Differences Between Canadian Electrical Code & National Electrical Code


The Canadian Electric Code (CEC) and the National Electric Code (NEC) are the rules and regulations that govern the installation of electrical wiring and equipment in residential and commercial properties. The CEC governs these standards in Canada while the NEC governs the electrical standards in the United States. Both the CEC and NEC have similar standards, but the two regulations also have clear differences.

Wiring Clearances

One of the main differences between the NEC and CEC is the wiring clearance requirements. The NEC requires the work clearance on a voltage panel to be six feet six inches high and 30 inches wide with three feet of work clearance in front of the panel. The CEC only requires a minimum of one meter or approximately 39 inches of work space and requires safe footing for the worker to stand while working on the control panel or electrical panel. Other wiring clearance differences are found when it comes to higher voltage panels. The NEC requires a minimum of four feet between 480 volt panels which face each other while the CEC only requires one meter or 39 inches of space between the panels.

Over-current Devices

The over-current device requirements is another difference between NEC and CEC. The NEC limits the number of over-current devices used in a panel board for lighting and appliances to 42 for safety reasons. The CEC has no such requirement limiting the number of over-current devices. The over-current device blows or deactivates the wiring once that wire is overloaded with too much voltage. If the entire control panel is overloaded with electricity, all of these over-current devices will blow out at the same time, creating an explosion inside the panel. Limiting the number of over-current devices located inside the control panel prevents a major explosion from occurring.

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Terminology Differences

Another major difference between the CEC and NEC is the terminology used in each electrical code manual. A grounding conductor in the CEC is the main electrode driven into the ground, which protects the electrical equipment from overloading when a power surge occurs or lightning strikes the electrical wires. NEC refers to this electrical device as a grounding electrode conductor. A grounded conductor in the NEC is a wire which runs through the electrical system, commonly referred to as a neutral wire, and serves as a current return path for electrical services. CEC calls this neutral wire an identified conductor. These terminology differences makes the codes hard to understand or difficult to interpret between electricians on either side of the border.