Written by Kacie Goff
When you work as an electrician, you have to be extra careful. Your work powers people’s lives when done correctly, but can result in a fire when it’s not.
That’s why states across the country enact specific electrical codes. These codes allow them to enforce best practices that are designed to ensure safe, reliable electrical work.
Minnesota electricians are technically subject to two sets of codes. If you’ve ever wondered about the Minnesota electrical code and whether the National Electrical Code® (NEC) applies here, you’ve come to the right place.
Technically speaking, Minnesota electricians are subject to two different but similar codes.
Technically, the Minnesota State Building Code speaks to electrical standards. Specifically, you can check out Chapter 1315. But if you bother to pull up that text, you’ll see that the vast majority of that chapter has been repealed. Really, Minnesota electricians are just left with guidance to refer to the National Electrical Code.
Don’t believe us? The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) outlines Minnesota state building codes. If you scroll down to Minnesota Electrical Code and click “View,” it redirects you to the National Fire Protection Association (website). Seems weird, right? Actually, though, the NFPA is the organization behind the NEC.
For more proof, you can click the fact sheet link on that same DLI webpage. The PDF it pulls up is a guide on how to get the 2020 NEC.
That leaves us with one primary source for electrical codes in Minnesota: the NEC.
This code is adopted by all 50 states. It’s updated periodically, so it’s important to make sure that you’re using the most recent (2020) version.
Basically, this code sets the standard for safe electrical work. It’s about 1,000 pages long, though, so you probably don’t want to leaf through it yourself.
Don’t worry. There’s a much easier way to stay on top of the current NEC than reading the code itself. You can use your continuing education hours. In fact, a portion of your CE has to pertain to the NEC.
This can be ultra-convenient, too. NEC-focused continuing education courses are available online and on-demand so you can take them whenever your schedule allows. And different courses are available depending on the CE hours you need.
Licensed electricians, for example, can take this 16-hour 2020 NEC course to meet their CE requirements, while unlicensed electricians — who only need a couple of CE hours — can choose this 2-hour NEC Chapter 1 course.
Yes, but only recently.
On November 17, 2020, the Minnesota Board of Electricity adopted the 2020 NEC. As of that date, the DLI started enforcing compliance with it — with one notable exception.
Specifically, because access to 2-pole GFCI circuit breakers has been limited by COVID-19 supply chain challenges, the DLI is delaying enforcing the portion of the NEC (210.8[A] and 210.8[F]) that outlines requirements for 250-volt GFCI receptacles and outlets.
To review the changes you should know with the adoption of the 2020 NEC, check out this document from the DLI.
Additionally, the DLI has issued an electrical inspection checklist for one-family dwellings based on the now-adopted 2020 NEC. You can use this checklist if you’re working in an applicable house. It will ensure you’re in compliance with all of the most current requirements.
You have a couple of options. If you want a tangible version of the code, you’ll need to purchase it from the NEC. They offer it in a few formats: softbound, looseleaf, spiralbound, and hardbound. The cheapest option — the softbound copy — will still run you $113, though.
Alternatively, the DLI says you can access the code for free provided you make an NFPA profile. Head to this page and click the white “Free Access” button to get started.
Ultimately, though, even if you get your hands on a copy of the NEC, the odds that you read through every page of it are pretty slim. That’s why the DLI requires all electricians throughout the state to take continuing education that focuses on the code. With these hours, you’ll get updated on any key changes and can ensure you’re best able to stay in compliance with the most current version of the NEC. Just make sure you take CE hours that speak to the 2020 NEC, not the 2017 version.
Count yourself lucky. Electrical professionals in some other states have to worry about separate state electrical codes. They also might not have the luxury of using CE hours to brush up on the code. In Minnesota, as long as you stay up to date with your CE, you should always be informed about relevant electrical code requirements.