Control & Automation

Texas Bills Require Electrical License to Pull PoE [UPDATED]

Two bills in the Texas legislature would require any wiring carrying more than 50 watts to be pulled by a licensed electrician only. UPDATE: Both bills stuck in committee as Texas legislature adjourned.


Texas Bills Require Electrical License to Pull PoE [UPDATED]
UPDATE: HB 1141 was left pending in committee when the Texas legislature adjourned for the session. Multiple alarm industry representatives testified against the bill. SB 1004 cannot move forward unless the House bill moves.
Jason Knott · June 24, 2019

[UPDATED] If two recent bills had passed, integrators in Texas could have been barred from pulling Power over Ethernet cabling that carries more than 50 watts of power.

Two bi-partisan bills that were introduced earlier this year in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives would have required any wire supplying more than 50 watts of power to be pulled only by a licensed electrician. Specifically, House Bill 1141 and Senate Bill 1004 define the specific types of exemptions, including:

“The design, installation, erection, repair, or alteration of Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 remote control, signaling, or power-limited circuits, fire alarm circuits, optical fiber cables, or communications circuits, including raceways, as defined by the National Electrical Code, that operate at less than 50 volts and that are not capable of supplying or controlling more than 50 volt-amperes or 50 watts of power;”

So, to put that in plain English, it means any circuit that supplies or controls more than 50 watts of power would not be exempt from the new law, and therefore would require an electrical license.

The bills also identified various locations that are exempted from the proposed law, including in cars, boats, railroads, certain factories and underground mines, just to name a few. Employees of telecomm companies and utility companies are also exempt.

The Senate bill was introduced in February and was sponsored by Sen. Charles Creighton (R). The House bill was introduced in January and was sponsored by Rep. Tracy King (D).

UPDATE: HB 1141 was left pending in committee when the Texas legislature adjourned for the session. Multiple alarm industry representatives testified against the bill. SB 1004 cannot move forward unless the House bill moves. 

One of those who testified, Jason Potterf, technical leader at Cisco, tells CE Pro: "This is going to be a multi-year fight. We’ve seen a flurry of PoE targeted legislation over the past six months in multiple states, and anticipate next year will be no different. However we’ve successfully defended PoE from this attacks in all cases and believe it will prevail in the future due to its inherent safety features."

If the bills had been passed into law, they called for the PoE limitation to take effect starting Sept. 1, 2019 and apply to all installations after that date.

Read Next: Is It Illegal to Install a ‘Hidden’ Smart Speaker?

Given that low-voltage LED lighting has revolutionized that lighting industry, making it easy for low-voltage integrators to install lighting fixtures, it is not surprising to see this sort of backlash legislation cropping up.

CEDIA’s government affairs division, led by Darren Reaman, tracks restrictive legislation like this around the U.S.



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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Networking & Cables · Structured Wiring · News · Electrical · PoE · Wire and Cable · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Walt_Zerbe on July 2, 2019

Hi @robertsav, I believe that the electrical trade will morph in its offerings as well.  With California imposing Net-Zero by 2020 (we’ll see if that happens on time) all new houses must create what they consume.  Other states will follow.  In the case of typical energy usage, converting AC to DC is very inefficient.  Considering alternative energy sources (solar, wind, others) they convert to DC, which then ultimately gets converted to AC, then back to DC at the device (I’m talking about most device power needs within the home), that’s SUPER INEFFICIENT! There’s another big issue from all of these non-linear power supplies converting AC to DC, that of noise.  Houses today are generating so much noise (in many cases leaving the house and disturbing the grid) it’s deteriorating the AC cycle, making devices even less efficient and causing some to operate unreliably.  There will likely be DC Micro-grids in the house (I know of an electrician installing them now) to combat this as well as loads of storage batteries.  The electrical trade will morph into these offerings over time as energy mandates are passed down through legislation.  CEDIA’s going to be doing a white paper on Power Quality in the home to get a bit more into this.

Posted by WiringMan on June 30, 2019

Depending on one’s interpretation, 50 W can also include speaker wiring.

We are probably reaching an inflection point similar to the introduction of insulation codes for buried LV wire. This requirement was introduced after a few high profile tray fires. In many respects no one was paying attention. Electrical codes and licensing were introduced early on to mitigate the obvious personal safety and fire issues associated with power wiring. LV wiring at that time was so sparse that it was essentially ignored. Over the decades, additional phone lines, video, computer, and control exploded the use of LV and we could no longer ignore LV. Practices that had been considered safe, were no longer safe on such a large scale. Now that we are adding PoE, we might need to rethink again.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 27, 2019

As so often is the case with codes, regulations, licensing, John. The problem is that a disgruntled customer, employee or competitor rats out the “offending” installer, regardless of how paltry the “infraction.” when Title 24 passed in California, the occ sensor regs were so onerous and counterproductive, installers would pull them out after inspection because customers hated the experience. All it takes is one vindictive ex-employee to call out their former boss.

