2023 NEC: 5 Upcoming Changes Integrators Need to Know
Behind the scenes of the National Electrical Code® (NEC) are 18 code-making panels (CMPs) that work together to review and update this important electrical safety code.
The panels are made up of inspectors, electricians, users, installers, laborers, testing lab specialists and manufacturers (Belden included) to make sure the latest safety and technology practices are addressed and implemented.
As a Code-Making Panel 3 committee member, I joined other panel members at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston in early June to consider and debate certified amending motions. This lively conversation always comes as a result of the public input requested when NEC changes are proposed.
Also known as NFPA 70, the NEC establishes a foundation for electrical safety in residential, commercial and industrial buildings worldwide. Although it’s updated once every three years, development of the next edition begins as soon as the previous edition is published.
As we move forward with new editions, the goal is to continue to make the code more accurate, understandable and user friendly. That’s why it’s important to always use the most up-to-date version of the NEC.
Information within the NEC is broken up into code articles. Each code article is numbered based on its chapter. For example: Special conditions recognized by the NEC are found in Chapter 7, and all approved code articles covering special conditions are found in the 700s.
To help the integrator community keep up with the latest NEC changes, here’s a summary of five code changes discussed at the latest NFPA Convention & Expo so you know how to use the 2023 NEC and how to plan accordingly for your upcoming projects.
1. Article 720 was removed
Article 720, Circuits and Equipment Operating at Less Than 50 Volts, will be removed from the 2023 NEC. The code-making panel believes that Article 720 created industry confusion because equipment that falls into this category hasn’t been manufactured for decades (and there are no known systems operating today).
Interesting side note: Article 720 first became part of the NEC in the 1920s to address standalone generators in use on farms.
2. All cables for limited-power and fault-managed power systems are now part of Article 722
The new Article 722 will combine cable requirements for Class 2 and Class 3 cables and introduce a new cable classification (Class 4) into a single article in the 2023 NEC. This unification was done to eliminate redundancy across multiple articles and make it easier for users to find the information they need. It was also renamed to accurately reflect what Article 722 now represents: Cables for Power-Limited Circuits and Fault-Managed Power Circuits.
Interesting side note: Consideration to move some portions of optical fiber cable installation into 722 were discussed but were rejected through healthy debate within the code making process.
3. Class 2 and Class 3 circuits remain in Article 725
Article 725 originally covered requirements for circuits and cabling in this category. Moving forward, however, only Class 2 and Class 3 power-limited circuits will remain part of Article 725 with a new title to make it clear that cabling and Class 1 requirements are no longer part of the article: Class 2 and Class 3 Power-Limited Circuits. Instead, in the 2023 NEC, Class 1 requirements can be found in Article 724.
Interesting side note: In installation, Class 2 and Class 3 cables must be separated from electric light, power, Class 1, non-power-limited fire alarm and medium-powered network-powered broadband cables, which is the reason they’re addressed in a different article.
4. New Article 726 was created for Class 4 circuits
We’ve been talking about fault-managed power systems, or Class 4 power systems, for a few months now. Instead of limiting power source output like Class 2 and Class 3 systems do, these power systems limit energy and power available during a fault event. Class 4 circuit requirements can be found in the 2023 NEC under Article 726, Class 4 Fault-Managed Power Systems. Cables for Class 4 systems can be found under Article 722, along with cables for Class 2 and Class 3 systems.
Interesting side note: Belden was the first in the industry to announce a UL-certified Class 4 cabling system!
5. Article 727 is now new Article 335
Article 727, Instrument Tray Cable, has been relocated to Article 335 so it’s considered part of Chapter 3 among the cable articles. Article 727 will be deleted.
Interesting side note: Article 727 was relocated because it covers a wiring method that’s more appropriately covered in Chapter 3.
Watch for 2023 NEC This Fall
This is only a portion of the anticipated change. After it’s issued, which is expected in early Fall 2022, the 2023 NEC will be available for free viewing online. This link takes you to the NFPA website where you can always access a free version of the most recent edition of the NEC (click the “free access” button at the top of the page).
As always, we’ll continue to keep you updated about the issuance of the 2023 NEC. Now that it’s getting closer to being issued, it’s time to start thinking about the next edition! If you have any questions, please let me know.