Businesses across The Sunshine State must follow power regulations if they don’t want to be left in the dark.

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida follows national codes for construction wiring
  • We also follow state-specific electrical regulations
  • Properly wired HVACs, generators, and fire-safety systems are among the most important construction concerns

There were roughly 2.5 million small businesses in Florida in 2020, and we led the nation with most new startups in the first quarter of 2022. This means a lot of existing and new commercial locations need reliable power.

Commercial construction wiring must adhere to strict standards. The last thing you want is to greet the public with a shower of confetti and discount vouchers — only for a Florida electrical inspector to show up on their broomstick.

Just kidding – it’s not that bad if you’re making an effort. Seriously, though: they will shut you down if your facility has bad wiring. Let’s unpack some key electrically related building codes.

Florida construction wiring 101

The state’s core electrical framework follows the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70. The NFPA part stands for National Fire Protection Association and these rules ensure that buildings everywhere are safe from electrical hazards from design onward. In fact, all the codes covered by NFPA 70 deal with varying electrical matters.

These range from regulations governing fire alarms and workplace electrical safety to IT areas and industrial machinery. The codes apply to all types of Florida commercial buildings and businesses, from small restaurants to factories. A casual online reading of the regulations isn’t possible without registering with the NFPA, however.

An inside look at the codes

Since we have our top-secret electrician’s decoder rings, we’re going to cherry-pick some key construction-wiring points from the NFPA 70 2020 edition. We’ll then add Florida-specific electrical considerations to help local companies stay nationally and regionally compliant.

Chapter 2, Article 250: Grounding and Bonding

  • NFPA 70 rules: Electrical systems should, under normal circumstances, be stably earth-connected via non-current-carrying conductive materials. This is to limit any imposed voltage from lightning strikes, line surges, or unintended contact with power lines. 
  • Florida Style: We’re America’s lightning rod. We’re also a hub for hurricanes and tropical storms, which frequently cause line surges and knock power lines to the ground. These are the “abnormal and transient conditions” specified under Florida codes, which local businesses must be wired against. Commercial grounding systems must include information on:
    • Type and location of grounding electrodes
    • Bonding and testing requirements
    • Conductor material type, size, and protection requirements

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Commercial ground wiring must sometimes be designed with the site’s commercial function in mind. 

Chapter 4, Article 440: Air Conditioning and Refrigerating Equipment

  • NFPA 70 rules: Motor-driven air conditioning and refrigeration equipment should have power cords containing leakage current detector interrupters (LCDIs) to prevent current loss. Units must be installed and maintained by licensed contractors and fitted to optimize energy efficiency and support adequate thermal resistance.
  • Florida Style: A comfortable workplace temperature isn’t a fixed number; people have different tolerances. There are only strongly suggested limits. Properly wired air conditioning is essential in maintaining these OSHA-recommended indoor temperatures between 68-76° F. Commercial sites in a subtropical/tropical climate like Florida’s (depending on northerly or southerly location) would benefit most from temperatures in the low 70’s.

    Under Section 503.2.3 of the Advanced Florida Building Code, HVACs must pass performance requirements set by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) measured in seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) values which can vary by system and site. Refrigerating equipment has more firmly defined regulations. Read our previous blogs for more on HVACs, chillers, and refrigerators.

Chapter 4, Article 445: Generators

  • NFPA 70 rules: Generators must be of a type suitable for the power demands of the location for which they are installed. They must be adequately ventilated and well-positioned to allow for easy maintenance access and prevent causing accidents, such as the ignition of combustible materials through sparks.
  • Florida Style: Factoring the right generator into your commercial electrical system is an absolute must regardless of business model. They keep vital production processes running and prevent heat-related illness by maintaining HVAC operations. Generators are also required by Florida law at gas stations and to provide 30 sq. ft. of cooling per resident if you operate a nursing home or assisted-living facility.

Chapter 7, Article 760: Fire Alarm Systems

  • NFPA 70 rules: Govern fire detection devices, alarms, sprinklers, and exits. Circuits controlled and powered by the fire-alarm system include elevator capture and shutdown, door release, damper control, and fan shutdown, making it critical that anti-fire systems are wired carefully.
  • Florida Style: Fire-prevention systems must also adhere to all regulations in Section 901 of Florida codes. They must be professionally wired, follow all occupancy and square-footage directives, and be regularly tested. It’s against Florida law to occupy any part of a commercial building with a fire-protection system that hasn’t been tested and approved by building officials.

The above offers a very general overview of commercial-wiring regulations that apply to Florida businesses. There are a ton of them. It’s a good idea for your organization to have its own digital or paper copy of the NFPA 70, especially with the 2023 version scheduled for October release.

It’s not a cheap book, but there are two silver linings: you only have to buy it every three years, and it can be a priceless backup during inspections and interactions with electrical contractors. They’re not always as knowledgeable — or reputable — as they should be!

Speak to our electrical experts with any questions

The UES team has over 20 years of electrical experience across multiple industries while cultivating relationships with leading contractors and equipment manufacturers. No matter what business you’re in (or preparing to enter), we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

You can be sure we’re operating from the latest edition of the NFPA 70, and that we understand what it all means. Just visit our contact page to get a free quote on any commercial, industrial, or residential electrical project!