Adopted by all 50 states, the National Electrical Code (NEC) sets minimum standards for safe electrical design, installations, and inspections, protecting property and people from electrical hazards.
Revised every 3 years, the NEC utilizes commentary, public input, and technical sessions. Since 1977, the median construction year for American homes, there have been 15 NEC revisions released.
The following summarizes important updates to the NEC Electrical Code that were made in 2020.
1) Surge Protection for Dwelling Units Now Required
Replaced and new service equipment that supply homes must now be protected by Surge-Protective Devices of Type 1 or Type 2. They provide protection to electrical appliances and devices that do not get protection from point-of-use surge protection devices (SPDs).
- Type 1 SPD: SPDs that are permanently connected and designed to be installed between the service transformer’s secondary and the service disconnect overcurrent device’s line side.
- Type 2 SPD: SPDs that are permanently connected and designed to be installed on the service disconnect overcurrent device’s load side, which includes SPDs situated at a branch panel.
2) Ground Fault Circuit (GFCI) Requirements
There is now a requirement that GFCI protection is provided for each 125-volt through 250-volt receptacle that are supplied by a single-phase branch circuit with a rating of 150 volts or less to be grounded in 11 locations of a dwelling as listed by NEC 2020.
Common 250-volt receptacles for dryers and ranges require GFCI protection. There are also new GFCI requirements for protecting marinas and non-dwelling locations.
3) Outdoor Emergency Disconnects Required for Dwelling Units
New construction, homes undergoing renovation or remodeling, and homes undergoing service replacement now require outdoor emergency disconnects. This requirement will allow first responders to respond to emergencies like house fires without encountering possible electrical hazards.
An emergency disconnect may be a meter disconnect, service disconnect, or circuit breakers or listed disconnect switches located on the supply side of every device that is suitable as service equipment.
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