Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between NEC and IEC


A particular country cannot truly achieve development and economic success without investing in technology and advanced digitalization. In fact, economists have considered technology as one of a country’s major resources which serve as a contributing factor to the progress of a particular economy.

Then again, a country such as the United States cannot simply procure machinery and computers and utilize them for both the economic and political economy without following a framework or set of regulations. Technology would be a good catalyst for the advancement of countries, but it may also be the root cause of major downturns if not managed properly.

The National Electric Code or NEC and IEC are probably two of the most practical solutions to the organization of technology and electronic management in the United States. The NEC was published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Its development was caused by the need of North America to have a standard installation of the electrical system as the machinery and digitalization in the region continuously advance.

This being said, it is safe to assume that the NEC had evolved in time for the progress of technology in North America. Currently, the NEC contains within itself mandatory language that can be used by designers and installers of electronics in ensuring that the safety levels are met.
Presently, 50 states are using the NEC. However, neighboring countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Columbia have also adopted the code for an organized installation of electronics.

IEC 60364, on the other hand, was published by the International Electrotechnical Commission. While it also governs the installation of machinery and other electronics in the country, the IEC can only provide guidance. This is because of the failure to harmonize the installation requirements back in 1969 due to the irreconcilable differences that have been prevalent in Europe.

As a result, the IEC stopped at being the source of guidance of authorities developing national wiring principles seen as the basis of further development of practices. The IEC 60364 also includes rules that stop at providing installation guidelines for wall socket outlets and veers away from focusing on the overcurrent protection like how the NEC does. The usage of the IEC, therefore, can be risky as it may result in inappropriate or hazardous installations.
In addition to this, the IEC differs from the NEC as it is not designed to be suitable as a model code document. In fact, it cannot be considered as a code itself as there is always a need to come up with a document compatible with the IEC for the engineers to have a fool-proof installation of electronics.

Simply put, the IEC 60364 can be seen as similar to the NEC because of its ability to provide a model for development of national requirements in the context of technological innovations and advancements. Nonetheless, the IEC has been found to be unsuitable for direct adoption of installation practices.
While the NEC was developed after a century of development of electrical systems in America, IEC was simply formulated for the intention of harmonizing the existing rules among European countries to facilitate trade. This is why the NEC contains in itself a comprehensive set of rules that can be used for designing and installing a uniform electrical system. On the other hand, the IEC is a mere collection of documents collated to define clear, fundamental principles and practices with the European concept of wiring and distribution as the basis.
The coverage of the NEC of hazardous locations including explosive atmospheres is also worth mentioning as the IEC falls short in doing so.


1.Both the NEC and IEC set requirements that cover the installation and management of electronic systems along with wiring and electric shock protection.
2.NEC is intended to provide safety, while IEC only serves as a guidance.
3.NEC was developed in the United States while the IEC follows the European concept and regulations.
4.NEC is all encompassing, while IEC needs further and supporting documents for uniformity.

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  1. The article is wrong about IEC.

    NEC / NFPA is one of the national American organizations producing national standards, IEC is the international equivalent.

    IEC is an International Organization with participation of national standardization organizations from American, European, Asian and African countries developing International standards and regulations.

  2. It’s COLOMBIA! not Columbia

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