Lights & switches

I would like some clarification on NEC 210.70.

Habitable rooms. At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room & bathroom.

Q. If there is a switch controlled overhead light is NEC 210.70 still in effect.

I find many times that there is no overhead light or outlet controlled by a switch. This is often a chore to locate especially a occupied cluttered home. I try to determine as it can be a potential safety concern.

I am trying to add some vebage to the remarks portion of my report pertaining to switch controlled outlets. If any one has anything they use please post.




We need to see the entire Section on that to fully understand it because leaving that statement as it is misleads the actual section and it’s exceptions.

**(A) Dwelling Units. **

In dwelling units, lighting outlets
shall be installed in accordance with 210.70(A)(1), (2), and

**(1) Habitable Rooms. **

At least one wall switch-controlled
lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room
and bathroom.

Exception No. 1: In other than kitchens and bathrooms,

one or more receptacles controlled by a wall switch shall
be permitted in lieu of lighting outlets.
Exception No. 2: Lighting outlets shall be permitted to be
controlled by occupancy sensors that are (1) in addition to
wall switches or (2) located at a customary wall switch
location and equipped with a manual override that will
allow the sensor to function as a wall switch.

**(2) Additional Locations. **

Additional lighting outlets shall
be installed in accordance with (a), (b), and ©.
(a) At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet
shall be installed in hallways, stairways, attached garages,
and detached garages with electric power.
(b) For dwelling units, attached garages, and detached
garages with electric power, at least one wall switch–

controlled lighting outlet shall be installed to provide illumination
on the exterior side of outdoor entrances or exits
with grade level access. A vehicle door in a garage shall not
be considered as an outdoor entrance or exit.
© Where one or more lighting outlet(s) are installed
for interior stairways, there shall be a wall switch at each

floor level, and landing level that includes an entry way, to

control the lighting outlet(s) where the stairway between

floor levels has six risers or more.
*Exception to (a), (b), and ©: In hallways, stairways, and

at outdoor entrances, remote, central, or automatic control
of lighting shall be permitted.

**(3) Storage or Equipment Spaces.

For attics, underfloor
spaces, utility rooms, and basements, at least one lighting
outlet containing a switch or controlled by a wall switch
shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or
contain equipment requiring servicing. At least one point of
control shall be at the usual point of entry to these spaces.
The lighting outlet shall be provided at or near the equipment
requiring servicing.

OK…Now Dave the post I made is a bit spread out because I simply can’t seem to edit it closer together but I think you get the point.

The issue of a habitable room is clear so i don’t think we need to discuss that but the safety concerns could possibly be in that in anywhere in the dwelling ( with exceptions to items listed that mandate it ) you have the allowance of a receptacle being switched in leau of the actual lightning outlet but it does not remove the fact you have to illuminate the location.

In regards to safety if items like not having switches to lights in stairways on each level of enterance could cause a hazard in that someone could simply fall down the steps and so on.

So it is clear that in Kitchens and Bathrooms you must atleast have a switched lighting outlet without exception but it does not say you can’t have a switched outlet if you so choose…but obviously not on the small appliance circuit and bathroom circuit but thats a given.

Also it is important to note that the NEC does not tell you WHERE these switched have to be located for example in the habitable room because it could be outside the room, behind the door and so on but still must control the switched light ( or outlet if other than Bathroom and Kitchen ) as the NEC states.

Hope this was helpful…

Don’t worry about code… If you can’t get a light on in a room and can not access all of the outlets:

The left rear bedroom does not have an overhead light and although an extra switch is present it could not be determined if a switched outlet is present due to furniture and personal items. Lighting is a safety and convenience item that needs to be present. Recommend having the owner demonstrate any switched outlet operation after items are moved out of the way.

Thank you very much.

Not sure he said ANYTHING about CODE other than asking what the reference was so hopefully I cleared up how the code views the issue. Again any CODE used here by Electricians is designed to AID in explaining the situation…NOT to be quoted…I do get tired of having to make that statement you know…:wink:

Still find it ironic that I did a seminar in Atlanta,GA a few months ago and all the HI’s wanted was CODE references because they said they are REQUIRED to give them in GA…not sure if that is true or not but I threw a few in;)

An outlet is not what you think it to be. An outlet according to the NEC is a place where a receptacle or light is. So a ceiling box, or wall box is considered an outlet.

Steven, I agree. I think it important that David understands that concept and Paul can explain it more I’m sure. It seems from the 1st post that might not be fully understood.

Basically you have to understand this portion of the section to understand the terms.

**Lighting Outlet.
**An outlet intended for the direct connection
of a lampholder, a luminaire (lighting fixture), or a
pendant cord terminating in a lampholder.

**A complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp
or lamps together with the parts designed to distribute the
light, to position and protect the lamps and ballast (where
applicable), and to connect the lamps to the power supply.

**A point on the wiring system at which current is
taken to supply utilization equipment.

Now I am not sure where the confusion is so maybe you can assist me in that michael as sometimes educators like myself have a hard time defining why this is a problem and a mixup.

