New Electrical Codes Lead to Safer, Better Designs
Recently, Woolpert’s electrical team attended a day-long seminar where engineers, electricians, and business owners gathered to learn about the electrical code changes presented in the 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC), a document published by the National Fire Protection Association.
The NEC provides the standard for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection. The codes in the NEC help minimize electrical hazards to protect people and property and are updated every three years to solve problems, enhance clarity, and address changes in technology and the built world in general. Regular updates to the NEC are imperative given that new electrical equipment and technology enter the marketplace daily, rendering some codes irrelevant or outdated. Woolpert is committed to safety for both clients and the general public, so learning about changes to the NEC every three years is a priority.
The seminar format primarily enabled listeners to understand how to research a particular code change and see the thought process behind the adjustment. However, the seminar’s instructor also noted that numerous changes existed in the 2023 NEC, some of which were rewordings of existing codes to enhance interpretation, while others were more significant.
How Electrical Codes Affect Woolpert’s Clients
Some states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming, have already adopted the updates in the 2023 NEC. Since learning the updated codes, Woolpert’s electrical team now incorporates them into the initial stages of their design process, resulting in higher-quality designs that are compliant and safe. The updated codes in the 2023 NEC most likely to affect Woolpert clients include:
- Emergency disconnects: Sec 225.41 requires one- and two-family dwelling units to have an emergency disconnect on the exterior of the building so that first responders can shut off power.
- GFCI protection in food or beverage areas and serving and cooking areas: Sec 210.8 now includes more locations and appliances requiring GFCI protection. All dwelling unit kitchen receptacles (not just countertop receptacles), hardwired appliances, and all breakroom receptacles in commercial properties must be GFCI-protected.
- Tamper-resistant receptacles: Sec 406.12 lists additional locations where tamper-resistant receptacles must be installed.
- Green technology: Numerous codes affect electric vehicle charging, solar panels, and other green technologies.
- Surge protection: Sec 125.18 now requires a surge protection device in dwelling units, dorm rooms, hotel guest rooms, and patient sleeping rooms in nursing homes and limited-care facilities.
- Electrical room size: Sec 110.26 now needs the door on equipment to be opened to determine the required working space.
The 2023 NEC’s changes also clarify several codes, which will mean less interpretation by engineers and local code authorities. This clarity will help decrease construction issues that arise from conflicting code interpretations.
Continuously Delivering the Best
For Woolpert’s electrical team, the seminar was an excellent opportunity to stay current on the latest codes and standards affecting the industry. Attending the seminar every code cycle continues to be a priority so Woolpert’s electrical team can apply the knowledge and insights gained to client projects, providing the best and safest designs possible.
The National Fire Protection Association prefers to get ahead of technology and safety concerns and has already started collecting suggestions for the next code cycle in 2026. Woolpert’s electrical team looks forward to learning the updates once the time comes so they can continue delivering high-quality work.
Electrical team members (from left to right) Zach Fillback, Michael Nolte, Kirk Meyer, and Andy Kerkemeyer were among the Woolpert attendees of the 2023 National Electrical Code seminar.
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Rob is a senior electrical engineer team leader and technology designer at Woolpert.
Kirk Meyer is a senior electrical engineer at Woolpert.
Andy Kerkemeyer is a senior electrical engineer at Woolpert.