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  1. #1
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    Default Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Is there a code requirement which determines when (if?) a walk in closet is large enough that it requires a light?

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    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Is there a code requirement which determines when (if?) a walk in closet is large enough that it requires a light?
    I don't know of a requirement that even requires a luminary in a walk-in closet as long as it does not have any mechanical equipment in it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Some of the one's I see are essentially "rooms".

    What I'm wondering, I guess, is if at some size they become "habitable" rooms - for example some are big enough so that people could put electrically powered stationary exercise equipment it them... and do....

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Yes, the code is not clear regarding walk-in closets, however, being as ... (oh-oh, here comes muddy territory) ... the code does state:

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining is mine)

    - E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces. In attics, under-floor spaces, utility rooms and basements, at least one lighting outlet shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. Such lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or shall have an integral switch.


    Combine that with the fact that those rooms are "utilized" for "storage" and have great "utility", and they are "rooms", then it could be argued that a lighting outlet is required in them. After all, a much smaller (typically any way) under-stair-closet needs to have a light, so which not a full size walk-in closet?



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Yes, the code is not clear regarding walk-in closets, however, being as ... (oh-oh, here comes muddy territory) ... the code does state:

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining is mine)

    - E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces. In attics, under-floor spaces, utility rooms and basements, at least one lighting outlet shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. Such lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or shall have an integral switch.


    Combine that with the fact that those rooms are "utilized" for "storage" and have great "utility", and they are "rooms", then it could be argued that a lighting outlet is required in them. After all, a much smaller (typically any way) under-stair-closet needs to have a light, so which not a full size walk-in closet?

    From the 2006 IRC. (bold is mine)


    - E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces. In attics, under-floor spaces, utility rooms and basements, at least one lighting outlet shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. Such lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or shall have an integral switch.

    So reading it as it is written, it says Attics, Under floor spaces, Utility rooms and Basements. I see nothing about closets.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    From the 2006 IRC. (bold is mine)


    - E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces. In attics, under-floor spaces, utility rooms and basements, at least one lighting outlet shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. Such lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or shall have an integral switch.

    So reading it as it is written, it says Attics, Under floor spaces, Utility rooms and Basements. I see nothing about closets.
    I agree. A closet is not considered "habitable" space.


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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    So reading it as it is written, it says Attics, Under floor spaces, Utility rooms and Basements. I see nothing about closets.
    What is a "closet" is not a "storage" space?

    Which is why I said ...

    (bold is mine )
    Yes, the code is not clear regarding walk-in closets, however, being as ... (oh-oh, here comes muddy territory) ... the code does state:

    From the 2006 IRC. (underlining is mine)

    - E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces. In attics, under-floor spaces, utility rooms and basements, at least one lighting outlet shall be installed where these spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. Such lighting outlet shall be controlled by a wall switch or shall have an integral switch.

    Combine that with the fact that those rooms are "utilized" for "storage" and have great "utility", and they are "rooms", then it could be argued that a lighting outlet is required in them. After all, a much smaller (typically any way) under-stair-closet needs to have a light, so which not a full size walk-in closet?


    So, let the "argument", i.e., debate, begin ...

    Fred,

    I'm not referring to "habitable" spaces, only that a "closet" is, without a doubt, intended for "storage" and that "E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces" does address "storage ... spaces", albeit "closets" are not specifically mentioned, another variant of the "closet" is mentioned, i.e., the "utility room".

    It would help if that contained the familiar "or similar rooms or areas" found in 210.12.

    Alas, it does not contain that wording ... so we are left to debate the issue, which is where Michael stated.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    What is a "closet" is not a "storage" space?

    Which is why I said ...

    (bold is mine )
    [/color][/font][/size]

    So, let the "argument", i.e., debate, begin ...

    Fred,

    I'm not referring to "habitable" spaces, only that a "closet" is, without a doubt, intended for "storage" and that "E3803.4 Storage or equipment spaces" does address "storage ... spaces", albeit "closets" are not specifically mentioned, another variant of the "closet" is mentioned, i.e., the "utility room".

    It would help if that contained the familiar "or similar rooms or areas" found in 210.12.

