National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


Hello, CQD. Is a feeder considered a circuit? The NEC® doesn't define a "Circuit" outright (although it does define Branch Circuits, and Class 1, 2 and 3 Circuits).

It has been stated on this forum before that in this scenario we are supposed to use Merriam-Webster, which defines a circuit as "The complete path of an electric current including usually the source of electric energy." Thanks in advance, Chris Sys


Hi Chris thanks for the question and comments. A “Feeder” is an electrical circuit by standard non-NEC® definition, just as a “Branch-Circuit” is also an electrical circuit by standard non-NEC® definition. In fact the word circuit is used in the NEC® definition of both. Definition of terms in the NEC® are only applicable to the NEC® intended to provide clarification when applying the applicable rules. These definitions specifically address location in the electrical system. Article 100 definitions for each are as follows:

Feeder. All circuit conductors between the service equipment, the source of a separately derived system, or other power supply source and the final branch-circuit overcurrent device.

 Branch-Circuit. The circuit conductors between the final overcurrent device protecting the circuit and the outlets.

ABOUT CQD: The Code Question of the Day (CQD) is NECA and ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Magazine’s flagship National Electrical Code (NEC®) public forum for the industry, sponsored by EATON. The daily distribution of Q&A generates a lively dialogue and shares relative Code-based practical responses.

SUBMIT YOUR CODE QUESTION: Click here to submit a question to for inclusion in an upcoming edition of the Code Question of the Day, or email

CHARLIE TROUT: Charles M. Trout, better known as Charlie, was a nationally known NEC® expert and author. He served on several NEC® technical committees and is past chairman of CMP-12. In 2006 Charlie was awarded the prestigious Coggeshall Award for outstanding contributions to the electrical contracting industry, codes and standards development, and technical training. Even though Charlie passed away in October of 2015, his work continues in spirit. NECA continues to maintain this question forum for its many subscribers in memory and recognition of all his significant contributions to making the NEC what it is today.

NECA STANDARDS: NECA publishes the National Electrical Installation Standards™ (NEIS™), a series of ANSI-approved performance and quality standards for electrical construction. NEIS can be purchased in the NECA Store in three formats: a printed or  PDF download of a standard or, as an  annual subscription service.

NECA SAFETY PRODUCTS & PUBLICATIONS: NECA produces electrical safety publications and products for the industry including jobsite safety guides, handbooks and resource kits. View a full listing of available resources and products »

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Unless the question requests a response based on a specific edition, all answers are based on the latest edition of NFPA 70® National Electrical Code®.

This correspondence is not a formal interpretation of the NEC® and any responses expressed to the questions are opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of NECA, NFPA, the NEC Correlating Committee any Code-making panel or other electrical technical committee. In addition, this correspondence is neither intended, nor should it be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services. 

UPDATE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION PREFERENCES: Subscribe or Unsubscribe from this list.