I need some NEC clarification for a closet light

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  #1  
Old 10-28-05, 07:07 PM
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I need some NEC clarification for a closet light

I'm putting lights in all of the closets but I'm confused about the NEC requirements. Below is a quote from an online source.

"""Any surface mounted incandescent luminaire [light fixture] must also have a closed lens [light fixture globe whether plastic or glass] so that no light bulb is exposed in a clothes closet. These surface mounted incandescent luminaire [light fixtures] must maintain a minimum clearance of 24" from the edge of the luminaire [light fixture] to the back and side walls. The 24 minimum clearance must be maintained whether there is any shelving in that clothes closet or not. Any surface mounted luminaire [light fixture] must also maintain a minimum clearance of 12" from the edge of the shelf in that clothes closet. NEC Article 410.8.A and NEC Article 410.8.B.1 and NEC Article 410.8.D.1 """

BUT I've got the 2005 code book in my hands and from what I can see as long as I keep 12" of clearance to any shelves or side walls then I'm legal.
What I've got is a xenon undercabinet light that I want to use in the closet. All the bulbs are completely covered with glass but no way can I get 24" clearance on either side of it to the side walls of a 1920s closet. But I can get 12" to the shelves.
The wife doesn't want flourescent, she wants "good quality" light in the clothes closet.
I'm also going to see if I can retro fit switches into the top door jamb to make sure the light is off when the closet is closed so it can just sit there cranking out the heat all day long.

thanks for any input.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-28-05, 07:36 PM
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Both the 24" number and the 12" number are in the code. And the edge of the fixture must be at least 12" beyond those numbers.

The 24" number only applies to the first 6 feet off the floor, or to the height of the highest clothes hanging rod. The 12" number applies if there is no shelving, or if the shelving is not wider than 12". If the shelving is wider than 12", use that number instead of 12". If there is no shelving, or if the shelving is narrower than 12", use 12".

You also must consider the height of the ceiling in the closet, since the lighting will be installed on the ceiling (I think). So if the closet ceiling is at least seven feet high, and also at least one foot higher than the highest clothes rod if there is a rod, and if you don't have a shelf wider than 12", then you can just keep the edge (not the center) of the fixture 24" (12+12) from each wall (i.e., 12" from the storage space in the first 12" from each wall).

no way can I get 24" clearance on either side of it to the side walls of a 1920s closet. But I can get 12" to the shelves
Does this remark suggest that you either don't have shelves on all of the side and back walls, or that your shelves are less than 12" wide. In either case, you can't take advantage of that. Code requires you to act as if you had 12" shelves on both side and back walls. I suppose that is because somebody could install them later.

You might consider recessed cans. They will meet your wife's requirements for good quality lighting, and yet allow the same clearance requirements as fluorescents.
 

Last edited by John Nelson; 10-28-05 at 07:47 PM.
  #3  
Old 10-29-05, 09:06 AM
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John, thanks for the info.
It's still a bit confusing to me, but much less so now. So with a recessed fixture the distance is reduced to 6" around the rim of the fixture and 6" down to the self? If you could, please give me a few more details on the limits with a recessed fixture.
My closet is 7' H x 28" D x 33" wide. the clothes rod is at 5'5" with a 17" deep shelf at 5'7". So if I understand this correctly with a 33" wide closet the surface mount incandescent would have to be -15" wide to meet code? Even if you ignore the allowment for two 12" shelves on either side (NEVER going to happen) you would still be limited to a 9" fixture to keep the 12" on either side to the walls. I knew I would have to cut the depth of the shelf down for some more clearance but even with that I'm nowhere near meeting code with a 15" wide undercabinet fixture.
I had intended on mounting the fixture in the small space between the top of the door jamb and the ceiling. This location gave better lighting below the shelf and the extra few inches down from the ceiling meant that my wife didn't have to be on tip toes to hit the rocker switch.

I would still prefer to use this fixture for a couple of reasons. It's going to give more even lighting in the closet and It's got a two position switch that is perfectly fine on low for general use but the high setting really lights things up for those few times you need it.
I'd rather not using a recessed can because it's going to be much more difficult to cut a hole that big in the 2" thick ceiling and it's going to put several nice chimneys in the insulation as the cans are as deep as the attic floor with no way to insulate more over them. And yet if there is no other way to meet code that may be what I'll have to do if I want a light in the closet.
Personally I truly doubt that if I kept 12" of clearance between the bulb and any surface except the ceiling I would ever have a problem with fire. These things have two 12V 18w xenon bulbs in them and are made to be right up underneath a cabinet. How much of a fire hazzard can they be? Especially on the low setting? Don't get me wrong, I've busted my ass to meet code whenever possible in this 1890s house but there are times when it just can't be done.
thanks again
 
  #4  
Old 10-29-05, 02:47 PM
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According to my reading of the NEC, this closet is too small for any kind of lighting. I might suggest you mount a lighting fixture on the ceiling just outside the closet. Either a surface mounted light, or a recessed can light with an eyeball trim so that you can direct the beam into the closet. You might consider two fixtures to eliminate shadows.
 
  #5  
Old 10-31-05, 07:26 AM
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While reading this post, it reminded me of another project I have looming in the near future. Maybe someone will help me on this one also. My closet (connecting off the bathroom) is 7' H x 5' deep and 3' wide. I am thinking of installing an small light, (with a fully enclosed light bulb in a hard plastic cover,) Is this closet large enough for a light?

Now to my second question. I was hoping to run the light off of the GFI receptacle in the bathroom. This GFI is on a dedicated circuit, and there is nothing else on it. Is that permissable?

Thanks in advance.
 
  #6  
Old 10-31-05, 08:47 AM
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(1) that's a strange shape for a closet, unless you got the width and depth backwards. I assume that there is only a clothes rod on one side, right? Then this closet is large enough for recessed or fluorescent lighting.

(2) If that receptacle is truly the only thing on the circuit (and many people are wrong about this because they didn't check the entire house for other things on the circuit), then you may install lighting in that same bathroom only. You may not install lighting outside that one bathroom on this circuit. So I guess it might depend on whether this closet is considered part of the bathroom or not.
 
  #7  
Old 10-31-05, 12:41 PM
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The closet is 3 feet wide and 7 feet deep. The ceiling is 7 feet tall. Not sure what I said in my original post. I made the closet to fit the space I had left over from the bathroom. (Long story, one living room window was installed in the wrong place so I had to widen and shorten the bathroom, and this created the closet space. )


I do know for a fact that is the only thing on the circuit as I just pulled it recently. To get to the closet, you must go inside the bathroom, so i might be considered a part of the bathroom. Anyway the only thing in the closet will be a hot water heater (of course on a dedicated 10-2 circuit) and some shelves.

Now for my bathroom lights (2) I extended the 12-2 wire from a receptacle in the living room to the bathroom switch. (Is that okay) There is not a fan inside the bathroom as it has a window. So the lights shouldn't pull much.
 
  #8  
Old 10-31-05, 07:11 PM
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I don't have my code book with me but I think you could mount your light fixture on the wall above the door.
 
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