Breakdown of 2014 NEC® Article 406

Breakdown of 2014 NEC® Article 406

Breakdown of 2014 NEC® Article 406.

Changes in the 2014 edition of NFPA 70®: National Electrical Code® impact receptacle installation across occupancy types. Receptacle outlets are one of the most commonly used devices by the general public, and safe installation is key to avoiding fire, shock, and other electrical hazards. In the nec connect Webisode that aired September 18th on necconnect.org, Senior Electrical Specialist Gil Moniz provided a deep dive into revised Article 406. Here are some of the most significant changes for installers and inspectors.

2014 NEC Article 406 reacts to new technologies and improves electrical safety.


First introduced into the 2002 edition of the NEC, Article 406 covers the rating, type, and installation of receptacles, cord connectors, and attachment plugs (cord caps). While Article 406 is relatively new to the Code, it contains important installation requirements referenced daily by electrical contractors, installers, and inspectors.

A new field marking requirement for controlled outlets interfaces energy management into the 2014 NEC.

Energy codes today often stipulate that 50% of receptacles must be controlled. A new 2014 NEC rule requires field marking of 125 volt, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles controlled by an energy management system, timer, or some other automatic means, using the standard symbol shown in Figure 406.3(E). This is essential to prevent inappropriate connections. For example, connecting a life support system to a controlled outlet could endanger occupants.

A change in 406.4(D) ensures GFCIs and AFCIs are easily accessible for resetting and testing.

Installers and inspectors need to note a key revision in 406.4(D) that requires ready access to Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFCI) and Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (AFCI) receptacles that are installed to replace existing receptacles. Related to this requirement is new exception 406.4(D)(3) which clarifies that GFCI protection afforded by an upstream device is permitted for replacement receptacle(s). Thus, the entire branch circuit would be protected from the GFCI down. Note that the receptacle must be properly marked.

New Code language supports safe electrical practices and facilitates inspections.

Drywall screws have never been permitted for use to secure receptacle outlets, and the 2014 NEC spells this out in requirement 406.5, which is revised to specify the acceptable screws that can be used as the means to attach a receptacle to an outlet box and by replacing the term “designed for the purpose” with “identified.”

Requirement 406.5(E) concerning receptacles in countertops and similar work surfaces specifies receptacles shall not be installed in a face-up position unless they are listed as receptacle assemblies for countertop applications. This requirement now applies to all occupancy types. And, 406.5(F) is a new provision that provides conditions under which receptacles can be installed in seating areas and similar horizontal surfaces.

Receptacles installed in wet locations are required to have in-use covers that provide weatherproofing. In 406.9(B)(1), the requirement regarding receptacle outlet box covers was revised to require the covers to be listed for “extra duty” regardless of how — or where — the box is mounted. The rule applies to all occupancy types.

Dimmer switches are prohibited from operating receptacle outlets. A new requirement 406.15 provides a general prohibition of controlling receptacles with a dimmer switch — unless the receptacle and dimmer combination meets specific listing and configuration provisions.

Exceptions for tamper-resistant receptacles in dwelling units now also apply to other occupancy types.

Recently introduced into the NEC, tamper-resistant receptacles help prevent children from inserting objects into receptacles in dwelling units, hotels, motels, suites, and childcare facilities. An important change in the 2014 NEC 406.12 applies these exceptions to other occupancy types beyond dwelling units. Therefore, the tamper-resistant receptacle exceptions are no longer limited to only dwelling unit receptacles.

The National Electrical Code is constantly evolving to address new products, new technologies, and new situations. These are just a few of the ways in which Article 406 in the 2014 NEC addresses electrical safety issues and improves protection.

Increase your knowledge about everything related to the NEC! Don’t miss the next live online nec connect Webisode.

The next upcoming Webisode will broadcast on November 6 at 1 p.m. (EST). Take the opportunity to view on-demand past Webisodes when you register or sign-in at necconnect.org.

Here are expert answers to some commonly asked questions about NEC Article 406:

Q: “Can I use an outlet branch-circuit type Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter (AFCI) to meet the AFCI requirements of the 2011 NEC for new construction?”

Under the 2011 NEC, two exceptions permit the use of an outlet branch-circuit type AFCI at the first outlet to provide protection for the remaining portion of the branch circuit. The 2014 NEC expands this to six exceptions.

In the 2011 NEC, the first exception requires that the branch circuit conductors must be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, electrical metallic tubing, Type MC, or steel armored Type AC cables meeting the requirements of 250.118, and metal outlet and junction boxes for the portion of the branch circuit between the branch circuit overcurrent device and the first outlet. The second exception in the 2011 NEC is similar, but requires the branch circuit conductors to be installed in a listed metal or nonmetallic conduit or tubing encased in not less than 2 inches of concrete for the portion of the branch circuit between the branch-circuit overcurrent device and the first outlet.

Again, the 2014 National Electrical Code expands the number of exceptions to six, providing installers with more options and more opportunities to possibly reduce installation costs.

Q: “Must an equipment bonding jumper be used to connect the grounding terminal of a grounding-type receptacle to a grounded box?”

Section 406.4(C) in the NEC requires the equipment grounding conductor contacts of receptacles to be grounded by connection to the equipment grounding conductor of the circuit supplying the receptacle. See 250.146 of the Code for equipment bonding jumper rules. There are certain conditions where an equipment bonding jumper is not required. For example, Section 250.146(A) permits direct metal-to-metal contact between the device yoke and the box or a contact yoke where a metal box is mounted on the surface. This section also recognizes box and cover combinations are listed as providing satisfactory ground continuity between the box and the receptacle. Section 250.146(B) permits the use of receptacles designed and listed as self-grounding to be used to establish the grounding circuit between the device yoke and flush-type boxes. And 250.146(C) recognizes listed floor boxes designed as providing satisfactory ground continuity between the box and the device.

Q: “Can a receptacle be installed within 5 feet of a bathtub?”

In the NEC, the only prohibition is that the receptacle outlet not be installed within the shower space or within the bathtub enclosure. Section 406.9(C) prohibits receptacles to be installed within or directly over a bathtub. It is important to remember that 210.8(A)(1) and 210.8(B)(3) require all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in bathrooms to have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel.

Q: “Is an in-use cover required for a receptacle installed under roofed open porches of a dwelling unit?”

The safest action is to refer to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for a determination on whether the location is a wet location, requiring an in-use cover, or a damp location, where an in-use cover is not required. The definition in NEC Article 100 of “Damp Location” defines a damp location as a location protected from weather and not subject to saturation with water or other liquids but subject to moderate degrees of moisture. The NEC also provides examples of such locations, which includes roofed open porches. Section 406.9 (A) requires receptacles installed in damp locations to have an enclosure for the receptacle that is weatherproof when the receptacle is covered (attachment plug cap not inserted and receptacle covers closed). Remember, 406.9 (A) also requires all 15- and 20-ampere, 125- and 250-volt nonlocking receptacles to be listed weather-resistant type.

Q: “My customer asked me to install receptacle faceplates that cover the face of the receptacle. Are these permitted by the Code?”

Generally speaking, no. Section 406.5(D) requires receptacle faces to be flush with or project from faceplates of insulating material and project a minimum 0.015 inches from metal faceplates. There is an exception to this requirement for listed kits or assemblies encompassing receptacles and nonmetallic faceplates that cover the receptacle face, where the plate is unique to that receptacle and cannot be installed on any other receptacle.