2018 Canadian Electrical Code Consultation
A key part of the electrical safety system in British Columbia (BC) is the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC), published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The CEC sets the standards for installation, operation, and maintenance of electrical systems. Currently, the 2015 edition of the CEC is the version adopted by Electrical Safety Regulation and is used in BC.
The 2018 edition of the CEC has been published, and Technical Safety BC is currently reviewing it and considering recommending the code for adoption in British Columbia. Technical Safety BC is now seeking public input and comment on the proposal of adopting the 2018 CEC.
When a new edition of the CEC is published, Technical Safety BC reviews it to understand the technical, safety, and socioeconomic impacts of the changed code. As part of this review, Technical Safety BC convenes a group of industry experts to advise us of the impact of the changes and to provide recommendations on adoption. Technical Safety BC also conducts a public consultation to collect input and recommendations from anyone who wishes to participate in the process. Input and suggestions from both the advisory panel and public consultation are then considered by Technical Safety BC when making recommendations regarding the adoption of the CEC to the Province.
Following this review, Technical Safety BC may recommend that the Province of BC: i) adopt the CEC in its entirety in BC as the electrical code for British Columbia, ii) adopt the CEC with BC-specific variations, or iii) that the CEC not be adopted into BC. The Province of BC will review Technical Safety BC’s recommendations and conduct additional analysis to determine what action, if any, to take. If the Province decides to adopt the 2018 CEC into regulation, additional information will be made available on the consultation page of our website(e.g., transition timeframes).
Key Changes in the 2018 Code
Like most editions of the CEC, the 2018 CEC introduced hundreds of changes to the electrical code. A significant amount of them are editorial or minor changes that help create clarity and make it easier for those using the code to reference and apply rules.
Minor changes, for example, included removing the term “specifically approved for the purpose” throughout the 2018 edition of the code, as it was already defined as a requirement in the first section and therefore did not add any extra value or clarity by being restated throughout. Another example is the movement of the rules related to conductor ampacities from section 12 of the CEC to section 4. This allows all rules relating to conductors to be found in one place to make it easier to reference.
In addition to these smaller changes, there are new rules included in the 2018 code that address evolving electrical technology, respond to identified issues in the code in terms of practices or engineering that can be changed to better address safety or innovation, and foster alignment with other codes and standards. These key changes include:
- Altering load calculation rules to enable electric vehicle charging systems to be installed to better manage electricity demand from charging vehicles.
- Requiring that powered switches be wired with an identified conductor to more safely install switches that may be powered, such as illuminated switches or LED displays.
- Changes to working space requirements around transformers, to ensure that safe space is provided for maintenance.
- Changes to requirements around separation of line and load conductors in service boxes.
- Modification to existing requirements to allow smoke alarms containing battery backup to be powered from a branch circuit that is GFCI or AFCI protected. This allows more circuits to be protected by an interrupter and still have smoke detectors connected to them.
- Changes to requirements for extra-low voltage and power-over-ethernet systems to allow for innovation in technology and flexibility in building design.
- Significant revision to the requirements for grounding and bonding of installations.
- Requiring that hazardous site assessments be conducted by “a qualified person.”
As these are a highlight of key changes, details regarding other changes from the 2015 CEC are detailed in the CSA’s Memorandum of Revision, available through Technical Safety BC’s website.
Analysis of the Changes
Technical Safety BC’s safety management team has met with key stakeholders and reviewed the changes to determine their impacts on safety, impacts on industry, and any cost impacts or impacts to business and consumers.
Some changes, such as changes to identified conductors in switches, may have a small impact on costs for wiring construction as additional conductor wire must be provided at the switch. Other changes, such as allowing battery-backup smoke detectors to be installed into circuits that are arc fault interrupted, reduce wiring costs. Financial impacts to consumers from the 2018 electrical code are likely to be low to negligible. For example the identified conductor in a switch may increase the cost of a switch by $20-$75, but that will be balanced by cost savings in other parts of the code.
There are some changes to electrical practice that will be introduced by this code, including revisions to the requirements for grounding and bonding. These changes will require that electrical contractors update their knowledge and training relating to the new code. Knowledge updates on the electrical code is also a requirement of the Field Safety Representative program.
The results of Technical Safety BC’s review of changes to the code indicates that the benefits to safety and support of technological innovation outweigh any costs or other negative impacts that may arise from the changes within the 2018 CEC. Public consultation is necessary to determine if this initial review matches industry and public expectations of the revised code.
Variations to the Code
Technical Safety BC’s review of the 2018 CEC indicates no immediate need to vary the code for safety or technical reasons, though review of any issues submitted through public consultation will be considered prior to making a final recommendation.
Technical Safety BC has received one request to vary the code on adoption to allow the use of t-tap cable connectors in the film and entertainment industry, and is considering recommending that variation. A separate discussion paper is available on the topic of that request and can be found on the consultation page.
As part of Technical Safety BC’s review of the CEC, this public consultation seeks out your input as to the impacts of changes in the code. When reviewing this paper and the analysis of the changes to the CEC, if you have suggestions or comments you wish Technical Safety BC to consider, you are encouraged to submit them as part of this consultation. You may also submit your opinion on whether the 2018 CEC should be adopted in British Columbia. Specifically, we are interested in the following areas of impact:
- Technical safety – do the electrical code changes or suggestions increase or decrease technical safety? Why?
- Other relevant regulations, codes and standards – do the electrical code changes or suggestions align with other regulations, codes and standards? Or do they introduce discrepancies?
- Change of practice – do the electrical code changes or suggestions align with current industry practices? Or do they represent a change to industry practice? If so, how significant will that change in practice be?
- Cost – do the electrical code changes or suggestions create cost savings? Or do they introduce additional costs to industry? If so, who specifically will be impacted by these costs?
Comments, suggestions, and input submitted through the public consultation are carefully considered both by an advisory panel of industry experts and Technical Safety BC using the following criteria:
- Fit to the impact criteria described above, and
- Evidence-based (please provide examples or references where you can).
To participate in the public consultation, please provide your feedback via the comment form. Please ensure your comments are clear, relevant to the topic, consider the impact criteria above, and are evidence-based.