2011 NEC: Switch Loop?

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Old 11-09-10, 09:40 AM
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2011 NEC: Switch Loop?

Marc in a post mentioned changes in the NEC 2011 regarding switch loops or more specifically neutrals will be required in switch boxes. I was wondering when telling posters how to wire new lights we should just start telling them to run the power to the switch box and not use switch loops in our instructions?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-24-11 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 11-09-10, 10:01 AM
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It will probably depend on when states start to adopt the new code. With as must resistance as there was to '08, I wouldn't be surprised if it's slow. I'm perpetually a little behind the curve anyway because Michigan is usually a full code cycle behind for a while.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 10:37 AM
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Heck, we still fall under the 2005 code here.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 12:31 PM
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Good question Ray. I guess you want a consensus answer too?
 
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Old 11-09-10, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by HotinOKC View Post
Heck, we still fall under the 2005 code here.
Gotcha beat, where I'm staying now is still on 2002!

Under the new requirement you can still do a switch loop as long as there is a neutral. So if you're going to do a switch loop it has to be done with 12/3 or 14/3, and just cap off the neutral at the switch. That would IMHO be better anyway, because it does away with the remarked 'hot white'. You are now using black and red for the switch.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 02:45 PM
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I see just telling people to run power to the switch first as simpler anyway. So most times from this point except special circumstances on new wiring I will just avoid switch loops in my answers.

Anybody have any guess as to the new rule. Is it like requiring water lines to waterless urinals, just in case it is needed in the future. I can understand CFLs prompting that change so timers can be easily added.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 03:13 PM
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I think it's a good idea. After a few years pretty much every house has had a switch loop cobbled up to install a ceiling fan, timer, dimmer, X10, etc. Nobody is satisfied with just a snap switch anymore. Having the extra wire there makes it much easier to do the job right. Plus many local codes are now demanding occupancy sensors for energy efficiency so it makes installing those a snap.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 03:46 PM
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Just chiming in. Would it be consistent with 2011 to run a "switch loop" of say 14-3, cap off the neutral from the fixture and use the red and black as your loop? Makes identification simpler. Maybe we could suggest switch loops be made of 3 conductor cable instead. I know....in time.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
Just chiming in. Would it be consistent with 2011 to run a "switch loop" of say 14-3, cap off the neutral from the fixture and use the red and black as your loop? Makes identification simpler. Maybe we could suggest switch loops be made of 3 conductor cable instead. I know....in time.
And JersyMatt wrote:
Under the new requirement you can still do a switch loop as long as there is a neutral. So if you're going to do a switch loop it has to be done with 12/3 or 14/3, and just cap off the neutral at the switch. That would IMHO be better anyway, because it does away with the remarked 'hot white'. You are now using black and red for the switch.


And you would be able to add a receptacle from a switch box even if it was a switch loop. However a switch loop from a fan/light fixture box would require either two cables or the not so common 4-conductor cable. More money for the wire companies maybe.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 05:45 PM
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Ray.,

I am glad you spoke up in here.

I will be glad to answer your question related to this topic and I am aware that quite few states are one or two code cycle behind but the reason why I mention it now due there is alot of motion sensor and electronic timer which I know it did came up in this fourm from time to time and majorty of them will required a netural conductor to get them function properly escpally with CFL or LED energy saving devices.

I know few of readers may wondering why I say that but as long you plan to run new circuits for the switches it will be wise to bring the power to the switch box first then go to the luminires ditto with three ways if possible but for some reason why if have to go with switch loop I know you will have to use the XX() - 3 conductors some case XX-4 conductors once the States do take the 2011 NEC code cycle.

From my experince I have see few issue with motion switches right now they work in odd fashion by using the EGC { which I never like it for safety reason especially with 277 v verison in USA side } and I know pretty good percentage of older home do not have EGC so that can get little sticky with this issue.

In France we allready have that requirement in effect 2 years ago so that slove few issue { yeah we have 240 volt L-N set up or 415 V L-L }

But keep in your mind if your state decided to adopt the new 2011 NEC code some states will modify it so check it from time to time.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-09-10, 06:34 PM
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Just to clarify in a three-way would only a neutral be required in one box because any supplemental control devices only need to be on one of the two switches, correct?
 
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Old 11-09-10, 07:26 PM
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I know the focus here is on residential but I'm wondering how it would affect these issues that are primarily commercial:

1) If there were raceway between an available splicing point and the switch box, would it be necessary to pull in the neutral?

