Federal and local regulations define the standards for your electrical circuit. The requirements are subject to change, and they vary according to the jurisdiction. Here is an outline of the latest updates on the National Electrical Code and how it may impact your electrical system.
National Electrical Code Update Cycle
The National Electrical Code captures most of the standards that apply to your residential premises. The NEC serves as a guide for most local regulations. But different jurisdictions can include unique requirements that take precedence over the NEC code.
The National Fire Protection Association compiles the NEC code in three-year cycles. The association incorporates additional requirements after assessing expert suggestions and hazardous events. The current 2020 cycle focuses on the safety of the electrical system.
The NEC can serve as a guideline for what electricians will be looking for when inspecting your electrical circuit. It covers receptacles, GFCI circuits, circuit breakers, and transfer switch installations, amongst other components.
The code also refers to the manufacturer’s standards and other building codes. Additionally, rooms and detachments could have different specifications for each area. It can be a challenge to interpret the regulations for most homeowners. Consider consulting Arc Angel Electric certified technicians in Cumming, GA, before your electrical project commences.
GFCI (Ground-Fault Interrupter Circuit) Requirements
One of the significant changes in the NEC 2020 code is the new requirements for GFCI circuits. The role of a Ground-Fault interrupter circuit is to protect the building’s occupants from electric shocks. They are a necessary safety feature for bathrooms, kitchen areas, and outdoor spaces. Typically, you’d install GFCI on branch circuits close to water fixtures.
The new code requires the installation of a GFCI circuit within 6 feet of a sink in the bathroom, hallway, or kitchen. While GFCI has always been in NEC regulations, the current update increases the distance from 3 feet.
A GFCI is now required for 125- to 250-volt outlets. The previous code cycle only had specifications in amperage. The code also includes additional areas where a GFCI circuit is mandatory. You must install the circuit for your electronic kitchen range if the appliance is within six feet of a sink.
The GFCI requirement also extends to basements. One factor that informed the update is the risk of electrocution due to moisture. Basements tend to be humid, which increases the risk of an electric shock. But the danger is more likely for unfinished or renovated areas without moisture containment systems.
The outlets in the garage and laundry room must also be GFCI outlets. The current code clarifies the GFCI requirements for 125- to 250-volt outlets in damp areas. For example, all pool motors, and not only pump motors, must be Class A GFCI circuits.
AFCI (Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection) Outlets
The primary purpose of an Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter is to protect the electrical circuit from wiring faults. While GFCI prevents electrocution, AFCI reduces the risk of a short circuit. Arching can occur due to connection defects in your electrical circuits.
Since the 1999 version, NEC requires outlets in bedrooms and dwelling units have an AFCI circuit. AFCI outlets reduce the risk of fires from arching in these areas.
The new code expands the AFCI requirement to guest rooms and patient sleeping rooms. The NEC has determined such areas have the same risk of hazards as the bedrooms and dwelling units. Generally, you’ll need AFCI where the room’s occupants cannot detect signs of a fire quickly.
You also require an AFCI for extensions and modifications of a branch circuit during renovation. At least one of the branches must have an AFCI outlet installed. However, the new updates exclude splicing devices below 6 feet in length not connected to an outlet or appliance.
New NEC Requirements for Surge Protection
One notable inclusion in the 2020 NEC code is the requirement for surge protection. A Surge Protection Device (SPD) can protect your electronics in the event of lightning or a storm. Additionally, SPDs can manage surges from within the electrical circuit.
You can install a Type 1 SPD device, often placed between the power line and the electrical panel. Type 1 protects heavy-duty equipment against direct lighting strikes. The code recommends Type 1 for industrial applications where a lightning protection system is already in place.
You could also opt for a Type 2 SPD device installed between the main panel and the outlet. Type 2 is suitable for low-voltage installations for residential applications.
You can protect individual branch circuits depending on the appliance’s electrical rating. Your HVAC system, game console, and entertainment unit will be safe from dangerous surges. At Arc Angel Electric, we recommend hiring a certified electrician for this device installation if you’re unsure.
Updates for Disconnect Means Enclosure
Since 1976, the NEC requirements would limit the number of Disconnect Means on the breaker to six per enclosure. But the latest NEC updates stipulate there can only be one disconnection in each compartment.
The purpose of the rule is to avoid the risk of contact between each disconnecting means. Circuit breakers discharge the circuit when the current exceeds the outlet’s rating. For that reason, any touching between conductors at the panel can trigger arcing and electrical fires.
The disconnect means the update will have far-reaching implications for single and multi-family dwellings. It will impact circuit breaker enclosure, fused panels, and transfer switches. It also applies to both residential premises and commercial establishments.
Receptacle Replacements and Wiring Connections
Some of the electrical hazards in your home can emerge from faulty or outdated outlets. The code now requires tamper-resistant outlets in multi-family dwellings, detached garages, and guest rooms. Receptacles are also amongst the components not permitted to be reconditioned.
Outdated circuits have fewer electrical outlets, which prompt homeowners to use extension cords. Extension cords can increase the risk of a hazard. Too many devices on the outlet will overload the circuit, leading to arcing. Therefore, it is advisable to upgrade your electrical system with GFCI, AFCI, and tamper-resistant outlets where applicable.
The new code has also clarified the specifications for wiring installations and connectors. The Terminal Connection Torque is a measure of the fastener’s tightness. Typically, the tighter a connection, the better.
But overtightening the fastener increases tension, making the connection deteriorate faster. That’s why the NEC requires electricians to adhere to the manufacturer’s Terminal Connection Torque values.
At Arc Angel Electric, we recommend hiring our licensed professionals for outlet and wiring installations. Such tasks may require visual indicators and break-away tools to ensure compliance. Our certified technicians have sophisticated equipment capable of reading the value of the torque connections.
Should You Upgrade Your Electrical System?
It is advisable to update your electrical circuit if it is outdated or defective. Your home may require additional outlets, GFCI, and AFCI circuits for compliance and safety.
Before upgrading your electrical system, you may want to schedule an inspection. If the system has not been inspected in the last three years, consider calling a certified electrician.
If you’re having trouble with your electrical system in Cumming, GA as well as the Greater Atlanta area and parts of South Carolina, you can depend on Arc Angel Electric certified electricians. Our team always strives to exceed customer expectations. We can install dimmers, ceiling fans, electric car chargers and more. Whether it’s rewiring upgrades or maintenance, you can expect our trained staff to be neat, reliable, and professional. Call Arc Angel Electric for top-notch electrical services.