In the wire and cable industry, compliance can be a challenging thing. Staying up to date on industry codes and standards is critical to ensuring worker and facility safety. The National Electrical Code (NEC) provides guidance for electrical contractors, inspectors and engineers by standardizing safe electrical practices. And as the industry changes, codes and standards need to be updated. With the 2017 NEC now available, it’s important to know what changes are coming.
Learn how the 2017 NEC was updated and the ways in which it will impact players in the wire and cable industry.
The 2017 NEC
As a nationwide standard, the NEC is an American set of electrical codes that has been adopted by all 50 states. This is the premier standard for safe electrical design, installation and inspection. Its purpose is to protect personnel and equipment from electrical hazards in residential, commercial and industrial work. The Code covers several major topics, including:
- Electrical conductor and equipment installation
- Signaling and communication conductors and equipment
- Optical fiber cables and raceways in commercial, residential and industrial applications
This guide wasn’t written for just anyone. The NEC, published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is an extremely technical document that caters to industry experts. It is not intended to be used as a teaching manual for untrained personnel. Professionals with solid background knowledge are best positioned to determine how to apply Code rules to their specific applications.
Impacting Wire and Cable
You spoke and the NFPA listened. The organization reviewed over 4,000 public recommendations for changes to the 2014 NEC and accepted over 1,200 first revisions. That was whittled down to five new articles proposed for the 2017 NEC. Here are some changes that will affect the wire and cable industry:
- Cable Wiring Methods: How wiring and fittings need to be listed and labeled has been expanded. Listed cables are in compliance with established standards. Non-listed cables and fittings may not be in compliance.
- Labeling: The NEC is promoting better labeling to make installations easier. Detailed labeling that includes things like voltage, incident level, and level of personal protection equipment needed is required in the 2017 edition.
- Power over Ethernet (PoE): The method of providing power over the same cables that are used for data transmission has grown in popularity over the last several years. The NEC has responded with a code that will create a new class of communication cables. These cables can be designed for higher operating temperatures with designated ampacity limits for powering. There is some concern that these new regulations will make it more expensive and difficult to deploy PoE.
- Wiring and Protection: The 2017 Code contains an entire chapter on wiring and protection. Ground-fault circuit interrupter protection in dwelling units is expanded to protect residential areas from shock hazards. This includes all 125-volt, 250-volt, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles.
Preparing for Changes and Compliance
Succeeding in the electrical industry starts with a thorough understanding of the NEC. Follow the NFPA Journal for updates on any 2017 NEC changes. Now that it’s available, you can order your own copy of the 2017 NEC Handbook. Reading through the NEC and understanding how the codes impact your business can mean the difference between a safe electrical environment and a hazardous liability. Stay tuned, because plans for a 2020 code revision are already in the works.