Fireside Chat: The National Electrical Code (NEC) is Set for Some Major Changes

The NEC that you use today will not be the same document that you will have after 2026, and then after 2029.

Fireside Chat: The National Electrical Code (NEC) is Set for Some Major Changes

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This year will be very busy as regards the development of codes and standards. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code 2025 edition, will come up final adoption during the NFPA Annual Meeting this June in Orlando, Fla.

In future articles, I will cover some of the changes that will be in the next edition.

This year will also be the start of the next cycle for NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code. The closing date for public inputs to NFPA 1 was April 4. The closing date for public inputs for NFPA 101 and 5000 is June 4.

If that is not enough, the International Code Council held the first of two code hearings this year for the next edition of the International Fire Code. The first round of hearings was conducted between April 7 and April 16. (The IFC hearings were not for this entire time, but they were for several days during this time frame.)

As a result, I missed this year’s ISC West in Las Vegas.

Finally, to add to all this, the next edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, recently completed two weeks of First Draft Meetings in Charleston, S.C. I will be covering the NEC for the remainder of this article, with a second part coming soon.

A Major Change

The NEC during the next two cycles — with a cycle being every three years — will be going through a major change. The NEC that you use today will not be the same document that you will have after 2026, and then after 2029.

The NEC Correlating Committee has been working for the past two years on a complete reorganization of the code. The direction of the Correlating Committee is “Keeping the NEC Relevant – Is Now the Time to Modernize?”

The answer has been determined to be “yes.”

Although 120 VAC is still being dropped into homes or businesses, the systems that are being installed within occupancies are not the same systems that have been installed in the past. Industry trends are changing.

The NEC has not changed in its basic format since 1937. That has been 35 editions. A number of the proposed changes to the structure of the NEC will center on medium voltage, limited energy, multidirectional power flow and the digital delivery of the content of the code.

The changes for the 2026 edition will be small in comparison to what is being planned for the 2029 edition. The chapters within the NEC will remain as they are today. But, at this time, the 2029 edition is planned to have 19 chapters.

It has been proposed and acted on that the similar requirements that are found in Article 724, Class 1 Power-Limited Circuits and Class 1 Power-Limited Remote-Control and Signaling Circuits; Article 725, Class 2 and Class 3 Power-Limited Circuits; Article 726, Class 4 Fault-Managed Power Systems; and Article 760, Fire Alarm Systems will be placed into single new Article.

Changes will also be made within Chapter 8, Communication Systems. At the time of this article’s writing, I had not seen the proposed changes. These will be out shortly, however. A true picture of the 2026 edition will come into focus after the NEC Correlating Committee meets this month.

Minutes of the NEC Correlating Committee

The following is derived from the minutes of the NEC Correlating Committee meeting of March 2023:

  • Communication systems in Chapter 8 are no longer installed and maintained by communication utilities.
  • Electrical Systems over 1000V AC / 1500V DC (Medium Voltage) have expanded well beyond utility ownership.
  • Limited Energy systems in Chapters 7 and 8 are commonplace (no longer “special”) and are morphing into systems that mimic Chapter 3 wiring methods.
  • Distributed Energy Resource technologies are challenging the status of single-power flow and connection to a premises or to the utility.
  • DC circuits and advanced electrical storage technologies are increasingly in use.

In other words, the NEC needs to be modernized.

I will cover the proposed look of the NEC by 2029 in my next article.

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About the Author

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Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

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