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NEC for Electric Signs - Approvals, Rejections & Revisals

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Here's an attached doc on some recent changes that will affect how we build and install electric signs.

Anything stick out for you? Something you disagree with or glad got changed? What would you like to see changed?


Some of these requests are comical

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Did see this on page 59

18-89a Log #CP1804 NEC-P18 -------Final Action: Accepted

(600.2, Informational Note)


Submitter: Code-Making Panel 18,

Recommendation: Delete the informational note and revise the definition of neon tubing in 600.2 as follows:

Neon Tubing. Electric-discharge luminous tubing, including cold cathode luminous tubing, that is manufactured into

shapes to illuminate signs, form letters, parts of letters, skeleton tubing, outline lighting, other decorative elements, or art

forms and filled with various inert gases.

Substantiation: The informational note contains part of the definition and therefore was incorporated into the body of

the definition.

Printed on

Panel Meeting Action: Accept

Page 60

18-90 Log #2623 NEC-P18 Final Action: Accept in Principle Part



Submitter: Richard D. Gottwald, International Sign Association

Recommendation: Revise text to read as follows:

Electric signs, section signs, and outline lighting, retrofit kits and skeleton tubing, fixed , mobile, or

portable, regardless of voltage, shall be listed and installed in conformance with that listing , unless otherwise approved

by special permission.

Substantiation: The test in 600.3 is modified to include LED retrofit field conversion subassemblies and skeleton tubing

• Energy conservation is driving changes of illumination systems to LEDs in existing/installed signs or outline lighting.

This requires field replacement of electrical components and power sources that modify the original electrical system in

the sign listed under UL 48. Logically, it follows that conversions should not compromise the original safety profile of the

listed sign. A complete subassembly, a kit that has been certified by a qualified electrical testing laboratory as

compatible with the profile of the listed sign being converted, provides a basis for the AHJ to accept the modification

without requiring a field evaluation. As an example, UL's The White Book, Sign Conversions, Retrofit (UYWU) describes

UL's certification procedure under UL 879A, Outline of Investigation for LED Kits. UL's Classified Kit includes all the

components and installation instructions to safely modify a sign. UL's Product Guide to Inspections, says, "Classification

complies with the definition of "Listed" in model installation codes."

The 15th Edition of UL 48, published in September 2011 includes skeleton tubing within the scope of UL 48, thereby

nullifying the basis for the exception. (UL 48.1 .2)

Panel Meeting Action: Accept in Principle Part

Revise the submitter's recommendation to remove the words "and skeleton tubing" and revise to read as follows:

600.3 Listing. Fixed, mobile or portable electric signs, section signs, outline lighting, and retrofit kits, regardless of

voltage, shall be listed and installed in conformance with that listing, unless otherwise approved by special permission.

Panel Statement: Adding skeleton tubing in this section would make it mandatory that it be listed. Skeleton tubing

signs are not restricted from being listed such as window and beer signs commonly used today. For skeleton tubing to

be listed it would require plant assembly before shipment. There is no technical substantiation provided based on safety

to support this change. The change would restrict this product from areas where inspection and listing is required.

Article 600 Part II currently covers the component and installation requirements for field installed skeleton tubing signs.

The panel has provided addition revisions to clarify the requirement.

VERY interesting Page 71, not sure what the reasoning for proposal or agenda is

18-115 Log #2622 NEC-P18 Final Action: Rejected

(600.3(A) and (B)


Richard D. Gottwald, International Sign Association

Recommendation: Revise text to read as follows:

A. Field Installed Skeleton Tubing. Field installed skeleton tubing shall not be required to be listed where installed in

conformance wiith this Code.

(B) Outline Lighting.

Exception: Outline lighting shall not be required to be listed as a system when it consists of listed luminaires wired in

accordance with Chapter 3.

• Skeleton tubing exception is outdated and unnecessary. This exception to the Code for listing all signs

and outline lighting was inserted in the 1996 NEC® Article 600.3 because at the time, the scope of ANSI UL 48, 14th

Edition, did not include field-assembled skeleton neon tubing.

