Electricity is as dangerous as it is indispensable, which means electrical workers must do everything they can to ensure installations are performed according to industry standards.
Unfortunately, staying up on code isn’t exactly an easy task. As the industry advances and new tools and technologies become available, guidelines and best practices change. Every few years, organizations update their code, which means electrical workers must become familiar with hundreds of revisions. To make matters even more challenging, each state has the jurisdiction to adopt standards independently, which means different electrical codes may be enforced in different parts of the United States at different times.
To avoid your code compliancy turning into a wild goose chase, use the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) National Electrical Code (NEC) as your go-to resource for safe electrical installations.
What is the National Electrical Code (NEC)?
The NEC is the most widely accepted standard for the installation of electrical wiring and equipment. Published by the NFPA and sometimes referred to as NFPA 70, the NEC is consensus-based, which means it is developed with input from experts and professionals across the country. It’s also rigorously reviewed by more than 8,500 committee members. The code’s intent is to protect electrical workers, building occupants and property from electrical hazards by standardizing protocols and creating uniformity in the way electrical is installed. This code—adopted in all 50 states—is not considered a federal law because it can be amended or rejected if voted on by local governing bodies.
Table of Contents
The NEC addresses commercial, residential and industrial installations, including electrical conductors, equipment and raceways, signaling and communications conductors, equipment and raceways, and optical fiber cables and raceways. These installations are addressed in nine chapters:
- Wiring and protection
- Wiring methods and materials
- Equipment for general use
- Special occupancies
- Special equipment
- Special conditions
- Communications systems
The 2014 edition is currently available, and can be purchased or viewed online. A new edition is released every three years, with the 2017 edition on deck and available for pre-order. It will be available on Sept. 1, and features hundreds of revisions in addition to five completely new articles (for example, prepare for some reading).
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) tracks the adoption of the NEC and develops a report that illustrates which electrical codes are enforced in different parts of the country. The group also wrote its own code for electrical construction, called the National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS). You can access these resources using the links below:
- Adoption of the National Electrical Code by State or Local Jurisdiction
- NEC Adoption Map
- National Electrical Installation Standards
The electrical landscape is ever-changing, and while this may be frustrating, the changes mean we’re raising the bar for safety within the electrical industry. Keep these resources on hand, and staying up to code won’t be as perplexing.