2005 NEC - They should get out in the field!

I was a state Electrical inspector from 1988 to 1996. Since 1996 I have returned to the tools and work as a construction electrician. I have been
reading some of the intellectual writings put online about application of the NEC rules. I have to say, there are entirely too many people teaching and writing about the NEC that have no idea of what goes on in the field, or else they are ignoring the facts. I think too many of them have been away from the tools so long that they live in an ivory tower far removed from the real world.
In the real world we bend the rules, modify the rules, and cheat to make it work and to make a profit while attempting to make a safe installation. So often we design our own installation to use the available materials rather than buy the materials to meet the engineer's design - if there ever was one. Anyway, that is the way I see it these days.
I still maintain and run electrician.com and attempt to provide continuing education and online calculators for practical electricians. But everyday I cringe at what I discover and learn in the field, and am baffled how I am willing to modify a code rule and find a defense for it to save a few hours work. And I think I am a lot like many others out there doing electrical work.
Does this make me a bad electrician? Maybe yes, and maybe no. It does make me an employable electrician - if you get my drift!
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Sure bend the rules. Can you sleep at night knowing that your shoddy work killed a family?
I was a state Electrical inspector from 1988 to 1996. Since 1996 I have returned to the tools and work as a construction electrician. I have been reading some of the intellectual writings put online about application of the NEC rules. I have to say, there are entirely too many people teaching and writing about the NEC that have no idea of what goes on in the field, or else they are ignoring the facts. I think too many of them have been away from the tools so long that they live in an ivory tower far removed from the real world.
In the real world we bend the rules, modify the rules, and cheat to make it work and to make a profit while attempting to make a safe installation. So often we design our own installation to use the available materials rather than buy the materials to meet the engineer's design - if there ever was one. Anyway, that is the way I see it these days.
I still maintain and run electrician.com and attempt to provide continuing education and online calculators for practical electricians. But everyday I cringe at what I discover and learn in the field, and am baffled how I am willing to modify a code rule and find a defense for it to save a few hours work. And I think I am a lot like many others out there doing electrical work.
Does this make me a bad electrician? Maybe yes, and maybe no. It does make me an employable electrician - if you get my drift!
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killed a

What are your credentials to make this statement?
Many, many code rules are based on theory rather than actual practice. Some code rules are instituted at the behest of an industry trying to enhance the bottom line.
I often see new code rules that I would love to see the substantian for. Empiricle data that is used to victimize all users of the NEC may actually only apply to a particular industry.
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for instance?
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| Sure bend the rules. Can you sleep at night knowing that your shoddy work killed a | family?
Bending the rules does not necessarily mean shoddy work. The rules might have to be bent just to make things safer than normal. Much of what NEC specifies isn't specifically for safety of that work, per se, but to be sure that the next person to come along, we'll call him "the least common denominator", won't be confused and do it all wrong. An example is the requirement for wire color. You can wire up new circuits with all the wrong colors, and the electricity won't know a thing about it; it will be just as safe (assuming you did it right). Subsequent electricians who are at least aware that the colors are wrong (this would be thec ase if there were no rules or standards for color) could deal well with it if they are smart enough. Trouble is, there are today too many that are not. Now I would not suggest using the wrong colors, and in fact it is allowed in certain cases to remark wires to another color (to handle material availability issues, I presume).
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are you saying that there are so many codes and rules, some even conflicting, that its possible to find discrepancies in even the most expert, professional installation?
i recall the time i had a city inspector (with a badge and a gun) tell me my extention cord was the wrong color (orange)
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| I was a state Electrical inspector from 1988 to 1996. Since 1996 I have | returned to the tools and work as a construction electrician. I have been | reading some of the intellectual writings put online about application of | the NEC rules. I have to say, there are entirely too many people teaching | and writing about the NEC that have no idea of what goes on in the field, or | else they are ignoring the facts. I think too many of them have been away | from the tools so long that they live in an ivory tower far removed from the | real world.
Or the rules may be more intended to deal with the lowest common denominator in electricians, and where applicable, DIY homeowners. And maybe those teaching efforts are as well.
| In the real world we bend the rules, modify the rules, and cheat to make it | work and to make a profit while attempting to make a safe installation. So | often we design our own installation to use the available materials rather | than buy the materials to meet the engineer's design - if there ever was | one. Anyway, that is the way I see it these days.
Lots, maybe even most, electricians can do that properly. Some would not be able to figure it our correctly. I read about the retired electrician who installed new grounded outlets with no ground wire for a friend, and tied the grounds to neutral. At least he's retired.
| I still maintain and run electrician.com and attempt to provide continuing | education and online calculators for practical electricians. But everyday I | cringe at what I discover and learn in the field, and am baffled how I am | willing to modify a code rule and find a defense for it to save a few hours | work. And I think I am a lot like many others out there doing electrical | work.
That was an interesting voltage drop calculator. I ran it on some extreme values, where the voltage drop should have been half or more of the supply voltage, and it gave me negative voltage drop instead (as it were trying to tell me that thin wire run too long would create power). Maybe that's what has the "free power" kooks going :-)
I have on my projects plate to build a new voltage drop calculator that will not only get the right voltage drop, but also draw pretty graphs that can show the drop over either changing distance, changing wire size, or changing loads. Unfortunately, the calculations are not that simple, especially considering mixed linear, reactive, and harmonic loads ... and loads that change due to the effect of the voltage drop itself.
| Does this make me a bad electrician? Maybe yes, and maybe no. It does make | me an employable electrician - if you get my drift!
In my view that does not make you a bad electrician. But I would not want a bad electrician trying to do some of what you describe. Maybe more theory is required in the education process?
I'm not an electrician and do not plan to be. My career field is networks and programming. One problem I have seen in my own field is that new tools and methods intended to make programming easier and more reliable for good programmers have also had the effect of enabling bad programmers to be able to accomplish something where without those tools they would fail miserably. As good as these tools are, they cannot overcome a bad programmer, and in my experience, these are causing more bad programmers to enter the field. For example, virtually every year 2000 bug I found on or after 1 Jan 2000 was written in a language like this, or otherwise used some tools. In my opinion, entry into the field needs to be restricted by some people to those who are smart enough to not do the mistakes in applying their efforts the wrong way.
I'm not sure how that can be applied to electricians. Maybe what is needed is to split the NEC into code specific to certain levels of qualifications (with the bottom rung being the residential DIY-er).
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"I'm not sure how that can be applied to electricians. Maybe what is needed is to split the NEC into code specific to certain levels of qualifications (with the bottom rung being the residential DIY-er)."
So I can call myself a DIY-er and get away with murder?!? Good call. Where do I sign up?
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| "I'm not sure how that can be applied to electricians. Maybe what is needed | is to split the NEC into code specific to certain levels of qualifications | (with the bottom rung being the residential DIY-er)." | | So I can call myself a DIY-er and get away with murder?!? Good call. Where do I sign | up?
That's quite a stretch of logic!
No one said anything about murder ... until you did.
Clue: The code for the DIY would be more strict and specific as to how to do things. The code for top level electricians would give them more leeway in figuring out how to do unusual situations safely.
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wrote:

