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#183358 01/06/09 11:09 AM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
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We often hear that "the code requires ...', but finding that requirement isn't always easy. Let's look at the circuits used to power signs, as an example.

It has been asserted that signs are required to be on a dedicated circuit. I am having a bit of trouble finding the part of the code that requires this.

600.5(A) simply says that there will be a sign circuit at the entrance to a business. As best I can tell, it does not address signs in other locations ... such as in the parking lot or on the roof of a building.

210.62 addresses 'show windows,' but is silent on other locations .. even other windows in the building. If nothing else, this opens the debate as to just what makes a window a "show window." As an example: is the glass front of the local convenience store a "show window?"

While this might seem an exercise in semantics ... I'm not sure the code requires ALL signs, no matter where placed, to be on a dedicated 'sign circuit.' I think we can all see where it would be easier to tie a sign into, say, an adjacent lighting circuit, or even an exit sign circuit.

Nor is this made moot by the required loads. With the advent of LED signs, we can no longer assume that even large signs will draw much of a load.

What are your thoughts?

2017 / 2014 NEC & Related Books and Study Guides
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G
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I understand in some places a "sign" can have the same load requirements as a small village but in my little town they are so limited in size and illumination that they can easily share a general lighting circuit. I agree, I am not sure why you can force a dedicated circuit when the sign only has four T8s in it. Particularly if the sign is on the building facade.


Greg Fretwell
Joined: Nov 2007
Posts: 763
K
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JMO, but I believe that since most commercial sign and parking lot lighting is normally on over three hours, it would be considered a continuous load.
Since these circuits would need to be calculated at 125%, I think the only way to really do that accurately is with individual dedicated circuits having known maximum loads.
I see that 220.14[F] gives a 1200 VA minimum rating for each required branch circuit.
Iím only guessing that "required" would mean, as needed, since 220.14[F] references 600.5[A] and as you already noted, 600.5[A] only states that there must be at least one accessible outlet for sign use at each entrance and that the branch circuit for the one or more outlets be rated at 20A and have no other outlets.
This seems be another one of those cryptic NEC requirements that require additional background information as to the reasoning behind it. shocked

Joined: Apr 2002
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Reno:
The wording within 600.5 (A) also does not state 'exterior' for the required outlet. Granted, we all put it outside.

As to pylon type signs, not a word as to circuitry. Basically, I have to say it's a design thing, not 'code'.

Hence, as the NEC is not a design tool, the 'other' signage has to be left to the designers.

Those that say...'the code requires' need an Article to back up the statement



John
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pdh Offline
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Maybe a requirement for a dedicated circuit for some purpose isn't so much because that circuit needs all the power of one circuit, but rather, to protect other circuits from possible faults of the circuit type having the requirement. One of my plans for my next house is to have all outside circuits separate from all inside circuits. I have no specific reason for that. It just feels like a better way to do it.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
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I must confess that my motives in starting this thread were far from pure; at the core was a disagrement between the sign guy and myself. It probably didn't help that I ... the budding new EC ... had quoted assuming I would just tie into a nearby light.

Casual conversation in the chat room produced 'first take' replies that the sign guy was right, theat the signs had to have their own circuit, anywhere, anytime. Conversations with two parties at the city revealed they were happy with the sign being fed by the lighting circuit, capacity allowing.

As for the job itself ... further conversations with the customer revealed that he has further sign plans, so I decided to humor the sign guy, and make the dedicated run on the face of the building. This is being very time-consuming, as I need to paint the pipe to blend in as best I can; the location couldn't be more visible if I tried. It will be a cinch, however, to add th future signs to this circuit; I'm including the appropriate junction boxes and splices. (Now this is where Wago's ot In-sures really shine!)

Not that it mattered; the sign guy made sure to call for inspection today - I had told him Friday - and the inspectors' greeting was "now what are you tying these signs into?" frown Now, I was facing away as he approached; as soon as I turned, and he saw my face, the inspectors' demeanor changed completely to "Hey, I know you from the local IAEI!" Yup, and I'm even on the committee there, and part of the committee that's writing our local ammendments for the 2008 code. smile The sign guy certainly wasn't expecting THAT response from the inspector. laugh He was delighted with my explanation, and signed off the job .... though the pipe wasn't quite yet complete.

If there's a moral to this story ... perhaps those dues, and active participation, made for a positive relationship.

As for my quote ... I'll honor it, even though it might not (quite) cover my material expenses. I'm eating my time on this one. Call it a lesson learned ... and laying the foundation for a very good relationship with this customer. He knows I'm in the hole with this one, and I'm confident I'll have an chance to recoup on future jobs.

Last edited by renosteinke; 01/07/09 11:05 PM.
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Reno:
Now that you fessed up more info...
I too have connected signs to existing site lighting circuits that had available capacity. Circuit ID & load calcs to Twp w/permit apps; usually no issues!





John
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,507
G
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Wait a cotton pickin minute here. 600.5(A) is not one of those vague subject to interpretation Sections of the code. Pretty straight forward."The outlet(s) shall be supplied by a branch circuit rated at least 20 amperes that supplies no other load." I don't care where the sign is, inside or outside, the rule applies. It should be noted that this has nothing to do with the show window lighting. Why would any inspector choose to break the rules?

600.5(A)


George Little
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Cat Servant
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George, you're quite right, the code is 'plain as day.' Alas, it also specifically applies to the entries of tenant spaces (that's the entire sentence before the part you quoted).

So, it seems clear the 'no other load' circuit is only requirede to be provided at the entrance to tenant spaces ... which also suggests that the circuit would be from the tenants' meter.

I just don't see this specific application applying to signs in other locations, signs that might be for the entire building (and thus off the 'house' meter) ... or, for that matter, any requirement that a sign actually use the provided circuit.

Now, if the code panel wanted to say "signs will be powered by dedicated circuits," they could have said so; they were certainly able to do this with the furnace circuit. Instead, all they said, in effect, is that there will be a receptacle by the front door.

Nor does this section distinguish between a temporary sign, and a permanent one. Now, maybe I'm a bit jaded ... but it makes no sense to require a dedicated circuit for a 1/2 amp beer sign over a side window. Naturally, that might also be where the 'show window' issue might arise.

As long as 600.5(A) specifically mentions entryways, location does matter.

While we've passed the submission period for the 2011 code cycle, it's never to early to prepare for 2014. If anyone wants the code to require all signs to be powered by dedicated circuits, they should make the proposal.

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G
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I bet if you did a survey you would find 600.5(A) is largely ignored. It has been in the code, virtually forever (at least the early 70s) and I am not sure I have ever seen a sign circuit with no other outlets. Granted I did not do a lot of "retail" but "commercial" covers a lot of ground.
I can guarantee the strip mall bay we rented when my wife had a store did not have a dedicated sign circuit. The sign was on with the overhead lighting in the front part of the store because it all came on with the same switch. (four 48" lay ins and a sign with four F40s in it as I recall).


Greg Fretwell
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