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  1. #1
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    Default will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Hello,
    During an electrical inspection does the inspector make sure that all the lighting fixtures are UL approved? I have seen a couple DIY shows where the designer makes a light fixture using mason jars and reclaimed wood. The fixtures are cheap and look great but the designer surely isn't an electrician. I was thinking about making one for an apartment I am trying to rent but I don't want to put in all the effort if my electrical inspector is going to have an issue with it. Before I rent out the apartment I need to have an electrical inspection. I browsed the UL standards and I can understand some of it but not all.

    This is what I had in mind:
    mason jar light.jpg

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    I have never known of a AHJ inspector to even look for a UL label much less comment on fixtures unless they are installed improperly or pose a hazard. Many lighting fixtures are not UL approved that you see in homes. You are in Chicago and they have some strange rules (like you can't use NM cable (Romex)) If in doubt call your local AHJ and just ask them.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Villalobos View Post
    During an electrical inspection does the inspector make sure that all the lighting fixtures are UL approved?
    Does?

    Should, yes. Especially when a fixture looks home made or one-of-a-kind.

    Does, maybe ...

    Now, one could, to some degree, incorporate a UL listed fixture in some other design and may not raise the Red Flag Warning hair raising of the inspector, in which case they may look it over and "approve" it based on their knowledge and experience of what the code allows for them to "approve" something ("approval" is the domain of the AHJ which is typically the Building Official, sometimes this authority is delegated to the Chief Electrical Inspector, Chief Plumbing Inspector, Chief Mechanical Inspector, Chief Building Inspector as well as retained by the Building Official.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Villalobos View Post
    Hello,
    During an electrical inspection does the inspector make sure that all the lighting fixtures are UL approved?
    In the real world, no, not ever. If it looks like a store bought light fixture, it is tableaux.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    In the real world, no, not ever. If it looks like a store bought light fixture, it is tableaux.
    Dom,

    Not sure where you were watching inspectors (yes, I know, you are in Central Florida) ... many inspectors I know DO check UL listings, and I go all over Florida, including Orlando and surrounding areas.

    NOT EVERY inspector does, but saying that, in the real world that does not happen is like saying that, in the real world home inspectors do not inspect roofs from the roofs - SOME DON'T, MOST DO ... especially if the fixture "does not look kosher".

    Many years ago I manufactured a custom line of light fixtures using cedar, redwood, and copper - I used all UL listed components, but when UL listing started being something that was paid attention to I stopped making those lights because the cost to get them UL listed was too great and because the fixtures were usually made to order (I sold some in standard sizes and shapes, but most were custom designed).

    Like when I used to design and install custom floor and ceiling lighting for discos ... I stopped as soon as there was a fire in a disco in New York (I believe it was) where the plexiglas floor panels gave off toxic fumes when a fire started elsewhere and the plexiglass panels heated up - as I recall, many people were overcome with smoke and the toxic fumes, with a few dying from the fumes from the plexiglass and other interior finishes. Fire codes started cracking down on interior finishes and equipment, and UL listing started becoming a more important factor.

    No more of that stuff for me, not once I heard about how the material affected the outcome of the fire. Just glad nothing happened to any of the stuff I made for the discos - but it sure was fun coming up with designs and then creating the product and installing it. Those were the days (daze? ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Jerry,
    your story about the disco lights highlights my concern about making a light fixture- especially incorporating combustible material like wood without knowing what construction methods should be used to ensure the safe operation of the fixture.
    On the other hand, I can't imagine the inspector taking every fixture apart to see if it bears the UL stamp- besides being impractical because of time restraints, is it even required that every fixture be UL approved? Also, what about old lights that predate UL standards- I'll bet they are grandfathered in.


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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Villalobos View Post
    Jerry,
    your story about the disco lights highlights my concern about making a light fixture- especially incorporating combustible material like wood without knowing what construction methods should be used to ensure the safe operation of the fixture.
    If the cord is UL listed/labeled cord there is no more danger, probably even less, of running the cord through the piece of wood than through a fabric shade as the wood would take longer to combust than the fabric would, the same with plastic shades and globes. The problem with the wood would be its weight - if the cord was not approved to support that weight then the wood needs to be supported by chain or cable.

    It the fixture in the photo, the concerns would be: how were the cords run through the wood; were they in metal lined channels; was the back of the wood routed out to allow a metal box to be inset into the wood for the wiring up to the ceiling outlet box; was the metal box flush with the surface of the wood; among other concerns.

    On the other hand, I can't imagine the inspector taking every fixture apart to see if it bears the UL stamp- besides being impractical because of time restraints, ...
    No inspector checks every thing of anything, do you? Code inspectors check examples of what they are looking at, find a bad example and the contractor needs to 'fix everything', don't find a bad example and the rest are 'okay based on the example looked at'. If in doubt the inspector can, and I know many who have, tell the contractor to take it down so they can look at it, or take it down so I can see how you mounted it, or take it down so I can see if you installed a goof ring because I remember that box being nowhere near the surface of the wall (I did that yesterday, sure enough, no goof ring was installed - the contractor had to take all the fixtures down and install goof rings.

