Putting range hood wiring in a surface mount electrical box?

artemis78April 27, 2011

In a final inspection for a kitchen renovation, we hit a glitch with our hardwired range hood---the electrician just had the wires coming out of the wall, and they need to be in a junction box of some sort. The electrician is heading out to fix this, of course, but I'm trying to figure out what he's going to show up with so that we know whether we need to take the venting for the hood apart before he arrives later this week.

Obviously I need to check with him directly to make sure everything is to our state's code and will pass the inspection, but I'm hoping someone can give me some general ideas/feedback on what the usual wiring for a situation like this should look like.

Can we use a surface mount junction box of some sort to contain the wires? If we do this, we have room to screw it into the wall behind the venting for the hood. If the electrician needs to install a recessed box, we'll have to take the hood and ductwork down---not the end of the world, but a PITA that I'd love to avoid if possible.

Thanks!

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petey_racer

HUH????

Pretty much every range hood I have done or installed has been hard wired right into the unit. NO box is ever used.

Who blessed you with this gem? Don't tell me, an inspector.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 6:26AM
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Ron Natalie

You didn't indicate what state so we can't guess.
However as far as the NEC is concerned, as long as the unit has a provision for making the connection internal to unit (and all the residential units I've ever seen do) then a box isn't required if you make such a connection.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:43AM
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groundrod

Have you actually seen the code amendment that requires such a box? The electrician may have just roughed it in the wrong place and now the box is just the easier work around.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:13AM
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artemis78

Thanks---in our state (California) a box is required (head electrician agreed and was surprised the guy on site had left just the wires)---so I guess my question is just whether, in a situation with any type of appliance where a box is used, we can use a surface-mount box or if a recessed box is the norm. Does that question make more sense?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:17AM
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brickeyee

Is the range hood not installed yet?

The inspector is just being an idiot.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Ron Natalie

We have no idea then because the California Electrical Code is a bunch of mods to the NEC 2008. The state code doesn't say anything that would require such a box at ALL so we have no idea what stuff beyond the legal code the inspector might require.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:53AM
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artemis78

Thanks. Our code just requires that loose wires be contained in a box approved for electrical use, since the hood chimney cover is not certified to cover electrical. I was able to find some approved surface-mounted junction boxes online, though, so I assume our electrician will be able to get them as well. The range hood is installed, so that's why I was asking---I didn't know if we could just use a surface-mounted box of some sort (which fits without taking anything apart) or if we needed to take down the hood and the ducting so that a recessed box could be installed. Happily, surface-mount boxes for this use seem to exist!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 4:15PM
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brickeyee

"Our code just requires that loose wires be contained in a box approved for electrical use, since the hood chimney cover is not certified to cover electrical. "

BS interpretation of anything.

If the wires are in a cable they do not require any protection except from immediate damage, and the hood chimney provides that.

Either you are not explaining well, or someone has really screwed up the install.

It should not be a problem for a cable to exit the wall behind a chimney (remember it is just a trim piece with no other function except hiding the actual dict work) and then running to the junction box of the range hood.

If you have separate wires at this pint, get the electrician back since he screwed up royally.

The listed cable assembly runs all the way to the hood junction box and terminates in the correct type of cable clamp mounted on the hood junction box.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 4:38PM
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artemis78

It's very possible that I'm not explaining well...electrical is way out of my experience (which is why we hired this part of the remodel out!) Here's what it looks like: the electrician ran the wiring up from our basement and it is hanging out of a small hole in the wall, with the wires all wrapped in a single yellow coating to form a cable, with appropriate caps on each.

The range hood does not have a junction box (though looking online, I see that many do---ours doesn't). So it has its own wiring hanging out with caps. Per the instructions, we connected the appropriate wires and the hood works fine. So the cable from our house is connected to the cable from the hood outside of any type of box, and the inspector says that we need to enclose this connections in a box that is approved for electrical wiring. (We had just tucked the joined wires behind the ductwork and put the hood's cosmetic chimney cover on.)

Does that explanation make sense?

The inspector may be way off base in his interpretation of the code (I went through it but don't know enough about electrical to know what the wiring scenario is called when the cable just comes out of the wall) but unfortunately that argument is not likely to get our permit finaled! :)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 5:31PM
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artemis78

Thanks. Yes, wire out of wall is a cable with the conductors. I don't know what type since I don't know how that works, but it is bright yellow and encased in a heavy coating of some sort. Inspector didn't seem to have a problem with it so hopefully that means it's all in order.

I agree on the electrician not being at fault, too---he never saw the hood and my husband installed it, so it's pretty much on us. We just followed the instructions and diagrams in the hood manual, which is where the problem lies.

