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Dedicated Space

Dedicated SpaceMany people read NEC Section 110.26(E) as requiring installers to locate all switchboards, panelboards, and motor control centers in dedicated spaces and protect them from damage. While this is technically correct, it’s incomplete. A dedicated space must stay dedicated.

One reason insurers conduct inspections is to ensure dedicated spaces are still dedicated. One common violation is the use of those spaces as storage areas, often of combustible materials. This is easy to fix; you just remove the combustibles. Of course, the insurer will want some assurance this won’t recur and that typically involves additional security measures such as signs and locks.

But a violation that is much more difficult and expensive to fix occurs with the inevitable facility modifications. For a space to qualify as “dedicated,” it must be completely free of any equipment foreign to the electrical installation [110.26(E)(1)(b)].

In the typical facility, the plant engineer isn’t an electrical engineer. Mechanical projects often get approved without an NEC-savvy review, and dedicated spaces end up hosting water pipes or ductwork. People don’t stop to think about leaks or drips onto the electrical gear below.

If you’re a contractor, your project manager should have a visit checklist that includes looking for these violations before commencing work because such violations raise the danger level significantly.

If you’re the facility manager, you need to eliminate all such hazards as quickly as possible. It takes only one water pipe leak to create an arc blast that may kill several coworkers and result in an extended shutdown.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection