Code question on voice and data wiring in conduit

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New member
I have been told by my electrical contractor that there is a new NEC code that says all telephone/data wiring has to be in conduit in a patient care area in our hospital located in Washington state. They are referencing the newest edition, I think it is the 2002 book section 517-80 and 517-13A. When I read those areas I believe the codes are talking about power not telephone/data station/network cabling. Can any of you shed some light on this before I go to my local inspector and ask the question?

Thank you in advance!

Jerry Calvert

Edited to remove personal info.

[ July 08, 2004, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: dereckbc ]


Staff member
Retired Electrician
Re: Code question on voice and data wiring in conduit

Washington State may have their on requirements but this is not a requirement of article 517 of the NEC or chapter 4 of NFPA 99.

In fact, if it's low voltage communications fed from a transformer, even if fed from the "critical branch" it still would not be required and this is specifically stated in exception 2 of 517.30(C)(3)


[ July 08, 2004, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: roger ]


Re: Code question on voice and data wiring in conduit

Jerry, the contractor that told you this is a new requirement of the NEC is wrong. 517.80 has in fact been around for a very long time. Whether it has been enforced, or to what extent, is another issue. I believe not much has been done with it in the past because it is difficult to understand the specifics of "equivalent insulation and isolation" vary from AHJ to AHJ.

The electrical contractor that I work for wires many facilities each year that have patient care areas in them. This has never been an issue until recently. The most current analysis we have to date from our local AHJ is that if any of the systems mentioned in 517.80 terminates in a patient care area and the termination is in a metal enclosure or factory assembly that has a metal housing, then additional bonding methods must be employed. An example of what would be acceptable in our area, say for a volume control of an audio system that was in a 4 square box, would need to be ran in EMT from the volume control box in the patient care area to a location outside of the care area. Then you could run free air like normal as long as the EMT was bonded, i.e. putting a grounding bushing on the end and bonding it to another metal raceway.

This issue has been a very large thorn in our sides since enforcing it in this manner becomes costly. Even after we got an exact enforcement from our AHJ, I feel this is a large gray area and would like a more definitive explanation of this reference myself! I hope this was of some use to you Jerry and hope to see some more input in the near future.
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