    Alas, it does not contain that wording ... so we are left to debate the issue, which is where Michael stated.
    [/left]
    Jerry and others. I was just going by the definition of "habitable" space as in the IRC since the discussion has to do with space within a dwelling. If you look at the definition of "closet" in the IRC, it creates the "grey" language of "a small room or chamber used for storage". In this definition is the word "small" which is not further defined.
    I posed a similar question one time, thinking that Article 220, Table 220.12 last line down (storage spaces) requiring 1/4 watt per square foot would apply, or the line above that 1/2 watt for closets, but was persuaded that Article 220 is only used for calculation purposes and not in the same light (pardon the pun) as Article 210.


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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Again, the need for common sense rears it's head... if you need a light to see, install a light. The code cannot compensate for every conceivable instance of stupidity.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Again, the need for common sense rears it's head... if you need a light to see, install a light. The code cannot compensate for every conceivable instance of stupidity.
    Exactly! Code is the bare basic minimum, so when a builder brags that they are building to code they ain't braggin bout much!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Exactly! Code is the bare basic minimum, so when a builder brags that they are building to code they ain't braggin bout much!

    That is what I told my clients in front of builders trying to say that it meets code (even when I have documented that it did not), I simply explained to my clients that the builder (at least in the state of Florida) 'The builder *HAS A LEGAL OBLIGATION* to "build to code minimum*, that he is not allowed by law to do anything less, so him trying to defend poor work by bragging that he meets the minimum, what does that tell you about his quality ... in this $4 mil house?'

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    How about calling it a utility closet if it is not a clothes closet? If is is large enough to meet the requirements of a room then call it that and forget closet. Call it the clothes storage room and require a light.

    So if it is at least 7' x 10' call it a room (min 7' and min 70 sq feet)


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    How about calling it a utility closet if it is not a clothes closet? If is is large enough to meet the requirements of a room then call it that and forget closet. Call it the clothes storage room and require a light.

    So if it is at least 7' x 10' call it a room (min 7' and min 70 sq feet)
    I'm with Jim L above. Rather than trying to redefine the definitions, how about just calling it "Stupid"? As in...

    "There is no light fixture in the walk in closet. This is stupid. It may not be required by the strictest interpretation of the minimum codes, but it would be a very stupid person that would argue against the need for a light in this situation. I recommend you check with your builder to see which of the following apply:

    1: He is stupid.
    2: He is a cheap bastard.
    3: He is a good builder and this was a simple oversight he is willing to fix."

    Last edited by Richard Moore; 02-12-2009 at 12:20 AM.

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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post

    1: He is stupid.
    2: He is a cheap bastard.
    3: He is a good builder and this was a simple oversight he is willing to

    fix."
    Richard you have a way with words

    Best

    Ron


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    There needs to be an area in the NEC, preferably in Article 210, that deals with this issue. It's really a huge and persistent issue that needs addressing. Like the 800 lb gorrilla in the living room, only this one fits in the closet.


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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    I recommend you check with your builder to see which of the following apply:

    1: He is stupid.
    2: He is a cheap bastard.
    3: He is a good builder and this was a simple oversight he is willing to fix."
    Richard,

    I like that.

    You giving the builder a choice (it is always good to give people choices instead of demands), and he can either chose to be "a good builder and this was a simple oversight he is willing to fix" or he can chose to make an arse of himself.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Sorry

    Code has no dog in this hunt for the need for a light in the walk in closet. I am sure it was a mistake or maybe even burried by the drywallers. If it was not a mistake then the builder should be politely shamed into installing one.

    If it is an existing home and the sellers of the home never had a light then that is their ignorance. If it is a buyers inspection and it is not a new home and the sellers are not going to have one installed then the buyers should (if they have any sense) install one.

    As far as writing it up. Write it up as no light in the master or other walk in closet and suggest adding one. If your state SOPs say the closets have to have lighting write it up as you SOPs determine.

    Anyway it needs to be written up. Depending the size of the room if for nothing else, common sense.


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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    I am more concerned when I see Porcelain sockets with metal pull chains.

