wire taps, minimum size of conductor


Old 10-08-01, 09:13 AM
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wgoodrich, where are you? I need your advice with Code support.

I was at a job on Saturday, and dicovered a handful of Code violations that some of the other guys did that day. Almost every one of them was at the instruction of the boss or construction manager. There is one particular issue that I have not identified a correct answer to in the 1999 Code.
On one of the small appliance circuit in the kitchen to serve the countertop, there were 5 receptacles. The first one was a GFCI, no problem. The others were the cheap $.50 receptacles. The boss instructed the guy to put 14 AWG pigtails on the receptacles, stating that it classified as a tap. (The guy who did it would not do it if it were his choice. This boss is a piece of work, he emphesizes the use of 12AWG wire, so what's this? I ask myself.)

Could you identify the Code articles that explicitly approve this or specify that this is inadaquate? As I have found along with many of the other workers, 30 years under the belt does not say "I am the god of National Electrical Code". I hope to have a complete answer ready by tonight, the boss will be in tomorrow, and depending upon the results to this, I will confront him with my Code book in hand and a list of Code articles that are relevant, and supportive of my side. I do not agree with 14 awg wire on small appliance or otherwise circuit.

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Old 10-08-01, 11:33 AM
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You guys be the devil's advocate, I will push the code articles and hash out your best stance together yet tonight. I will check back at least every couple of hours till about 11 Pm being old it will be bed time then probably. It is now 5 PM. Lets work on it and see what we can do to get to the meat of the subject.

(c) Dwelling Units.
(1) Small-Appliance Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits shall be provided for all receptacle outlets specified by Section 210-52(b).

(b) Small Appliances.
1. In the kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room, or similar area of a dwelling unit, the two or more 20-ampere small-appliance branch circuits required by Section 210-11(c)(1) shall serve all receptacle outlets covered by Sections 210-52(a) and (c) and receptacle outlets for refrigeration equipment.
Exception No. 1: In addition to the required receptacles specified by Section 210-52, switched receptacles supplied from a general-purpose branch circuit as defined in Section 210-70(a)(1), Exception No. 1, shall be permitted.
Exception No. 2: The receptacle outlet for refrigeration equipment shall be permitted to be supplied from an individual branch circuit rated 15 amperes or greater.
2. The two or more small-appliance branch circuits specified in (b)(1) shall have no other outlets.
Exception No. 1: A receptacle installed solely for the electrical supply to and support of an electric clock in any of the rooms specified above.
Exception No. 2: Receptacles installed to provide power for supplemental equipment and lighting on gas-fired ranges, ovens, or counter-mounted cooking units.
3. Receptacles installed in a kitchen to serve countertop surfaces shall be supplied by not less than two small-appliance branch circuits, either or both of which shall also be permitted to supply receptacle outlets in the same kitchen and in other rooms specified in Section 210-52(b)(1). Additional small-appliance branch circuits shall be permitted to supply receptacle outlets in the kitchen and other rooms specified in Section 210-52(b)(1). No small-appliance branch circuit shall serve more than one kitchen.


In short the above says that all receptacles in the nook, dining, pantry, kitchen wheter over a counter or not are small appliance branch circuit receptacles. They all can be mixed together on the same circuits. However over the kitchen counter you must have a minimum of 2 - 20 amp small appliance branch circuit serving that kitchen counter and designed and readily accessible receptacles. With the exception of allowing the refrigerator, igniter of a gas range, or an electric clock, no lighting, fixed appliances or anything in any other room is allowed on those two small applaince branch circuits with the exception of the items prior mentioned and any receptacle in the dining, nook, pantry or kitchen.

Notice that these small appliance branch circuits must be 20 amp rated. That requires 12 awg conductor sizing as per 240-3-d.

Now as pertaining to branch circuit tap conductors the following articles should be considered; 210-19(d), 240-21, 364-11, 364-12, and 430-53(d).

While 210-19-d does tend to lead you to believe that you could install a tap conductor on a small appliance branch circut, you need to check the wording in 210-19-B of that same rule. This B section would overrule the ability to use D in that rule because the small appliance branch circuits are unknown loads on a multioutlet circuit as discribed in B of 210-19. See that rule below superseding the use of 210-19-D tap rules;

210-19-B Multioutlet Branch Circuits. Conductors of branch circuits supplying more than one receptacle for cord- and plug-connected portable loads shall have an ampacity of not less than the rating of the branch circuit.

This is a rule 210-19-B is a biggey. It pretty well stops any taps on these required 20 amp rated multioutlet small appliance branch circuits.

