Since 1911, the National Fire Protection Association has developed and published the National Electrical Code (NEC). The 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) (standard NFPA 70) was issued by the NFPA Standards Council on August 5, 2019, with an effective date of Aug. 25, 2019. Copies of the 2020 NEC are available for purchase at www.iccsafe.org.
This edition expands the use of ground-fault circuit interrupters and adds requirements for whole-house surge protection and an emergency disconnect.
Note: Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) requirements have not expanded to the entire dwelling unit (to include bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces). Also, a requirement for a required exterior main shut-off for use by the fire department was defeated by the NFPA membership at the tech session. Although some changes were made to the AFCI section in the code, they apply only to dorms and hotels/motels.
210.8(A) GFCIs for 250-Volt Receptacles
This change will require receptacles serving 250-volt appliances, such as stoves and clothes dryers, to have GFCI protection when located in bathrooms, crawl spaces, basements, laundry areas or within 6 feet of sinks, bathtubs or showers. This section previously applied to receptacles up to 125 volts only.
210.8(A)(5) GFCIs for Basement Receptacles
This change requires all basement receptacles to have GFCI protection. This section previously applied to unfinished areas of basements only.
210.8(F) GFCIs for Outdoor Outlets
This new section requires outdoor outlets up to 150 volts to ground and 50 amperes to have GFCI protection. It is meant to specifically apply to circuits serving A/C condenser units.
230.67(A-D) Surge Protection
This new section requires all services supplying dwelling units to be provided with a surge- protective device.
230.85 Emergency Disconnects
This new section requires one- and two-family dwelling units to have a labelled disconnecting means installed in a readily accessible outdoor location.
406.9(C) Receptacles Near Bathtub and Shower Spaces
This change prohibits all receptacles from within 3 feet of any bathtub or shower stall unless the bathroom dimensions are too small to provide that clearance.
This NFPA video discusses the changes in more detail.
The cost impact of moving to adopt the 2020 NEC where currently the 2017 edition is enforced would widely increase the cost of construction for the significant changes addressed. The changes require the addition of GFCI receptacles in areas where it was not a requirement previously, adding to the cost of construction. The cost increases would also impact the cost of labor for the installation of additional equipment.
A Home Innovation Research Labs cost study details the cost impact for single-family and multifamily buildings per the 2014, 2017, and 2020 National Electrical Code.
View NAHB’s 2020 NEC Suggested Amendments.