Posted by John Nemesh on June 27, 2019

I have no idea how they plan on enforcing this, Julie.  But since Cat cable can be used just for data, I don’t see how they could differentiate at the pre-wire stage…and how many inspectors would look at a switch and determine if it’s POE or not?  This is something that sounds good on paper (to some), but seems to be completely unenforceable.  I guess we will see when they start trying…

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 26, 2019

That would be interesting, John Nemesh, but I’m wondering at what point the requirements kick in? Probably not wiring but terminations or connecting to a dangerous PoE switch?

Posted by robertsav on June 25, 2019

First move to Texas. The electrical unions will be pushing for things like this in every state to protect their jobs. Otherwise they’ll be left with nothing but appliance outlets in homes in a few years. No AV wires cause it’s all wireless and POE lighting, doesn’t leave much meat on the bone.

Posted by Jason Knott on June 25, 2019

jbrown—It is watts, not volts. That was a typo. I have updated.

Posted by jbrown on June 25, 2019

Tagline says 50 V, text says 50 W. Which is it?  As much as the LV guy in me thinks this is bogus, I don’t completely disagree.  Running a few lights on POE is one thing. Running an entire house should be done by someone who knows what they’re doing. Proper gauge size, conduit fill, and de-rating all need to be taken into account. In Texas The only LV license requirements are for security, That is a key detail that probably should’ve been included in this article. There’s a big difference between someone who has a low-voltage license requiring some sort of test and liability insurance vs. no license at all.

Posted by John Nemesh on June 24, 2019

Just get around the law by having a pre-wire stage.  How much voltage is going to be used?  No clue, Mr. Inspector, I am just running a Cat6 cable.

Posted by John Nemesh on June 24, 2019

Just get around the law by having a pre-wire stage.  How much voltage is going to be used?  No clue, Mr. Inspector, I am just running a Cat6 cable.

Posted by jbrown on June 25, 2019

Tagline says 50 V, text says 50 W. Which is it?  As much as the LV guy in me thinks this is bogus, I don’t completely disagree.  Running a few lights on POE is one thing. Running an entire house should be done by someone who knows what they’re doing. Proper gauge size, conduit fill, and de-rating all need to be taken into account. In Texas The only LV license requirements are for security, That is a key detail that probably should’ve been included in this article. There’s a big difference between someone who has a low-voltage license requiring some sort of test and liability insurance vs. no license at all.

Posted by Jason Knott on June 25, 2019

jbrown—It is watts, not volts. That was a typo. I have updated.

Posted by robertsav on June 25, 2019

First move to Texas. The electrical unions will be pushing for things like this in every state to protect their jobs. Otherwise they’ll be left with nothing but appliance outlets in homes in a few years. No AV wires cause it’s all wireless and POE lighting, doesn’t leave much meat on the bone.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 26, 2019

That would be interesting, John Nemesh, but I’m wondering at what point the requirements kick in? Probably not wiring but terminations or connecting to a dangerous PoE switch?

Posted by John Nemesh on June 27, 2019

I have no idea how they plan on enforcing this, Julie.  But since Cat cable can be used just for data, I don’t see how they could differentiate at the pre-wire stage…and how many inspectors would look at a switch and determine if it’s POE or not?  This is something that sounds good on paper (to some), but seems to be completely unenforceable.  I guess we will see when they start trying…

Posted by Julie Jacobson on June 27, 2019

As so often is the case with codes, regulations, licensing, John. The problem is that a disgruntled customer, employee or competitor rats out the “offending” installer, regardless of how paltry the “infraction.” when Title 24 passed in California, the occ sensor regs were so onerous and counterproductive, installers would pull them out after inspection because customers hated the experience. All it takes is one vindictive ex-employee to call out their former boss.

Posted by WiringMan on June 30, 2019

Depending on one’s interpretation, 50 W can also include speaker wiring.

We are probably reaching an inflection point similar to the introduction of insulation codes for buried LV wire. This requirement was introduced after a few high profile tray fires. In many respects no one was paying attention. Electrical codes and licensing were introduced early on to mitigate the obvious personal safety and fire issues associated with power wiring. LV wiring at that time was so sparse that it was essentially ignored. Over the decades, additional phone lines, video, computer, and control exploded the use of LV and we could no longer ignore LV. Practices that had been considered safe, were no longer safe on such a large scale. Now that we are adding PoE, we might need to rethink again.

Posted by Walt_Zerbe on July 2, 2019

Hi @robertsav, I believe that the electrical trade will morph in its offerings as well.  With California imposing Net-Zero by 2020 (we’ll see if that happens on time) all new houses must create what they consume.  Other states will follow.  In the case of typical energy usage, converting AC to DC is very inefficient.  Considering alternative energy sources (solar, wind, others) they convert to DC, which then ultimately gets converted to AC, then back to DC at the device (I’m talking about most device power needs within the home), that’s SUPER INEFFICIENT! There’s another big issue from all of these non-linear power supplies converting AC to DC, that of noise.  Houses today are generating so much noise (in many cases leaving the house and disturbing the grid) it’s deteriorating the AC cycle, making devices even less efficient and causing some to operate unreliably.  There will likely be DC Micro-grids in the house (I know of an electrician installing them now) to combat this as well as loads of storage batteries.  The electrical trade will morph into these offerings over time as energy mandates are passed down through legislation.  CEDIA’s going to be doing a white paper on Power Quality in the home to get a bit more into this.