Basically the exeption is what allows directly the use of a " Receptacle" in leau of a lighting outlet in other than bathrooms and Kitchens in regards to it being a switched ligthing outlet.

[FONT=TimesNewRomanPSMT]A wall switch–controlled lighting outlet is required in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
A receptacle outlet controlled by a wall switch is not permitted to serve as a lighting outlet in these rooms. Occupancy sensors are permitted to be used for switching these lighting outlets, provided they are equipped with a manual override or are used in addition to regular switches.

Trying to explain what might be confusion in the 1st post may just add to any confusion but here goes.

The original question posed was:

This seems to indicate to me the writer saw a switched overhead light in place and was asking if another wall switch-controlled lighting outlet (i.e. a plug low on the wall somewhere to plug a lamp into) was additionally required. As you explained, the overhead light satifies the ‘outlet’ requirement.

Ahh…ok…yeah Dave it is simply the rooms that are REQUIRED to have a lighting outlet MUST have one switched and direct connected to a luminare and is considered a lighting outlet.

The exception allows ( where not required ie: Kitchen & bathroom and a few other locations ) the use of a receptacle that is switched to serve the purpose…not in addition to…but to serve the purpose itself inleau of a lighting outlet.

man those things are so easy to explain in person and on the phone but in TYPE it can loose its expression…lol

Hey Paul need your help again, do you have a drawing on GFCI’s used on outlets with no ground wire. I know when testing them with my tester they don’t trip and I have to push the test button to trip them, and that if used on a non grounded outlet that it should be labeled “no equipment ground” I saw you posted this once before but can find it. I would like this for my report. Thanks


This attachment should help…


I can’t thank you enough. I will never giveup being a member here, so many willing to help.

Hay Paul I was trying to explain the working of the GFCI when connected to a ground and when not. Why doesn’t it trip when I use my tester, is it because the tester creates a short to ground? When I have to press the test button on the GFCI outlet to test when there is no ground wire going to the outlet what is accually happening?? Is the GFCI sensing something across hot and neutral?? I know what to do to test but want to explain what is happening within. thanks

During the normal operation of a typical 2-wire circuit, the current returning to the power supply will be equal to the current leaving the power supply (except for some very small leakage). If the difference between the current leaving and returning through the current transformer of the GFCI protection device exceeds 5 mA (± 1 mA), the solid-state circuitry opens the switching contacts and de-energizes the circuit. The mA used above stands for one thousands of an amp, so 5 mA is equal to 5/1000th of an ampere.

Anyway…here is a good link that explains it probably better than I can tonight as I am tired…been putting together a seminar material all day as I took off today.

I am not going to try to explain anything like Paul can, but…

A GFCI is continuously measuring the current difference between the hot & neutral. They should be the same at all times. When they are different then it trips. A GFCI tester shorts to the ground to create the difference. The Test Button uses circuitry in the GFCI it’s self to create the difference without using the ground.

Very basic wording that most people would except. Not entirely accurately written but it gets the point across.

(I’m half a sleep right now. I will probably read my post in the morning and yell at myself!) :shock:

A while back someone posted this…it may help.

[A GFCI receptacle, new or old, can’t trip with a plug in tester unless there is an EGC connected to the GFCI. There is no path for the test current to flow on without an EGC. When testing GFCIs with the internal test button, you must test for voltage on the GFCI receptacle after you push the test button. A GFCI receptacle that has the power connected to the load terminals will still have power( on older models) on the receptacle even when the button shows that the device has tripped.

The GFCI works because it detects the difference between the grounded and ungrounded conductor.

GFCI is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. The Ground Fault Interrupter is a receptacle that has the ability to open or disconnect the power from the output of the receptacle. The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter is a breaker that has the ability to disconnect the power from a circuit. The ground fault senses a difference in the flow of current from the hot wire through the neutral, if that difference is about 5 milliamps or more the ground fault will trip the circuit out. It actually assumes that if the current is not flowing in the neutral it is flowing through something else. Some motor windings have sufficient losses to cause one to trip out so don’t use a GFCI circuit for a refrigerator or washer outlet. You should use (and the NEC requires) the use of GFCI protected outlets within 6 feet of a sink, anywhere in a bathroom, in a garage or outside; anywhere an outlet can be reached from a water source, a wet area, or earth ground, you should use GFCI protection. A GFCI receptacle has a line side (incoming power) and a load side (outgoing power). The receptacle will not work if the incoming power is connected to the load side of the receptacle. Connect the incoming power to the line marked terminals and the continuation of the circuit (the next outlet) to the load terminals. The one GFCI will protect all the following plugs or receptacles connected in this way. Even if you don’t have a continuation of the circuit, connect the power to the line side of the receptacle. GFCI receptacles and GFCI breakers have a test button that should cause the circuit to trip, operate the test button after installing and regularly there after to be sure it works properly.]

actually I think you did a WONDERFUL job Jason at explaining it yet keeping it VERY basic…BRAVO !

Thank You Paul! You brightened my morning! :smiley:

It tends to be differcult to get compliments here when you try to keep things simple. That was the explanation I used to use when I worked at Builders Square in my late teens/early twenties, when I was the electrical Guru. :wink: