Schematic of a simple electrical circuit (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Electrical Code Basic FAQs
Q&A about the Electrical Codes US UK & other countries

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Here: basic questions about electrical codes.

This article series answers basic questions the National Electric Code (NEC) for homeowners as well as addressing electrical codes in the UK and other countries. .

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Electrical Code Advice for Homeowners & DIY Repairs

Open electrical panels are dangerous (C) Daniel Friedman

Watch out: Do not attempt to work on your electrical wiring, switches, or outlets unless you are properly trained and equipped to do so. Electrical components in a building can easily cause an electrical shock, burn, or even death. 


On 2018-11-08 by (mod) - proper height for electrical "outlets" i.e. receptacles

Please check outet height details at


On 2018-11-07 by Diane Heinz - minimum height kitchen outlets need to be spaced from countertops?

Is there a minimum height kitchen outlets need to be spaced from countertops? Thanks.

On 2018-11-07 14:43:53.488956 by (mod) -

Splices are allowed in the electrical panel.

On 2018-11-07 00:49:08.578957 by ADG

To install a whole house surge protector requiring dedicated breaker at the top of the breaker panel two breakers need to be moved to the bottom. Is it ok to splice wires in the breaker panel to move the breakers to a different location within the panel?

On 2018-09-24 22:56:35.778946 by (mod) -


I don't have a full understanding of the situation, but in general, no electrical splices should be outside of a junction box. You're not required to use a plug connector but the splice must be enclosed.

Separately, in my OPINION a garbage grinder installed without a local ON-OFF switch is missing an important safety feature.

On 2018-09-19 16:03:59.703800 by Brian

My garbage disposal is currently hard wired. Does it now have to have a electric box and be wired with a cord to plug it on?

On 2018-07-24 18:03:19.332525 by (mod) -

The legal question is one for your lawyer, and the country and city where you live and their rental property laws.

In my OPINON it is unsafe for the landlord to lock access to emergency OFF switches for the mechanical systems. You might point out that in an emergency the building could burn down simply because there was no way to turn off the equipment when something was obviously wrong, like smoking.

Similarly you must have access to the electrical safety controls - circuit breakers or fuses - for the circuits in your apartment - for the same reasons.

On 2018-07-23 23:09:12.083130 by Cheryl

Is it illegal for my landlord to allow me as a tenant access to the circuit breakers and boiler. They are behind locked doors and I have to call her whenever there is a problem

On 2018-03-02 01:01:59.870105 by (mod) -


I agree that some of those covers are a bit clunky looking. However if you're going to have something plugged into the outdoor receptacle and you don't have a rain proof cover you're asking for either short or of course the receptacle will simply trip off.

On 2018-03-02 00:33:12.078038 by Sfc

Do you really have to use those big ugly plastic bubble covers on exterior GFI's or will a weather proof cover do?

On 2018-02-14 19:15:21.850310 by (mod) -


Please please help me out by asking a question just once in one place. Else you double our work and make it harder to answer other people.

On 2018-02-14 02:17:08.445991 by Laura Cook

How far away does the electrical outlet have to be from an electrical stove?

On 2017-09-22 00:06:08.683023 by (mod) -

Probably not, Jack but plesae forgive my insertion of this editorial OPINION:

If the inspector has noted that this is a safety concern, and if your buyer has that report, then consider the buyer adequately notified.

As a seller you and your attorney can decide what allowances you will make or not.

I would be very nervous about the liability and risk involved in what should be a trivial cost-to-cure item that surely is not a fraction of tenth of a percent of the value of a typical home being sold today. Let's not trip up a home sale over such an item.

On 2017-09-21 23:31:03.477645 by Jack & Janice Lucht

In 1975 was it legal code to wire an electrical outlet above an electric heat register? We are selling our home built in 1974/1975 and the electrical outlets were installed above the electric heat registers. Inspector has noted this as a possible hazard and we just need to know if the outlets would be grandfathered in?

On 2017-07-17 02:32:26.532889 by mdc

thanks for your time

On 2017-07-16 17:39:53.876647 by (mod) -



you'll find complete details. The US NEC requires that the disconnect must be visible and readily accessible - typically that means in sight and within 50 ft. Common practice for most residential installations is 3-6 ft.

On 2017-07-16 03:48:08.299025 by mdc

in Florida how far away can the outside air unit be from its disconnect?

On 2017-06-30 12:14:33.926098 by Diane

Is it true that if you have wire and bobbin electric you can not get home owners insurance or a certificate of occupancy

On 2017-04-10 14:38:48.286439 by Art

Meant laxed like no gfci required outside.

On 2017-04-10 14:36:41.611337 by Art

I moved from Kentucky to Florida why are the electrical codes so laced In Florida.

On 2017-03-30 19:11:44.296115 by (mod) -

They did when they were installed as they were UL-listed, but in my OPINION, a building code inspector could consider them in violation today given their no-trip performance as failing to meet more general requirements in the NEC.

Generally one cannot rely on building codes, electrical codes, model codes to address defective or unsafe products. The fact that a product is "legal" does not mean it's safe any more than the fact that we have a competent police force here in Freedonia means that no crimes are committed.

Cathy: probably not - head smashes bulb, cuts, shocks. The final authority would be your local building code compliance inspector.

On 2017-03-30 15:32:04.183294 by jIM


On 2017-02-23 18:21:52.540483 by cathy

can i have an uncovered bulb in a wall socket 6 feet from the floor in a living space in minnesota ? will it pass inspection?

On 2016-10-17 21:57:42.143730 by troy

im trying to find out if i can put my electrical outlets 80inches apart,code says 12 foot max spacing and it also says no more than 6 feet between outlets,so im seeking clairification on this,i live in michigan

On 2016-10-04 18:06:35.433483 by I ritz

What wiring is approved for in home use in wall for lighting and outlets. IS ROMAX CABLE REQUIRED.?

On 2016-09-25 06:59:36.765551 by (mod) -

Circuit breaker change-out is not intended by electrical panel manufacturers as a homeowner task. There are fatal electrocution hazards in the panel interior.

It constitutes "electrical work". If a homeowner isn't sufficiently expert they should stay out of the panel exterior as they could be killed or could cause a fire, even though the task is technically relatively easy.

So a building code official could consider the task as electrical work.

In so in some jurisdictions that must be done by a licensed electrician.

Other jurisdictions permit a homeowner to do electrical work but may require a code compliance inspection.

Your local building official is the final legal authority. Ask.

On 2016-09-25 04:28:16.298045 by ted

is it illegal for a homeowner to change a breaker

On 2016-08-26 18:19:29.335030 by NHFireBear

Also worth noting that some product advertising incorrectly states things like "UL approved". No, UL does not actually "approve" products. As stated in the article, UL may authorize a manufacturer to attach the UL label to devices manufactured in conformity with the units that were tested and found to be in compliance. It is up to the manufacturers (and their own licensed professional engineers) to make sure that they arrange to RETEST new designs that may have changed any of the safety characteristics, in order to continue to qualify for the UL label.

On 2016-08-26 18:08:49.923205 by NHFireBear

Comment regarding UL listing and labeling. As mentioned in the article, the UL standards and testing are for MINIMUM safety. Failure to meet the minimum standard is sometimes used by insurance companies to deny coverage due to the customer's own "gross negligence". Many code requirements specifically state that a device must be "listed and labeled for the purpose." Thus, absent a label, it may be (technically) a code violation, which is (at the very least) evidence of negligence. On the other hand, even if you have a component or product with the UL (or other approved test laboratory) markings on it, there is still a chance that the device is unsafe because it is defective or damaged somehow or is being misused or misapplied. Some listed and labeled products may have restrictions on their application, such as "indoor use only", which should be marked on the packaging or tags, assuming you actually received the product with the packaging and tags intact.

As a simple example: an extension cord that was designed, tested, listed and labeled for "indoor use only" would not be a good choice for running your winter holiday lighting outdoors when part of the cord is buried in snow and ice. This would be "a bad idea" even though it "has a UL label on it" and the wires are big enough to handle the electrical load.

Some jurisdictions are more strict about attaching only listed appliances to electrical supply (including portable appliances with a cord and plug) and an inspector can issue orders for non-listed things to be disconnected and removed from the premises.

On 2016-08-14 23:15:26.747779 by (mod) -

Mena please see these two wire size articles


The second gives service entry wire sizes and other spec

Found by searching for SERVICE ENTRY WIRE SIZE

On 2016-08-14 20:49:58.434143 by mena

Is it legal to use 300 volt wiring for service entry cable in NYS, or does it have to be 600?

On 2016-07-22 21:16:00.975178 by (mod) - some places allow homeowners to do their own electrical work "without permits".

NHFB I agree and add that I mis-spoke. We agreeL Virtually every jurisdiction requires a permit to do electrical work;

What I should have said is that some jurisdictions permit a non-electrician to do the work provided that all of the required inspections and final approval are done and made by the local electrical inspector.

On 2016-07-22 0 by NHFirebear

You mention that some places allow homeowners to do their own electrical work "without permits".

I have worked in several places where a DIY homeowner may do such work, but may still need to draw a permit. That way, the inspector can see what they're trying to do, gauge the likelihood that they're qualified and what happens if they mess it up. The inspector may stop in to check on it, if they're so inclined.

Also, it is usually to the advantage of a homeowner/DIY electrician to have the accumulated permits on-hand (and in the official files) when they go to sell the property or to change its use (e.g., to become a licensed home day-care, which may require a fire inspection, including basic electrical safety).

On 2015-08-28 14:40:18.837475 by quick question

we have just recently upgraded our kitchen but we have not touched the electricals, the plugs/switches and everything else are exactly same as before; the only difference is that the previous owner did not have a dishwasher although there was a existing outlet for it;

we want to put a dishwasher and asked the electrical contractor to install the hardwired diswasher. the contractor said he would have to run a new line for which he will need esa inspection which i am ok with. he also said that if he pulls a inspection permit the esa will come and fail us on the existing outlets as they are not to modern code.

this is what we are confused about, our house is 20 years old and it definitely conformed to code of that time.

i haven't changed a thing so why would i have to pay to upgrade the existing electricals to the current code? that defies all logic? i have a feeling he is trying to dupe us. any help will be much appreciated. thanks


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