NEC 2020 Requires Whole-House Surge Protection, Are You Ready?

Every three years, committees of the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) update their recommendations for the NEC (National Electrical Code). The NEC, which is also sometimes called “NFPA 70” is the benchmark for safe electrical design and installation to protect against electrical hazards. Because of the high level of expertise and trust in the preparation of the NEC recommendations, they have historically been adopted in all 50 states of the USA. These newest 2020 requirements are no exception – they have already been adopted and are in effect in a number of states, with many more in the adoption process. Thus, the NEC requirements come to be incorporated into new residential electrical code requirements and are enforced by local building code officials. There is no doubt that the new requirements will affect every part of our country, if they haven’t already!

NEC Code Compliance

New Residential Surge Protection Requirements

The new 2020 NEC includes a range of changes. Perhaps the most important change is the addition of a new Section 230.67, which requires the installation of a surge-protective device (SPD) for all dwelling unit service entrances. New and replaced electrical equipment and systems must incorporate Type 1 or Type 2 SPDs. Type 1 surge protective devices can be installed before the main disconnect in the load center, at the meter enclosure or on the load side of the main circuit breaker. Type 2 surge protective devices can only be installed on the load side of the main disconnect, attached directly to a circuit breaker. Often, new construction will install Type 1 surge protectors, while renovations will install Type 2 surge protectors, but both types will satisfy the new requirements.

This new whole house surge protection requirement came about because NFPA’s Committee on the NEC recognizes the growing need for surge protection to protect the increasing number of sensitive electronic systems in all residences. Residences make use of a wide range of sensitive electronic systems, such as burglar alarms, video security systems, audio/video systems, HVAC and data networks.

The market for these technologies is growing in both dollar volume and sophistication, but many home owners are not aware how common power surges are, or how damaging they can be to electronic systems. In our experience, people often think that power surges are only a result of lightning strikes – when in truth small, everyday power surges are far more common. In fact, power surges are often caused by the equipment right inside or nearby the house, or by unseen events such as switching on the utility power grid.

Protecting electronic systems in residences

The new 2020 NEC requirements will have a strong positive effect, reducing the risk of damage to sensitive electronic systems in residential installations. Type 1 and Type 2 SPDs, installed at the service entrance, form the first barrier against electrical surges entering the house from the outside world, and the damage that they can cause. For particularly sensitive or important systems, such as burglar alarms, video security, and HVAC systems, additional steps may be required. Here’s how using a “layers of protection” approach can provide benefits to homeowners:

1. Protecting Incoming Power

Adding appropriate surge protective devices at the electrical service entrance is the first step to protect any residence from external sources of electrical surges and spikes. Type 1 and Type 2 SPDs are designed for this purpose, and will satisfy the 2020 NEC requirements.

2. Protecting Alternate Surge Pathways

Other possible surge pathways into a home include phone cables, internet cables, and antenna connection wires. Each of these provides a pathway from outside the house to the interior spaces. Special surge protective devices are designed for this purpose that will stop surge currents while allowing easy passage for desired data and signals.

3. Addressing Surge Sources Within the Home

Most people are surprised to learn that many daily surge events can be generated from within the home itself. The most common sources are HVAC systems, but any other high-powered electrical device can generate surges when switched on or off. If any systems are present within the home – such as pumps, electrical heaters, or welding equipment – adding surge protective devices at these surge sources can minimize their effects on other sensitive electronic systems.

4. Protecting Vulnerable Systems

If a system is particularly important or sensitive, it also makes sense to provide protection directly at the point of use. DITEK offers a wide range of suitable surge protective devices to protect the power inputs for security systems and other critically important or sensitive equipment.

5. Ensuring Ongoing Monitoring

Installing surge protection as described in steps 1-4 is the right approach, but homeowners or their service teams must be aware that surge protection will deteriorate over time and will eventually require replacement. To ensure that sensitive systems remain protected, implement a periodic review of all the installed surge protection systems and replace any unit(s) that are no longer functioning.

DITEK provides surge protection solutions that are ideal for professional installations at all kinds of residences. A full range of application-specific models are available; designed for ease of installation, effectiveness and made in the USA.

Contact us for a free evaluation of your current surge protection status!