2020 NEC Code Change: Surge Protection Now Required

The 2020 NEC (National Electric Code) has made surge protection required for service replacements and upgrades. With a new service, service upgrade, or service replacement, there must now be a type 1 or type 2 surge protector installed. What does this mean for you as a homeowner? Before we discuss this new 2020 NEC code change, let’s first explain what the NEC is, why it’s important for frequent changes, and why surge protection now required in the 2020 NEC is crucial for new service installations.


What is the NEC?

The NEC is the safety standard for electrical equipment and wiring installations for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. The purpose of the NEC is to protect people from electrical hazards, as well as to keep the property safe from things like electrical fires. The NEC is adopted by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency), and is revised every three years. 


Why is the NEC revised every three years?

Due to the never-ending technological advancements we experience in our world, it’s important for the NEC to undergo reviews and revisions to keep everyone safe. Certain things may come up that weren’t previously thought of before, requiring the NFPA to improve and change the NEC for the utmost safety of people and their property. 


2020 NEC Code Change: Surge Protection


What is Surge Protection?

We blogged awhile back about what whole house surge protection is, and you can revisit that blog here. To recap, this is protection for your devices, appliances, computers etc. throughout your entire home from surges (an increase of electrical voltage) that can occur outside the home from things like a lightning strike on a utility line, work being done on the utility line, a storm that destroys the power lines, falling trees, etc.

There are two types of surge protectors that keep your house safe from electrical surges. Type 1 refers to a meter base surge protector, and type 2 refers to a panel base surge protector. Either one is required for a new service replacement or upgrade as one of the 2020 NEC code changes. 


Type 1 – Meter Base Surge Protector

We also blogged about type 1 surge protectors, also known as meter base surge protectors. Take a look here. To recap, whole house surge protection type 1 refers to a SPD (surge protective device) that mounts onto the outside meter of your home. This is the first line of defense against surges. It’s a meter-based surge protector that reduces extra voltage (surge) from the power grid, before it reaches your main electrical panel.


Surge Protection: Type 1 Meter Base Surge Protector


Type 2 – Panel Base Surge Protector

A panel base surge protector is a device that is installed on your main electrical panel. This type of device helps protect the surges that can occur within the home, like appliances cycling on and off. 80% of surges occur within the home, while the other 20% occur outside the home (type 1 – meter base device helps with these surges). 


Surge Protection: Type 2 Panel Base Surge Protector


To get complete surge protection coverage, KB Electric LLC recommends getting both type 1 and type 2 installed for your home.


Surge Protection Now Required For Residential Service Upgrades and Replacements 

For the new 2020 NEC code changes, it is required that all residential service upgrades, replacements, and new service installations (new construction of homes) have type 1 or type 2 surge protection installed.


Why Are SPDs (Surge Protective Devices) Required Under 2020 NEC Code?

The main reason for the 2020 NEC code change requiring surge protection for service upgrades and replacements is to protect your home’s appliances and devices. This means that the NEC goes beyond protecting people by also protecting your property. A blown TV, stereo system, computer, etc is very costly, even if it is covered through insurance. Someone is still paying for it!

This also protects the people as well. Here’s how:

If you have temporary power for your home (i.e., a generator), this causes power fluctuation. A home has AFCIs (arc fault circuit interupptors) and GFCIs (ground fault circuit interruptors) to protect people from shock, electrocution, and electrical fires. Homes also have smoke alarms. All three of these are the most commonly blown electronics due to their sensitivity of control boards. You would want these devices protected by a whole house surge protection device, like type 1 and type 2 SPDs to protect you from electrical fires and hazards.


What Does This Mean For Me As A Homeowner?

With a service that doesn’t need to be changed, you don’t have to do anything right now. If you need a service panel replacement or upgrade, then you may need to have a surge protector installed. But…

It all depends on what NEC code your state/municipality has adopted. Since the 2020 NEC JUST came out, it could take a few years or so for an area to use it. For example, according to the NFPA’s website, “As of July 1, 2020, the 2020 NEC is in effect in four states, the 2017 NEC is in effect in 31 states, the 2014 NEC is in effect in 9 states and the 2008 NEC is in effect in three states.”

So, as of now, the state of PA uses the 2014 NEC for home and commercial electrical installations. BUT, this will obviously change in the future, and if you were to sell your home or buy another home, its best to stay up to the current code for safety and compliance.

At KB Electric LLC, our team of qualified electricians would be happy to install surge protection for your home. Don’t let a power surge fry your appliances and devices! Call our family-owned and manager-operated company today! We are your number one electrician serving all of Montgomery County, PA and Southeastern, PA.