Electrical National & International Codes – NEC, NESC, IBC, IFC, IECC

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Electrical National & International Codes

Electrical code – it is a set of strict rules that any electrician should know and follow.

Also, all electricians should pass an exam that includes questions on electrical code before entering the next licensing level.

The electrical code contains standards and rules that refer to the maintenance and repair of various electrical systems and wires.

These standards should be used while working with wires in different settings and applications including tools, methods, materials, and redundancies, as well as protocols.

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Speaking of the electrical code, it is mainly focused on safety issues in order to make sure that everything is done properly and works accurately.

In fact, the code aims to ensure that:

  • there is no risk for people that use appliances and electrical systems in their homes and other facilities;
  • electrical systems are installed properly and there is no risk of fire;
  • all installations, upgrades, and alterations of systems are made accordingly and everything is safe.

Most states and jurisdictions can make their own adjustments to the electrical code considering local needs.

However, there is a certain set of standards and rules set by national and international agencies and they are common for all regions.

Nowadays, three main bodies are responsible for setting and maintaining standards for national and international electrical code.

These agencies publish those rules and standards in books for electricians, construction inspectors, constructors and other specialists that work in the sphere.

These agencies are:

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
    • National Electrical Code (NEC);
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):
    • National Electrical Safety Code (NESC);
  • International Code Council (ICC):
    • International Building Code (IBC);
    • International Fire Code (IFC);
    • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

The National Electrical Code (NEC)

Since 1897, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is the agency that is responsible for the establishment of the National Electrical Code (NEC).

NEC is a set of rules and standards that aim to preserve electrical safety in various facilities including residential, industrial, and commercial buildings.

Also, being the national benchmark for electrical safety, it is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) that also responsible for NEC.

NEC is used to regulate the work of electricians in all 50 states.

While working on NEC, NFPA addresses industry professionals to get their point of view about various safety and work issues.

Periodically, NFPA renovates the rules and issues a new edition of NEC.

These renovations are very important as the industry develops rapidly.

For example, the 2017 edition was published with a set of added rules on photovoltaic electric supply stations and direct-current microgrids.

There is a variety of topics covered in NEC and some of them are listed below.

Wiring and Protection

  • Cartridge fuses and fuse holders;
  • Circuit breakers;
  • Grounding and bonding;
  • Inside/outside branch circuits and feeders, and service calculations;
  • Overcurrent protection;
  • Service conductors;
  • Surge arresters over 1,000 volts;
  • Surge protective devices for 1,000 volts or less.

Wiring Methods

  • AC armored cable;
  • Auxiliary gutters;
  • Busways;
  • Cabinets, meter socket enclosures, and cutout boxes;
  • Conductors for general wiring;
  • FC flat cable assemblies;
  • FCC flat conductor cables;
  • Floor raceways and other types of raceways;
  • Integrated gas spacer cable;
  • Low voltage suspended ceiling power distribution systems;
  • MC metal-clad cable;
  • MI mineral insulated metal sheathed cable;
  • MV medium voltage cable;
  • NM, NMC, and NMS nonmetallic sheathed cable;
  • Outlet, device, junction boxes, pull, conduit bodies, handhole enclosures, and fittings;
  • TC power and control tray cable;
  • Types of conduit and tubing;
  • Wireways.

Equipment for General Use

  • Air conditioning and refrigerating equipment;
  • Appliances;
  • Capacitors;
  • Equipment over 1,000 volts;
  • Fixture wires;
  • Fixed electric heating equipment for pipelines and vessels;
  • Fixed electric space heating and outdoor deicing equipment;
  • Flexible cords and cables;
  • Generators;
  • Industrial control panels;
  • Luminaries, lamp holders, and lamps;
  • Motors, motor circuits, and controllers;
  • Phase converters;
  • Resistors and reactors;
  • Switches;
  • Switchboards, switchgear, and panelboards;
  • Storage batteries;
  • Transformers and transformer vaults.

Special Occupancies

  • Agricultural buildings;
  • Aircraft hangars;
  • Assembly occupancies;
  • Bulk storage plants;
  • Carnivals, circuses, and fairs;
  • Commercial garages, repair, and storage;
  • Control systems for permanent amusement attractions;
  • Floating buildings;
  • Hazardous locations, classes, and divisions;
  • Health care facilities;
  • Intrinsically safe systems;
  • Manufactured buildings;
  • Marinas and boatyards;
  • Mobile homes, manufactured homes, and mobile home parks;
  • Motion picture and television studios;
  • Motor fuel-dispensing facilities;
  • Park trailers;
  • Recreational vehicles and their parks;
  • Spray application, dipping, and coating;
  • Theaters and audience areas;
  • Temporary installations.

