There are so many different handbooks and codes out there, and it can be difficult to know which you need to follow. When it comes to electricians, though, two of the most important documents are NEC Handbook and Codebook.
These two are also the most important building documents for any building owner, engineer, or architect. But what’s the difference between them both? How do you use them? Or how do you even know which one you need to follow?
NEC Handbook Vs Codebook: What’s the Difference
Simply put, the NEC handbook is a comprehensive guide to the National Electrical Code that provides background information, explanations of the code, and helpful tips for understanding and applying the requirements.
The Codebook, on the other hand, is a more concise reference that includes the full text of the Code, along with the commentary and illustrations to aid in understanding and applying the requirements. In other words, the Codebook is a condensed version of the Code itself, containing only the actual text of the Code and its requirements. There is NO background information or explanations included in the Codebook.
Another notable difference is that NEC Handbook is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and is the most widely used electrical code in the United States.
The NEC Codebook, on the other hand, is a compilation of the NEC code and is published by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI). Although the IAEI codebook is not as widely used as the NEC Handbook, it is well recognized by many jurisdictions.
NEC Handbook Vs Codebook: Which is Easier To Understand
The code book is written entirely in legalese and it is 900 pages long, making it quite difficult to grasp on its own. On the bright side though, the manual is helpful since it clarifies the NEC in plain language. The materials provided by Mike Holt are excellent, they help people understand legalese, and they are well-liked for a reason.
That said, none of the aforementioned is in any way an installation guide or a design guide. A DIYer is better off, at least for some parts, using one of the many DIY or home wiring books that are available, and for anything more complex, you might want to get your work examined.
It’s important to keep in mind that the majority of these books are revised for each code cycle, so it’s best to purchase the version that was written for the code revision that is currently in effect in your area even if it’s no longer available brand-new. Besides, it’s simple to find older revisions of these books used online.
For instance, Black & Decker publishes a great line of books for do-it-yourselfers and homeowners, including one specifically on electrical work and another called Codes for Homeowners that covers a wide range of subjects. Instead of purchasing one, you may locate them in many libraries and check it out!
A broad introduction to the subjects most pertinent to a specific sort of homeowner project is highly beneficial, and that’s what Black & Decker’s books accomplish effectively. This is true even though the NEC or other code books are valuable resources. Many home improvement businesses also sell these books.
NEC Handbook Vs Codebook: Recommendation
It goes without saying that you would select a book that is appropriate for the sort of task you are performing (e.g. home improvement and oil-rig wiring).
Start with a DIY book that “speaks your language,” which you can find by donning PPE, visiting the library at home shops, which still have them, or genuine municipal libraries (though being cautious of outrageously out-of-date or foreign books.
Then, rely on websites and online forums like StackExchange for detailed queries on the gore that go beyond the scope of the book.
Then reach out to a reputable, competent electrical supply company for advice on essential components and the like (e.g. what kind of cable clamp can bring 4 Romex into a 1″ knockout). After that, work on a searchable Code for Code references.
The codebook on paper and the guidebook in.pdf format is usually considered the best options. The guidebook itself has so many details in it that you can’t find the area you need as quickly after a time when you clearly know what you are searching for in the code.
Moreover, these books may often be browsed easily. Choose the one you prefer and order it via mail. Except for books, experts have it that nothing electronic should ever be purchased from Amazon.
The Bottom Line
What is the difference? Well, it’s all code in the codebook. The manual is entirely written in code, with comments and images in virtually every section. This makes it difficult to search for the precise code you want. Since none of the other code books (IBC, IRC, etc.) and it’s hard to explain why the NEC has one.
The book that you should follow really depends on the function it is intended to serve. For the most part, you should be able to use the basic Code book to check for the real criteria (ampacity, motor current, support requirements, authorized usage, etc.). Still, the Handbook is more helpful if you need additional information, plus it provides graphics and illustrations that are often beneficial.
You will realize that the code information is the same in both the handbook and the code book. The handbook basically incorporates illustrations and comments, which, according to most people, make it a little bit simpler to comprehend and help them recall where the code sections were.
Remember you can always refer to the manual. In fact, there are quite a few images and photographs in the NECH; for instance, in the 2008 NECH, see exhibits 250.16, 250.37, 250.38, 250.39, 250.48, 285.1, and 285.2, among many more.