CMP 18 Substantiation for the 1996 exception to listing in 600.3 is recorded in the NFPA 70 - A95 ROP:

Skeleton tubing the only form of outline lighting for which is listing cannot be obtained, because it is frequently filed-installed. All other forms of signs of outline lighting can be manufactured as a listed products

The 15th Edition of UL 48, published in September 2011 includes skeleton tubing within the scope of UL 48, thereby

nullifying the basis for the exception. (UL 48.1.2)

• Outline Lighting is changed to an Exception to 600.3, in compliance with the hierarchy suggested by the NEC Style


Panel Meeting Action: Reject

Panel Statement: Removing field installed skeleton tubing in this section would make it mandatory that it be listed.

Skeleton tubing signs are not restricted from being listed such as window and beer signs commonly used today. For

skeleton tubing to be listed it would require plant assembly before shipment. There is no technical substantiation

provided based on safety to support this change. Article 600 Part II currently covers the component and installation

requirements for field installed skeleton tubing signs.


Just below this is Randall Wrights want for bushings to be "listed" to protect leads. Glad this got rejected. I think snap bushings are good enough

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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  • 2 weeks later...

It becoming very hard to get a response to this failed attempt by the International Sign Association and anyone in their Energy Subcommittee to force the neon aspect of our electric sign trade, or lighting trade to require them to be listed, or join/ be apart of UL in order for them to install skeletal & outline lighting.

I'm pushing for answers, who initiated it and why? Some codes do not need changing, a lot of times it's better to "do nothing" than to "do something"

With a dying neon economy set largely in motion by mis-information & mis-characterizations of our industry media trade magazines and a failure to act on this by our associations, It's odd timing, it's the same as twisting the knife and kicking our neon guys down the stairs.

Harsh, but news is news, good or bad.

If this ever is successful one day, and the International Sign Association decides to press this with deeper and further "Safety Concerns" you neon people will be paying out of the ying yang just to bend glass in order to sell it wholesale. Because you won't be able to just bend glass in your shop wholesale and think that the sign company who bought it from you can list it themselves with their own listing, YOU will have to be listed as well just to the shop you sold it will be complaint in their own listing.

It'll be time to bend over, and you won't get anything to make it comfortable


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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  • Board Patron

A damn shame they won't just let us make a living!!! Instead of helping, looks like ISA is trying to do the opposite. I thought they were supposed to fight for us, not against us. Enough regulations now to choke a mule. Takes one employee almost full time to keep up with the ones we already have. When is enough going to be enough??

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A damn shame they won't just let us make a living!!! Instead of helping, looks like ISA is trying to do the opposite. I thought they were supposed to fight for us, not against us. Enough regulations now to choke a mule. Takes one employee almost full time to keep up with the ones we already have. When is enough going to be enough??

It's asking for government and bureaucracies to keep us in childhood and having us look to them for a "need"

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  • Like 1

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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  • 4 months later...

I got an email about this, don't know how dated it is but I still don't see the justification of ISA involvement to get the NEC board to require skeletal neon "Listed"

Q. Why Does ISA Support Listing of Skeleton Neon Tubing?

A. The current exception in the National Electrical Code (NEC), which exempts skeleton neon tubing from listing requirements, was incorporated into the 1996 NEC, Article 600.3. When the 1996 Code was developed, the scope of the UL 48 Standard, 14th Edition, did not include field-assembled, skeleton neon tubing. The following is the substantiation of NFPA Code-making Panel 18 for creating this exception in 1996:

"Skeleton tubing is the only form of sign or outline lighting for which a listing cannot be obtained, because it is frequently field installed. All other forms of signs or outline lighting can be manufactured as listed products."

During the 1996 NEC Code cycle, ISA took a leadership role in rewriting and reorganizing Article 600. As stated above, UL's position was that skeleton tubing incorporates field wiring and, therefore, was ineligible for listing. The rationale for this judgment was that the structure (e.g. a building facade) to which the skeleton tubing was attached could not be brought into a sign shop for evaluation. Thus, without any available ANSI/UL standard for skeleton tubing, a provision was made to exempt skeleton tubing from the listing requirements.

