8

I've been redoing all the electric in my house (because I'm pretty sure it's asbestos-wrapped aluminum cable everywhere, and I don't trust it at all), bringing it up to the 2023 NEC (which my jurisdiction, Ohio, is adopting 01-MAR-2024).

I've come to this closet. It's almost 3' wide and 2' deep, with a bit under 2' of vertical space above the shelf. Per my reading of 410.16, I can't actually put a light anywhere in here - recessed or otherwise. Is my understanding correct? If I remove the front part of the shelf, I could maybe get a recessed light in (though it'd need to be covered).

Picture of closet

Just looking for help/pointers on getting a switched light in here. Am I basically stuck using some LV pucks or the like? I have easy attic access (directly above this closet) and space for a recessed can, but whatever I use, I ultimately want it controlled by a traditional light switch.

4
  • 3
    Digression: have you had the wire actually tested for asbestos? You might be pleasantly surprised. Feb 19 at 16:13
  • 2
    I haven't, no - but the attic insulation was tested with the ZAI trust and was a match and the timelines of the construction match up - in any case, the electric IS sketchy, usually not in great places, and I'm going to 200A service (including a new meter/main and internal panel) - at which point it really just made sense to do it all from scratch. @AloysiusDefenestrate
    – user112697
    Feb 19 at 16:16
  • 2
    An option I sometimes see for tight closets is to run those flexible, adhesive-backed LED light strips along the entire back side of the door frame. They take up almost no space, you aren't using that space for anything anyway, and the light won't be blocked by shelves. A cheap way to install them is to get the kind that plug into a wall outlet, then add a switched outlet in the closet.
    – bta
    Feb 20 at 1:53
  • @bta A switched outlet is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that.
    – user112697
    Feb 20 at 2:27

2 Answers 2

10

You can't put a lampholder in there (like you have right now) - not nearly enough clearance. But you can put in an LED. From 410.16:

150 mm (6 in.) for recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source installed in the wall or the ceiling.

The catch is this is clearance from "storage space" and not simply from walls. See 410.16 details for details of how that is defined.

I would not do that with incandescent, even though it seems to be allowed. LED will generate a very small fraction of the heat of an equivalent incandescent. The key is that you can't have a lampholder. Why? Because (a) someone could easily swap a 7W LED for a 100W incandescent (which would be way too much) and (b) a regular bulb would stick down as well. So the rule is a really, really good one. Stick to it and you'll be safe and code-compliant.

And looking a little further, apparently the area above the shelf above the rod is also storage space that you can't go into. So that means either replacing with a smaller shelf (but keep it at 12" - any smaller and you still have to block 12") with the light above the non-shelf area. Or a light designed specifically for closet use (not sure how that is defined) and then you get 0" clearance - put in anywhere!

You can definitely install this with a switch. Since you are redoing the actual wiring anyway, that should not be hard to do. But keep in mind that switch boxes now require neutral, so if you wire panel->light fixture->switch then that last segment has to be /3 instead of /2 cable so that it has black hot/red switched hot/white neutral rather than white (marked with black tape) hot/black switched hot. You have to do that even if you have no intention of adding a smart switch.

14
  • The wire plan is panel->switch->light, so no worries there (I also have great basement access). If I remove the front part of the shelf, I can maybe get 6" of clearance to the front of the remaining portion of the shelf. I guess I'm also looking for what options I have if I don't want to remove that portion of the shelf - I saw something in the code about 0" clearance with closet-approved fixtures, but I haven't seen any examples. What about LV options?
    – user112697
    Feb 19 at 16:21
  • 3
    The LV fixture would still have to be approved. The common misconception that LV means no rules is incorrect. A 12V halogen would be LV and very good at setting the closet on fire.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 19 at 16:53
  • 2
    This includes a sticker that you must (but how to enforce that...) apply that says: "DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INSTALL OR OPERATE INCANDESCENT LAMPS IN THIS LUMINAIRE, THIS LUMINAIRE HAS BEEN MODIFIED TO OPERATE LED LAMPS. REPLACE ONLY WITH RAB Lighting Inc. RABLIGHTING.COM 888 722-1000 MODEL#". But the actual problem is that this is designed to retrofit a recessed light with an E26 socket. Your existing light socket (lampholder) is not recessed. So you can't use this particular fixture. You need to install a compatible recessed box (luminaire) and install this inside it or find a surface Feb 19 at 18:20
  • 2
    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact OK, here's my understanding - can you correct me if I'm wrong? 1) Just installing a recess/can (such as homedepot.com/p/…) would not meet code due to 410.16. 2) I cannot use the existing lamp holder (I knew this already). 3) Installing a can THEN putting the sticker and using the 410.16C5 lamp is kosher. But if I'm installing anyway, it probably makes more sense to just put a junction box and hardwire the RAB bulb/lamp. I have insulation, so I worry about a jbox.
    – user112697
    Feb 19 at 19:04
  • 1
    Correct. Insulation shouldn't be a problem. Feb 19 at 19:08
7

You might have missed 410.16(D) exception [ formerly 410.16(C)(5) ]

Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires shall be permitted to be installed within the clothes closet storage space where identified for such use

(Emphasis added)

4
  • 1
    In the 2023 NEC I don't show a (5) under (C), but I do show a similar exception listed after (D): "Exception: Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires shall be permitted to be installed within the clothes closet storage space where identified for this use." Do you know of any examples of such a surface-mounted LED "identified for such use" in a clothes closet?
    – user112697
    Feb 19 at 16:40
  • 1
    Yup, despite looking for 2023 I got a 2020 result, so cross-referencing that now for an edit. The latter is a shopping question.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 19 at 16:44
  • 1
    Despite which, here's one example, which surely means there are more: dmflighting.com/lighting-small-storage-spaces
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 19 at 16:50
  • 1
    OK, this is probably going to come down to "depends on the inspector," but now I'm curious: I've found an NEC2020 410.16C5 compatible light, (electricbargainstores.com/product-p/rab-r6r8827120wb.htm) - hypothetically that means I can put the fixture ANYWHERE in the closet. If I do so, however, nothing is stopping some future owner from taking out this light and putting in, say, a 100W halogen (which would obviously be bad). Is this considered my problem (AKA: will I fail inspection)?
    – user112697
    Feb 19 at 17:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.