More States Act to Prevent HVAC Nuisance Trips in Response to GFCI Requirement in 2020 NEC – Will Yours?
Summary: ACCA and its members remain concerned about a new provision in the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) that requires GFCIs on outdoor equipment. There is growing evidence that currently available GFCI’s are creating substantial nuisance trips and call-backs, rendering the equipment virtually inoperable. Field experience has validated this concern and recently prompted the NFPA to approve a tentative delay of this requirement until January 1, 2023, but only for HVAC equipment that have variable speed compressors. A growing number of states are reacting to this situation by delaying or deleting this requirement in their own codes.
NFPA Approves a Tentative Delay
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has recently completed an internal balloting process which approved a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for the 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC). The approved TIA is underlined below.
What is a TIA?
Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are “temporary” amendments to an NFPA standard processed in accordance with NFPA regulations. They are approved based on technical merit and whether they meet specific criteria for “emergency in nature.” State and local jurisdictions can consider following a published TIA but are not required to do so as TIAs are not considered part of the standard, in this case NFPA Standard 70 otherwise known as the NEC.
Update on State Adoptions and Modifications
As of August 1, 2021, the 2020 NEC is in effect in 13 states, but 11 of those states have either modified or deleted 210.8(F) in response to the nuisance trip issue. See maps below.
In addition, there are 11 more states that are currently undergoing their 2020 NEC adoption process. Those states are CA, ID, NM, NE, OH, NC, VT, NH, CT, RI & DE. Among those states, CT, NC & NH are planning amendments to deal with 210.8(F). Utah had already adopted the 2020 NEC but is now considering a similar amendment. To access the NEC state adoption maps, their adoption process, and who to contact, click HERE.
ACCA member Ed Lehr, President of Jack Lehr Heating, Cooling & Electric Inc., Allentown, PA, made the following observation regarding the impact of 210.8(F): “In over 40 years of work in the electrical and HVAC industry I had never seen an electrical code rule predicated on product performance that is known to not yet exist. HVAC contractors should never have to choose between code compliance and the customer’s best interest. I think the code panel recognizes the importance of reliable lighting, so it has an exception. They may not have initially understood the consequences of sharply reducing heating and cooling reliability.”
ACCA State Affiliates Get Involved
Some of ACCA’s Allied Contracting Organizations (ACOs) have been successful in lobbying their state to delay the effective date for 210.8(F) in their adoption of the 2020 NEC. One example is the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA), who organized their contractors to lobby the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) Commission to adopt a temporary emergency rule to delay the effective date of 210.8(F) until January 1, 2023.
This is Happening in My State – What Can I Do?
“It is important that we also continue a State-by-State effort to delete the GFCI requirement, let us leave nothing to chance,” urges ACCA Codes Subcommittee Chair Manny Chaves, Owner, Chaves Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., Hudson, MA. Your first option is to fight adoption of this section. Last year the ACCA Codes Subcommittee developed a template for requesting state and local jurisdictions to delete 210.8(F) during the adoption process. The ACCA template can be accessed by clicking HERE. The second option is to request a variance from your local inspector or code official. Many areas of the country are already aware of the situation and are handling it in this way. If your state or locale has not adopted the 2020 NEC, you are not affected for now, but keeping an eye on your state’s adoption status would be advisable.
OEM Research Initiated to Resolve GFCI Nuisance Trips
ACCA has reached out to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), and learned they are initiating an industry-wide research project to address compatibility issues with GFCIs. It is anticipated that this may take several years to complete.
For more information or questions please contact ACCA’s Manager of Codes & Standards at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared here.
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