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In some places in the US you need a "low voltage licence" to install "low voltage wiring" but I can't seem to find anything that says if this includes network wiring.

(I know this will differ from place to place so please state where you are referring to.)

  • Does the law say you need a licence?
  • Does anyone pay attention to it?
  • Are their any exception you known of?
  • How sure are you of your information?
  • Got any links?


"Me specific" parts of the question.

p.s. I'm looking for info on Idaho, USA but answerers for anywhere welcome.

edit: I have some formal training in this and am completely confident that I can do it safely and correctly. However the training was pre-2008 befor Idaho switched to the national building code.

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closed as too localized by Jason Berg, sysadmin1138 Jul 10 '11 at 23:02

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
"Idaho" is actually not all that helpful in the US. States do not generally enforce building codes, the local municipality does. When I did work in Chantilly Virginia the local city required a $30 permit for commercial work, but there was no formal inspection on the low voltage install. You would be required to fix your work if the local fire inspector or electrical inspector found issues in a unrelated inspection. (No cables lying on drop ceilings, they must be secured to the building structure, and all racks had to be grounded.) –  mfarver Apr 8 '11 at 0:17
    
@mfarver: While codes are generally enforced at the local level, they are generally defined at the state level. And most places in the US, if you can honestly say "I followed the rules" an inspector will be hard pressed to hold you up. –  BCS Apr 8 '11 at 3:03

11 Answers 11

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The best and easiest thing to do for your area is talk to a local building inspector for the proper information.

From my experience -- no license is needed and no one pays attention to it (unless you're wiring a new building). I've done professional wiring in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. I make sure to use quality products, avoid wiring through ducting at all costs, and never attach to anything electrical or hot.

Obviously, I'm not a professional inspector nor do I have specific legal information for your area, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

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From what I have gathered, the default responce of the local building inspector (for anything) will be to say you can't do something unless he is completely sure that would be wrong. The burden of proof will just fall back on me. Asking a local network installer would be even worse because they may well tell me I can't even if they know for a fact I can. –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 21:53

I'm a licensed low volt contractor in Oregon and hold a Washington license as well. Both states require permits for most low volt cabling including network (cat5/6), audio, video, HVAC, alarm, etc and the installer must carry a low volt or electrical license. While many network techs are perfectly capable of installing and terminating Cat5, they usually aren't aware of all applicable codes. Even though Ethernet carries 5 or less volts there are life-safety issues with the installation itself such as using Plenum rated cable where required, not laying wire on a ceiling grid, supporting cables, seismic support for racks, speakers, etc.

Some installations have special concerns such as hazardous locations, hospitals and schools.

Many states don't have these requirements but following the NEC code is still agood idea.

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I realise you're asking this about the USA but this might help anyway:

In Australia it can depend on the classification of the building. In your home, you don't need a license to run data cables, but in a commercial building, depending on local council laws, you may be required to be a licensed electrician to install the cabling.

That said, I don't know anyone who would "Pay Attention" to it here, apart from my wife who's afraid I'm going to get electrocuted every time I crimp a CAT5 cable.

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2  
danger from Cat5? Shocking. –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 21:50
    
Haha, amusing pun ;) –  Mark Henderson Jul 6 '09 at 23:35
    
In Victoria (Australia) at least, you no longer need a license to run data cabling. It's one of those things where one moment you need a license and the next you don't, then you do, then you don't, etc. –  John Gardeniers Jul 7 '09 at 4:41
    
heh, it's like that in NSW as well sometimes –  Mark Henderson Jul 7 '09 at 4:54

I have a company in Utah that provides low voltage cabling, networking, telephone systems and paging. Utah does not require any licensing to provide this service to our customers.

I have also had the same experience in Texas.

Currently, I am investigating Oregon and have found that several licenses are needed to provide the same service. First, each individual must have a LEB license. Second, one person must have a LEC license. Third, a CBC license is also required.

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I would contact the city in which you are interested to see what they have to say about it. They should have information on what licenses contractors are required to carry.

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See comment to Russ Warren –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 21:54

Greetings.

1- Almost certainly data/ethernet/cat5/cat6 cable falls under the "low voltage" umbrella. If a license is required to run coax or alarm cable in a building, it is required for Ethernet cable.

2- You would need to see the building department in your jurisdiction for a specific answer. You would also be able to find out whether a permit is required for the job in question. The two questions are not necessarily connected.

3- Whether a licensing requirement is rigorously enforced or not is a completely separate matter. My suspicion is that if a job is being permitted and inspected, the licensing status of the sub-contractors matters, otherwise not.

4- What's the worst case in this kind of situation? Assuming no permanent attachment, the worst that can happen is being required to pull the cable and re-run it using a licensed installer.

Good luck!

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I once heard from another installer in my area that technically you're supposed to have a permit, but the only time it really matters is in new buildings where a building inspector is coming. I mostly deal with installations after the house is built. I've heard some guys in the states encounter similar legislation and get around it by installing PVC conduit with pull strings and running the actual wiring after final inspection.

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I think most municipalties require per job permits. The question is does the guy who does the work need to be licensed. –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 21:58
    
Where is your area? –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 22:10
    
Scott: Good old "Smurf" tubes. <G> I see it comes in other colors now too. carlon.com/Product_FlexPlusBlue.html –  Brad Bruce Jul 6 '09 at 22:28
    
My area is Vancouver, BC, Canada. –  Scott Jul 7 '09 at 15:10

You might want to call a bunch of companies/independents that do low-voltage wiring and ask them for a copy of their license (you want to make sure they are licensed before you get a quote---wink, wink).

If the majority of them won't fax one to you, it probably isn't a requirement (or at least one that isn't observed).

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Regardless of where you live I think if you have enough skill to be able to correctly fit the plugs to the network cable you should be smart enough to be able to run data cable.

I started my working life as an electrician. Despite becoming fully qualified for all classes of electrical wiring work there was an idiotic period here in Victoria, Australia when the powers that be decided I needed a special license to run data cabling. Apparently it was OK for me to run 66,000 volt cables and even work on live wiring but it was too risky to let me run your cat5. Today such a data cabling license no longer even exists here and any fool with a crimper and punch down tool can call himself a data cabler.

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A friend just talked to the local building inspector and this is what he was told: In Idaho, you don't need a low voltage license for communication wires but you do need a contractors license (~$30) and to get that you need insurance (>>$30).

FWIW I was asking someone else about this and got the impression that in Washington the situation is much different (worse?).

As to how accurate that is, both of those are the information I was given from people who should know. But that's all I will say.

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