What NEC is California Using Right Now?

Written by Kacie Goff

California, like pretty much all other states, bases its state electrical code on the National Electrical Code® (NEC). It doesn’t just issue this code as a guideline for all Golden State electricians, either. A lot of the definitions the state uses when it comes to electrical certifications and licenses get pulled directly from the NEC. All told, the code is worth knowing if you work as an electrician. 

You might assume that as soon as a new edition of the code gets released, California sticks right to it. Actually, though, we’re a little behind. So you can stay in the know about the most relevant National Electrical Code for California electricians, here’s a quick overview of CA’s current NEC adoption. 

The current California NEC

While there is a 2020 edition of the NEC, California — along with 23 other states — is still using the 2017 NEC. If you want to check out where we’re at, and what other states are doing, you can look at this color-coded map. It’s published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the same organization that issues each edition of the NEC. 

But, wait. Doesn’t the state have a more current electrical code? Yes, but the 2019 California Electrical Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 3) is based on the 2017 NEC. 

In fact, we’re probably sticking to the 2017 NEC for a while. We didn’t vote to adopt this code until January 2019. The codes weren’t published by the state until July 2019. Then, the state observed a six-month statutorily required waiting period, which means the 2017 NEC didn’t technically get enforced until January 2020. 

Long story short, the state doesn’t move overly fast on taking up the latest edition of the NEC. You can rest pretty easy with this 2017 NEC for at least another year. 

What you should know about the 2017 NEC

You need to stay up-to-date on the latest electrical code for a couple of reasons. First, because it does get updated every few years, if you don’t stay informed, you risk falling behind. 

Secondly, though, your continuing education pretty much requires you to do so. You need 32 hours of electrical-focused CE every three years. And you can pretty much guarantee that all state-approved CE providers focus at least part of their course content on any recent changes to the NEC. 

That’s good news for you, because it means you can stay up with the latest NEC while getting the CE hours you need. (To help you do just that, we offer online, on-demand 32-hour, 16-hour, and 8-hour 2017 NEC review CE courses). 

That said, if you don’t need CE anytime soon and you’re itching to learn about any code changes that might apply to you, Electrical Contractor Magazine has a good overview of all of the changes between the 2014 and 2017 NEC. Giving that a read-through can help you identify any new practices you might need to implement to make sure you’re in compliance with the most recently California-adopted electrical code.