    ... is it even required that every fixture be UL approved?
    110.2 Approval.
    - The conductors and equipment required or permitted by this Code shall be acceptable only if approved.

    Approved. Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.

    Also, what about old lights that predate UL standards- I'll bet they are grandfathered in.
    See 110.2 above.

    I have taken huge (and I mean HUGE, maybe 8-10 feet diameter) old gas chandeliers from historic hotels and wired them for use electrical use. They were a challenge because, unlike fixtures made for wiring which have tubes or chases for the wires to go from Point A to Point B, gas fixtures are open inside because the gas will find it way to where it needs to go. I found that the only way to wire those was to put a thread at the location where I was going to install a socket, close all other holes, and use a vacuum cleaner to suck that thread to the point where I needed it to go to connect to the other wires being put in, then pull the wire in where I wanted it by pulling the thread out - the wire now goes from Point A to Point B just as I wanted it too.

    UL listed? No. I did this when I worked for a large electrical contractor and we were doing the re-wiring of the historic hotel being renovated - I did one and had the Chief Electrical inspector check it out, then he watched how I did another one, he "Approved" all the fixtures (there were quite a few of them) based on what he not seeing anything wrong with the wiring of the fixtures and that I was using all UL listed wiring, UL listed sockets, etc.

    Hope that answers your question.

    As I recall, at one time many code editions ago, everything had to be listed and labeled, the wording was changed to "shall be acceptable only if approved" as that allowed for the AHJ to approve items which were not UL listed and labeled.

    Today, though, if I were to design, construct and install things like the things I did for the discos, the AHJ would want a NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) to do a site approval where the item would be approved as installed at that specific site as it was installed - any alterations and it would need to be re-approved - and those site approvals are quite expensive, from maybe as low as a couple of thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars (how many tens of thousands depends on the equipment, might only be $10k-15k).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Villalobos View Post
    Jerry,
    your story about the disco lights highlights my concern about making a light fixture- especially incorporating combustible material like wood without knowing what construction methods should be used to ensure the safe operation of the fixture.
    On the other hand, I can't imagine the inspector taking every fixture apart to see if it bears the UL stamp- besides being impractical because of time restraints, is it even required that every fixture be UL approved? Also, what about old lights that predate UL standards- I'll bet they are grandfathered in.
    Mark, they typically do not check. I can't even recall the last time seeing a city/county inspector with a ladder or even up on a ladder!

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Mark, they typically do not check. I can't even recall the last time seeing a city/county inspector with a ladder or even up on a ladder!
    Define "check".

    Don't need a ladder - if the code inspector needs a ladder it is the contractor's responsibility to provide the ladder.

    I do carry an 11 foot Little Giant-type knock-off which fits in the back of the SUV. If it is too short to reach then the contractor provides the ladder.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Mark, they typically do not check. I can't even recall the last time seeing a city/county inspector with a ladder or even up on a ladder!
    Scott- I agree. I just doesn't happen.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Define "check".
    Look at!

    Jerry, you are not the norm by any means. You surpass just about all of the city/county inspectors I deal with.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    If those bulbs are totally enclosed I could see them overheating in the jars. And the wood could be an issue if a wire shorts to it.

    I would just wright up none UL approved fixture in use.


    Nothing wrong with DIY fixtures Ive made them myself, but I would let the client know its a potential issue. Better it gets written up then someone latter getting hurt and asking why did the fixture overheat and catch fire?


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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbrooke View Post
    If those bulbs are totally enclosed I could see them overheating in the jars.
    Would those fully enclosed jars be any more of a concern than those fully enclosed "peanut butter jar" globes on some fixtures?

    They were rated for 60 watt lamps, and with plastic sockets too. At least better fixtures had porcelain sockets (albeit many had cheap porcelain sockets in stead of the heavier duty porcelain sockets, those things would accept 250 watt Edison base lamps and 300 watt mogul base lamps).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Would those fully enclosed jars be any more of a concern than those fully enclosed "peanut butter jar" globes on some fixtures?

    They were rated for 60 watt lamps, and with plastic sockets too. At least better fixtures had porcelain sockets (albeit many had cheap porcelain sockets in stead of the heavier duty porcelain sockets, those things would accept 250 watt Edison base lamps and 300 watt mogul base lamps).
    You make a good point, but there could be holes in the back of the jelly jar fixture that provide some venting up through the socket. I dont know, it a guess, but since the fixture isnt UL approved its technically a liability.

    Others might disagree, but its just my opinion.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbrooke View Post
    You make a good point, but there could be holes in the back of the jelly jar fixture that provide some venting up through the socket.
    The ones I've seen, sold, and installed were not vented.

