How many outlets must you provide to a commercial building for sign or outline lighting use?
This is sort of a trick question. If you look at the rules [600.5(A)] on where the outlets are required, you see:
- The NEC requirements apply to each occupancy, not just each building.
- You need one outlet at each entrance to the building or occupancy, provided it is “accessible to pedestrians.”
- You don’t need to install such an outlet in “service hallways.”
Unfortunately, the NEC doesn’t define “accessible to pedestrians.” Nor does the NEC define “service hallway.” These phrases bear upon the same issue, so insight into one explains the other.
By knowing the purpose of a given entrance, we can tease out the intention of the NEC. Consider any strip mall as an example. Each occupancy has a customer entrance in front and a service entrance in back. Those customer entrances are the ones that need an outlet for sign or outline lighting use.
What the NEC probably means by “service hallways” are those hallways you find behind commercial occupancies for such things as accepting deliveries (and letting electrical contractors in). These occupancies don’t need lit signs in back; they need them out in front to identify the business to customers.
You’ll need enough branch circuits to support the outlet loads. The branch circuit can’t supply any other load and must be at least 20A. But a neon sign could be up to 30A.