When was branch circuits required to be protected

What year was branch circuits leading to the service panel required to be protected / covered (drywall or approved sheathing)?



huh? Are they subject to damage?

Not damage but I remember as early as the mid 1990’s when I started building here in North Carolina, I had to protect any horizontal branch circuits in a garage as well as at the service panel themselves…not sure if this was a county requirement or in the NEC at the time.

This accessory building (detached garage with a finished living quarters in the bonus) was built I think around 1999-2001…that is what is stamped on the OSB sheathing…the home itself was built in 1997.

I admit that electrical codes are not my strong point…especially trying to remember what years certain things were required with branch circuits and service panels.

I know some counties did not allow you to group more than an X amount of branch circuits in the same hole… I think that was around 2004???

never .

Jeffery, the way I use codes as an AHJ is like this: The IRC is my sole reference for residential construction. I do not enforce the NEC for residential since the IRC has an electrical section.

That said, I’m not aware of any rule (in the IRC or NEC) that requires protection unless they are exposed to damage. My interpretation of “exposed to potential damage” is anything less than 7 feet. Therefore, anything less than 7’ at the panel should be protected. I cannot answer your date question.

This has been debated for many years so in 2011 the NEC cleared all this up. From the 2011 Anaylsis of Changes

[FONT=Arial]•Type NM cable can now be used in attached or detached garages, and one- and two-family dwelling storage buildings without concealment behind a finished 15-minute rating thermal barrier[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]•Previous language permitted Type NM cable as an exposed wiring method at an attached garage, but not a detached garage [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]•The perception that the installation of Type NM cable in these detached accessory buildings somehow constituted a greater hazard than the dwelling unit structure itself seemed excessive to many users of the Code[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]•Note: “attached and detached garages and their storage buildings” are not children’s play houses, and other similar structures, which may invite increased use[/FONT]

I built my first personal home in North Carolina back in 1992, at that time I got gigged for not protecting exposed branch circuit in the garage. I went ahead and nail 1x4’s in front of them and that made the AHJ happy. The home I inspected the other day was built in 1997 so I would have thought that the code for which I got gigged still applied.

It may have been a local thing or simply some pet peeve that particular AHJ had…it would be the first that an AHJ made me do something without having documentation…but then again as a GC you have to pick and choose your battles lest they nickle and dime you too death.