Round 1 of the 2023 NEC: A summary of proposed changes

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Published On
Jul 15, 2021

The year 2020 was unique. Most of us had to find a different way to do our jobs to stay in the game. This was also true of the National Electrical Code. A process that relies on the interpersonal actions of technical committees had to resort to online meetings using Microsoft Teams. I attended many of these meetings as a guest who had submitted public input. I was impressed at how well everyone adapted to the new normal. The meeting schedule was spread over a six-week period, rather than the usual two. The schedule worked well, allowing participation across the U.S. time zones. A virtual six-week meeting is not the burden that an in-person meeting of the same length would be. It was also easier for the staff to handle.

The first draft report was published online at www.nfpa.org/70next on July 2, 2020. The closing date for public comments is August 19, 2021, so you still have time to get your comments in at the time you’re reading this. The changes discussed in this article are proposed changes; this is only the first draft.

A new edition of the NEC Style Manual was approved by the NFPA Standards Council late last year. That mundane document establishes the rules for how the NEC is put together. Most of us will never need to look at it, but those of us who work or have worked at the Code process rely on the manual to provide a uniform structure to the Code .

The most significant aspect to come out of the new edition is a decision that all definitions must now be located in Article 100. (This proposed change was discussed in more detail in “The Meaning of a Word” in the April issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.)

In the 2020 and prior editions, definitions could only appear in Article 100 if the term was used in more than one article. Article-specific definitions were to be located in the second section of the article (XXX.2). However, not all terms used in more than one article made it into Article 100. For the 2020 edition, a decision was made to keep some definitions in an article and let them apply elsewhere. Some articles, such as Article 517, have a number of defined terms. In the 2020 edition, Section 517.2 starts with the statement “The definitions in this section only apply within this article.”

In the case of some wiring methods, a term is defined in the wiring-method article, but it applies elsewhere. For example, Section 374.2 starts with the statement “The definitions in this section apply within this article and throughout the Code .” Some found this system convenient, while others found it counterintuitive. So, the 2023 Code will take a new path. Some definitions will still only apply to a single article. Those definitions will have the parent article number at the end of the definition. Some definitions don’t originate in the NEC, but belong to other NFPA documents. Those definitions will have a notation that indicates which document they come from and where to find them.

There were also a number of changes at the article level.

110, General Requirements for Electrical Installations (revised title): This was a simple editorial change of adding the word “general” to the title. It’s a logical change. The entire Code collectively constitutes requirements for electrical installations, but Article 110 contains the general requirements for all installations, other than those covered by Chapter 8.

231, Electric Power Sources Interconnected with an Electric Utility (new): This is a new article intended to provide requirements for renewable energy systems that connect and interface with service equipment to operate in parallel with utility sources. It includes requirements for systems such as energy storage and those that can operate in island mode. It does not apply to installations that have on-site power sources that do not operate in parallel with the utility.

245, Overcurrent and Overvoltage Protection for Systems Rated Over 1,000 Volts AC, 1,500 Volts DC (new): This is a new article that relocates overcurrent requirements for medium- and high-voltage systems from Articles 240 and 490 to this new article. It also relocates the over-voltage (or surge-protection requirements) for systems of over 1,000V AC and 1,500V DC and consolidates them with the overcurrent requirements. All of the proposed medium- and high-voltage articles would follow their less-than-1,000V counterpart, having an article number ending in the digit 5. For example, Article 245 follows Article 240.

305, Requirements for Wiring Methods and Materials for Systems Rated Over 1,000 Volts AC, 1,500 Volts DC, Nominal (new): This article consists of the medium- and high-voltage requirements that are currently in Article 300. The panel-developed version included requirements from Articles 314, 368 and 399. However, the correlating committee overturned that action.

315, Medium-Voltage Conductors, Cable, Cable Joints and Cable Terminations (revised title and relocated): This article was created for the 2020 Code as Article 311, “Medium Voltage Conductors and Cables.” The title was revised to indicate that the scope of the article has been expanded to include cable joints and terminations. Cable joints, terminations and connections would be required to be listed effective Jan. 1, 2026.