    Article 410 Luminaries (Lighting Fixture), Lampholders, and Lamps
    Article 410.8 (B) Luminaries (Fixture) Types Permitted. Listed. The following types of light fixtures shall be permitted to be installed in a closet. Closets (Clothes and storage) eight ( square feet (0.74 m˛) or larger one of the following type of light fixtures shall be installed:
    1. A recessed incandescent fixture with a completely enclosed lamp operated by a wall switch.
    2. A surface mounted or recessed fluorescent fixture with a completely enclosed tube(s) operated by a wall switch.
    410.8 (C) Luminaries (Fixture) Types Not Permitted. The following fixtures are not permitted:
    1. Surface mounted incandescent fixture with enclosed, partially enclosed or open bulbs.
    2. Pendant Style
    3. Lampholders
    Exception:
    Walk-in closets of larger area where no storage exists within forty (40) inches (1016 mm) in any direction of a vertical line extending from the floor to ceiling, away from the wall, incandescent fixtures with totally enclosed bulb(s) may be used. Said light fixtures shall be operated by a wall switch.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Is there a code requirement which determines when (if?) a walk in closet is large enough that it requires a light?
    There's another thread going with essentially the same question and my answer (opinion only) is that the definition of closet is a "small room or chamber used for storage". The word "small" is a grey area and its interpretation would be left up to the AHJ.
    I tried, one time, to apply Table 220.12 and have the builder provide 1/2 watt per square foot, but it was explained to me that Article 220 in the NEC is used for calculations when sizing the service, branch circuits, etc., not for wiring methods.
    So, good luck resolving this "age-old" issue.

    EDIT: I just realized I've posted several times already and that this is the thread I thought was another thread. Damn. It's rough growing old!


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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    I am more concerned when I see Porcelain sockets with metal pull chains.

    Article 410 Luminaries (Lighting Fixture), Lampholders, and Lamps
    Article 410.8 (B) Luminaries (Fixture) Types Permitted. Listed. The following types of light fixtures shall be permitted to be installed in a closet. Closets (Clothes and storage) eight ( square feet (0.74 m˛) or larger one of the following type of light fixtures shall be installed:
    1. A recessed incandescent fixture with a completely enclosed lamp operated by a wall switch.
    2. A surface mounted or recessed fluorescent fixture with a completely enclosed tube(s) operated by a wall switch.
    410.8 (C) Luminaries (Fixture) Types Not Permitted. The following fixtures are not permitted:
    1. Surface mounted incandescent fixture with enclosed, partially enclosed or open bulbs.
    2. Pendant Style
    3. Lampholders
    Exception:
    Walk-in closets of larger area where no storage exists within forty (40) inches (1016 mm) in any direction of a vertical line extending from the floor to ceiling, away from the wall, incandescent fixtures with totally enclosed bulb(s) may be used. Said light fixtures shall be operated by a wall switch.

    Bob,

    What NEC edition is that from? The 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 all have clothes closets addressed under 410.8 but not with that wording, in 2008 the section is 410.16, also different wording

    This is from the 2008 NEC.
    - 410.16 Luminaires in Clothes Closets.
    - - (A) Luminaire Types Permitted. Listed luminaires of the following types shall be permitted to be installed in a closet:
    - - - (1) A surface-mounted or recessed incandescent luminaire with a completely enclosed lamp
    - - - (2) A surface-mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaire
    - - - (3) Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires identified as suitable for installation within the storage area
    - - (B) Luminaire Types Not Permitted. Incandescent luminaires with open or partially enclosed lamps and pendant luminaires or lampholders shall not be permitted.
    - - (C) Location. The minimum clearance between luminaires installed in clothes closets and the nearest point of a storage space shall be as follows:
    - - - (1) 300 mm (12 in.) for surface-mounted incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling
    - - - (2) 150 mm (6 in.) for surface-mounted fluorescent luminaires installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling
    - - - (3) 150 mm (6 in.) for recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source installed in the wall or the ceiling
    - - - (4) 150 mm (6 in.) for recessed fluorescent luminaires installed in the wall or the ceiling
    - - - (5) Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires shall be permitted to be installed within the storage space where identified for this use.

    However, you did not state which closets or storage spaces you were referring to.

    If "clothes closets", yes, not exposed incandescent lamps.

    If simply "storage closets/spaces", then, yes, pull-chain lampholders are permissible.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Warner View Post
    EDIT: I just realized I've posted several times already and that this is the thread I thought was another thread. Damn. It's rough growing old!
    Welcome to the club, Fred. As no one ever remembers to attend, we don't hold meetings.


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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    Welcome to the club, Fred. As no one ever remembers to attend, we don't hold meetings.
    Dang!

