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Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
What's the legality of lopping the NEMA connector off of the power cord of a UL-listed appliance and hardwiring it?

Specifically, I have an abandoned 15A 3-phase 208Y/120 disconnect switch that's all hooked up and ready to go- 3 free 120V circuits! Can I just lop the plug off the cord of a 115V power strip (or 3) and hardwire it to 1 phase of the disco switch? And yes, I'm well aware of the "right" way to do it, and there are various (admin & $$$) reasons I'm under pressure to do it with no-cost...

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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,411
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
How will you keep the neutrals and grounds separate?

Tell them the truth ... you're not an electrician, they should get one to do it right.

Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 613
Cut the end of the cord off and you violate the listing.
There are legal and ecenomic ways to take advantage of those 3 circuits in a handy location but it is clear from your question that you don't know enough about the circuit to do it right or safe. Call an electrician.

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
For various OPSEC reasons, I don't really want to go into why we don't "just do it right"- sufficed to say it would cost $5k to nipple a handy box to this switch to plug a power strip into, and despite stereotypes, some of us gumment types ARE interested in minimizing waste! I'm a PE and have AHJ authority here and losing the UL listing on a $20 power strip doesn't bother me in the least. I wasn't sure if replacing the plug was allowed for in listings or not, as hardwiring plugs seems to be a common practice, legal or not.

As to keeping the neutrals and grounds separate, I don't see the issue? I'd bond the grounds, bond the neutrals together and there shouldn't be any issues. Simple multiwire circuit with a shared neutral- no GFCI or AFCI to worry about.

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 599
JBD Offline
400.8 says flexible cords can not be used as a substitute for fixed wiring. As soon as you hard wire the plug-strip I would consider it "fixed".

Replacing "molded" plugs does not change the UL Listing, however it may make the product unsuitable for performing its function. It is always up to the AHJ to accept or reject a product, the UL label just helps in the process.

What happens to the Listing if a UL-Listed product is modified in the field?

An authorized use of the UL Mark is the manufacturer's declaration that the product was originally manufactured in accordance with the applicable requirements when it was shipped from the factory. When a UL-Listed product is modified after it leaves the factory, UL has no way to determine if the product continues to comply with the safety requirements used to certify the product without investigating the modified product. UL can neither indicate that such modifications "void" the UL Mark, nor that the product continues to meet UL's safety requirements, unless the field modifications have been specifically investigated by UL. It is the responsibility of the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to determine the acceptability of the modification or if the modifications are significant enough to require one of UL's Field Engineering Services staff members to evaluate the modified product. UL can assist the AHJ in making this determination.

If a party wishes UL to determine if the modifications made to a UL Listed product comply with UL requirements, the appropriate Field Engineering Service can be initiated to investigate the modifications. This investigation will only be conducted after UL consults with the AHJ to assure that UL's investigation addresses all areas of concern and meets all of the AHJ's needs.

Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
Ah, and age old "(1) As a substitute for the fixed wiring of a structure." that is oft considered to declare extension cords illegal as well. I always took that to mean you can't run W cable like you would SE or NM- but OK when used in situations where NM is illegal, like in an aerial drop in a garage.

I contend this is not substituting for the fixed wiring of a structure, as the only thing being substituted is a hard-wire for a plug.

Thanks for the UL quote, that clears up a LOT for me!

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,869
Likes: 25
Since "do it anyway" is your sentiment here why not just wire up 3 receptacles in a box the same way you were going to wire up 3 strips?

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
Steve, Forgetting about 400.8(1) for a moment, which section in 400.7 permits what you want to do?

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
gfretwell, there are legitimate reasons, I assure you. But I can't to get into that detail of operational readiness on an internet forum. Sufficed to say from a financial standpoint, those 3 receptacles would cost us $5000 of your tax dollars to install, while the powerstrip will cost about $20.

Honestly, what's the difference between installing a receptacle and plugging a power strip into it, and hardwiring the power strip? The only difference I see is that you can yank one out of the socket easier. The disconnect switch provides the same level of disconnect/maintenance safety as the plug. The only real issue I see is perception.

I left NEC at work and the online version isn't working for me at the moment, iwire. I will look at 400.7 though! BTW, I talked with suppo again and it looks like we're scaled back enough that I (thankfully) won't need to do this jerry rig. The question still intrigues me, though!

Edit: A case could be made for both 400.7(A)(3) and 400.7(A)(6) to apply and allow this usage of flexible cord. Clearly, power strips (and their flexible cords) are legal in buildings, I don't think there is any dispute there. 400.7(B)/368.56 allows hardwiring under "hard" usage, which is very open-ended. The specific requirements (approved means of attachment, etc.) aren't difficult to meet.

Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 375
I cannot address many of the code issues but it is possible to purchase a power strip that is suitable for hard wiring. One brand comes in two versions identical except that one has a plug and one is for hard wiring.

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