Electrical wiring codes are a set of rules, regulations and guidelines that all wiring professionals must follow to ensure a safe installation for the use of electricity in all buildings. These codes also go beyond buildings as the National Electrical Code (NEC) also covers recreational vehicles, floating structures, mobile homes and even carnivals. Electrical codes help to safeguard persons and property from any hazard that involves the use of electricity.
As electricity became more widespread, the installation of wires and infrastructure became a bit to haphazard. Firefighters in the eastern part of the country became the brunt of poor installation, as they had to fight the fires that were caused by these practices in wooden structures. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was formed and committees of electrical professionals were consulted to create a set of basic rules for running wire. The first codebook was no more than a few pages. Today, the NEC book exceeds 800 pages and continues to grow with new technology in solar and wind power generation.
Due to the overall regulation of electrical wiring, the NEC book is the most referenced document for electrical devices and installation. Local counties, cities and towns are allowed to supersede with more stringent rules but are not allowed to make and regulate rules that are substandard to the NEC. In other words in any electrical installation, the NEC is referenced but local and state codes may go beyond those and must to be followed.
Proper interpretation of electrical codes can take years to understand. Some sections of the codebook reference other sections and it can be a bit overwhelming for new apprentices to the electrical trades. Licensed journeymen and especially masters of the trade are well versed and can go to any section of the current codebook to interpret how an installation must be performed. These regulations unfortunately do not always cover the materials that are manufactured for electrical devices. The NFPA has stated that it does have concerns as to the toxicity of certain materials.
The NEC book is broken into nine chapters or articles as they are described within the pages of the thick document. The article coverage ranges from correct definitions that are used in the code to wire design and methods to the type of equipment that must be used for certain amperage and voltage. Even special conditions, such as emergency wiring and communication facilities, are covered by the NFPA document. The end of the codebook includes tables, charts and examples to clarify certain rules for the electrical professional.
Some homeowners and business professionals who are having electrical installations performed, may feel the codes are there for only one reason, money. The costs associated with a proper installation may seem high to them because of special practices or equipment. Proper and safe electrical installations only have to be done once. The codes followed by the wiring professional, whether it is state, city or the NEC, are there for one reason and one reason only, to protect people from electrical hazards.