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Electrical Code Explained

Electrical Code is a set of codes and standards intended to ensure the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment.   Learn why it is vital to follow all electrical code requirements when working on a home wiring project. Electrical code governs the use of electrical wire, cable and fixtures.   Do-it-yourself home wiring projects must comply with the code requirements specific to their area.

Please Note
Code information that we will be passing on to you through the site will be based on the rules and regulations of the general Canadian Electrical Code (C.E.C.).  I will make every effort to identify any differences between the C.E.C. and N.E.C. (National Electrical Code).  Please be aware that certain rules and regulations may vary in your particular area.

When in doubt, ALWAYS consult with your local inspector/inspection department.  If, after reading the information on this site regarding the completion of a specific task, you are still in doubt as how to complete it successfully and safely, make sure you consult with a certified electrical contractor or electrical inspector in your area.

Electrical code is, essentially, the rules and regulations regarding the installation and maintenance of residential and industrial systems in your particular area.

In Canada there is a blanket code called the C.E.C. or the Canadian Electrical Code (N.E.C. or National Electrical Code in the U.S.A.)

This code is in the form of a book which serves as the ‘electrician’s bible’. Within this book lies the laws of the electrical land.

The overseer of this law is the electrical inspector — his/her word is the law.  Their powers extend to great lengths, including the authority to stop or hold a job based solely on the fact that he/she is not satisfied with the quality of work. My advice is to treat them very nicely….

A Word on Electrical Permits

Most electrical work requires that you pull a permit with your local electrical authority.  Many jurisdictions allow a homeowner to work on his/her own home’s electrical system.  Some areas only allow work on branch circuits and not main service panel installation.  Other areas will not allow homeowner permits at all.  This varies from place to place, so it is CRITICAL that, before you commence any do-it-yourself home wiring project, you first check the rules in your area.

When the job is at the rough in stage (before the drywall is up and electrical devices are installed), the inspector will drop by and check it out. If he/she is satisfied they will give you the thumbs up, but if they find anything not up to code, these will be listed as deficiencies and you must fix them to his/her satisfaction before receiving approval. The inspector will want to do an inspection at the finished stage as well.

Please remember that the system of inspection in your province, state, or region may vary, so check it out before beginning the job.

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  • Rralph

    I have purchased a new detached home last year in Surrey BC and have noticed that the Builder has installed power cables on the surface of the wall behind the crown molding. The wires are running from the DB at the basement and across the wall hidden behind the crown molding and then penetrating the main floor to the receptacle for the Electric Oven.
    I would like to know if this wiring arrangement is it permitted per the codes and is safe.

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  • Thank you for that helpful publish! I would nothave d iscovered th is myself!

  • Daryl

    in alberta what is the max distance allowed between electrical outlets in bedrooms, and a family room?

  • Arron

    I am wondering if the NEC says anything about residential new construction and the installation of a “future” in the breaker box? I need to add another circuit and a new 12-2 romex will not fit in the existing wire path (it is full). I thought that it was a requirement that new construction electrical boxes included a future.


  • James Baker

    I have a 480v 3ph service on a pole, and the service goes underground to a pedestal some distance away. where does the NEC say that I must have a disconnecting means ( fuseable or not ) before the service goes underground

  • sanjay patel

    This site is very usefull and well desined.
    informative for all. thanks

  • Paculos

    Is a grounding electrode still a requirement for a new sub-panel having more than one cct, fed from a main service panel in a separate building, such as in the case of a detached garage from a house?  Thank you


    • NTelectrician

      No, a seperate grounding electrode is not required for the sub panel, provided that the main panel it is being fed from is properly grounded to an electrode.  Saying that, there must be a ground conductor run from the sub panel, and tied into the main service grounding bar. 

  • PressBob InkPants

    is having  a receptical mounted in a stud with no juction box to cover in, a few inches from a copper water line, with an extenion cord running from it to god knows where safe,  ( duuhhh) and legal. where can i find taxt about it.   found it in a house i was renting

    • The Internet Electrician

      You need to investigate that! Sounds like a quick fix by an un-informed DIY’er.

  • Jonniegreene

    what are the restrictions reguarding distance from meter to panel in residential service in kenton co. ky.

