The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announced that it has achieved the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) exemption of all outdoor HVAC equipment from the 2020 and 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection. The exemption is in place until September 2026.
This achievement stems from a two-year-long campaign of proposals and appeals submitted to the NFPA Standards Council by ACCA, Leading Builders of America (LBA), and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI).
"It has been a long battle trying to convince the NFPA to exempt all outdoor HVAC from the NEC's GFCI protection," said David Bixby, ACCA manager of codes and standards. "It was critical to expand the exemption for all equipment until September 1, 2026. This will give the industry time to research the reasons behind the nuisance trips and develop technical solutions for the applicable appliance standard. This code change would have crippled our industry. Thanks to a concerted effort between ACCA members, its committees and Allied Contracting Organizations (ACOs), and our trade association allies, we were able to help educate the NFPA on a better course of action."
On August 10, 2022, Ed Lehr, president, Jack Lehr Heating, Cooling, & Electric in Allentown, PA testified on behalf of ACCA at an NFPA Standards Council hearing. He was joined by representatives from LBA and AHRI. Lehr's testimony proved to the Council that the current code requirement would cause excessive nuisance trips for the HVACR industry, wasting thousands of hours for technicians and putting customers in harm's way if they tried to reset or bypass the GFCI device to keep equipment operative.
“Thanks to the group effort, ACCA succeeded in leading the charge to rewrite this bad code,” said Barton James, ACCA president and CEO. “This code was already negatively impacting contractors, their customers, and the entire HVACR Industry in states that had adopted it. Its impact would have only been compounded with future adoptions. ACCA is thrilled to announce the success of this campaign.”
ACCA recognizes the following for their part in this achievement: Ed Lehr; Devorah Jakubowsky, executive director, Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association (TACCA), an ACCA Allied Contracting Organization (ACO); ACCA's Products Committee and its Codes Subcommittee; and ACCA's Allied Industry Organizations.