In the Ask an Expert series, HeatSpring instructors and industry thought leaders answer a question on the minds of the HeatSpring community. We are joined by Sean White, instructor of several NABCEP prep, solar, and storage courses on HeatSpring. 

In this session, Sean answers the question – when are new versions of the National Electrical Code adopted by NABCEP & AHJs? To check out Sean’s response, you can either watch the video or read the transcript below.

It sounds like that probably somewhere around the beginning of next year or the end of this year, so I’m just calling it January 1st, somewhere around that time,  they [NABCEP] are going to switch to the 2020 NEC.

So that’s exactly the same time that California and a lot of other states switch to the 2020 NEC. So that’s the three year lag and NABCEP always changed over earlier than that, but this time they’re not. And so the 2023 NEC is going to come out at the end of this year. So we’re right now, we’re in 2022.

If you’re watching this video in 2030 or something like that, ‘cause it’s so good, you know, you want to savor it. So back in 2022, when we were recording this, we can see that the last time that I looked, half of the states have adopted the 2020 National Electrical Code. And so half are on the 2017. 

So perhaps half of the solar in the country is being installed based on the 2017 NEC and we’re in 2022. And so there’s this change over in California, you know, there’s more solar in California than any state, however, Texas is kinda catching up, which is kinda surprising.

And so we just have that three-year lag for the NEC and the 2023 NEC is coming out at the end of the year. It’s going to get adopted by Massachusetts before anyone else and that would be on January 1st, 2023. They’re the brave ones to adopt first. And they get to go through all kinds of trouble trying to figure out how to interpret things like that.

But it’s kind of interesting. I know that, like I remember teaching a class right after the NEC came out, so maybe it was in 2020 and we were like, how many are from Massachusetts and we were in California or something like that – maybe it was in 2017. I can’t remember which year, which time it was. And it was like half the class in California was from Massachusetts. So that was kind of funny. It was like more people from Massachusetts than California, because they want to find out what’s on it.

My good friend, Bill Brooks, is on code making panel four. That’s the renewable energy part of the code. And we co-wrote a book together, PV in the NEC. And so we’re going to come out with our 2023 version and we got a contract for all that. And he’s also on HeatSpring classes with me, and so we’re already working on the 2023 NEC material. In fact, we just posted a podcast on it today.

And so we’ve got the 2023 kind of under control more than just about anybody else because of Bill. You know it’s kind of funny that when the first version of the NEC that I ever get is off of Bill’s computer, it’s like a word document, to see what’s going to be on the next one.

And and it’s pretty interesting too, to hear all the politics behind coming up with things for the NEC and different parties and people arguing about things. And there’s the solar people and the non-solar people just don’t understand. And so we have a contract for our 2023 National Electrical Code book – to write it. And so I’m hoping to get that book out in January. 

And so just another thing about the NABCEP test and the National Electrical Code is I’ve seen too many people freak out and go, oh, I’m studying the wrong version of the NEC. 

You’re always going to be working with multiple versions of the NEC. So like I live in California. I’m on the 2017 NEC – is what we’re using. I had to learn before the 2017. I had to learn the 2014 NEC. So I still remember all that stuff. And then there’s the 2020 NEC and that’s going to be coming out in California soon. So you know, it’s coming out in January and so I’m already having to learn that. So everybody’s learning different versions of the NEC

 And people, when they’re teaching classes like me, you kind of emphasize the changes – like these are the changes, but 99% of everything stays the same. And then even most of the changes, they’re just organizational changes. They’re not changes in how you do stuff. So it’s just like they changed the letter ‘a’, to the letter ‘b’ or something like that to make things a little bit less confusing, which confuses people. 

And so if you’re studying for a NABCEP exam, I don’t think anybody that I know has failed the NABCEP exam because they got mixed up on the version of the NEC that was different, especially for the Associate Exam. I mean, just like pretty much nothing. There’s a couple of little changes here and there that would make a little bit of a difference. But if you’re going to only pass the exam by one question, you probably didn’t study hard enough. You could have… there’s a lot of other ways that you could have failed just by like not getting enough sleep that night, or drinking too much coffee, or not enough coffee, or, you know, you gotta be at the happy spot.

And so as far as the NEC goes, just like don’t get overly concerned about studying different versions. And so one of the things that I do with the HeatSpring class too is I always try to have two versions of the NEC that are going on. And so like right now I have the 2017 and the 2020 National Electrical Code there.

And some people still are like, “oh, I’m just going to only study what’s going to be on the NABCEP exam.” Well, you have the NEC book for the NABCEP exam. And when I talk about things in the class, I’ll tell you what version we’re on, if something’s a little bit different. And like I said, most changes aren’t that big of a deal.

And so one more thing too is most people that pass the NABCEP exam – like I would say that like probably 98% of people that pass the NABCEP PV Installation Professional Exam – if they had a version of that NEC that was like 9 or 12 years off, like earlier, they still would have passed. There might only be like 1% or, you know, just taking a guess that they would have messed up on that one question that would’ve made a difference.

So most of the tables don’t change. Copper doesn’t change. As far as I know, from like, you know, since the big bang, copper has been the same, or maybe a little bit after the big bang. There’s different rules that change that everybody talks about to like rapid shutdown, which by the way, is something that Bill Brooks pretty much came up with that word and everything – rapid shutdown. 

But we talk a lot about that in our classes. And so there’s been some changes in rapid shutdown, but we talk about that a lot and we let you know what version of the NEC we’re on.

And so if we look at rapid shutdown, and we look at 2017 versus 2020 NEC, there’s not going to be any test questions that are going to have different answers for rapid shutdown with those two different versions of the National Electric Code. 

The 2014 NEC – yeah – it was a little bit different back then, but still, you know, if you only missed the test, passing by one question, it’s probably a good practice to go back and take it again.