Current Status of Electrical Codes

Published On
Jun 1, 2017

Working the day-to-day, it's sometimes easy to forget that the codes and standards for the electrical industry are living documents that change regularly to accommodate current technologies and trends as well as to better achieve their respective goals. Ahead of the NFPA Conference and Expo, June 4–7, we take a look around at what's been going on in the world of electrical codes and standards and what's coming.

Let's start with the big one.

NFPA 70: National Electrical Code

In August 2016, the National Fire Protection Association published the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC). For the most significant changes in the new edition, check out Michael Johnston's full series on significant changes collected in one location here.

As with most national codes, states still need to adopt them before they become effective in each jurisdiction. According to the NFPA, as of May 1, only Massachusetts had adopted the 2017 NEC. The majority of states were still observing the 2014 NEC. Four states (Nevada, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Florida) were still observing the 2011 NEC, and five states (Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Pennsylvania) were still on the 2008 NEC. Three states (Arizona, Missouri and Mississippi) continue to have no statewide NEC adoption.

Also 23 states are working on updating to the 2017 NEC. This group includes Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, all of which have an effective date of this summer for the 2017 NEC. If you're in one of these states, check with your local authority having jurisdiction for more details.

For more on the versions of the NEC that each state has adopted or is working to adopt, visit

NEC 2020?

Yes, in fact, they are already talking about it. At the NEC Correlating Committee Meeting in March, NFPA Staff and Secretary Mark Earley discussed potential venues and the schedule for the next 2020 edition draft meetings. Earley also spoke about the NEC Code Committee Structure and Panel Meeting Schedule that was to be released in April. According to Earley, even with the brand new 2017 NEC, there are still editorial issues and other topics the next code will have to work toward, including gaps in the NEC, electric vehicle charging, and tiny houses, markets that are growing in relevance for ECs.

Beyond that, according to Michael Johnston, NECA's executive director of standards and safety, code-making panels 6 and 10 are being reorganized, and six to eight task groups are working on items for the 2020 NEC. Johnston said panels 6 and 7 were being combined and that panel 19 would become panel 7, bringing the number of panels down to 18.

As of the meeting in March, the following were proposed changes that they're already looking at:

New—110.3 (D), 110.24 (A), 210.72

Revisions—110.14 (D), 110.14, 110.26 (A), 210.52 (C), 230.29, 240.67, 240.87, 250.24 (B)(4), 250.112 (4), 300.45, 314.16 (B)(5), 392.10, 400.1, 406.4, 517.10, 550.32(B)(7), 551.55 (E), 551.75 (A)

The public input period is already open. You can submit comments here. The deadline is September 7.

NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Not to be outdone, the 2018 NFPA 70E is on fast approach. In the May issue, Jim Phillips provided his regular summary of significant changes.

Right now, NFPA 70E 2018 is what's called a "consent document." Standards council issuance is expected in August, and then the code will be published in September. Essentially, at this point, NFPA 70E 2018 is finished. All changes have been incorporated by the committee, and it will be ready for adoption later this year.

Then, as with the NEC, the committee will start looking at 2021.

NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code

Even NFPA 72 is well on its way toward its 2019 edition. In February, the first draft was presented, and the public input period closed on May 10. A second draft will be posted Jan. 24, 2018.

At the NFPA Conference and Expo Technical Meeting, there is bound to be more developments, as members and the public voice their opinions on proposed actions, though none of the aforementioned codes are on the agenda.

If you're interested in all of the 2017 NEC significant changes, click here for our coverage on those changes. It includes a comprehensive, two-part webinar series with Michael Johnston that broadcast in 2016 and is now a single video.

For NFPA 70E, see Jim Phillips' significant changes article.

And keep an eye out for more code coverage in ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. In addition to our montly commentary and summaries in print and online, we hope to continue a periodic update of the statuses of relevant codes and news in the codes and standards world. Stay tuned.




About the Author

Timothy Johnson


Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.

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