Browse NFPA codes online

I just found out that The National Fire Protection Association has a method you can use to browse all of its publications online. This includes the National Electrical Code and its associated offshoots. This is really nice, because printed versions of the NEC (NFPA 70) sell for upwards of $60, and then you still need to get NFPA 7A, which specifically covers single- and double-family dwellings. And on top of that, the codes are updated every three years, at which point you need to buy all-new copies if you want to stay up-to-date. This is a little pricey for a weekend shade-tree electrician like me. However, a copy of the NEC is essential if you want to do safe, code-compliant work that will be approved by an inspector. It’s always been frustrating to me that these documents cost so much — no one, be it contractor or homeowner, professional or amateur, should be required to pay for what is ostensibly a book of requirements. IMO, the high price point of the printed NEC promotes shoddy, non-permitted, non-compliant work, which is not good for anyone.

Now, all is not perfect. NFPA still wants to make money selling hardcopy and PDF versions of the code, so the free access you get is a bit crippled. It works via a Java applet that doesn’t allow printing, cut-and-paste, or search. However, it’s better than nothing, and I have to give props to NFPA for recognizing the importance of providing easy access to these codes. There are certain things that are more important than making money..

Oh yeah.. here’s the link.