier UL standard, and the current NEMA standards, do it for us. In short, anything that passes the test qualifies. In the case of NEMA 3-R (raintight), all this means is that the enclosure did not collect an 'objectionable' amount of water during the defined rain test, and that live parts were not submerged.

On second thought ... I stand corrected. The standards define 'raintight,' and not 'weatherproof.' What is the NEMA designation for 'weatherproof?'

This puts things in an interesting paradox: An open receptacle pointed 'down' will pass, while adding a cover to a downward pointing receptacle might actually cause a test failure by trapping water within.

I certainly hope we don't require 'damp' locations to use Bell boxes, etc. If we do, EVERY crawl space in America is in violation. After all, NM-B is not allowed in damp location, and crawl spaces are by definition damp- as any home inspector laugh (whom I blame for THAT code change).

Bath fixture? How does the area next to a shower differ from the area immediately under a roof's eave? Sounds like an appropriate choice to me.

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#212259 - 12/26/13 06:18 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
HotLine1 Offline

Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6785
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
Reno:
I'm not getting into the 'great debate' of "damp", "wet", etc. My only point was that it used to be 'common' to have a receptacle built into the bathroom vanity fixtures.

Heck, back in the day...it was a two wire receptacle!
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#212260 - 12/26/13 06:28 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
WESTUPLACE Offline
Member

Registered: 03/29/04
Posts: 252
Loc: Kingwood, TX USA
My sister built a house in the late 1960's It had wall mounted lanterns at both front and back doors, both had grounded receptacles facing down mounted on the back canopy, no cover. I my old neighborhood, there are still many yard lights (Lantern mounted on a pole) with a outlet mounted on the side of the pole with no cover. Later models have a cover. most are 3 wire but some are 2.

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#212261 - 12/26/13 08:54 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
gfretwell Offline

Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9012
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
I think the operative word in the 1975 code was "cover" and that was not a new change so it goes back to at least 1972. I don't have that book or anything older. Maybe Joe T does.

If there is no weather proof cover no matter how you define weather proof, it is not going to be compliant.
I assume that ambiguity is how we got to the NEMA 3r standard.

Is there a label in the luminaire canopy? That would answer the question.
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Greg Fretwell

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#212263 - 12/26/13 09:27 PM Re: Exterior fixture with convenience outlet? [Re: switches]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5299
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Mind reading is always a challenge ...

I see the reference to a cover as simply the code panel not able to imagine something weatherproof without a cover. A similar assumption, I believe, is behind the code language about 'in use' covers.

The NEMA test methods date well back before the 70's. I remember them, being discussed within UL in the mid-60's. They were always independent of UL; that discussion is ultimately more about internal politics and marketing than anything else.

Nonetheless, The NEMA enclosure standards in no place even mention covers. All that is required is that a complete product, installed properly, pass certain performance standards. In the instance of NEMA-3R, the crucial test is a simulated rain at a slight angle.

If you look at some "outdoor" cover plates - designs pre-dating the 'in-use' designs - you will find a short hood projecting over the top face. This lip was clearly designed around the NEMA rain test; that lip is no wider than required by the slant of the 'rain.'

When a question arises, such as the one posed by this thread, I ask myself: what would happen if we did the industry-standard tests? Knowing the standard and test procedures, I opine that the fixture described would pass the NEMA -3R test quite handily.

Another thread active today discusses devices wired without the bother of using a box in the wall. One must be careful; not to assume that 'different' is 'wrong.'

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