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 a single person—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.