It’s no secret that many electrical professionals have a love/hate relationship with the National Electrical Code (NEC). The good news is it’s revised on a three-year cycle. The bad news is that three years pass all too quickly. Just when you think you’ve got a firm grip on the last set of revisions, a new comprehensive set of changes comes rolling at you. One would think that a document that’s been around since the late 1890s would only require minor tweaks and revisions. However, the steady introduction of new products and technologies into the marketplace — coupled with the release of new research findings by various public and private groups — creates a seemingly never-ending flow of necessary revisions (some of which are comprehensive) to this widely accepted electrical code.

In our continued efforts to serve your Code needs, we’ve enlisted the help of our trusty NEC Consultant Mike Holt to shed light on the key changes in this new edition of the Code. Once again, he’s delivered in a big way, covering everything from new GFCI and AFCI requirements to more grounding and bonding rules to conductor ampacity guidelines. All 25 changes highlighted in this article are supported by an analysis section, where Holt offers keen insight into why the change was brought about and how it might affect you on future projects. Although we’ve highlighted what we consider to be the most influential changes, it’s important to realize that this cycle produced a multitude of revisions.

So find a quiet place, dive into this article, and take all the time you need to absorb some of the most significant new articles, sections, exceptions, and fine print notes in the 2011 NEC. When you’re finished, you’ll undoubtedly feel one step ahead of the game.