Contractors: What you need to know about the 2020 National Electrical Code

Part 2 of the blog series: Navigating the 2020 National Electrical Code updates

Updates to the National Electric Code (NEC)  in the U.S. are out, and many of these changes have far-reaching impacts, particularly for contractors.

If you haven’t had the chance to read through the new codes, don’t worry. In Part 1 of Navigating the 2020 National Electrical Code, I discussed four updates to service equipment. In this post, I’ll address three significant code contractors need to know for 2020.

  1. 100 Reconditioned equipment

Reconditioned equipment, a term often used to refer to equipment that is rebuilt, refurbished, or remanufactured, is further defined in the 2020 NEC as any “electromechanical systems, equipment, apparatus, or components that are restored to operating conditions. This process differs from normal servicing of equipment that remains within a facility, or replacement of listed equipment on a one-to-one basis.” Using this definition, you can now look through the NEC and find reconditioned equipment-specific code requirements.

For example, if you’re curious how to handle the labeling of your equipment, 110.21 specifies that reconditioned equipment must be labeled “reconditioned,” and the original listing mark should be removed.

  1. 210.8 GFCI requirements

The committee added a handful of new GFCI requirements for both residential and commercial installations to provide better protection from electrical shock.

In dwellings, the code now extends the GFCI requirement to 125-volt and 250-volt receptacles in finished and unfinished basements, within six feet of a sink, and laundry areas. For example, with this new criteria, electric dryers and kitchen ranges within six feet of a sink will require GFCI. It’s worth noting that many dryers and ranges come with connected neutral and ground wires that must be separated for GFCI protection.

In commercial and other non-dwelling locations, you must include GFCIs in the following locations:

  • In kitchens and all areas where food is prepared, including coffee shops and convenience stores
  • Indoor wet and damp locations, such as areas for dog grooming and mudrooms
  • Accessory buildings
  • Laundry areas such as commercial laundromats or common laundry facilities in multi-family buildings
  • Within six feet of all bathtubs and shower stalls

Additionally, Section 210.8(F) requires GFCI protection for hardwired and receptacle outdoor outlets that operate at 150 volts-to-ground or less and rated up to 50 amps, such as outdoor HVAC systems. However, GFCI is unnecessary if the circuit supplies outdoor lighting and is not located in a crawl space, or if it is a dedicated circuit for deicing and snow-melting equipment.

Finally, GFCI protection is now required for appliances such as sump pumps and dishwashers, equipment service receptacles, marinas, and pool pumps, in all residential and commercial spaces.

  1. 230.67 Surge protection

If you read the NEC update post for specifiers, you may recall code 230.67, which outlines surge protection requirements for service equipment. As a contractor, you should also take note of this change.

The code now requires either Type 1 or Type 2 surge protection for services supplying all dwelling units, including single- and two-family and multi-family residences. Surge protection devices must be located within the service equipment or adjacent to it. To keep the surge protection closer to the protected loads, particularly in a multi-family unit, the surge protection device can be installed at each dwelling’s load center or panelboard.

Why is whole-home surge protection now mandatory, even for repaired or replaced equipment? This code change was made to safeguard vital safety-focused electronics in a household, such as GFCI devices, smoke alarms, and heat detectors.

Enhancing safety for buildings and people

There’s a good reason why new codes go into effect every three years —these standards ensure people and buildings are safer.

To catch up on the code changes impacting specifiers, be sure to read part one of this series: Specifiers: What you need to know about the 2020 National Electrical Code.

Are you interested in learning about even more code change? If so, check out these videos regarding the Residential and Commercial/Industrial segments. You’ll need access to the mySchneider Partner Portal to watch. If you haven’t yet created an account, you can sign up here.

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