  • BruceW

    Doing house upgrade. For an existing house with main panel within a bathroom (with shower 5 ft away). Do I have to separate the panel area from the bathroom space, via a divider wall and separate door entrance. Or can I enclose the panel in a space with 36 front and width space within the bathroom space. Does it not get grandfathered in as long as I put a surface between the shower & sink and the panel area? CEC code requirements

    • Ajb4886

      A panel cannot be in a damp place like a bathroom, you have to move it.

  • Electericwater

    great job

  • JW

    Getting ready for new home wiring. Need to pull a lot of basic “lighting and outlet” circuits. I read I can pair these with 3-wire (ie two hots). Seems to make sense to me but do I have to tie the breaker handles similar to old style kitchen counter outlets? Or can I just wire nut the second hot splice as it passes through the outlet box? (The issue being potentially having one hot still live in the box after shutting of the other one.)

  • Glstone65

    I bought two new ceiling lights to replace two ceiling lights, one in the utility room and one in the upstairs hallway. When I got home I noticed a warning on the side of the boxes saying that the the min 90 degree C lead conductors. I opened one and inside it said that most homes built before 1985 only has 60 degree C wireing. How can I be sure which wire my house has?

  • Teresa

    I would like to know if there are any code regulations around the placement of an electrical outlet on the wall next to a gas cooktop?  Gas cook top to left then outlet and counter to right.

  • Joheczko

    Our new home has been wired by a licensed electrician (permit, inspection and all) but now we want another electrician to install potlights, lightfixtures, recepticals, switches etc., or does the original electrician have to finish the job?.  We are located in Ontario, Canada.

    • Electricwater

      no you do not need the same Electrical to carry out the job, its the reason electricians stick to the code so any other licence electrician can continue on the works at hand, pending permits if needed

  • Don

    When a high voltage panel feeds a transformer that feeds a low voltage panel is it required for the low voltage panel to have a main breaker.  High voltage panel, transformer and low voltage panel are adjacent to each other.

    • Electericwater

      yes this practice is always best, for personal protection and isolation to carry out works on the individual units 

  • Sherry_kennedy

    I am wondering if their is a safety code at a Commercial place for wiring –  a track light which has exposed wiring, no bulb can be fitted as the receptical is hanging down. 

    • Electericwater

      well firstly- that’s just unsafe, you don’t need any code to understand the risk of electric shock 

  • do infant proof plugs need to be installed in outlets for code  as opposed to regular outlet plugs

  • jay

    is there a allowed space when running a service line to the main panel from the can along a basement wall?

  • NigelH

    I live in Ontario Canada. I have and existing ceiling light in the dining room that is also connected to 9 other devices.
    I want to install 8 new pot lights in the ceiling so I will need a separate circuit. By the CEC can I have a two gang box on the wall and have two circuits entering this box. One circuit for the existing light switch and one circuit for the new pot lights. I am getting conflicting opinions as to whether this is safe. Obviously the neutrals for each circuit will be separated.
    Appreciate you advice.

  • j r

    Hello! I am in NB Canada and I have a quick question about the location of our breaker box in our apartment. So, it is located in a “shed” that we use to enter our apartment. This shed has no lockiing door and the big thing that concerns me is there is a hole in the roof right above the breaker. So right now its snowing on my breaker and obviously the wiring comeing out of the panel is intact but this is exposed to the “elements” as well. Should we be concernewd about shock or fire or anything and is this legal??
    Thank you!

    • John Austin

      That is not legal and is not safe. It sounds serious enough to break your lease.

      Imagine heavy heavy rain coming in the hole. This could cause a fire or a very serious short between the incoming ‘hot’ wires in your service feed and ground without any overcurrent protection. Take some photographs to the municipal inspectors office or the local fire chief.

  • SLW

    In Alberta can you place your front loading washer and dryer under the electrical panel? It is located on the wall at about 4′ from the floor. the washer and dryer would have a counter top over them and it would be under the panel?

    • Internetelectrician

      Many electrical service panel are located in a utility room, and lots of times this is also the laundry room. No problem!

  • john

    Can you plug an LED light into a GFI outlet, Is it a code violation?What article?


The Basics of Household Wiring DVD

"If you're looking for a good reference to help you understand simple home wiring, I personally recommend 'The Basics of Household Wiring' DVD".

Terry Peterman, the Internet Electrician
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