Then you should find that 240-21 can not be used because the only part of 240-21 that could be used is part a for branch circuits yet that rule is dependent on the ability to use 210-19-d which we discussed that can not be used because of the limitations of 210-19-B. That tends to shoot out the use of 240-21 all together.

Then we have the article 364 that is discounted in its use because article 364 only deals with bussways. A small appliance branch circuit using a multioutlet assembly would not meet the definition of a bussway.

Again 430-53-D must also be discounted because a small appliance branch circuit is a multioutlet branch circuit, not a single motor installation.

The above kind of says that the smallest conductors allowed on a small appliance branch circuit would be a 12 awg and also says taps are not allowed unless you are talking about the cords of the appliances only. This would be a different subject pertaining manufactured appliances.

Tell me what you think and interpret. Tear apart the arguments above and we will rebuild from your advocative arguments. That is what is going to happen to you. Doing this devils advocate activity at least allows you to come up with his challenges, then rebuttals of his challenges before he thinks of them tommorrow.

sounds like a good discussion coming at your work.

Everyone should be able discuss and learn.

Sounds like a winner all the way around to me for all concerned. When we are discussing electricity we are all learning what we didn't know we didn't know.

I will be hanging in there for the rebuttals to work out.

Good Luck

Old 10-08-01, 12:48 PM
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Oh yes! Code articles that when interpreted properly state that no 14AWG wire is allowed! I knew the answer, I just wanted to hear it from a trusted & knowledgeable source. Not having my Code book along did not help my side of the argument. Tuesday shall come, and I shall be ready to prove wrong about 6-8 people that the same rule for tapping busses/feeders applies to devices (receptacles) on the concept of allowing smaller wire.

If the receptacle being supplied were to be a 15A single receptacle, the 14AWG wire might be allowablebecause tha largest load supplied is 15A in theory. Still not a good idea. The rule for branch circuit conductors needeing to be able to carry the maximum load that the overcurrent protectio allows it what hits home here. " 210-19-B Multioutlet Branch Circuits. Conductors of branch circuits supplying more than one receptacle for cord- and plug-connected portable loads shall have an ampacity of not less than the rating of the branch circuit."
Thank you .
If anything else fits this scenario relating to multiple oulets on the same circuit, and being fed from the same length of wire, therefore the wire must be fully sized according to the OC protection, let me know. I will check this post again later tonight.

Old 10-08-01, 02:17 PM
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Green Jacket, the following is a copy of the commentary in the 99 handbook pertaining to article 210-19-B, this may help add to the strength of your arguments;

Section 210-19(b) is a new section for the 1999 NEC that incorporates the multioutlet requirement previously found in Section 210-19(a) (second sentence). Since this is a critical requirement for these branch circuits, a dedicated subsection was created to clearly indicate the rule.
Only multioutlet branch-circuit conductors supplying receptacles for cord- and plug-connected portable loads are required to have an ampacity that is not less than the rating of the circuit (the rating of the overcurrent device per Section 210-3), because the loading of such circuits is unpredictable.
Old 10-12-01, 01:03 PM
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Wink not much luck

I tried, I know whats right and safe. The Code even says itself that it may not be adaquate or safe, minimums and maximums are provided. Mike who only was following instructions read the post after I told him where it was. He agrees. The objection to my Code interpretation is that Table 210-24 ?? applies, taps are allowed to be 14AWG. I explained that 210-19(D) does not apply, and that 210-19(b) does. Yeah right, I am still told that a fixture can be a device, including receptacles. My own definition of a fixture is a unit that fastens in place with specific functions, and is not a simple device that can be quickly interchanged. A fixture normally includes a load. Last I knew receptacles do not have loads.

The Code should have the wording cleaned up more, the conditions where taps are allowed to be X sizes smaller etc.
I can see the other side of the argument, but it is still misinterpretation. I think receptacle outlets needs to be more specifically points out, perhaps in that Table that is so easy to find, and easily find information in.

Old 10-13-01, 02:29 PM
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Green Jacket, The NEC specifically forbids you to install a tap on a multioutlet branch circuit. This is because the loads applied are unknown amounts at different times and conditions. Too dangerous in that scenerio.

However I got to thinking again boy that usually gets me in trouble.

If you pigtailed in a device box and then used a tap conductor to that certain receptacle the unknown loads on the other receptacles would not apply. I can see an argument from someone making a tap where the load is only applied to that one certain single recepatacle. However the argument against being able to do even this would be you are installing a duplex receptacle in that device box again being a multioutlet assembly being forbidden to use that tap rule.

Sorry you couldn't convince your boss. Does sound like a fellow employee may have picked on some new thinking.

Glad you tried be proud! If you tried you still won even if you could not convince too many others. Remember to have tried and failed is much better than never to have tried.

Stay in there


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