Understanding NEC Guidelines for Lampholders and Lighting Guards February 1, 2018 February 1, 2018 Harsh Conditions
Lampholders and Lighting Guards

Lighting components used in extreme work sites need to be protected with lighting guards, to prevent damage to the luminary. The National Electric Code (NEC) has acknowledged this requirement in their handbook, specifically in Section 410.

Read on to learn about NEC recommendations for equipping industrial lights with protective components.

Damp and Wet Locations

The 2011 edition of the NEC handbook suggests that lampholders be applied, based on the environment of the work site (Section 410.96). This is an update from a previous version of the code, which recommended lampholders used inside damp or wet locations to be weatherproof. The update was needed because weatherproof is not a common feature in lights for damp locations (based on its definition).

The NEC defines damp locations as environments with moderate protection from harsh weather and the ingress of liquids. Examples of such locations include porches and canopies where only special types of spotlights should be used.

From a cost perspective, the updated NEC guideline could help businesses reduce operational and equipment costs in damp locations (while streamlining compliance with the NEC handbook), as weatherproof protection requires robust materials and ratings.

Combustible Materials

Lights setup next to combustible materials must also be well protected, via shades or guards, as set forth in NEC Section 410.11. Notice that this guideline does not include lampholders.

An update to the 2011 handbook includes lampholders, but with special temperature-related conditions. According to NEC Section 410.97, such components should be reinforced with guards, when next to a combustible material, ensuring exposure does not exceed 194°F.

But why this threshold?

By design, lampholders are subject to increased heat and high temperatures due to their applications. The units are primarily used to hold lights that emit large amounts of heat. With this in mind, there is a risk of accidental ignition. Most lampholders typically fail due to overheating, rough contact or mechanical oversight.

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