The Crazy NEC Electrical Code

by Colin Berkshire

We’re being driven nuts by the new electrical code that is going into effect. I’ll just share a few examples.

It is illegal to take a raspberry Pi computer and mount it into a box in the wall to display the weather, or to control lights, or to show anything or to do anything. The Raspberry Pi isn’t UL/ETL listed and therefore may not be permanently mounted. Everything that is electrical and that is “permanently” mounted must now be tested by and pay royalties to the UL mafia.

It is illegal for your IT crew to pull ethernet wire, or to crimp connectors. That is, unless they have an electrician’s license (which takes some 2000~4000 hours of training in most states.)

PBX systems like the Grandstream UCM cannot be legally used. It lacks a UL listing mark. The new code defines rack mounting equipment as a “permanent installation.”

Most WiFi access points are not UL listed. You cannot legally mount them to a ceiling or wall because that would make them be “permanently attached” under the new code. And, anything permanently attached bust pay a royalty to UL.

You know those nifty flexible LED light strips you bought on Amazon to put under your kitchen cabinets? Illegal in all likelihood.

Thinking of running speaker wires inside the wall of your home using zip-cord? Now illegal. You must use Class-2 or Class-1 wiring. And, speaker wires are NOT allowed to be run inside of the same conduit or raceway as ANY other low voltage wiring. (Huh?)

And, here is the thing that most people don’t understand: If the item is connected through a UL-listed power pack that does not mean that the powered item can be legally used! So the fact that your WiFi Access Point has a UL listed Class 2 power supply does not mean that the access point is a listed device. Each individual, separable component must have its own UL listing.

UL listing is fiercely expensive. It’s about $30,000 a year, plus royalties. That means that it is very expensive to create a product that is not a high-volume production product.

The NEC (National Electrical Code) has gotten o the point that it is an absurd, destructive, terrible regulation.