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NEC Article 80 through 110 Review

By Mike Holt

From Article 80 through 110

Article 80. Administration and Enforcement

Article 80 first appeared in the 2002 NEC. Formerly, the NEC started with Article 90. The intent behind adding it was to provide a model administrative and enforcement ordinance. But, it also gives you an understanding of the philosophy behind the NEC and code enforcement. Article 80 can deepen your appreciation for the NEC, so here are some highlights.

NEC 80.1 addresses the scope of the NEC, listing the five functions. In a nutshell, they are:

  • Inspection
  • Investigation
  • Review (of drawings and specifications)
  • Implementation (everything from design through maintenance)
  • Regulation

NEC 80.2 gives definitions related to administration and enforcement. Do not confuse these definitions with the definitions in Article 100.

NEC 80.3, 80.5, and 80.7 are short and self-explanatory.

NEC 80.9 addresses how the Code applies to:

  • New installations
  • Existing installations
  • Additions, alterations, or repairs

NEC 80.11 basically bars new construction from occupancy if there is a Code violation and grandfathers existing structures under certain conditions (mostly that there is no hazard to life or property).

NEC 80.13 defines who has authority to administer the code and what that authority entails. With 16 major points, 80.13 covers a lot of ground. It codifies what was previously "understood."

NEC 80.15 lays out the bylaws for an electrical board, which may be established by any municipality.

NEC 80.17 requires the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to retain records.

NEC 80.19 addresses permits and approvals, quite extensively.

NEC 80.23 provides rules for notices of violations and penalties.

NEC 80.25 provides rules for connecting to the electrical supply.

NEC 80.27 describes the qualifications for being an electrical inspector.

NEC 80.29, 80.31, 80.33, and 80.35 are short and self-explanatory.

Article 90. Introduction

Many NEC violations and misunderstandings would not occur, if people doing the work simply understood Article 90. For example, many people see NEC requirements as a sort of target. In fact, NEC requirements are the bare minimum for safety. And this is exactly the stance electrical inspectors, insurance companies, and courts will take when making a decision regarding electrical design or installation.

Article 90 opens by saying the NEC is not intended as design specification or instruction manual. The National Electrical Code has one purpose only. That is "the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity."

Article 90 then describes the scope and arrangement of the NEC. A person who says, "I can't find anything in the NEC" is really saying, "I never took the time to review Article 90. The balance of Article 90 provides the reader with information essential to understanding those items you do find in the NEC.

Typically, electrical work requires you to understand the first four Chapters of the NEC, plus have a working knowledge of the Chapter 9 tables. Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 make up a large portion of the NEC, but they apply to special situations. They build on, and extend, what you must know in the first four chapters. And that knowledge begins with Chapter 1.


Many people skip Chapter 1 of the NEC, because they want something prescriptive-they want something that tells them what to do, cookbook style. But, electricity is not a simple topic you can jump right into and just follow some simple steps to get a safe installation. You need a foundation from which you can apply the NEC.

Consider Ohm's law. Would Ohm's Law make sense to you if you did not know what an Ohm is? Similarly, you must become familiar with some basic rules, concepts, definitions, and requirements that apply to the rest of the NEC. And, you must maintain that familiarity as you continue to apply the NEC.

Chapter 1 consists of two main parts. Article 100 provides definitions so people understand each other when trying to communicate on Code-related matters. Article 110 provides general requirements that you need to know so you can correctly apply the rest of the NEC.

Time spent learning this material is a great investment. Some of the NEC requirements that seem confusing to other people-those who don't understand Chapter 1-will become increasingly intuitive to you. That is, they will strike you as being "common sense" because you'll have the foundation from which to understand and apply them. Because you'll understand the principles upon which many NEC requirements in later Chapters are based, you'll read those requirements and not be surprised at all. You'll read them and feel like you already knew them.

Article 100. Definitions

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, only to discover what you said and what they heard were two completely different things? Or vice versa? One reason this happens is one or both of the people in the conversation don't understand the definitions of the words being used. This is one reason why the NEC puts the definitions of key terms right up front-in Article 100.

If we can all agree on important definitions, then we speak the same language and avoid misunderstandings. Because the NEC exists to protect people and property (see Article 90), we can agree it's very important to know the definitions presented in Article 100.

Now, here are a couple of things you may not know about Article 100:

  • Article 100 contains the definitions of many (not all) terms used throughout the NEC. In general, only those terms used in two or more Articles are defined in Article 100.
  • Part I of Article 100 contains the definitions of terms used throughout the NEC.
  • Part II of Article 100 contains only terms that apply to systems that operate at over 600V.

How can you possibly learn all these words? There seem to be so many. Here are some tips:

  1. Break the task down. Study a few words at time, rather than trying to learn them all at one sitting.
  2. Be consistent. Study at least once a day.
  3. Use the graphics provided. These will help you see how a term is applied.
  4. Relate to your work. As you read a word, think of how it applies to the work you are doing. This will provide a natural enforcement of the learning.

Article 110. Requirements for Electrical Installations

Article 110 sets the stage for how you will implement the rest of the NEC. Consequently, this Article contains some of the most important and yet neglected parts of the NEC. For example:

  • What do you do with unused openings in enclosures?
  • What's the right working clearance for a given installation?
  • How should you terminate conductors?
  • What kinds of warnings, marking, and identification does a given installation require?

This Article contains the general requirements for electrical installations for the following:

Part I. General
Part II. 600V, Nominal or less
Part III. Over 600V, Nominal
Part IV. Tunnel Installations over 600V, Nominal

It's critical you master Article 110, and that's exactly what this Illustrated Guide is designed to help you do. As you read this Article, remember that doing so helps build your foundation for correctly applying much of the NEC. In fact, the Article itself is a foundation for much of the NEC. You may need to read something several times to understand it. The time you take to do that will be well spent. The illustrations will help you, too. But if you find your mind starting to wander, take a break. What matters is how well you master the material and how safe your work is-not how fast you blazed through a book.

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