Electrical services, electrician, Annapolis
Written by Larry Cook

Easy Electrical Code Guide for Homeowners – Part 1

Electric codes are created by professionals for the protection of homeowners. These are general guidelines that provide the basis for electrical inspections that check a new installation or remodeling project for best practices and safety.


Local electrical codes are based on the National Electrical Code (NEC), a publication that gets revised every three years, that lists and describes the requirements of commercial and private electrical equipment. The latest is the 2020 NEC.


The local codes of a municipality usually comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC), but can deviate somewhat. Homeowners and electricians should verify the code applicable for their area with the local building department because the local code takes precedence over the national code.


The NEC covers mainly general electrical installations. However, it also includes specific requirements for individual rooms as described below.




Due to the presence of water, bathrooms have special requirements. Bathrooms with lights, fans, appliances, and outlets to power appliances use large amounts of power and may require more than one circuit.


Each outlet requires a 20-amp circuit. If there is no heating required in the room and the circuit does not power other areas, a single circuit can power an entire bathroom. Another option is to reserve a 20-amp circuit dedicated to electrical sockets and use a 15 or 20-amp circuit for powering lights. A dedicated 20-amp circuit will be required for a ventilation fan with a built-in heater.


All bathroom outlets require GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection. Every bathroom requires at least one 120-volt outlet within 3 feet of the outer edge of each sink. An outlet placed between two sinks can provide electricity to both areas.


Shower or tub lighting fixtures are required to be rated for damp areas. However, a light fixture close to the spray of a shower must have a wet location rating.




Stairs need special care for the safety of residents, so they must be properly illuminated. At the top and bottom of every stairway, a three-way switch for turning lights on and off must be installed. In addition, stairs that turn at the landing may need additional lighting fixtures to ensure they are sufficiently lighted.


Part 2 will discuss Hallways, Closets, Kitchens, and Laundry Rooms.


Electrical Peace of Mind


Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs. For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at (410) 266-9040. We will be very glad to help you.