National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Monday, April 16, 2018


Greetings, I have a question regarding leaving live lamp sockets un-lamped. In my specific case, the luminaire has been a sconce containing 2 GU24 sockets for use with A19 lamps. The following link is not the exact sconce but has the same characteristics: open on top, closed/tight to wall on sides and bottom. It's mounted ~5.5' AFF in a hallway setting and the luminaire is wired with 120V power. The reason for leaving the second socket un-lamped is energy savings and sufficient illuminance from a single lamp. Can you tell me whether the NEC allows one of the sockets be left un-lamped? Can you tell me where in the NEC guidance might be provided? My specific applications are using the 2008 and 2011 versions of the NEC. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Brennan Donovan



Hey Brennan thanks for your question. The NEC does not specifically address leaving a lampholder energized with out a lamp installed. Live parts must be guarded as stated in 110.27 and "lighting equipment" live parts cannot be normally exposed as stated in 410.5. It has been a common practice to remove some fluorescent lamps for energy conservation purposes while leaving the lampholders energized. There have been OSHA citations for open medium base lampholders (sockets) on construction sites but we are not aware of any for the application you are describing. It doesn't seem like a problem, especially within a partially enclosed luminaire, but that is not a guarantee that some inspector might not agree so ask the local AHJ for their thoughts.

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