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NEC & NEIS: Electrical codes and standards that keep you safe
All across this country, on a daily basis, construction jobs of varying size and types are built to varying specifications.

And electrically speaking, each is bound by clearly illustrated performance and workmanship standards within the National Electrical Code.

Now, before you write this video off because of the subject matter, which admittedly isn’t as sexy as Nik Wallenda walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope, today’s story may seem rather lifeless – but, not in that sense of the word.

Lifeless, as in what can happen if a building’s electrical system is installed to just a minimum standard, thereby putting people in harm’s way.

Electricity is dangerous. And while an arc-flash like this is something no one wants to see happen, the fact is they do. And if it and other safety hazards like it can be eliminated, it benefits everyone.
How can you be assured that the installation of a system in a given building or home is safe?
Two words: The code.
Like an insurance policy on the installation, the National Electrical Code gives the contractor and its crew a set of installation guidelines. And if the job is ‘up to code,’ it’s considered safe.

Michael Johnson – Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA
“When you look at the National Electrical Code, it’s an open consensus document. It’s developed by many industry professionals from all different areas of expertise and classification, but at the end of the day – it’s a minimum safety requirement. We take it a step further. We actually build standards that are voluntary, but they address quality and performance issues in the industry that are important to specifiers like architects, engineers and those involved in developing or specifying electrical installations on their properties – owners, sometimes. It’s very important to an owner sometimes to exceed minimum requirements.”

And the NECA-IBEW team’s position is: whatever the owner wants, the owner gets.

Up until the early 1990’s, neither owners nor general contractors had anything concrete to go off of when judging ‘good workmanship’. They simply referred to the plans and specs.

If it passed the eyeball test, that was good enough. But not all installations are equal when comparing craftsmanship or quality.

So, the National Electrical Contractors Association, on behalf of its more than four thousand members, seized an opportunity to be better. To offer more to their customers. To further-insure the projects they built.

The dirty work of elevating the code began and to this day, NECA’s National Electrical Installation Standards or NEIS are the only ANSI-approved, installation and maintenance best practices for electrical systems and equipment, meaning they conform with the highest level of criteria.

Michael Johnson – Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA
“What we’ve done is grown from one flagship document that addresses the good workmanship in electrical construction from a general perspective to approximately 45 ANSI-accredited standards that address all aspects of our industry.”

Once developed and accredited, these provide an additional service to architects and designers, beyond that of just improving installation quality.

Michael Johnson – Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA
“Rather than telling the industry in their spec how they want the fire alarm system installed, they can refer to NECA 305 and it’s all written for them.”

In addition, NECA has written specs for transformer installation, panel boards, conduit and wire, a list which now includes a brand-new standard for smart-grid application and energy management.

Michael Johnson – Executive Director of Standards and Safety, NECA
“NECA 701 talks about things that can be done with the building envelope and the building’s electrical infrastructure, to shed load, to be in a position to allow the utility to talk across the smart meter. To control loads if they’re on the right utility plan, to address things like not allowing huge loads on the system or service to be operated simultaneously, in other words, to stagger big loads, which all results in reduction of cost to operate the building and energy usage ultimately up the road with a power plant.”

What it all boils down to in the end, is that when a NECA contractor is hired, an owner gets a quality product, installed by IBEW crafts professionals to the highest possible standards that will perform for years to come.

Something which, in today’s day and age, is rather hard to find.

That’ll do it for this edition of Electric TV. Please do check us out on Twitter and on Facebook, and if you have a story idea for us, drop a line at or use the form on the website.