Updated: May 14, 2019
One of the most misunderstood additions to the 2017 National Electrical Code® [NEC®] is the new requirements for receptacle outlets in meeting rooms as described in section 210.71(A) and (B). Prior to this significant 2017 NEC® change, no previous requirements for receptacles in meeting rooms existed. The need for available receptacle outlets where none existed led to the use of extension cords and relocatable power taps to bring power to the meeting members for items like cell phone charging, laptop computers and other electronic devices. While this need for extension cords and relocatable power taps may still exist the ability to have an available electrical receptacle outlet is now assured by the 2017 NEC®.
The new section starts out by giving some general requirements for the code user. It also tells the designer that each meeting room, in other than dwelling units, that are also not larger than 1000 sq. ft. shall have outlets for nonlocking-type, 125-volt, 15- or 20-ampere receptacles. The NEC® also informs the designer that the outlets shall be installed in accordance with 210.71(B), which we will examine later in this article. It also reminds the designer that where a meeting room or space is provided with movable partition(s), as shown in the graphic, each meeting room or space size shall be determined with the partition in the position that results in the smallest size meeting room. In other words, with all the partitions in the closed position breaking one large open space into it's smallest denominator.
At this point the designer is focused on the number of receptacles needed which is where section 210.71(B) takes over. Before we begin we need to ensure these meeting rooms qualify. As you can see in the graphic above, with the partitions closed each meeting room is not over 1000 sq. ft so these rooms qualify for this new requirement. But how many receptacle do we need?
Section 210.71(B) states "(B) Receptacle Outlets Required. The total number of receptacle outlets, including floor outlets and receptacle outlets in fixed furniture, shall not be less than as determined in (1) and (2). These receptacle outlets shall be permitted to be located as determined by the designer or building owner." The most important aspect of the above statement is the term "total number" which translates to the total sum of all the receptacles determined in both 210.71(B)(1) and (2).
Section 210.71(B)(1) reads "Receptacle Outlets in Fixed Walls. Receptacle outlets shall be installed in accordance with 210.52(A)(1) through (A)(4)." Here is where many code users get confused. This is not a dwelling unit, you are only using the 210.52(A)(1) through (A)(4) to get the actual count or "total number" you would need if you actually did put them on the wall per 210.52(A)(1) through (A)(4), but you are not, you are just hypothetically doing it in order to determine the total number of receptacles needed. In the graphic this is depicted with the red and blue lines and arrows around the perimeter of the meeting rooms. Again, do not get confused by thinking you actually have to place the receptacle outlets within 6 ft. of a door opening or along the fixed walls as stated in 210.52(A)(1).
In the above graphic you will notice the meeting room on the left (red lines and arrows) has (7) seven fixed wall segments that represent typical spacing requirements found in 210.52(A)(1). You take the total sum of the "hypothetical" receptacle locations and that is your first receptacle count. Now since the meeting room(s) are both 432 sq.ft you have to look at section 210.71(B)(2) and add some floor receptacles. The NEC® states "A meeting room that is at least 12 ft. wide and that has a floor area of at least 215 sq. ft. shall have at least one receptacle outlet located in the floor at a distance not less than 6 ft. from any fixed wall for each 215 sq. ft. or major portion of floor space. Since the meeting rooms are 432 sq. ft., take 432 divided by 215 = 2.009 or 2 floor receptacles needed. These two (2) floor receptacles can be placed anywhere the designer or owner would like as long as they are at least 6 ft. from a fixed wall. In fact, I hate to muddy the water but you could actually use Simplex (Single) Receptacles and be compliant as well in all cases here not just for the floor receptacles.
The total sum of the required receptacles for the meeting room on the left side of the graphic is now nine (9). Our electrician has installed (7) wall receptacles and two (2) floor receptacles for a total sum of at least nine (9) required receptacles. The section also states that receptacles that are built into fixed furniture are also part of the total receptacle count where applicable. As you can see, the designer or owner can place the receptacles in the wall as they deem fit. They could group them all up together in one location or space them as they please around the room. However, the two (2) floor receptacles shall be placed at least 6 ft. from a fixed wall as described previously.
In closing, this rule is about how to obtain the minimum number of required receptacle outlets in a meeting room that is no larger than 1000 sq. ft., while the actual location of the receptacles are up to the designer or building owners. The use of 210.52(A)(1) through (A)(4) is simply the method used to calculate a total sum and not for the actual receptacle placements.
Now you try it - The right side (blue lines and arrows) are calculated the same way so have some fun with this new and dynamic code change for the 2017 National Electrical Code®.
Paul W Abernathy, CMECP®
NEC® and National Electrical Code® and associated quoted references are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association. They are used and referenced for educational purposes only and to maintain content accuracy.