    All this time I thought we were holding meetings and I just could not remember where they were being held!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
    Fred Warner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    Welcome to the club, Fred. As no one ever remembers to attend, we don't hold meetings.
    That's the best news I've heard in a long time. No dues, no meetings, no working your way up through the "chairs", no delegations, no nothing! Now that's my kinda club.
    I'm so forgetful, I fell down stairs the other day and when I landed at the bottom, I stood up and tucked my shirt into my trousers and hollered over to the Mrs., "Honey, what was all that racket?"


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    Default Re: Lighting requirements for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Bob,

    What NEC edition is that from? The 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 all have clothes closets addressed under 410.8 but not with that wording, in 2008 the section is 410.16, also different wording

    This is from the 2008 NEC.
    - 410.16 Luminaires in Clothes Closets.
    - - (A) Luminaire Types Permitted. Listed luminaires of the following types shall be permitted to be installed in a closet:
    - - - (1) A surface-mounted or recessed incandescent luminaire with a completely enclosed lamp
    - - - (2) A surface-mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaire
    - - - (3) Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires identified as suitable for installation within the storage area
    - - (B) Luminaire Types Not Permitted. Incandescent luminaires with open or partially enclosed lamps and pendant luminaires or lampholders shall not be permitted.
    - - (C) Location. The minimum clearance between luminaires installed in clothes closets and the nearest point of a storage space shall be as follows:
    - - - (1) 300 mm (12 in.) for surface-mounted incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling
    - - - (2) 150 mm (6 in.) for surface-mounted fluorescent luminaires installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling
    - - - (3) 150 mm (6 in.) for recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source installed in the wall or the ceiling
    - - - (4) 150 mm (6 in.) for recessed fluorescent luminaires installed in the wall or the ceiling
    - - - (5) Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires shall be permitted to be installed within the storage space where identified for this use.

    However, you did not state which closets or storage spaces you were referring to.

    If "clothes closets", yes, not exposed incandescent lamps.

    If simply "storage closets/spaces", then, yes, pull-chain lampholders are permissible.


    Hi Jerry
    First of all,congrats on your new site.

    I am not sure which book the quote came from and toi bve honest I am not allowed to compete with my AHJ , thus only use it as a guide.

    I know for a fact that when a bare bulb is hanging in front of a shelf up high that it is a danger to my client and report it as thus .

    Lost count how many times I have seen evidence of storage items being pulled down and breaking not only the bulb , but also the socket protection which just happens to be connected to a metal pull chain.

    Code or not this is a danger.

    As far as if lights are required I mention it in the report depending on if it seems to be needed.

    Some seem to get enough light from the location.(sorry I am on my tiny netbook and know I am getting typos)


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    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Is there a code requirement which determines when (if?) a walk in closet is large enough that it requires a light?
    I took a look at the 2014 edition of the NFPA and found the following:

    NFPA 70
    Article 410 - Luminaries, Lampholder, and Lamps
    NFPA 70: National Electrical CodeŽ

    410.2 Definition
    Closet Storage Space. The volume bounded by the sides and back closet walls and planes......

    410.16 Luminaries in Clothes Closets

    (C) The minimum clearance between luminaries installed in clothes closets and the nearest point of a closet storage space shall be as follows:
    (1) 300 mm (12 in.) for surface-mounted incandescent or LED luminaries with a completely enclose light source installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling.
    (2) 150 mm (6 in.) for surface-mounted fluorescent luminaries installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling.
    (3) 150 mm (6 in.) recessed incandescent or LED luminaries with a completely enclosed light source installed in the wall or the ceiling.
    (4) 150 mm (6 in.) for recessed fluorescent luminaries installed in the wall or the ceiling.
    Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaries shall be permitted to be installed within the closed storage space where identified for this used.
    (5) Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaries shall be permitted to be installed within the closed storage space where identified for this used.


  26. #26

    Default Re: Lighting requierments for walk in closets?

    Just a point.

    If there is a conflict in the definitions between the NEC and the IRC on what a closet is the more stringent shall apply.

    One might state a storage area. Is that not also a definition of closet as Jerry stated?

    The other uses terms like habitable space, which a closet typically is not, but could be.

    So which is more stringent? That would be the short answer.

    Look for the most stringent that does not have an exception, or exemption.

    When using codes, you are required to use the definitions that are in the codes, not your own definitions. I know most of you already know all of that, but just in case.


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