Keeping up with the different electrical codes across states (and even cities) isn’t easy. And if you’re not an electrical engineer, making sense of what’s actually allowed can get pretty tedious and confusing. So let us break it down simply in this video:

WHAT’S THE CODE IN CHICAGO?

Well, it’s not what it was just a few years ago. Chicago’s electrical codes previously allowed only hardwired power, but things have changed a bit—for the better, we think—and you now have more options.

But because adding power and data units into Chicago spaces is still tricky business, it’s important to remember the following rules:

CHICAGO DOES NOT ALLOW THE USE OF MODULAR POWER SYSTEMS AT ALL

Think cubicles and other panel systems arrangements. When modular systems products are used in any Chicago design, a licensed electrician is required to install hardwire electrical components into each furniture partition channel. Of course, hiring a licensed electrician may mean additional costs, but safety is the driver here. And it’s the law.

UL Listed outlet boxes are available for use in office furnishings that slide onto mounting brackets. But again, these can only be installed by a licensed electrician.

So, how can you move power away from the walls in Chicago? There are a few ways, actually…

CORDED AND DAISY CHAIN-STYLE UNITS MAY NOW BE USED ON FREESTANDING FURNISHINGS

If the tables in your room layout are height adjustable—with a hand crank, for example—then you may use a corded Furniture Power Distribution Unit or FPDU. (Specifically UL962A.) Actually, they’re allowed on any listed freestanding furnishings that can be repositioned by users—such as training tables, wheeled carts, etc. The maximum cord length on a FPDU is 9 feet, and you must have a circuit breaker when using 4 or more simplexes.

Corded accessories also include Interlink and IQ power centers, as shown below. They’re a great way to power multiple workstations away from a wall and stay compliant in Chicago.

FPDU’s actually allow up to (8) 15 AMP simplexes—and as many charging USB’s as you’d like. But again, don’t forget the circuit breakers.

ALL OTHER POWER AND DATA ACCESSORIES MUST BE HARDWIRED

In all other instances of room design and planning—beyond the freestanding furnishings mentioned above—power and data accessories must be hardwired.

WHY DOES THE ELECTRICAL CODE MATTER TO DESIGNERS AND MARKETERS?

Electrical codes aren’t simply important to engineers, architects, and interior designers. These professions may be the most affected because of the impact on room layout and design, but fields like marketing should also be in on the rules.

Consider, for example, that you’re running an ad campaign targeting Chicago interior designers for a new product launch. It’s crucial that any marketing collateral, as it relates to power, is both accurate and helpful.

In general, understanding electrical codes in the city of Chicago is a key part of delivering comprehensive work space solutions there. And in a time when customers can choose from furniture suppliers around the globe, this knowledge will help set you apart as a stronger resource.

7 replies
    • Kristen Hummel
      Kristen Hummel says:

      Hey Michael,
      Sorry it took so long to get back to you! That’s a great question. I’ve just chatted with one of our engineers and he explained (in typical engineer fashion) that it can get a little complicated…

      Basically, in order to be completely compliant, the furniture or structure the accessory is installed in must be Listed, and mobile. So, that can either apply to the phone booth all together, or maybe the table inside of the booth where you’ve installed the power. Alternatively, you can always hard wire parts together. If you have more questions, give us a call (800) 999-3567. We are happy to talk through some options. Thanks!

      We have a solution for closed booths/pods too, so check it out https://vimeo.com/333096840.

      Reply
  1. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    I am needing to know about the Chicago, IL electrical requirements for office pod/cubicals that have doors and others that do not have doors…do we need to hardwire and if so what are the requirements.

    If we can do soft wire, are there any special requirements?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Kristen Hummel
      Kristen Hummel says:

      Hey Ruth,
      Thanks for your question! The Chicago electrical code does not differentiate between spaces with doors and those without doors. They differentiate between different types of tables. Chicago permits corded accessories on test lab Certified tables that can be moved by one person. If the table is not Certified or is too large to be moved by a single person, the accessory has to be hardwired.

      Electrical runs in panels or partitions have to be hardwired with Listed boxes, receptacles, conduit, conduit connectors, and wire. If you have any more questions, feel free to give us a call. (800) 999-3567

      Thanks!

      Reply
  2. Automatic Gates Auckland
    Automatic Gates Auckland says:

    This is an informative article which gives a lot of information to all. This article gives information about Chicago electrical codes and why they matter to designers and marketers. I liked your article very much. Thank you so much and write more. I never thought will get to visit this stsolutions.nz/smart-home-automation-auckland/ oh, has some nice content for everyone.

    Reply
    • Kristen Hummel
      Kristen Hummel says:

      Thanks for the question, Demmie! Both tests are actual safety tests and requirements for UL. Specially, the spill test is a requirement per UL962A, Furniture Power Distribution Units for cord and plug connected power/data units. To carry the UL Listing mark, the unit has to pass a spill test. The scrub test (Officially, “Resistance to ingress of scrub-water”) is a test required on floor mounted enclosures and poke-through floor fittings per UL514A, Metallic Outlet Boxes. To carry the UL Listing Mark, these specific devices have to pass the scrub test. Let me know if you have any other questions or if we can help with any projects you’re working on.

      Thanks again!

      Reply

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