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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_wiring_in_North_America Call us for all your general contracting needs! We build anything , anytime, anywhere. Call us if you have questions about building or just to talk ! thanks
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The National Electrical Code (NEC) specifies acceptable wiring methods and materials. Local jurisdictions usually adopt the NEC or another published code and then distribute documents describing how local codes vary from the published codes. They cannot distribute the NEC itself for copyright reasons.
The purpose of the NEC is to protect persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. The NEC is not any jurisdiction’s electrical code per se; rather, it is an influential work of standards that local legislators (e.g., city council members, state legislators, etc. as appropriate) tend to use as a guide when enacting local electrical codes. The NFPA states that excerpts quoted from the National Electrical Code must have a disclaimer indicating that the excerpt is not the complete and authoritative position of the NFPA and that the original NEC document must be consulted as the definitive reference.
New construction, additions or major modifications must follow the relevant code for that jurisdiction, which is not necessarily the latest version of the NEC. Regulations in each jurisdiction will indicate when a change to an existing installation is so great that it must then be rebuilt to comply with the current electrical code. Generally existing installations are not required to be changed to meet new codes.
Other code requirements vary by jurisdiction in the United States. In many areas, a homeowner, for example, can perform household wiring for a building which the owner occupies; this may even be complete wiring of a home. A few cities  have more restrictive rules and require electrical installations to be done by licensed electricians. The work will be inspected by a designated authority at several stages before permission is obtained to energize the wiring from the local electric utility; the inspector may be an employee of the state or city, or an employee of an electrical supply utility.
Design and installation conventions
With lamp cord wire the ribbed wire is the neutral, and the smooth wire is the hot. NEC2008 400.22(f) allows surface marking with ridged, grooves or white stripes on the surface of lamp cord. With transparent cord the hot wire is copper colored, and the neutral is silver colored.
Grounding wire of circuit may be bare or identified insulated wire of green or having green stripes. Note that all metallic systems in a building are to be bonded to the building grounding system, such as water, natural gas, HVAC piping, and others.
Larger wires are furnished only in black; these may be properly identified with suitable paint or tape.
All wiring in a circuit except for the leads that are part of a device or fixture must be the same gauge. Note that different size wires may be used in the same raceway so long as they are all insulated for the maximum voltage of any of these circuits.
The Code gives rules for calculating circuit loading.
Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is required on receptacles in wet locations. This includes all small appliance circuits in a kitchen, receptacles in a crawl space, basements, bathrooms and a receptacle for the laundry room, as well as outdoor circuits within easy reach of the ground. However, they are not required for refrigerators because unattended disconnection could cause spoilage of food, nor for garbage disposals. Instead, for refrigerators and other semi-permanent appliances in basements and wet areas, a one-outlet non-GFCI dedicated receptacle is generally used. Two-wire outlets having no grounding conductor may be protected by an upstream gfci and must be labelled “no grounding”. Most GFCI receptacles allow the connection and have GFCI protection for down-stream connected receptacles. Receptacles protected in this manner should be labeled “GFCI protected”.
Most circuits have the metallic components interconnected with a grounding wire connected to the third, round prong of a plug, and to metal boxes and appliance chassis.
Furnaces, water heaters, heat pumps, central air conditioning units and stoves must be on dedicated circuits
The code provides rules for sizing electrical boxes for the number of wires and wiring devices in the box.
In a fixture, the brass screw is hot, and the silver screw is neutral. The grounding screw is usually painted green.
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