National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Monday, January 28, 2019


Re: CQD answer published January 16, 2019 - Holiday Decorative Lighting

Regarding CQD of 01/16/19: I would like to offer a different viewpoint on the topic of holiday lighting installations. I can take an unopened box of holiday lights, toss it onto the roof, leave it there for years, and I will not have created an “electrical installation.”  Hanging the lights on the gutter also does not comprise an “electrical installation.” It is only when I run an extension cord or employ some other method to temporarily bring power to the lights that an “electrical installation” will have been created. It is like saying that I need and electrician and a permit in order to get receptacles installed in a new room, but I don’t need one in order to plug a lamp into one of the receptacles.  Utilization equipment is not part of the premises wiring system; decorative lights are not electrical installations.

Charlie Beck



Hey Charlie thanks for your comments. You make some good points, electric products are not included in the definition of Premises Wiring, as it is defined in Article 100, because it ends at the outlets. But notice that the NEC Purpose in 90.1 and Scope in 90.2 do not limit the NEC application to Premises Wiring. Many rules such as in Article 422 for appliances apply to electric products that are connected to outlets. The definition of Utilization Equipment in Article 100 includes lighting and also is not limited to premises wiring.

Most would agree that electrical products on a shelf, or those being stored are not part of the electrical installation - at that time, yet the NEC has several rules for removing disconnected or abandoned wiring. The words are not in the NEC or in the "guide information" for Seasonal and Holiday Decorative Products but I seem to recall it being said that they were intended to be stored so they were not exposed to the weather, or maybe I dreamed that.

Possibly someone from UL will send in their thoughts about removal and storage of these products based on the product standards.

ABOUT CQD: NECA’s Code Question of the Day (CQD) is a leading National Electrical Code® forum for NECA and the industry. The CQD generates a lively dialogue and relative practical and Code-based responses to an ever-increasing and interactive audience.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All answers are based on the latest edition of the National Electrical Code®, unless the question requests a response based on a specific edition. This correspondence is not a formal interpretation of the NEC®. Any responses expressed to the questions are opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of NECA, NFPA, or any technical committee. In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.

ABOUT CHARLIE: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Charlie was also a member of NECA’s Academy of Electrical Contracting. Charlie’s experienced team of industry experts keep the CQD dialogue and discussions active and informative in the spirit of the man himself, as he wanted.

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