What is minimum code requirement for switched lighting in a house?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Minimum requirements per National Electrical Code (NEC):

•• At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in every habitable room, including kitchens and bathrooms. [NEC 210.70(A)(1)]

•• In other than kitchens and bathrooms, receptacle(s) controlled by a wall switch can substitute for a lighting outlet. [NEC 210.70(A)(1) - Exception 1]

•• Lighting outlet can be controlled by motion sensor (occupancy sensor) if it is in addition wall switch or located at a usual location for wall switch and has a manual override. [NEC 210.70(A)(1) - Exception 2]


•• At least one wall switch-controlled lighting outlet shall be installed in hallways, stairways, attached garages, and detached garages with electric power. [NEC 210.70(A)(2)(1)]

•• Dwelling units (houses), attached garages, and detached garages with electric power must have at least one switch-controlled lighting outlet on the exterior side of exterior entrance doors with grade-level access. A vehicle door is not considered an exterior entrance door. [NEC 210.70(A)(2)(2)]

•• There must be a wall switch at each floor level for the lighting outlet(s) for interior stairs with six risers or more. [NEC 210.70(A)(2) - Exception]

•• Lighting outlets at additional locations listed above must not be controlled by dimmer switches unless they provide the full range of dimming at each location. [NEC 210.70(A)(2)(3)]

•• Attics, underfloor spaces, utility rooms, and basements require at least one lighting outlet containing a switch or controlled by a wall switch installed where those spaces are used for storage or contain equipment requiring servicing. At least one point of control shall be at the usual point of entry, and a lighting outlet provided at or near the equipment requiring servicing. [NEC 210.70(A)(3)]

    See our blog post What is the difference between a luminaire, lighting outlet, lampholder, and lamp in the National Electrical Code (NEC)? for definitions of terms used for this part of the code.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRICAL WIRING:

Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?

Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?

What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?

Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?

Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?

Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?  

Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?

What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box? 

What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall? 

What is an open electrical splice?

What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection? 

What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house? 

What is an "open junction box"? 

How dangerous is old electrical wiring? 

What is a ground wire? 

I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring?  

What is "knob and tube" wiring?  

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?

   Visit our ELECTRICAL page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

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