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Disconnect Requirements for Articles 422 through 450

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Electrical Construction and Maintenance

Mike Holt, NEC Consultant


Mon, 2012-03-19 17:30

Revised disconnect requirements for Articles 422 through 450


Article 422 covers electric appliances used in any occupancy. Most NEC articles include definitions unique to
that article in a dedicated subsection with the .2 ending. Until the 2011 revision, Art. 422 didnt have such a
section and provided the definition for vending machine in 422.51. That definition is now in the new Sec.
422.2.
With the 2011 revision, each appliance must have a means to simultaneously disconnect all ungrounded circuit
conductors [422.30]. The NEC has long required appliances to have a means to disconnect the ungrounded
conductors supplying them, just not simultaneously. This change helps coordinate this requirement with the
provisions of 240.15.
Thats not the only disconnect-related change in Art. 422. How you apply the requirements of 422.31 depends on
the VA rating and horsepower rating of the appliance. The horsepower rating is actually for the motor of the
appliance, yet it raises a concern.
Article 430 requires motors to have a lockable disconnect within sight. What if a lockable disconnect isnt within
sight of a motor-driven appliance? That used to be a confusing aspect of Art. 422. The 2011 NEC clarifies that
the branch circuit overcurrent device can serve as the disconnect for appliances (if they are not over 300VA or
1/8 hp) [422.31(A)].
Another source of confusion has been in applying the requirements of 422.32, which pertained only to motordriven appliances and differed from those in 422.31. In the 2011 Code, 422.32 is gone. A new subsection
422.31(C) exists for appliances rated over 18 hp (motor driven) and 422.31(B) now addresses appliances rated
over 300VA.
In the 2011 NEC, revision of 422.31 addresses the disconnection of permanently connected appliances in the
following subsections:
Subsection (A) applies to nonmotor-operated appliances not over 300VA and motor-operated appliances
less than 18 hp.
Subsection (B) applies to nonmotor-operated appliances of greater than 300VA.
Subsection (C) applies to motor-operated appliances greater than 18 hp.
The exception formerly found in 422.32 now applies to 422.31(C).

Fixed Space Heaters


Has the sheer number of pages in Art. 424 ever struck you as a bit over the top? This is a nine-part article on
fixed electric space heaters. Why so much text for what seems to be a simple application? The answer is that
heaters come in many configurations for various uses, and Art. 424 covers them all. Not all of this article applies

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Disconnect Requirements for Articles 422 through 450

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to electricians in the field though, because Part IV is for manufacturers.


Fixed space heaters (wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, or free-standing) are common in utility buildings and
other small structures as well as in some larger structures. When used to heat floors, space-heating cables help
solve the thermal layering problem typical of forced-air systems so they are in widespread use. Duct heaters
commonly provide a distributed heating scheme in large office and educational buildings. Locating the heater in
the ductwork close to the occupied space eliminates the waste of transporting heated air through sheet metal
ductwork routed in unheated spaces.
The motors for fixed electric space-heaters are now considered a continuous load [424.3(B)]. Thus, size the
branch circuit at 125%.

GFCI
The NEC has long required GFCI protection of electric space heating cables that heat floors in bathrooms and
hydromassage locations. Now this requirement also includes kitchen floors [424.44(G)] (click here to see Fig.
1).

Motors
Article 430 (see Article 430 Issues on page 37) didnt change very much in the 2011 NEC. However, there was a
change in the requirements for cord- and plug-connected motors. While portable motors typically plug into
receptacles, often theyre connected to the cord connector of a pendant cord or a flanged surface inlet. Though
210.50(A) addresses cord connectors attached to a pendant cord, 430.109(F) now addresses these as well.
For a motor disconnecting means, you can use any of the following if they have a horsepower rating not less than
the motor rating:
Horsepower-rated attachment plug and receptacle.
Flanged surface inlet and cord connector.
Attachment plug and cord connector.

Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Equipment


Article 440 includes some changes for air conditioners, beginning with cord-connected room air conditioners.
Its similar to the change we just looked at in Art. 430. While cord- and plug-connected room air conditioners
typically plug into receptacles, often theyre connected to the cord connector of a pendant cord. While 210.50(A)
addresses this type of installation, 440.63 has now been revised to include such situations.
An attachment plug and receptacle or cord connector can serve as the disconnecting means for a room air
conditioner, provided (click here to see Fig. 2):
1. The manual controls on the room air conditioner are readily accessible and within 6 ft of the floor, or
2. A readily accessible disconnecting means is within sight from the room air conditioner.

