Don’t Get Caught in the Dark
Understanding and Applying NEC Sections 700.12 and 700.17

By Garth Stevens, PE

Have you ever been in a building when the lights suddenly go out? It’s unnerving at best and difficult to find your way out of an unfamiliar place.

Our modern building codes and standard ensure we are never left in complete darkness for more than a few seconds. For this we can thank the National Electric Code’s (NEC) two sections—700.12 and 700.17.

However, these sections, while clear, also tend to raise questions when it comes to correct applications and the ability to meet code requirements.

In this whitepaper, Garth Stevens—who has provided several emergency lighting solutions for both residential and commercial projects for more than 30 years—unpacks these questions, provides guidance, and offers several scenarios and use cases.

Topics covered include:

  • Discrete battery pack units or ‘bugeye’ fixtures
  • Luminaires with integral battery packs
  • When you might need ALCR
  • Function and use cases for BCELTS
  • Central inverter systems
  • Generators and code requirements

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Garth Stevens

Garth Stevens, PE, is a Senior Electrical Engineer with Morrison-Maierle in Montana. He has 34 years of experience designing electrical systems for buildings. Along with his design responsibilities, he writes technical specifications and performs quality control checking for many of his colleagues’ electrical plan sets. He can be reached at or connect with him on LinkedIn.