Special Equipment

  • Audio signal processing, amplification, and reproduction equipment;
  • Cranes and hoists;
  • Electrolytic cells and electroplating;
  • Electric welders;
  • Electric vehicle charging system;
  • Elevators, escalators, moving walks, and dumbwaiters;
  • Electric signs and outline lighting;
  • Electrified truck parking spaces;
  • Fire pumps;
  • Fuel cell systems;
  • Information technology equipment;
  • Induction and dielectric heating equipment;
  • Integrated electrical systems;
  • Industrial machinery;
  • Manufactured wiring systems;
  • Modular data centers;
  • Office furnishings;
  • Pipe organs;
  • Sensitive electronic equipment;
  • Solar voltaic systems;
  • Wind electric systems;
  • X-ray equipment.

Special Conditions

  • Critical operations power systems;
  • Circuits and equipment operating at less than 50 volts;
  • Emergency systems;
  • Interconnected electric power production sources;
  • Legally required standby systems;
  • Optional standby systems;
  • Optical fiber cables and raceways.

Communication Systems

  • Communication circuits;
  • Community antenna television and radio distribution systems;
  • Network-powered broadband communication systems;
  • Premises-powered broadband communications systems;
  • Radio and television equipment.

Tables and Appendices

  • AC resistance and reactance for 600-volt cables;
  • Ampacity calculation;
  • Availability and reliability for critical operations power systems;
  • Conductor stranding;
  • Cross-section of conduit and tubing for conductors and cables;
  • PLFA AC/DC power source limitations;
  • Product safety standards;
  • The radius of conduit and tubing bends.

If you want to get a full version of the NEC, you can buy it from NFPA.

Also, you can look through the NFPA’s draft of the National Electrical Code that contains 922 pages of rules and standards.

National Electrical Safety Code (NESC)

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) creates the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC) that is used by almost all states except California.

It contains several hundred pages of rules and standards that are revised and renewed every 5 years.

This code contains a bunch of safety standards that any electrician should follow while working with electrical supply systems.

It is the second widely implemented set of rules for electricians in the USA.

The NESC contains four main parts.

The first one has info on primary relevance for electricians while the other three parts are about installing underground and overheard lines and their maintenance.

The code covers such aspects as:

  • Circuit breakers, fuses, reclosers, and switches;
  • Conductors;
  • Grounding DC systems;
  • Grounding methods for electric communications and supply facilities;
  • Grounding AC systems;
  • Grounding electrodes;
  • Grounding conductors and means of connection;
  • Ground resistance requirements;
  • Installing and maintaining electrical equipment and supply stations;
  • Installation and maintenance of equipment;
  • Protective arrangements in electric supply stations;
  • Storage batteries;
  • Surge arresters;
  • Transformers and regulators;
  • The first part of this code covers the following subjects;
  • Working with rotating equipment.

International Building Code (IBC), International Fire Code (IFC), and International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)

The International Code Council (ICC) is a set of numerous national model construction codes that are used since 1994.

Nowadays, all states including the District of Columbia, use this code or at least some rules from it.

The International Code Council provides three international code standards used by electricians all over the country:

  • International Building Code (IBC)
  • International Fire Code (IFC)
  • International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) 

International Building Code (IBC) – Adopted in all 50 states

Chapter 27 – Electrical:

  • Acceptable power sources for emergency power systems;
  • Cables for critical circuits;
  • Emergency and standby power systems installations;
  • Emergency power for exit signs;
  • Emergency power for power-operated locking systems;
  • Emergency alarm systems;
  • Essential electrical systems and group occupancies;
  • General power requirements;
  • Load transfer from primary to backup power systems;
  • Power requirements for elevators and platform lifts;
  • Power for emergency responder radio coverage systems;
  • Power for emergency voice and alarm systems;
  • Stationary generators;
  • Systems that require an uninterrupted source of power;
  • Standby power for high-rise buildings;
  • Standby power for smoke control systems;
  • The minimum duration of backup power systems.

International Fire Code (IFC) is used in most states of the USA.

The exceptions are Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia

Key chapters in the IFC that that contain info about electricity are:

Chapter 6 – Building Services and Systems:

  • Abatement of electrical hazards;
  • Battery systems and types;
  • Critical circuitry;
  • Emergency power systems;
  • Electrical wiring and equipment;
  • Extension cords;
  • Electrical motors;
  • Portable electric space heaters;
  • Power supply;
  • Solar photovoltaic power systems;
  • Standby power systems;
  • Temporary wiring.

Chapter 9 – Fire Protection Systems:

  • Electrical wiring for fire protection systems;
  • Electrical circuit protective systems;
  • Power supply for fire protection systems.

International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is used almost in all states excluding California, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oklahoma

Key chapters in the IECC that covers electricity issues are:

Chapter 4 – Residential Energy Efficiency, pertaining to:

  • Electrical power and lighting systems
  • Electrical heating and cooling systems

Chapter 4 – Commercial Energy Efficiency, pertaining to:

  • Electrical power and lighting systems
  • Electrical heating and cooling systems
  • Electrical motors
  • Electrical transformers

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