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What You Should Know About NEC 2020

What You Should Know About NEC 2020

Today's electrician has to be ready for tomorrow while working with the past. With the average American home being built around 1977, the NEC, a keystone and standard of electricians across the US has seen 15 revisions and is due for some new additions in 2020.

A quick definition: The NEC is short for the National Electrical Code, the guide book of electricians everywhere and minimum standard set in all 50 states for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection to keep people and property protected from electrical hazards. Revisions to the NEC happen every three years after some serious public discussions, commentary, and hands-on technical sessions. The 2020 NEC has three major changes that every licensed electrical professional should be aware of:

1)    Surge Protection is Required for Dwelling Units

When replacing or installing new electrical service equipment for single family homes or other dwellings, it must be protected by listed Type 1 or Type 2 Surge Protective Devices (SPDs). This extra layer of protection will safeguard electrical devices and appliances that may not be protected by Type 3 point-of-use SPDs like the common plug-in power strip with surge protection or integrated SPDs within the devices themselves.

By the Numbers: Did you know the average home has an estimated $15,000 worth of equipment that can be damaged by power surges? You protect your clients and yourself by installing surge protection.

For these larger, more permanent installs, the NEC defines Type 1 and Type 2 SPDs as follows:

  • Type 1 SPD: Permanently connected SPDs intended for installation between the secondary of the service transformer and the line side of the service disconnect overcurrent device. A Type 1 SPD is mainly used to prevent surges to the whole electrical system caused by lightning strikes or the increasingly popular use of capacitor bank switching by utility companies.

  • Type 2 SPD: Permanently connected SPDs intended for installation on the load side of the service disconnect overcurrent device, including SPDs located at the brand panel. Type 2 SPDs are like the heavy duty, non-portable version of surge-protecting power strips, connected to the breaker box. They guard our most sensitive electronics and their often microprocessor- and motherboard-based loads against residual energy from lightning, the occasional motor-generated surge, and other internally generated surge events (i.e. way too many electronics on one circuit).

2)    New Ground Fault Circuit Requirements


In the past GFCI protection, typically in the form of receptacles or plug outlets, was a highly recommended suggestion. Now 11 out of 12 locations powered by a single-phase branch circuits with ratings of 150-volts or less to ground of a single family home or multifamily dwelling require all 125-volt to 250-volt receptacles to use GFCI protection as listed in NEC section 210.8(A)(1) through (A)(11). It's an easy thing to accomplish by installing or replacing older or non-protected outlets with GFCI receptacles. With homes using more and more power to operate phones, tablets, smart home systems, or even electric cars, they benefit from GFCI protection. Large equipment like the 250-volt receptacle commonly used for the dryer or oven range, tend to frequently be the reason a circuit becomes overwhelmed, shutting off the breaker. The new NEC also adds GFCI requirements for protection in non-dwelling locations and marinas.

Lighting Tip: For even more protection, consider installing an AFCI receptacle as well. These outlets protect against electrical fires caused by an arc fault. Just one AFCI outlet at the start of a run protects all downstream receptacles and plugged-in devices.

3)    Outdoor Emergency Disconnects for Dwelling Units

If your projects or jobs on one- and two-family dwelling installations that require any new construction, renovations, or homes that are specifically having their electrical service replaced, an outdoor emergency disconnect is now required. In the event of a house fire, this allows first responders to respond to the emergency without the power supply potentially adding electrical fire hazards. An outdoor emergency disconnect can be installed a number of ways. To quote the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), "Emergency disconnects may be a service disconnect, a meter disconnect, or listed disconnect switches or circuit breakers on the supply side of each device disconnect suitable for use as service equipment."

For more information, you can pick up the 2020 NEC at www.nfpa.org or visit www.esfi.org where you can download their handy NEC 2020 infographic. You can also call our knowledgeable 1000Bulbs.com staff at 1-800-642-4488 to help you navigate the murky waters that is the NEC.

Changes to the 2020 NEC - National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)
Surge Protective Devices - ESFI
What are SPDs? - NEMA Surge Protection Institute

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