210.70(A)(1) Lighting Outlets Required. Habitable Rooms.

The new requirements only require the control device to be listed, and wall-mounted near the room entrance but do not require it to be wired.
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The new requirements only require the control device to be listed, and wall-mounted near the room entrance but do not require it to be wired.

Code Change Summary: Revised code language addresses lighting control devices other than a hard-wired wall switch.

In the 2020 NEC, language was accepted to allow a “listed wall-mounted control device” where a wall switch is normally required in habitable rooms. The previous requirement for a “switch” didn’t technically allow for anything besides a hard-wired application since the Article 100 definition of a General-Use Switch is “a switch intended for use in general distribution and branch circuits” (wired applications).

Modern automated or voice-controlled devices on the wall can communicate wirelessly through to a remote lighting contactor which eliminates the need for them to be hard-wired.

The revised code language permits lighting control technology that is currently available and already being installed in dwellings and commercial buildings today.  Permitting wireless communication to a controller for lighting in the NEC also aligns with the application of wireless communication for life safety fire alarms already permitted in NFPA 72.

Below is a preview of the NEC. See the actual NEC text at NFPA.ORG for the complete code section. Once there, click on their link to free access to the 2020 NEC edition of NFPA 70.

2017 Code Language:

210.70(A)(1) Habitable Rooms. At least one wall switch–controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom.

Exception No. 1: In other than kitchens and bathrooms, one or more receptacles controlled by a wall switch shall be permitted in lieu of lighting outlets.

Exception No. 2: Lighting outlets shall be permitted to be controlled by occupancy sensors that are (1) in addition to wall switches or (2) located at a customary wall switch location and equipped with a manual override that will allow the sensor to function as a wall switch.

2020 Code Language:

210.70(A)(1) Habitable Rooms. At least one lighting outlet controlled by a listed wall-mounted control device shall be installed in every habitable room, kitchen, and bathroom. The wall-mounted control device shall be located near an entrance to the room on a wall.

Exception No. 1: In other than kitchens and bathrooms, one or more receptacles controlled by a listed wall-mounted control device shall be permitted in lieu of lighting outlets.

Exception No. 2: Lighting outlets shall be permitted to be controlled by occupancy sensors that are (1) in addition to listed wall-mounted control devices or (2) located at a customary wall switch location and equipped with a manual override that will allow the sensor to function as a wall switch.

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210.70(A)(1) Lighting Outlets Required. Habitable Rooms.

Below is a Real Question from our Electrical Continuing Education Courses for Electrical License Renewal:

Based on the 2020 NEC, which of the following is true?

A: All dwelling unit light switches must be hard-wired.
B: A listed wall-mounted control device can be used in habitable rooms.
C: A switched receptacle is not permitted in a bedroom.
D: A switched receptacle is not permitted in a hallway.
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