The National Electrical Code (NEC) technical committees acted on 3,745 code change proposals and 1,625 public comments in addition to adding new articles during the 2014 NEC development process. As the 2014 NEC updates are adopted in each state across the United States, it is critical for electrical contractors to have a grasp on this evolving set of rules and understand how they affect their operations.

Following are several key additions and changes to the 2014 NEC that focus on safety enhancements to electrical infrastructure and for electrical workers through the expansion of protective devices and new technology.

210.8(A) GFCI – Dwelling Units
This section requires that all 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20- ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in 201.8(A)(1) through (10) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel. Two new locations have been added:
  • bathtubs or shower stalls, where the receptacle is installed within 6 feet of the outside edge of the tub or stall; and
  • laundry areas.
Contractors must take care not to install receptacles within 6 feet of the outside edge of a tub or shower or install GFCI protection for them. Contractors also must install GFCI protection for the 125V 15A and 20A receptacles in laundry areas.

210.12(A) AFCI – Dwelling Units
Several changes have been made to this section.
  • AFCIs must be installed in a readily accessible location.
  • AFCI protection for dwelling units must be provided for outlets and devices in the required locations.
  • Kitchens and laundry areas now require AFCI protection.
Additional methods of providing AFCI protection also have been added.
  • A listed branch/feeder AFCI feeding an outlet branch-circuit type AFCI installed in the first outlet. The first outlet box must be marked to indicate that it is the first outlet.
  • A listed supplemental arc protection circuit breaker feeding an outlet branch-circuit type AFCI installed in the first outlet. The branch circuit wiring must be continuous and may not exceed 50 feet for #14 AWG or 70 feet for #12 AWG, and the first outlet box must be marked to indicate that it is the first outlet. (This solution is not currently an option because a product standard does not yet exist.)
  • A listed "system-type combination" AFCI. The branch circuit wiring must be continuous and may not exceed 50 feet for #14 AWG or 70 feet for #12 AWG, the first outlet box must be marked to indicate that it is the first outlet and the combination of the over current device and the outlet branch-circuit type AFCI must be listed as a system combination-type AFCI. (This solution is not currently an option because a product standard does not yet exist.)
Arc-fault protection is expanded to all 120V single-phase 15A and 20A outlets or devices in kitchen and laundry areas. This is the next logical progression in arc-fault protection when AFCI was proposed and substantiated in the 1999 NEC to protect all 125V single-phase 15A and 20A receptacle outlets in dwelling unit bedrooms. The inclusion of AFCI protection in the kitchen includes the small appliance branch circuits, lighting and all individual appliance circuits, such as the garbage disposal, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator and range hood. AFCI protection in the laundry area may include receptacles for the washer, an ironing board or those serving counter tops in the area. If the laundry area isn’t well defined, such as a laundry room, it may have to be determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). AFCI circuit breaker protection is compatible with GFCI receptacle protection in these areas, or a dual function AFCI/GFCI circuit breaker can serve both protection requirements.

210.12(B) AFCI – Branch Circuit Extensions or Modifications – Dwelling Units
An exception was added to the 2014 NEC stating that branch circuit extensions do not require AFCI protection if the extension is not more than 6 feet and does not include any additional outlets or devices. As a result, contractors will be able to replace load centers where an extension is necessary in the panel without needing to provide AFCI protection.

210.12 (C) AFCI – Dormitory Units
All 120V, single-phase, 15A and 20A branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dormitory unit bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, closets and similar rooms shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter meeting the requirements of 210.12(A)(1) through (6) as appropriate.

The code panel has recognized that student dorms are a living space similar to dwelling units and, as such, must be protected from an electrical arc hazard. Although a new requirement in the 2014 NEC, arc-fault protection has been a standard specification in dorms for a number of years as college campuses recognize the enhanced protection it provides.

240.87 – Arc Energy Reduction

This section has been retitled in the 2014 NEC. Arc energy reduction is now required for circuit breakers that are rated or can be adjusted to 1200A and above. Additionally, an energy reducing active arc flash mitigation system has been added to the list of reduced clearing time methods.

In the 2011 edition, compliance with this section was only required if a circuit breaker did not have an instantaneous trip function. Now, compliance is required if the circuit breaker is rated or can be adjusted to 1200A or higher.

Article 750 – Energy Management Systems
This new article establishes definitions for control and monitoring to ensure that energy management systems are not over-restricted or preventing from continuing their monitoring function. Energy management systems must not override any control necessary to ensure continuity of an alternate power source for fire pumps, health care facilities, emergency or legally required standby systems, or critical power operations systems. Additionally, disconnect power by an energy management control system is restricted on elevators, escalators, moving walkways, positive ventilation for hazardous locations, ventilation to exhaust hazardous gas or reclassify an area, circuits supplying emergency lighting, or the essential electrical system in health care facilities.

The most significant impact to electrical contractors is the field marking requirement. When an energy management system is designed to control power through remote means, a directory must be posted on the controller identifying the controlled devices and circuits. An informational note is provided to give guidance on “remote means.” The goal regarding this marking is to provide the maintenance electrician with an understanding that a means may reside outside the facility beyond the control enclosure to energize and reconfigure the electrical system that could impact the system, electrical worker safety, and ultimately the work practices necessary to ensure the system is in safe working condition.

For a more comprehensive overview of the 2014 NEC changes, visit www.necconnect.org


Alan Manche is director of industry standards at Schneider Electric. For more information, email alan.manche@schneider-electric.co