No pic handy unfortunately, but I'm linking to our hood manual, and our setup is identical to Figure 8 on page 6 (which is partly why we didn't know to worry about it)--shows the hole in the wall, the connections, etc. exactly as they are in our house. (PDF is protected so I can't copy the image out quickly, unfortunately--sorry!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Hood manual

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:33PM
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ionized_gw

There are what coming out of the hood
1) 3 individual wires? I hope not as brickeye already hinted.
2) cable with 3 conductors? What kind of cable?

Yup, unenclosed splices are not permitted inside the house and that is what you have, naughty, naughty.

I have a feeling that the electrician is being blamed, by some, for something he is not responsible for. Did he ever see the hood, or was only he told that he needed to have power, at a particular place, for a hood?

If we presume that the "wiring hanging out with caps" is an approved whip, your electrician can probably connect it to a surface-mount junction box which the cable from the wall also enters. The splice will be inside. You will be good to go with no further hassles.

A picture would have already been worth a few hundred words here. Can you post one of the hood connector?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:49PM
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petey_racer

I have a feeling there is more to this.

Was the inspector there before the hood was installed? If so then YES, the cable should have been in a box with a blank cover.
If the hood was installed then either you have some weird codes the require a box behind a range hood, or you have some highly incompetent inspectors and contractors.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:11PM
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artemis78

The inspector was there both before and after the hood was installed---we passed the rough inspection no problem with the cable coming out the wall with caps on it, but the hood was not there so the inspector had no way of knowing whether it had a junction box built in or not.

The inspection we failed was the final inspection, because the wiring was connected outside of an approved electrical box. It's very possible we have either weird codes or highly incompetent inspectors or "contractors" (i.e., us!) But it seems the simple solution is just to put a surface-mount junction box up, run the wires through, and call it a day. Thanks for the help, all!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 11:40PM
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petey_racer

"The inspection we failed was the final inspection, because the wiring was connected outside of an approved electrical box. It's very possible we have either weird codes or highly incompetent inspectors or "contractors" (i.e., us!) But it seems the simple solution is just to put a surface-mount junction box up, run the wires through, and call it a day. Thanks for the help, all!"

This is my point. I think there is more here than we are hearing. How could the wire POSSIBLY be installed OUTSIDE a junction box if the hood was wired correctly??

Also, the inspector should not care if the potential hood had a box or not during the rough. Once again a moot point since EVERY single hood in creation DOES have provisions for making the connections and splices to the branch circuit wiring.

Besides all this, there is NO provision for having a surface mounted box at all. The wiring comes into the back of the hood, WHERE would you possibly put one??

Any way you could post a pic of this setup so we can get a better idea of exactly what is going on?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:30AM
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brickeyee

Did the electrician cut the cable to short and now needs to extend the line to the junction box of the hood?

Tell him to replace the cable.

When I have issues like this I normally leave the cable WAY longer than needed.
Like hanging all the way to the floor.

Wasting a few feet of cable (if you cannot just coil it up in the stud cavity) is much less expensive than needing to install a new run.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 8:49AM
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artemis78

Please, folks, read the above! The hood DOES NOT HAVE a junction box. The wiring from the house does not enter the hood at any point (and is not intended to, per the hood specs). House has a cable; hood has a cable; they are connected out in the open. We failed the inspection because this connection needs to be inside a box.

I can only assume that when the electrician installed the wiring, he assumed that the hood would have a junction box and the cable would be run into that junction box. He never saw the hood, and had he seen it would likely have installed a junction box for the house wiring. This is our first time having a hood, so we had no idea the wiring on ours was unusual (as I now know it is) and thus did not give him a heads up.

There is a lot of slack cable that can be pulled through, but right now there's nothing that needs to be reached.

At any rate, the electrician is arriving momentarily and this will get resolved one way or another, so we're good to go.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 12:15PM
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artemis78

As an update, the electrician looked at the situation, concurred that a junction box was needed to bring it up to code, and was able to fit a 4" surface-mount junction box between the ducting and the hood cover---cable from hood enters one side and cable from house enters the other, and the connection is inside the box. All set.

The hood is a UL-listed Kobe wall-mount chimney hood. The manual is linked above, and provides a very good diagram of what the problem was for the curious, but happily the problem is now solved. Just an oddity of the hood wiring design, apparently.

Short answer to my questions, in case anyone in a similar situation stumbles on this in the future---yes, a surface-mount box works and meets California code, and no, we didn't need to take down the hood or any of the venting for the electrician to successfully install it.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 2:18PM
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brickeyee

Post the make and model number of the range hood.

Something is wrong since if it has ANY internal wiring it needs to be UL listed, and they look for details like junction boxes.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 2:22PM
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petey_racer

I can tell you with almost certainty that your electrician did it wrong.
I have done many chimney style hoods and NEVER did I have to use an external box. The wiring that sticks out of the hood is NOT supposed to be spliced outside the wiring compartment. It is supposed to be pulled back into the hood, then the house cable is supposed to be put in a proper connector in the hole, then spliced in the internal wiring compartment.

