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Subject: Re: 14/2 NM switch legs on a twenty amp branch circuit

John Minick, NEMA
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Date Posted: 00:10:38 09/21/05 Wed
In reply to: Daniel Benoit 's message, "14/2 NM switch legs on a twenty amp branch circuit" on 18:01:37 04/03/05 Sun

>Is it within code to use # 14 NM wire for switchlegs
>on a twenty amp branch circuit. (Residential setting)

The answer is maybe but probably doubtful. See NEC Section 210.3 that states, "Branch circuits recognized by this article shall be rated in accordance with the maximum permitted ampere rating or setting of the overcurent device." Thus, you have stated that the circuit overcurrent device used in the installation is 20 with the tap conductors being 14 AWG. Section 240.4(D) states, "Unless specifically permitted in 240.4(E) or 240.4(G), the overcurrent protection shall not exceed 15 amperes for 14 AWG, 20 amperes for 12 AWG, and 30 ampers for 10 AWG copper" conductors. 240.4(E)(1) addresses tap conductors in 210.19(A)(4) for other loads including lighting taps. 210.19(A)((4)Exception No. 1 (a) states that individual lampholders or luminaires with taps extending not longer than 18-inches beyond any portion of the lampholder orluminaire. Also, (c) of this same section states that "individual outlets, other than receptacle outlets, with taps not over 18-inches long" shall be permitted. Thus, the limit for 14 AWG taps from 12 AWG branch circuit conductors protected at 20 amperes is 18-inches, which is probably not of adequate length for a switchleg. Also, see 240.4(G) that does not list lighting taps so (G) is no help for your question. last and not least, 240.21(A)concerning branch circuit taps refers us back to 210.19 of which we have already looked. However,one last comment, the reference in 210.19(A)(4)Exception No.1 (b) that refers to 410.67 that allows 6-foot taps from an outlet box to a luminaire could possibly be used but only where the tap conductors are properly temperature rated and where the conductors are placed in a suitable raceway or where the wiring method is Type MC or Type AC cable not more than 6-feet in length. In most cases this is not a feasible option for dwelling switchlegs. So, the answer is maybe but probably doubtful.

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