Please note that where they say 'grounded conductors,' we usually say 'neutral.' We're talking about the white wire here, not the green.
I see merit to the idea of having a neutral pass through the switch box. At least when a 'raceway' is used (conduit), you can later add a neutral if you need one.
I can see where NEMA is coming from; the various 'energy' codes are getting ever more intrusive, and their main focus seems to be lighting controls. Try adding a timer without there being a neutral present some time ...
At some point you have to recognize that there can never be 'enough code' to make things perfect. Add to that the changing nature of the world, and you get things like mixing plastic boxes with metal studs - something that neither manufacturer ever imagined.
Also forgotten are the assurances of the cable makers, their stipulation that they KNEW their product was very limited, and was thus intended only for very simple, conventional, mass-market uses - things like wiring Archie Bunkers' bungalow. Those products were never intended to be used where there were complex circuit and control arrangements.
Jobs come and go, but 'cheap' is forever. I think the code approach ia a mistake; only when the customer learns to appreciate the value of good design will some of these problems be solved. Until that happens, all these rules will do is drive more work 'underground,' to the unlicensed, unqualified, and unscrupulous "contractors."
What a surprise to see that the author of this is a member of NEMA. How would this play out with a 3-way and 4-way switching arrangement? Does this mean a neutral conductor in every switch box regardless, even where it wouldn’t normally be required for a lighting control? Just wondering, because technically they would all seem to be controlling lighting loads.
IMO, I think the exception for raceway is because they assume you will be able to pull a neutral if needed at a later date. BTW, digital timer switches that run only on batteries have been around for a long time, so why can’t manufactures just produce lighting controls that use batteries. Then they can sell a lot more batteries to customers that actually use their lighting controls and not to screw everyone else who doesn’t want or need their lighting control products.
#194975 - 07/03/1002:09 PMRe: Neutral in each switch location 2011 ROP
Greg, the Intermatic 7-day timer wall switches I normally installed used only AA battery power. I could power them up, read the display and program them as well as cycle them on or off in my hand without any electrical connection. They had a manual override and could be connected for either single-pole or 3-way switching by installing a jumper. They also came in both a 15A and 20A model.
I have also installed the Honeywell and other Intermatic ones that have to be connected to line voltage in order to power them up, so I guess it is a design choice, possibly to extend the two CR "coin" batteries life by using them only for memory backup.
#194977 - 07/03/1006:55 PMRe: Neutral in each switch location 2011 ROP
The one I had on my Christmas lights didn't have any battery at all. Unplug all the lights and it was dead. My wife finally killed it with a bolted fault in a set of lights and I replaced it with a regular Intermatic "tripper" type timer.
I also have 3 "occupancy" detectors that are 2 wire hookup.
#194983 - 07/04/1011:11 AMRe: Neutral in each switch location 2011 ROP
I see it as a design issue. If that is what the ENGINEER wants,spec it. I see no reason for it to be in the NEC- This will just add to the cost of install,as did most of the changes in the '08, yet, really doing nothing for safety.
The NEC is a safety code, not a design code. Bringing the neutral to each switch does not increase safety. It adds to cost of construction by bringing wires to boxes that are not needed. I understand smart switches may need a neutral but that is a design requirement, not a safety requirement. Garbage disposal, under cabinets lights, closet light, attics, craw space lights, etc. do not need a neutral but adds to the cost of construction. That's all it does. Again, NFPA mised the scope of their own document at the expense of our customers
Seems to me that there is a retrofit kind of issue here that NFPA is trying to eliminate in the future, baring any technological breakthrus to alter the situation.
Installers working on retrofitting new devices on existing wiring have utilized the EGC in lieu of a neutral for many, many years. "Gipping the ground" was a common slang term in Northern NJ areas.
That said, yes it was/is considered a NEC violation. I'm refering to a timer or other control device that uses a minimal current. I'm not aware of any safety issues that arose from this, although I DO NOT condone this practice.
Cost increases? Yes! Convenience for changes in affected buildings? Yes! Design Issue?? IMHO, Yes! Should be a NEC Requirement?? IMHO, NO!, but I'll have to enforce it!!