Author(s): Derek Vigstol. Published on September 1, 2020.

In Compliance | NEC

NFPA LiNK: A game-changing platform for electrical information


In August, you may have tuned into the virtual reveal of NFPA LiNK™, a game-changing new information-access platform for NFPA codes and standards. You might have noticed a few features that looked interesting, or even a thing or two that might make your work life just a bit more efficient. Regardless, this is just the tip of the iceberg so far for NFPA LiNK—there is much more to come as this platform is built out.

This dynamic new access to information holds many exciting possibilities for the electrical world, starting with inspections. Like it or not, effective enforcement of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) is key to ensuring a built environment that is essentially free from electrical hazards. However, in today’s political climate we are seeing building departments suffer funding losses or lose quality people to budget cuts—or even to plain old politics. In any case, more is being asked of those that remain.

Imagine a building inspector who is suddenly asked to start performing electrical inspections. If he doesn’t have time to go through the proper educational channels to learn what the electrician knows about the install, how can he effectively enforce the NEC? This is where NFPA LiNK can come in. Through the situational navigation, this newly minted electrical inspector with minimal knowledge of the NEC can navigate the needed code requirements based on where they are in the building. Using NFPA LiNK, the inspector can stand in a dwelling unit kitchen and click on an image of a countertop receptacle; up pops the information that these receptacles must be GFCI protected, they must be fed from at least two small appliance branch circuits, and that no point along the countertop wall line can be further than two feet from a receptacle. Instead of needing a basic knowledge of the NEC to find these requirements, they simply appear for the inspector based on where in the building he’s inspecting.

NFPA LiNK can also help a master electrician with an extensive knowledge of the rules and requirements that apply to their job. First, if a user knows the NEC well, then they know that the first requirement they need is also likely to start a “follow the bouncing ball” process that potentially takes them to an assortment of locations in the code. But what if they could create a playlist of code requirements? In a challenging installation like a healthcare facility, for example, users could refer to this predetermined list of NEC and other NFPA document requirements that they would reference often. They could also create a playlist of sorts for tasks they perform on a regular basis, like ampacity or raceway fill calculations; a click of a button would open Table 310.16, 110.14(C), 210.19, and tables 310.15(B)(1) and (C)(1). This feature would eliminate the need to flip back and forth through the book to find these needed reference tables, freeing up time for the installer to focus on the task at hand: properly installing the system.

The NFPA LiNK platform has the potential to be the central hub for all NFPA codes and standards information. Perhaps somewhere in the future it can connect users with product certification details. Maybe the scan of a code on equipment could bring up installation instructions and cut sheets. Maybe NFPA LiNK enables a future where inspectors can walk through a building taking pictures with a tablet, and the platform automatically offers code requirements based on the image.

A few decades ago, not many people could describe what the Internet might become, and fewer still could articulate how it would change the world forever. Thanks to NFPA LiNK, the codes and standards world is considering a tool with similar potential. We may not be entirely sure where this information-forward tool will take us, but we know enough to know the game has been changed. 

Derek Vigstol is an NFPA technical lead, Electrical Tech Services. NFPA members and AHJs can use the Technical Questions tab to post queries on NFPA 70 at