Proposed legislation in Texas would classify some PoE cabling as electrical work

April 24, 2019
If passed, bills in the Texas House and Senate will deem any cables supplying more than 50 watts of power to be electrical work, requiring a licensed electrician.

Bills making their way through Texas’s Senate and House of Representatives will, if passed as currently written, categorize any cabling circuit capable of supplying more than 50 watts of power to be electrical work requiring a licensed electrician. As a practical matter, that would mean any cabling circuits that can support Type 3 or Type 4 power sourcing equipment (PSE) or powered devices (PDs), as defined in IEEE 802.3bt, would fit that definition. As specified in IEEE 802.3bt, a Type 3 PSE provides a maximum of 60 watts and a Type 3 PD receives a maximum of 51 watts, while a Type 4 PSE provides a maximum of 90 watts and a Type 4 PD receives a maximum of 71.3 watts.

The essentially identical pieces of legislation in Texas are Senate Bill 1004 and House Bill 1141 (click to see text of each bill).

Existing legislation in Texas identifies types of electrical work that require a license, and also identifies exceptions to the licensing requirement. One of the exceptions in the current Texas law is: “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.”

SB 1004 and HB 1141 add the following wording to the end of the above-quoted exception: “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, if the legislation as written goes into effect, any circuit that can supply or control more than 50 watts of power will fall outside this exception and, therefore, will require an electrician’s license.

The Texas Construction Association has followed these two bills, but has not taken a position for or against them. In early April, the association’s vice president of government affairs, Jennifer Fagan, explained, “HB 1141 was heard in committee on March 26. It is still pending in the committee, meaning there has been no vote on it.”

Texas SB 1004 and HB 1141 state that the act will take effect September 1, 2019. It would apply to all work that begins after that date.

We will track these legislative activities in Texas and continue to report on their progress.

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