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

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

The new 2020 National Electric Code (NEC) in the U.S. have been released, and many of the code updates have far-reaching impacts, particularly for contractors.

In this post, I’ll address three significant 2020 NEC code changes for contractors.

National Electrical Code 2020: New requirements you need to know

1.      210.8 GFCI code requirements for kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, etc.

The NEC 2020 committee added a handful of new GFCI outlet requirements for 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, NEC 2020 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.

2.      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 2020 NEC 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 2020 NEC code change was designed to safeguard vital safety-focused electronics in a household, such as GFCI devices, smoke alarms, and heat detectors.

3.      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 National Electrical Code 2020 book and find reconditioned equipment-specific code requirements.

For example, if you’re curious how to label your equipment, 110.21 in the 2020 NEC specifies that reconditioned equipment must be labeled “reconditioned,” and the original listing mark should be removed.

Enhancing safety for buildings and people

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

Are you interested in learning more about these and other new 2020 National Electrical Code changes? If so, check out these videos for Residential and Commercial / Industrial projects.

You’ll need access to the mySchneider to watch. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up here.

We have also created this eguide exclusively for contractors, which helps them understand the impacts of NEC 2020 in detail and find out how it affects residential structures such as single-family, two-family, or multi-family dwelling units.

Download the eguide now


Note for specifiers:
To catch up on the 2020 NEC 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.

23 Responses
  1. Tom colli

    Does Charlotte electrical code require a homeowner to have a disconnect to the power to his house?

  2. arleen bernstein

    How far apart do electrical outlets need to be placed in kitchen backsplash?

    Is one outlet enough for an 8 foot backsplash? what are the exact requirements?

    Please answer

  3. Peanur

    What year was gfi required in bathrooms near sink as part of renovations for building codes in nyc?

  4. James

    2020 NEC has more changes in it than I have ever seen in my 30plus years of doing this .

  5. Shahin

    Can we have multiple exterior outlets getting power from one Gfci outlet only, as per Nec?

  6. Zulene Simmons

    I am trying to find the code that says that an out door/on the porch Outlet cannot be on the same breaker as an inside bedroom. Can you please help me? I have two electricians saying different things and neither one will give me the code number that backs them up. Thank you.

  7. Fred Overdorf

    It doesn’t say whether outside outlets must have GFCI or not. I would think that they should.

  8. Paul

    What type of electronic iginition switch is required in California for new gas fireplaces.

    I know California has stricter codes than other States.

    What is the code number and name of switch compared to other switches outside of California

  9. Marty

    We have went around about this;
    Is it or is it not code for ‘ residential single family dwellings’ code that regarding Central Air Systems the outdoor.condenser units should be grounded with it’s own isolated 10 ft. Ground rod?

  10. Nephtali Roman-Reyes

    Is the national electric code applicable to all US states? I was told that the requirement for GFCI within 6′ of a sink was not applicable or should I say it depended. If I have a circuit in my kitchen with a GFCI on a location further than 6′ from the sink and regular outlets near the sink, is that acceptable by the code?

  11. Husham Al karkhi

    I ask about App or handbook of Virginia electrician code.
    Please can advise me about this issue.
    Thank you advance for your cooperation.

  12. cathy mueller

    Can you help me? Do Ca landlords need to follow Natl Electric Code? I have one tenant refusing to allow other tenant to access shared electric panel in backyard.

  13. Brian wight

    I’m trying to find out what you can put in the same ditch on secondary power. So far all the inspectors in North Georgia have told me I can put water power cable TV phone in secondary Ditch, but not primary coming to the meter. However, I can after the meter!
    Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated. 🙏🙂
    Thanks 😊 Brian

  14. James Miller

    If you remodel a house is it required to change a 100 amp box to a 150 amps?

  15. Linda johnson

    Why are new homes built with main electrical switch box outside the dwelling where seniors live alone.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)