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NECA Exec Addresses Significant Changes to the 2020 NEC

Oct. 6, 2020
How the NEC is staying relevant in an unpredictable world

Every three years, electrical professionals usher in a new Code change cycle. Whether they face these revisions with anticipation, excitement, reluctance, or anxiety, one thing is certain: The changes to the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) matter.

Michael Johnston, NECA’s executive director of standards and safety, began his NECA 2020 presentation, “Top 25 NEC Changes in the 2020 Edition and the Impact on Contractors,” by telling the audience, “We are going to take you through a high-level overview of 25 significant changes that happened in the 2020 NEC, which has been adopted by six states at my last check.”

Noting that more than 500 significant changes had been adopted for the 2020 NEC, Johnston observed, “The industry is changing. There is a continuous flow of new technologies and innovation in our business. The NEC, in its effort to remain relevant, has incorporated many new rules that can be applied to these new installations and systems.”

The first significant change pointed out by Johnston is the new Art. 242, which addresses overvoltage protection and is a combination of Arts. 280 and 285 that existed prior. He also discussed how new definitions of the terms “fault current” and “fault current, available" have been added to Art. 100, along with a new informational note and figure to enhance clarity and usability.

The next notable changes on his list were newcomers Art. 311 and Art. 337, which focus on high heat cable used in hazardous locations, along with Art. 800, General Requirements for Communications Systems.

Johnston also took time to discuss how several Articles in the latest edition of the NEC attempt to address electric shock drowning (ESD).

He next went on to discuss the new definition of reconditioned equipment.

“The NEC now includes rules across the entire document that deal with reconditioned equipment. Basically, what’s being done in the appropriate Article is allowance for reconditioned equipment used and prohibitions from using reconditioned equipment.”

In fact, Johnston said that without this information addressed in the NEC, it is like “the Wild West out there.”

He also spent time discussing Sec. 210.52(C)(2) [Countertops and Work Surfaces], Sec. 230.71(B) [Two to Six Service Disconnects], and Sec. 240.67(C)/240.87(C) [Performance Testing].

Other significant NEC 2020 changes Johnston touched on included Art. 242 [Overvoltage Protection] and Sec. 250.92(B) [Method of Bonding at Service].

Modifications to Panelboard Orientation (Sec. 408.43) and Identification of Control Conductors (Sec.410.69) were also among the Top 25 changes he discussed.

Reiterating the NEC’s goal to remain “relevant,” Johnston pointed out Revisions to Terminology in Sec. 517.18 and Sec. 517.19 for general and critical care spaces (health care), along with new requirements for Horticultural Lighting (Sec. 410.170 and Sec. 410.188), in which installations are subject to increased temperatures, humidity, and water spray.

Lastly, Johnston touched on several new NEC requirements for dental offices.

About the Author

Stefanie Kure | Content Producer - EC&M

Stefanie Kure is the senior associate editor of EC&M magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kansas and has more than 20 years of experience in the B2B magazine industry. In addition to EC&M, Stefanie has worked on Transmission & Distribution World magazine, Broadcast Engineering magazine, and Power Electronics Technology magazine.

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