    Consider the "bell jar" vapor-proof wet location fixtures, at least those bases were cast aluminum and could heat sink the heat away somewhat (the ones where the "bell jar" glass was threaded and screwed into the fixture).

    ... since the fixture isnt UL approved its technically a liability.

    Others might disagree, but its just my opinion.
    I agree with your opinion - it very well could become a liability ... especially when/if something happens and the origin of that something is traced back to that fixture.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Villalobos View Post
    Jerry,

    is it even required that every fixture be UL approved?
    Section 410.6 in the NEC

    From the 2011 NEC:
    410.6 Listing Required
    All luminaires and lampholders shall be listed

    From the 2014 NEC:
    410.6 Listing Required
    All luminaries,lampholders,and retrofit kits shall be listed


  17. #17
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Thanks for posting that Jack. Apparently not well enforced like around here.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by jack davenport View Post
    Section 410.6 in the NEC

    From the 2011 NEC:
    410.6 Listing Required
    All luminaires and lampholders shall be listed

    From the 2014 NEC:
    410.6 Listing Required
    All luminaries,lampholders,and retrofit kits shall be listed
    What I get from that Are Light Bulbs/ light scource and the lighting bases are to be listed.

    Not that the Lamp Shade, Glass Globes / Covers or any other decorative features are required to be listed and labeled.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=lamp...w=1010&bih=611

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    I consider the luminaire to be the sum of all the parts, not just the functional parts exclusive of the decorative ones.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    I consider the luminaire to be the sum of all the parts, not just the functional parts exclusive of the decorative ones.
    You may call it what you wish. I don't think the legal definition would support that.
    *if that were the case there wouldn't be a need to have lamp holders and retrofit kits in this section when "luminaire " would be all inclusive.

    From the 2014 NEC:
    410.6 Listing Required
    All luminaries,lampholders,and retrofit kits shall be listed

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    The retrofit kits used to changeover a incandescent exit light to LED would be one example of why other items are on that list. Without it the only the original fixture would need to be a listed unit. Then after that you could install any crap from the aftermarket. I doubt that the CMP's would want to lessen the protections initially required.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The retrofit kits used to changeover a incandescent exit light to LED would be one example of why other items are on that list. Without it the only the original fixture would need to be a listed unit. Then after that you could install any crap from the aftermarket. I doubt that the CMP's would want to lessen the protections initially required.
    Your Example is a change to the lamp holder that carries electricity.
    *Nothing to do with cosmetics.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Jim,

    I posted the definition of luminaire this morning ... er ... I thought I did - I apparently didn't click something correctly; would you please post the definition for luminaire.

    I won't be able to post it until I get back to my office.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    2006 irc
    LUMINAIRE.Acomplete lighting unit (lighting fixture) consisting
    of a lamp or lamps together with 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.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    2006 irc
    LUMINAIRE.Acomplete lighting unit (lighting fixture) consisting
    of a lamp or lamps together with 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.


    Why the adoption of luminaire over light fixture? The 2011 NEC Handbook provides a hint: standardization. Luminaire is used not only by the IES Lighting Handbook and ANSI/NEMA standards but also by the International Electrotechnical Commission.

    This is a relatively recent addition, as the term luminaire was only added to the 2002 edition of NEC. And it's not difficult to see why. Lighting fixture is not defined in any standard, so the actual meaning could vary. Does the term include the lamp, the guard, the globe, the lens, the support, or the pole? Adding to the potential confusion is that a light fixture would be called a light fitting in England, and the historical term is electric light.

    Luminaire, as a standardized and defined term, offers advantages to the engineer and end-user. Unlike lighting fixture, the definition of luminaire is easily found in a standard, a dictionary, or online. The definition includes the lamp and all components directly associated with the distribution, positioning, and protection of the light unit, so there is no confusion as to exactly what the term covers. It does not include the support components, such as an arm, tenon, or pole; the fasteners used to secure the luminaire; control or security devices; or power supply conductors.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Look at!

    Jerry, you are not the norm by any means. You surpass just about all of the city/county inspectors I deal with.
    In other words Jerry-----"You are a real pain in the ass!!!" A good pain though!!!


  27. #27
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    Default Re: will a DIY light fixture pass electrical inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I have never known of a AHJ inspector to even look for a UL label much less comment on fixtures unless they are installed improperly or pose a hazard. Many lighting fixtures are not UL approved that you see in homes. You are in Chicago and they have some strange rules (like you can't use NM cable (Romex)) If in doubt call your local AHJ and just ask them.
    If I came cross the luminaire pictured, I absolutley would confirm its listing. Earlier this year I failed a "hibachi restaraunt" for using unlisted luminairies. The fixtures literally came directly off a shipping container from China.

    I just received word today of "homemade" cast iron luminairies being installed in a renovation of a restaraunt. Next week I'll stop in to confirm they have a listing or advise the general.

    p.s. I carry and use a ladder on my truck.

    M


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