In the 2017 National Electrical Code® [NEC®], the electrical installer will notice a new requirement when applying the ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) rules found in section 210.8. This time around in the NEC® Code Development Process, the protection from potential shock hazards has prompted an increase in the voltage levels, voltage types and current thresholds to the locations specified in 210.8 for GFCI protection for “other than dwelling units”. This article will examine these specific changes to the National Electrical Code® for the 2017 NEC® Edition.
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) technology has been around since the early 1960s when Charles Dalziel first started conduction tests on the effects of electrical shock on humans. Mr.Dalziel received a patent on the GFCI technology back in 1961 and roughly three years later a commercially available device was placed into the marketplace. While this technology has undergone many important updates and subsequent revisions, the technology itself has remained remarkably consistent in this intent; to save lives by reducing (not eliminating) the risk of electrocution by electrical touch/contact shock hazards.
In the 2017 National Electrical Code® an effort was made to broaden the use to help mitigate the same potential hazards in area’s “Other Than Dwelling Units” by expanding key locations of GFCI Protection to include crawl spaces [210.8(B)(9)] and unfinished basements [210.8(B)(10)]. The previously mentioned locations were already required in dwelling units per 210.8(A)(4) and (A)(5); however thanks to the change in the 2017 NEC® it now also covers “other than dwelling units” as well, such as commercial and industrial establishments.
The most significant change to this section is within 210.8(B) regarding the new voltage and current thresholds mandated for GFCI Protection. Under this new rule, all single-phase receptacles rated 150 volts to ground or less and rated 50 amperes or less will require GFCI Protection. But the rule doesn’t stop there, all three-phase receptacles rated 150 volts to ground or less and 100 amperes or less are also required to be GFCI Protected as well under this 2017 NEC® revision. It is important to remember than the GFCI requirements for 15- and 20- amp receptacles within this section has remained unchanged from previous editions of the NEC®.
Those electrical contractors who work with 120/240V and 120/208V electrical systems need to be keenly aware of these important changes as they directly impact your electrical installation in jurisdictions where the 2017 NEC® has been adopted and actively being enforced.
Paul W. Abernathy, CMI, CMECP®
National Electrical Code® and NEC® are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association. They are used in this article for informational purposes only.