New Seattle Electrical Code

City Council approved the new Seattle Electrical Code on September 18, 2017. The new code became effective on October 21, 2017. All projects submitted to SDCI on or after October 21 must meet the new Electrical Code standards. If your electrical permit is associated with a building permit, you must follow the electrical code that was effective when you applied for the building permit.

Key changes in the electrical code include:

  • An increase for the solar system review requirement from a threshold of 7 kw to 7.7 kw
  • Requirements for electrical vehicle charging in new building
  • Requirements to remove all abandoned knob and tube wiring


You can find an overview of the most significant changes by reading our 2017 Seattle Electrical Code Proposed Changes document posted on our Electrical Code webpage.  Our webpage also includes the 2017 Seattle Electrical Code replacement pages and quick reference.

If you have questions about the new electrical code, contact:

Ben Scott
(206) 684-5383

New Approved Legislation and Amendments

The City Council approved an amendment to the 2015 Seattle Building Code allowing Art Gallery spaces less than 3000 square feet in size to remain or be classified as an Mercantile occupancy from an Assembly-3 occupancy. We collaborated with the Office of Arts and Culture and the Construction Codes Advisory Board to modify the code language of three key areas that would allow Art Galleries of maximum size to be classified as a Mercantile Occupancy instead of an Assembly-3 Occupancy, while maintaining the protections of life safety as intended. We wanted to make it easier for businesses, like art galleries, to utilize their existing spaces.

The City Council also approved legislation for Seattle’s Technical Codes to clarify regulations, adopt amendments consistent with Washington State regulations, and make technical corrections from omissions and errors.

Additionally, City Council approved legislation adopting the 2017 Seattle Electrical Code that provides alignment with the Washington Administrative Code, while incorporating innovative Seattle amendments like setting aside infrastructure space for future electrical vehicle charging stations.

Electrical Code Update

SDCI is updating the Seattle Electrical Code to reflect the changes to the 2017 National Electrical Code. If you are interested in submitting input to amend the Seattle Electrical Code, please send your submission to We will accept public input through March 31, 2017.

When you submit your comment, include:

  • The section of the code you want to modify
  • Approximate code language as you would like it to read
  • Substantiation of why this change is necessary


We are always seeking industry input into the code-making process. The City of Seattle anticipates adopting the 2017 code in the fall of 2017.

If you have specific questions you may contact:
Rich Meell
206 684 8434

Electrical Inspectors won’t be Available on September 13

On Tuesday September 13, our electrical inspectors will be attending a training on the 2017 edition of the National Electrical Code presented by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. Attending this class will enable our staff to become familiar with what will be changing or added to the 2017 code. It will also be instrumental in the development of the 2017 Seattle Electrical Code. The adoption of the 2017 code is anticipated in the 4th quarter of 2017.

Seattle Electrical Code in Effect

The 2014 Seattle Electrical Code is now in effect. We have insert pages for your 5-ring 2014 NEC binder, a Quick Reference containing only Seattle amendments, and a summary of key changes available on the Electrical Code page ( ).

Some of the key 2014 changes are:

  • Plan Review – the Electrical Program has a streamlined intake and review process with no pre-submission quality control screening. If your submittal requires extra reviews before we can issue a permit because it has incomplete and inaccurate information, you may be charged at the DPD base hourly rate for the extra review time. (Section 80.51)
  • Advanced Plan Evaluations – the advance plan evaluation process was deleted from the 2014 Seattle Electrical Code. Applications for plan review may still be submitted by an Electrical Engineer, but we will process your application as a normal application. We will not issue the permit for your project until you have identified an installer meeting the requirements of the Washington State RCW on your application.
  • PV systems – installers of photovoltaic systems under 7 kW must provide the electrical inspector with a line drawing and the manufacturer installation requirement prior to scheduling the first cover inspection. For systems rated over 7 kW you must provide one plan set and specifications at the time of application. For large systems, those over 26 kW, you need to submit two sets of plans and specifications at the time of application. (Section 80.51)
  • Electric vehicle charging –the electrical service of each building must have the capacity to adequately serve the demands of electrical vehicle charging. The demand factor is calculated using the number of parking spaces provided for the structure. A new demand factor table is provided. Additionally, space must be designated and maintained in electrical rooms or panel areas for the addition of electrical vehicle charging equipment and proper working clearances. (Sections 220.57 and 625.27)
  • Feeders in common walls – new language was added to clarify that electrical feeders may not pass through one dwelling unit and into a separate dwelling unit to provide power to a dwelling unit’s electrical panel. The requirement allows feeders to be routed through common areas and walls that are adjacent to the exterior of the structure or through walls that are adjacent to common areas. (Section 215.13)
  • Elevators – branch circuits serving elevator equipment, such as lighting, must originate in a panel located in the elevator machine room where the overcurrent devices are located. There are also a couple of cable and conduit changes. (Sections 620.21- 620.26)
  • Hazardous location – language was added to address below-grade parking garage sump pumps. The language clarifies our current practice and provides for declassification of the area by a licensed professional responsible for the design. (Section 500.5(B)(4)) 

If you are unable to access the 2014 code documents, feel free to call our technical support line, (206) 684-5383, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.