Lights. Phone connections. Internet. Heating. Cooling. All of these things are crucial components for just about any location, but especially businesses. As a business owner, you know the importance of keeping the lights on and the wi-fi running, but it’s just as important to ensure your business is in compliance with electrical code. Cities like Chicago have made sweeping changes to their code in recent months, changes that can be somewhat hard to follow. Knowing if your business is in line with these standards isn’t always easy, so here are some tips to ensure that your space is code compliant.


Electrical codes are put in place for a number of reasons. They’re meant to keep buildings safer, energy efficient, more sustainable and less expensive for owners. Additions have been made, such as strict requirements when it comes to using metal conduits. They also include longstanding measures on emergency lighting and generators.

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The City of Chicago recently updated their electrical code to align with the 2017 National Code, which is big news for business owners. Among other things, this means….

  • New lighting calculation methods and technologies that allow up to an 83% reduction in lighting design loads, which significantly lowers the cost of electrical installations in multi-family residential and commercial buildings as well as reduces electricity usage
  • Latest national standards for sustainable technology including solar power and other renewable energy installations and storage
  • Updated requirements for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in new construction buildings
  • Provisions for health care facilities with to allow for enhanced technology and safety
  • Reduced renovation construction costs through expanded use of flexible metal conduit for both residential and non-residential rehabilitation and other updates


Officials in West Suburban Naperville have adopted the 2018 International Building Code, which covers electricity, plumbing, property maintenance and numerous other aspects of running a business. Other suburbs are operating under codes that are slightly older. Roselle, for example, still requires businesses to comply with the 2008 National Electric Code. The point here is that many different communities have different regulations when it comes to electric codes. If existing wiring does not meet local codes, chances are that your building department will not require you to change the wiring. However, if old wiring is unsafe, you should change it. Extensive remodeling also may require you to bring the entire building up to current codes.

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Am I Compliant?!

BHG recently put together a helpful list of some common code requirements for home and business electrical systems…


Plastic electrical boxes are common throughout much of the United States and Canada; some localities require metal boxes. Buy large boxes so wires aren’t cramped. Attach them firmly to a framing member whenever possible or use remodel boxes that clamp to the wall surface.

Receptacles, fixtures, and appliances:

New receptacles and appliances must be grounded. Fixtures and appliances should be approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).


Nonmetallic (NM) cable is the easiest to run and is accepted by most building departments. Wherever cable is exposed rather than hidden behind drywall or plaster, armored cable or conduit may be required.


Most 120-volt household circuits are 15 amps, and all lights must be on 15-amp circuits. In kitchens and utility areas, 20-amp circuits may be required.

Wire size:

Use 14-gauge wire for 15-amp circuits and 12-gauge wire for 20-amp circuits. Cable runs longer than 500 feet may need larger wire. Consult your building department.

Service panels:

As long as you do not need to add a new circuit, your service panel, even if it is an old fuse box, is probably sufficient. If you add circuits, you may need to upgrade the panel or add a subpanel. Check with an inspector or professional electrician.

The professionally trained staff at Advantage Moving & Storage is ready to help you move your business, and ensure your electrical setup is code compliant! When you’re ready to make the move, contact us here to learn more.