2) If separate circuits were being switched in the same box, would a neutral be required for each circuit?

3) Regarding three-ways, what about bowling-alley hallways where there are multiple 4-ways in between? Similar to what Ray is asking about.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 07:45 PM
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If a raceway like conduit is installed or one side of the wall will remain open the standard switch loop wiring can be used.

I have not seen discussions on the 3w and 4w switching and neutrals being available in the box. Sure will make for a crowded box.

While this might be a good idea, it goes against the code saying it is not a design manual. Now we will be installing in case something is added later. The issue is supposed to be the use of switching devices that may require a neutral for the proper use, instead of using the ground.
 
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Old 11-09-10, 09:12 PM
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I happen to have the new 2011 NEC code book and here is the reference:

Art 404.2(C) Switches Controlling Lighting Loads. Where switches control lighting loads supplied by a grounded general purpose branch circuit, the grounded circuit conductor for the controlled lighting circuit shall be provided at the switch location.

Exception: The grounded circuit conductor shall be permitted to be omitted from the switch enclosure where either of the following conditions apply. (I will paraphrase below)

(1) If the wires enter the box via a raceway. (The race way must be sized to accommodate the addition of the grounded conductor.)

(2) The cables enter the box located in a cavity that is open either the top or bottom on the same floor, or the wall or ceiling that is unfinished on one side.

Informational note: The provision for a future grounded conductor is to complete a circuit path for electronic lighting control devices.

My opinion: There are already things like timers and motion switches that do not require a neutral. I'm sure there are lots of smart people who can figure out how to get around needing a neutral to get their device to work. Just another thing that will get charged to the customer.
 

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Old 11-11-10, 01:14 AM
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Thanks guys for more info posted in here and I will make it sticky for time being.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 11-11-10, 03:22 PM
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I only see this being a nuisance in commerical jobs. Personally i never use switch loops in residential, but in commerical its all i use.
 
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Old 11-11-10, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ElectricJoeNJ View Post
I only see this being a nuisance in commerical jobs. Personally i never use switch loops in residential, but in commerical its all i use.
Most commercial jobs around here (At least the ones we do ) are done in conduit anyway which would be covered in the exception. If you want to run cable just use three wire cable.
 
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Old 12-19-10, 08:32 AM
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I can't wait until 12/4g is required for a ceiling fan!
 
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Old 12-19-10, 10:27 AM
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In some cases where you have separate heat, fan, and light switch 12-4 or 14-4 is already needed to avoid the crowding of multiple cables in the device connection box or avoid using ENT. You have a point though four conductor may become a lot more common and or switch loops less common.
 
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Old 02-23-11, 03:14 PM
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I have yet to see 12/4, although my supply house probably has some. When I rewire a lighting circut, I will try to convince the p/o to let me use it for fan rough-in.
 
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Old 02-23-11, 05:56 PM
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I haven't seen the 12-4 yet, but I have seen the 12-2/2.
 
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Old 02-23-11, 06:54 PM
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I haven't seen the 12-4 yet, but I have seen the 12-2/2.
What's that? It sounds like a waste or heatshrink to me.
 
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Old 02-24-11, 05:46 PM
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It's 4 conductor plus ground just like 12/4, but instead of containing black, red, blue, and white, it has black, red, and two whites - one solid white (or white with a black tracer), one white with a red tracer. This is basically to allow multiple circuits to be homerunned in a single cable without doing a MWBC (which can't be AFCI protected). It's a labor and box-fill saver at the expense of higher material cost.

Also keep in mind, while you would be able to re-purpose a white in 12/2/2 to make it into a feed leg, using the red and black as two separate switch legs, you can NOT re-purpose the blue in 12/4 as a neutral to use it as two independent circuits.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 02-24-11 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 03-09-11, 07:57 PM
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In reference to the 2011 NEC, I stumbled across a T&B "Analysis of NEC Code Changes 2011". T&B is applying their products to changes in the code, but it is still good material regardless what brand material you prefer. You might find this as interesting reference material.

http://tnblnx3.tnb.com/emAlbum/album...anges_bm_1.pdf

This is the similar analysis for 2008 NEC.

http://tnblnx3.tnb.com/emAlbum/album...2008_lr_bm.pdf
 
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Old 03-09-11, 08:27 PM
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Thanks for the links joe.
 
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