I am glad your guy got it done though and that you are comfortable with it.
I am curious though as to how he ran the individual wires from the hood through the factory hole and then to the new junction box. Did he just pass the individual wires into the box?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 3:32PM
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artemis78

Thanks. Wrong it may be, but as long as it's in compliance with the hood manufacturer's instructions (it is) and our electrician and our City are satisfied that it is safe and functional, we're fine with that.

This particular hood is designed to have its wires connected outside the hood, as is detailed very specifically in the installation drawings and instructions in the manual. I can't speak to other hoods, as this is the only one we've ever had. No modifications were made to either cable at any point in the installation process. The cable on the hood is fixed so there's nothing to pull it inside of (and you could not access the internal wiring on this hood without taking it apart---it arrived assembled). It's basically just a cord, but with wires at the end instead of a plug. The only thing the electrician did today (and the only thing the City asked for) was to unscrew the caps and disconnect the two cables, install a junction box, and reconnect the two cables inside of it. He understood the inspector's concern and knew exactly how to address it, which makes me think it's not the first time he's seen it.

Unfortunately, I really don't know a better way to explain this beyond these words and the diagram. Clearly this hood is designed a bit differently than the average range hood---hence the problem. But it was a simple problem to solve, and we have been very happy with its performance otherwise, so it's not a big concern.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:28PM
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weedmeister

From looking a the picture, there is no 'wiring compartment'. Perhaps Kobe meant or thought that the metal surround of the chimney was sufficient.

Beats me.

Art: normally there would be a small 'box' (1"x1"x2") in/on the hood in which these connections would be made. It would also have a hole (1/2" or so) into which a clamp could be mounted to hold the wire(s) from the house side.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 5:19PM
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brickeyee

You may have dodged an even worse bullet, there is nothing about UL listing in the manual (and without an enclosure for connection to the branch circuit wires it probably could bot get one).

I would have refused to touch the thing.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:05PM
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artemis78

Thanks, weedmeister---that's what I was guessing from the hunt I did online! It also explains why we passed rough inspection with no trouble.

@brickeyee, I'm not sure what the difference in certifications is but the hood has a sheet that listed what it had---inspector looked at that trying to find the enclosure info and was happy with it. No idea if he was supposed to question it per code, but this is a pretty popular brand where we live and they're installed all over the place, so California seems to think they're fine. (They're also much loved on the Appliances forum, where I first found out about them, so at least some other states allow them.) You're right, though---according to the website the actual certifications are CSA and ETL, not UL.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:17PM
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artemis78

I got curious and checked---California code only requires that appliances be listed, labeled, or certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) as recognized by OSHA. Both CSA and ETL are OSHA-accredited NRTLs so that's why California is good with these. Other states may well specify UL, though.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 6:36PM
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petey_racer

"From looking a the picture, there is no 'wiring compartment'.

I have done many chimney style hoods and I can tell you there is one there. The wiring HAS to come from somewhere, and individual conductors sticking out of a hole are NOT meant to be directly spliced to outside the unit.

Perhaps Kobe meant or thought that the metal surround of the chimney was sufficient.

Absolutely not. See reply directly above.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 10:21AM
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brickeyee

Is the hole the wires exit from about 3/4 to 7/8 inch in diameter?

If it is a cable clamp will fit just fine.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 11:19AM
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tl45

I just got a chance to look at the exact Kobe hood in question -- it DOES have an integrated junction box, inclduing a clamp. Thw compartent within the hood the OP is seeing the wiring coem out from is the wiring box! sounds like OP's husband did a "throw out the left over parts" on assembly/installation, and either lost or threw out the cable clamp on the outsie of that box!

All this back and forth with the OP here, all this business about electrician call backs and inspectors, when their husband should have called kobe and asked!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 6:13AM
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artemis78

With all due respect, we *did* call Kobe (as noted above), and the tech representative they directed us to confirmed what our electrician told us. Possibly he was wrong, or they've since changed it. However, Kobe also provides a very detailed list of parts and packages in their manual, all of which were present and accounted for---and when we talked to the tech guy, he didn't mention any extra parts they'd forgotten to list in the manual, so I highly doubt the issue was that we threw away an unlisted part that would have resolved the problem. We knew that the hood cable was coming out of the internal wiring box on our model (as noted above!), since it's clearly listed and illustrated in the hood technical diagrams, but per Kobe the internal wiring box on our hood was not designed to serve as a junction box between the two cables nor was it designed to be accessed by the consumer. So if that's the box and clamp you're talking about, it is a wiring box that is there to bring the hood wiring together, not a junction box to connect this wiring to a house line. I'm curious to hear how you ended up installing it, though, if you did end up connecting the two cables inside of the internal wiring box. (We did not go that route because Kobe was clear that it would void the warranty on the hood if we opened the wiring box to thread an additional cable into it.)

At any rate, our problem has long since been resolved to everyone's satisfaction, the project has been finaled, and we like the hood (and its electricity) very much!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 1:07PM
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