Damp Area Confusion - Switches and Fixtures

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by PeteD, Nov 15, 2007.

  1. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    MA
    I have read the NEC (2005) and called some manufacturers and things are still as clear as mud.

    Here is what I am considering:

    1. A Nutone 9422P 2-bulb heater outside my shower
    2. Either a Nutone P66W (3 function control) to control heater and existing light/fan in shower, or a Pass and Seymour TM81111WCC (4 toggle) controller to do same.

    I would like to install the heater and the switch in the "damp" zone according to NEC (within 3 feet horizontal of the shower/tub).

    The Nutone heater literature says to not install in tub/shower, which is the wet zone. I do not see any marking on the products or literature about damp zone, but when I called tech support, they said damp zone, within 3 feet of shower is OK for both heater and switch (P66W). I said it was not marked as such and they said "yes, it probably isn't actually marked but is OK for installing there".

    So next, I called Pass and Seymour (I would prefer to use their switch). They indicated their product was not listed for the damp zone (within 3 feet of shower) and said it would have to have a cover to protect from water. This seems like a misinterpretation of the damp zone to me. We are not talking splashing water, here?!?

    I saw another post here about lights in the shower that had a picture from another site showing the flush mounted switches and lights were OK in this zone. Common sense tells me they should be. The wall is would deteriorate from excessive wetness in this area if it was that wet that conventional switches would not be suitable.

    Is the issue within 3 feet of showers related to moisture, or people using the switch while standing in the shower? By placing the switch 3 feet from the shower, it will be right next to the sink. This area is more more like to have actual water droplets reach it or have someone who is wet turn it on (shaving, washing, etc. in sink)!

    Are these products OK for this zone (damp)?

    If no, does putting them downstream of GFCI solve problem?

    I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

    Pete
  2. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    There's no rule about placing a switch in this 3-foot zone, so that's not an issue.

    The fixture, as long as it's listed for a damp location, is fine. There's no requirement for that information to be on the label.

    [​IMG]
  3. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,531
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The three feet area that you describe is neither a damp or wet location,

    What the code says about this area is;
    410.4(D) Bathtub and Shower Areas. No parts of cord-connected luminaires (fixtures), chain-, cable-, or cord-suspended-luminaires (fixtures), lighting track, pendants, or ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans shall be located within a zone measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold.
    This zone is all encompassing and includes the zone directly over the tub or shower stall. Luminaires (lighting fixtures) located in this zone shall be listed for damp locations, or listed for wet locations where subject to shower spray.

    I don’t see a fixture such as you have described listed in these fixtures (cord-connected luminaires , chain-, cable-, or cord-suspended-luminaires , lighting track, pendants, or ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans) so your fixture and switch would be permitted.
  4. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    MA
    Can you define "listed" for me? I am not being wise, but suspect I do not know what this really means in terms of the code. Does that mean UL has said it is OK for that? Can this "listing" be verified?

    Thanks,
    Pete
  5. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    MA
    I agree my fixture is not as described in the beginning of the paragraph of code. But the last sentence, which was supposedly added for clarity, just says "luminaire (light fixture)" and does not say the "luminaires described above" or some similar reference to only these luminaires. I believe my bulb heater qualifies as a light fixture - to me, that is confusing...I think the point is moot for this fixture because it is OK for a damp installation.

    Thanks,
    Pete
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    "Listing" means the manufacturer has had the product tested for the use intended. They have contacted a testing agency such as UL, CSA or ETL and they have found the item suitable. This means there is verification somewhere (either with the manufacturer or listing agency) that it is 'listed' for used in this application.

    This does not mean there is a 'list' attached to the unit with all the details. After all, how much information can you put on something small, like a wire nut? You certainly cannot 'list' all the uses for it.

    This 'listing' can be verified by either looking at the fine print in the instruction/installation papers, searching the manufacturers' website, or contacting either the manufacturer or the listing agency, which in this case is most likely UL.

    Yes, the last sentence can be confusing, but I take it to mean all fixtures, not just those listed prior to that.
  7. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    MA
    Thanks.

    "Listing" is what I thought.

    I realized I was thinking they had to "marked" for damp locations. I thought I read that somewhere, but I have been reading different parts of the code recently and it was obviously related to something else.

    I agree with the last sentence, but IMO they should have modified the beginning of the paragraph to be more clear.

    Thanks for all the help,
    Pete
  8. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,531
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Pete
    You are correct that any fixture located in this area is to be listed as damp or wet if in direct line of water spray.

    I would disagree that the lamp used for heat being a light.

    I have yet to see a bath heater as you describe that was not listed for damp locations.
  9. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Location:
    MA
    This heater does discuss in the instructions using it as a light, so I could see it construed as such.

    But I think you are right on about the bath heaters being listed for damp locations. Wouldn't make much sense otherwise.

    Thanks,
    Pete
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