2023 NEC: Using reconditioned equipment? Buyer beware!
By Brian Leavitt
NEC: Buyer beware
The National Electrical Code (NEC) recognizes the popularity of reconditioned equipment and the possibility this trend will become standard practice. The 2023 NEC introduced minimum requirements, permissions, and prohibitions to protect owners, physical property, and public health, and advises owners and designers to consider the new requirements before approving reconditioned equipment, regardless of the latest code being adopted.
It’s challenging when schedule-sensitive equipment is back ordered, delayed by extended delivery dates, or discontinued. How many projects have been troubled by the scope of adding new molded case circuit breakers in existing branch panelboards only to learn supply is not available or the manufacturer has discontinued the product?
The search for available reconditioned equipment from salvaged installations begins. The appearance of an easy solution puts pressure on owners and designers to approve the reconditioned equipment to stay on schedule.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) recognized this and the possibility it could become standard practice. Its reaction? Buyer beware.
The 2023 publication offers guidance to consider prior to approval especially when the latest version has not been locally adopted. It introduces minimum requirements, permissions, and prohibitions to protect owners, physical property, and public health.
Owners and designers should consider the new requirements and criteria before approving reconditioned equipment, regardless of the latest code being adopted.
Let’s review NEC’s definitions:
- The restoration of electromechanical systems, apparatus, equipment, or components to operating conditions. Reconditioning is not normal servicing of equipment within a facility, or replacement of listed equipment on a one-to-one basis.
- The process of following a manufacturer’s set of instructions or applicable industry standards to analyze, adjust, or perform prescribed actions upon equipment to preserve or restore its operational performance.
- Retrofit kits. A complete subassembly of parts and devices for field conversion of equipment already in use.
In practical use:
- Reconditioning includes the restoration of equipment to reliable operational condition after it was exposed to fire, smoke, water, ground fault, arc-flash, or similar damage. Reconditioning happens off site — the equipment may be returned to the original facility, campus, and more commonly is sold through distribution networks to third-party end users.
- Servicing occurs in the field — it’s the maintenance and potential repurposing that happens within a facility or campus.
- Retrofit kits are an industry innovation to enhance or improve existing equipment. They are field installed and not considered reconditioned or serviced. LED retrofit kits, for example, are popular to improve energy efficiency without a complete luminaire replacement.
Reconditioned equipment may originate from salvage, decommission, or damage, according to NEC 2023. The original manufacturer and qualified remanufacturers are authorized to perform the reconditioning. The name or trademark of the manufacturer must be applied to the reconditioned equipment. The original listings are removed, and the date-of-reconditioning, the “reconditioned” label, and new listings are added. The historical activity of equipment salvage, storage, and resale without evaluation, repair, adjustment, and testing is prohibited.
The 2023 NEC prohibits reconditioning some specific equipment. Equipment is organized by individual three-digit articles in the NEC. Sub-article ###.2 Reconditioned Equipment is reserved to define permissions, prohibitions, and special criteria for each applicable article.
Equipment may be refurbished by the original manufacturer or qualified remanufacturer and should only be accepted from these sources. Owners and designers should only approve refurbished equipment pending compliance with the latest requirements. Local adoption of an earlier code does not limit the owner, designer, or inspector’s approval authority.
This equipment may be reconditioned:
|2023 NEC article reference
|Medium and high voltage circuit breakers
|Electromechanical protective relays and current transformers
|Switchboards and switchgear
Some equipment is prohibited from reconditioning. Local adoption of an earlier code does not limit the owner, designer, or inspector’s authority to reject this equipment. The new requirements, permissions, and prohibitions were introduced to owners, physical property, and public health, so buyers beware —reject submittals offering this reconditioned equipment.
|2023 NEC article reference
|Ground fault circuit interruption protection (GFCI) for personal
|Arc-fault circuit interruption (AFCI) protection equipment
|Ground fault protection CFPE equipment
|Low voltage fuse holders and nonrenewable fuses
|Molded-case circuit breakers (MCCB)
|Low voltage power circuit breaker electronic trip units
|Surge protection devices (SPD), surge arrestors
|Raceway systems including flexible metal conduit (FMC), Liquidtight flexible metal conduit (LFMC), electrical nonmetallic tubing (ENT)
|Insulated bus pipe (IBP) and tubular covered conductors (TCC) systems
|Receptacles, attachment plugs, cord connectors, and flanged surface devices
|Luminaire, lamp holders, ballasts, LED drivers, lamps, and retrofit kits
|Low-voltage lighting systems
|Reactors and resistors
|Equipment over 100 volts AC, 1,500 volts DC, unless otherwise permitted
|Fire pump controllers and transfer switches
|700.2, 701.2, 702.2, 708.2
Learn more about the National Electrical Code.