Published in September 2011, however, the 15th Edition of UL 48 incorporates skeleton tubing within the scope of the Standard, thus nullifying the basis for this exception (UL 48.1.2).

The Standards Technical Panel (STP) for UL 48 spent many years amending the Standard in piecemeal fashion to accommodate advancing technology in the sign industry. Ultimately, however, it became clear that a complete revision of UL 48 was necessary, thus leading to publication of the 15th Edition. The STP for UL 48, comprising members representing various segments of the sign industry, expressed no objections to eliminating the exception for skeleton neon tubing and the panel voted affirmatively to incorporate it into UL 48. In the 15th Edition of the Standard, the corresponding listing requirements are described in 4.4.11. As stated in UL 48, "Wiring for a skeleton neon tube sign or outline lighting is not required to be complete before it leaves the factory." Thus, when the 15th Edition of UL 48 was published, the basis of the current exception for skeleton tubing became invalid.

The current UL 48 Standard provides a path for listing of field-installed skeleton tubing by any Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory having signs within its scope. Furthermore, listing of field-installed skeleton neon tubing has been available under UL's UZBL program since 1997 according to the UL White Book.

To support electric-sign safety and also to follow the accepted practice of harmonizing the NEC with UL Standards, therefore, ISA submitted a proposal for the 2014 NEC which supports a requirement for listing of skeleton tubing systems.

NFPA Code-making Panel 18, however, has rejected this proposal pending consideration of further comments.


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      We have to create our own industry standards by measuring what we know and what we work with so the public (consumers), outside groups, or government won't be clouded or mislead. When this happens in only enables the environmental, product safety movement that restricts what we do. I'm talking about coming up with a measurable standard that measures light and power, after all, isn't this what we do and build?
      No current sign associations does this, you have to ask yourself why? This is one of the most important questions of our day, seriously....ask yourself. Don't you wonder???
      If they actually did dare to create such a measurable standard that interferes with their membership advertising makeup we wouldn't be in the current mess that we are in now. We wouldn't have to rely on manufacturers, or government bureaucrats who end up misleading because they have something to sell or a reason to get more power for themselves by manufactured lies.
      If someones going to come into our industry and make a claim, it needs to be measured, and verified. This is NOT being done right now. If we can do that, it will make the integrity of our industry stronger, and in turn it will make us all more valuable. Not just to ourselves but against any regulation that might be endangering the way we do business.
      It looks like all we have done as a industry is make others outside of our industry profit as we loose. It's been this way for a while because we've given up control and given them the reigns of our own industry to those who have never spent a day in a sign shop where one has to trim cap, bend & process Neon, manage projects, stress over payroll, maintain licensing
      I believe that there are others who think as I and a few others do, maybe not completely 100%, but enough to know....to look at ourselves, at where we are and know where we have been....and know we are far from where we should be, and want that back. To leave something behind where the current residents now say "run, and get out of this industry as far as you can".
      In recent days I've had a a few conversations in person and by phone about this topic unknowing to them, they hit on some key points I've sort of hit or outlined here I've let them know what I pretty much said in this topic and most of what I've said is a big mutual concern. So this is the main reason why I'm getting this out there.
      It's not my intent to shit on our existing sign associations I think most of you know I've always had a difference of opinion on them, I'm just emphasizing the contrast in who they are, what they do versus what we need for the electrical sign trade. Their hearts and interests just aren't in it nor the same as ours, with all their other off/bi-trade acquisitions, mergers and partnerships in the print industry, garment industry and other off-shoots, coupled with the politics that goes into their membership......how can they be?
      In short, we need a new American Electrical Sign & Lighting Association that forms a rock solid wall of standards by measuring the components that we use, in lighting components and otherwise. We need to use these standards and educate the public, they need to know the strengths and weakness's of lighting and how they perform to their environment and application use. We need to promote American Companies ( & Canada), find ways to incentivize entrepreneurship, innovation, and production of products back in America and to this industry. We need to educate our trade about proper fabrication and installation of all light sources for all sign and lighting applications whether it's Neon, LEDs, Fluorescent Lamps, HIDs, etc. We need to partner up with similar groups, causes, movements, watchdog groups, and associations like the IAEI (National Electrical Inspectors Association) to fight and minimize regulation, the environmental product safety movement and increasing costs because of those factors to the consumer.
      I think I've said more than a mouthful, it's been hard to find the time to squeeze this thread in with so much work I currently have going, but here it is. Wish I had more time but I shouldn't complain.
      This Industry is looking for leadership, this industry is looking for ideas on how to bring that about, I have a few, we need others, and I think it starts with like minded individuals from various enterprises, expertise that might have a similar idea that is AESLA, or American Electrical Sign & Lighting Association.
      Anyone smell that new fresh car smell? Better get a whiff.....it only comes around once.
    • By Erik Sine
      "...We're not afraid to get into the trenches when it comes to road blocks....As a matter of fact, that's how we get things done..." - Lori Anderson
      "The International Sign Association (ISA) is laser-focused on what's happening this very second within the sign and visual communications industry."
      "As we talk to member companies we hear two constant concerns:
      (1) The challenges of finding qualified employees and.
      (2) The issues of getting signs built due to regulations"
      -Lori Anderson, International Sign Association