I think you missed Phil's point. The premise is that an experienced electrician or engineer should be allowed MORE latitude than a DIYer. A DIY should be required to follow code to the letter since they have little basis to judge exceptions.
My belief is that a properly written code should be followed at all times. There could be more exceptions (X is permitted under proper supervision...) that would allow for the practical side of the world.
Just how much danger will 405 degrees of bend in the conduit run between boxes cause ? More than an extra box in an inconvenient location?

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The NEC is a great example of the concept that IQs add recipocially. Take a code comitte with an average IQ of 130 and they produce a section that reads like it was written by a grade school dropout. You can read a lot of sections of the NEC and not know what the hell they were talking about. I think I read in EC&M a few years ago that the purpose of the NEC was not to prevent fires or save lives but to generate funds for the NFPA. It's their biggest cash cow and it provides the payroll and funds for a lot of other activities as the NFPA. It also supports a lot of people who run seminars and classed on lwhat the NEC says. How many other books do you buy that require you to buy another book to tell you what the first book said? First the NFPA sells you a codebook and then they sell you a handbook to tell you what the code book says. More dollars to the NFPA. Ever wonder what the cost of a poorly written code is? Think about all the research, debates, red tags ( unintentional things because someone misunderstood the code) that waste time and cost money. I don't think you can say your bending the code, because a lot of times you can't tell what it was in the first place. And has any one told the NFPA that one picture is worth a thousand words??
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You can't blame it all on NFPA. There are some building officials who get so hung up on little bullshit that they miss the overall intent. Swimming pool ladder sockets is one I am fighting about right now. Permacast (the major manufacturer) has a superior design for the grounding but the old farts are tagging them because a #8 is "under a screw". This is is in two molded grooves and far superior to a separate lug under one screw that will get twisted loose before the concrete hits it but there is no talking to these guys. They are demanding a proof of U/L approval and Permacast says this is not enough of their product line to spend that much effort on. The guy I talked to wasn't even sure they made them. I still have an open challenge to any inspector or building official. Put on your lug, hook up a #8 solid and clamp the other end. Now twist that socket around like you are a concrete guy trying to position it and see how easy it is to loosen the lug. Then try the "wire under the screw" laying the #8 in the groove, tighten the screw and just try to break it loose, try anything. There are actually 2 grooves (one on each side) so you can fold the wire back and get two connections You will break the #8 before it comes loose, even with one. "Thinking" does not seem to be in the job description of BOs and I though that was why we had 90-4. BTW in my pool I used the molded "lug" in the cup, not a separate lug. It looked like the safest way to go for me and my family.
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