A requirement for a weather-proof electrical receptacle for roof-top equipment in Canada was introduced in the Canadian Electrical Code (2012) for commercial and industrial buildings. The goal is to increase safety for maintenance personnel when servicing heating, ventilating and air-conditioning equipment.
Before battery operated tools became widely popular, we would see extension cords, linked together, and slung up to the roof. Good thing that's a thing of the past as roof-top electrical receptacles now make working environments safer for those on top of the building and for those down below.
Rooftop electrical inspection in Vernon, BC. The receptacles need to be placed above the snowline.
Receptacles for Maintenance of Equipment Located on Rooftops
Rule 2-314 was added to this 2012 edition to increase the safety for maintenance workers and for the general public. A 20 Amp, 120 V, single phase receptacle is required for all new and renovated commercial and industrial buildings across Canada. An accessible outlet must be located on the same level as the HVAC equipment with the following specifications:
- Must be GFI (Class A Type)
- Must be on a 20 Amp branch
- Must have a 5-20R (receptacles)
- Located within 7.5 m of rooftop electrical equipment
- Minimum height above the finished roof is 0.75 m to be available above snow buildups
- Must have a while-in-use cover plate to provide weather-proofing with and without an installed electrical cord.
- You can get more requirements for receptacles exposed to the weather from Rule 26-702.
One receptacle can serve more than one HVAC unit. It is not required to locate an outlet at each unit but things may get a bit confusing for commercial and industrial buildings that have multiple tenants with separate HVAC equipment.
One receptacle can serve all the HVAC equipment located within the 7.5 m radius of the rooftop receptacle.
Rule 2-314 applies to new buildings and renovation projects on non-dwelling buildings. When the HVAC equipment is updated on existing buildings, electrical consultants need to include these extra weatherproof receptacles.
Rooftop receptacles can be placed:
- On separate pedestals which require anchoring and weatherproofing to the roof surface.
- On a permanent wall of the building.
- On the actual mechanical HVAC equipment. It must be accessible without having to open a cover or faceplate.
- This rooftop receptacle must be on its own 20 Amp branch circuit and shall be supplied from the house panel, and not the most convenient tenant panel (in most cases).
The Source Power Panel
When the HVAC equipment is common property, the house panel powers the roof-top receptacle and not a tenant panel. This is for accessibility and safety for the electrical contractor.
As electrical consultants in Alberta and BC, we have to keep the spirit and intent of the rule.
In the case where the HVAC equipment has an integrated 120 V receptacle on the equipment and is sourced from a tenant panel, then this receptacle should not feed other tenant's maintenance receptacles and should not be used to meet the requirements of a maintenance receptacle of any other rooftop unit. This is because if the tenant space becomes vacant and the HVAC equipment is shut down, the roof could be left without an operable receptacle.
***For buildings with multiple tenants AND the 120V receptacles are integrated on the equipment and each tenant has their own HVAC equipment, we insist that each new rooftop unit provides its own receptacle, instead of one per 7.5 m diameter.
And to make sure things are easy to understand for years to come, we insist that the circuit be labeled with a Lamacoid label indicating panel and circuit number on both ends, especially if the rooftop unit and the receptacle have two separate power sources.
Exemption to the Rooftop Receptacle Rule 2-314
Rooftop receptacles in Canada are required on all new and renovated commercial and industrials buildings but not on dwelling units.