      Hate to interrupt the magazine pep talk but I would think one of the biggest concerns that are on the minds of licensed sign companies which has been going on for yeeeeeeaaaars and that supersede any and all of those named above is trying to get paid and according to terms called out in a contract from some very large bad national sign companies, many of which are volunteer board/chair members of the ISA. Some have even received "industry awards" complete with a photo-op and hand shake published in similar sign magazines. In most cases not paying a subcontractor on time is illegal if not made within the 30 day time frame. Which means, volunteer board members and chairs are breaking the law, and can go to jail, pay a fine, or both!
      Since when has ISA's code of conduct become that relaxed that they allow members to be apart of their association who are breaking the law...let alone hand them and award of gratitude?
      Surely Lori Anderson has run into this issue/complaint time and time again? She can't possibly plea ignorance, or say she's never heard of the issue??
      Curious....do any of you ever ask your local or International Sign Association membership/reps about this?
      Number two can be the fact the fact that ISA has tried to diminish the reason for having or obtaining a contractors license in states like Texas and just recently in Wisconsin. What's the incentive to even go legit and abide by the state safety standards and laws,m if anyone can just go around and subcontract a job that normally requires a license? A clerk from Home Depot soon will be able to subcontract a pole sign or plumbing jobs to whoever, and however. Is there and start and end?
      Just because membership monies may way more in favor of vinyl and t-shirt print shops whom just entered the industry, doesn't mean ISA should take the side to think that our "trade"...i did say "trade"... is no longer a trade and anyone with no experience should just be able to cut in line, take a short cut and decide one day, "Oh...I feel like I should start selling and installing large electric sign structures"
      I thought the idea of starting or having an association for a trade was to preserve it's heritage and traditions to keep it as a trade where you earn your way in and up, not buy your way in. Educate it from time to time.
      Where is the seminars in education for book balancing for payments to distributors and subcontractors? Abiding by the law? Making sure that what ever contracts your executing in states you're even licensed to do so, and abiding by those licensing laws?
      I've seen a "report" unlicensed activity programs from time to time and announcements. But what about reporting National Sign, and or National Service providers whom don't even have a contractors license in that state that their providing service in and on the backs of licensed contractors in that state? Their breaking the law, and their breaking the chain of accountability when it comes to contractors license laws, where the consumer suffers. The consumer needs to be protected, and so does the subcontractor who is illegally being subcontracted out by an illegal primary contractor who doesn't even have a license in that state nor understand it's laws.
      Number #2 should be Preserving our "trade" and continue to uphold that high standard that requires an individual to go through the proper channels, and NOT continuing to to bastardize it by turning it into a commodity

      But hey, ISA has a golf game at their expo this year....again. Wonder if they can do a buddy team thing this year and pair up a payer, along with the payees. Some pairs would love each other depending on who, some......just might be choking the other on out on the green.
      My Tuesday thoughts.
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