The standards that govern electrical materials and installation are based on the national electrical code, or N-E-C. The N-E-C is not a law, but does set voluntary nationwide standards in regards to safe procedure. Local agencies then adopt these standards as law, and may add additional rules of their own. This becomes the local code. Though standards may vary somewhat from one county to the next, the N-E-C still provides a great deal of consistency in electrical matters. Without it, there would be confusion and potential danger. Color-coded wires are a good example: thanks to the N-E-C, you know that a white wire is neutral, and a black wire is hot, no matter who the manufacturer. The national code is written by specialists from over 65 organizations, and revised every three years. Recent updates reflect new technology like 'smart houses,' or home automation. To learn more about the N-E-C, look for a copy at your local library. For details on local code, contact an electrical inspector in your area.