Generators
Generators are basically motors that operate in reverse they produce electricity when rotated instead of
rotating when supplied with electricity. Article 430, which covers motors, is the longest article in the NEC.
Article 445, which covers generators, is one of the shortest. At first, this might not seem to make sense, but you
dont need to size and protect conductors to a generator. You do need to size and protect them to a motor.
Generators need overload protection, and its necessary to size the conductors that come from the generator.

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Disconnect Requirements for Articles 422 through 450

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However, these considerations are more straightforward than the equivalent considerations for motors.
The Scope section for Art. 445 has been revised to be more accurate. Previously, it said, This article covers the
installation of generators. Now it says, This article contains installation and other requirements for
generators. [445.1]
While Art. 445 does cover the installation of generators, it also covers the location, marking, overcurrent
protection, internal bushing requirements, terminal housings, and disconnecting means for generators. In
addition, it covers the ampacity of conductors from the generator terminal to the first disconnecting means with
overcurrent protection. Instead of including this long list of items, the Code-Making Panel decided to shorten it
by stating that Art. 445 covers installation and other requirements for generators.
Generators, associated wiring, and equipment must be installed in accordance with the following requirements,
depending on their use:
Article 695, Fire Pumps
Article 700, Emergency Systems
Article 701, Legally Required Standby Systems
Article 702, Optional Standby Systems

Transformers
Article 450 opens by saying, This article covers the installation of all transformers. Then it lists eight
exceptions. So what does Art. 450 really cover? Essentially, it covers power transformers and most kinds of
lighting transformers.
The prevention of overheating is a major concern with transformers. The NEC doesnt completely address this
issue, because the NEC isnt a design manual [90.1(C)].
Proper transformer selection, which the NEC doesnt address, is an important part of preventing transformer
overheating. You need to select a transformer suitable for the load characteristics, the application, and the
environment.
Once youve done that, Art. 450 takes you through the next logical steps providing overcurrent protection,
making the proper connections, meeting ventilation requirements, and allowing for accessibility.
Part I contains the general requirements such as guarding, marking, and accessibility.
Part II contains the specific provisions for different types of transformers.
Part III covers transformer vaults.
Article 450 doesnt go into acceptance testing or maintenance. For those, youll need to refer to other standards.

Disconnecting Means
A new section, 450.14, requires a disconnecting means for most transformers. In previous NEC editions,
transformers didnt require a disconnecting means. Although there were no documented injuries to warrant this
change, its obvious that this requirement should enhance safety.
For transformers other than Class 2 and Class 3, you must provide a means to disconnect all transformer
ungrounded primary conductors. The disconnecting means must be within sight of the transformer unless the
location of the disconnect is field-marked on the transformer, and the disconnect is lockable (click here to see
Fig. 3).

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Disconnecting
We just ran through an overview of changes to eight NEC articles. We were able to do that in so little space
because the changes werent extensive. Did you notice a recurring theme here? The 2011 NEC requires
disconnects where previously they werent required.
Adding more disconnects will slightly increase construction costs if they were not already included by designers.
In addition to the safety benefits, reduced maintenance costs will also provide savings to offset the increased
construction costs. This is why engineering best practices required disconnects even where the NEC previously
did not.

SIDEBAR: Article 430 Issues


Because Art. 430 is so large, Code users sometimes feel overwhelmed by it. The solution to that problem is to
proceed methodically through your motor system installation using Fig. 430.1 in the NEC. This illustration gives
a good graphical representation of which Parts of Art. 430 apply to which parts of the motor system.
A second issue involves sizing the motor branch circuit overcurrent protection. Remember, an overload isnt the
same thing as a short circuit or ground fault. The fuse or circuit breaker protects the motor branch circuit
against short circuits or ground faults, but it is sized large enough to allow the motor to draw the additional
current needed for startup [430.52]. By sizing the branch circuit short circuit and ground fault protection device
this large, it will not provide overload protection for the motor. Thats why separate motor overload protection is
required [430.32(A)(1)]. This makes overcurrent protection for motor applications necessarily different from
the protection employed for other types of equipment. So dont confuse general overcurrent protection with
motor protection you must calculate and apply them differently using the rules in Art. 430.
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