335, Instrument Tray Cable (relocated): This article would be relocated to Article 335. It was originally proposed as Article 341 for the 1996 Code . However, since it was originally proposed for instrumentation applications, the correlating committee decided to locate it as Article 727. For the 2023 cycle, the correlating committee decided to move it into Chapter 3 among the cable articles.

337, Drilling Rig Cable, Type P (revised title): This article was new in the 2020 edition. It had been proposed simply as Type P Cable with no further description. Because this cable has been used for many years on drilling rigs, CMP 6 decided to name it drilling rig cable.

369, Insulated Bus Pipe (IBP)/Tubular Covered Conductors (TCC) (new): This is a proposed new article for this cycle. Insulated bus pipe/tubular covered conductors is defined as “a cylindrical solid or hollow conductor with a solid insulation system, having conductive grading layers and a grounding layer embedded in the insulation, and provided with an overall covering of insulating or metallic material.”

371, Flexible Bus Systems (new): A flexible insulated bus is defined as “a flexible rectangular conductor with an overall insulation.” Flexible bus systems are engineered systems for a specific job that are assembled on-site with components supplied by the manufacturer.

395, Outdoor Overhead Conductors over 1,000 Volts (relocated): This was previously Article 399. It was relocated for consistency with locating medium- and high-voltage requirements into articles ending with the number 5.

480, Stationary Standby Batteries (revised): The title of this article was revised to more accurately reflect the type of batteries covered by Article 480. It does not cover batteries used in energy storage systems, which are covered by Article 706.

495, Equipment Over 1,000 Volts AC, 1,500 Volts DC, Nominal (revised title and relocated): The article title was revised to reflect the scope of the article more accurately. It was relocated to Article 495 for consistency with the numbering plan for articles that address medium- and high-voltage requirements.

510, Hazardous (Classified) Locations—Specific (deleted): Article 510 was deleted because it contains no requirements. It functioned only as an introduction to Articles 511 through 516. As such, it was an anomaly in the Code .

512, Cannabis Oil Equipment and Cannabis Oil Systems Using Flammable Materials (new): This article would address the growing number of legal installations of cannabis-processing facilities. The public input that proposed this new article cited injuries to firefighters from explosions at processing facilities.

720, Circuits and Equipment Operating at Less Than 50 Volts (deleted): Article 720 would be deleted. The panel noted that the article causes confusion because it implies that it is applicable to all circuits operating at 50V or less, but there are lots of exceptions. Article 720 first appeared in the 1920 Code .

722, Cables for Power-Limited Circuits (new): This article would combine the cable requirements of Articles 725, 760 and 770 into a single article, eliminating redundancy and providing a more user-friendly approach to these requirements.

724, Class 1 Circuits (new): Article 725 covers Class 1, 2 and 3 wiring methods. Since Class 1 is quite different from Classes 2 and 3, this new article would separate the Class 1 requirements into their own article.

725, Class 2 and Class 3 Power-Limited Circuits (revised title): The title has been revised to reflect the relocation of Class 1 requirements to Article 724.

726, Class 4 (CL4) Power Systems (new): CL4 power systems would be new for the 2023 Code. They are also known as fault-managed power systems, which monitor for faults and control power delivered to ensure fault energy is limited.

810, Antenna Systems (revised title): The title would be changed from Radio and Television Equipment to this new title, which more accurately addresses the scope of the article. It never covered more than antennas and related wiring.

Now, it’s your turn!

All of these proposed changes to the 2023 NEC are now open for public review and comment at www.nfpa.org/70next. If you agree with the changes, you don’t need to do anything. If you disagree, or think that some revisions are necessary, there is a link in the first draft report that enables you to submit a public comment.

About the Author

Mark Earley

Mark Earley, P.E., is an electrical engineer. Retired from the National Fire Protection Association, he was secretary of the National Electrical Code Committee for 30 years and is president of Alumni Code Consulting Group.

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