Illustrated Catastrophes, October 2010

Illustrated Catastrophes, October 2010

As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.

Is That One of Those New “Green” Covers?

This particular bridge roadway lighting system between two major cities features more than one of these “cardboard and tape” covers. Some of the other new earth-friendly covers on these light poles consisted of paper and tape, whereas others were fully exposed and had been stuffed with trash. These covers are often removed by persons that are interested in stripping the wiring out of the pole and selling it — and the cover — to a metal recycler. Although the original installation most likely complied with the Code, this now poses a safety concern.

Art. 410 includes requirements for luminaire supports. As noted in 410.30(B), where metal or nonmetallic poles supporting luminaires are permitted to support luminaires and also serve as a raceway enclosing supply conductors, the following condition must be met: A pole shall have a handhole no smaller than 2 in. × 4 in. with a cover suitable for use in wet locations to provide access to the supply terminations within the pole or pole base. The other conditions set forth in this section of the NEC do not in any way allow what we see here.

Examples like this can be found all around the country. My guess is that this equipment is not properly repaired or maintained due to low maintenance budgets. But a simple walk around the block in most major cities will reveal many situations such as this one.


In this particular location, we see no weather protection for these receptacles. The covers might have been there when someone first installed this equipment, but they’ve since been removed to allow room for these plug caps. These cords power souvenir carts in a public area.

The rules for installation of receptacles in wet locations can be found in 406.8(B). The requirements state that “15- and 20-ampere, 125- and 250-volt receptacles installed in a wet location shall have an enclosure that is weatherproof whether or not the attachment plug cap is inserted.” The rule goes on to say that nonlocking receptacles shall be listed weather-resistant type.

As noted in the Fine Print Note of this NEC rule: “The types of receptacles covered by this requirement are identified as 5-15, 5-20, 6-15, and 6-20 in ANSI/NEMA WD 6-2002, National Electrical Manufacturers Association Standard for Dimensions of Attachment Plugs and Receptacles.”

The definitions for Attachment Plug (Plug Cap) (Plug) and Location, Wet can be found in Art. 100.

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