Recommendations: NEC Handbook or Mike Holt products


Senior Member
For the last several years I've bought the NEC Handbook because I really like the additional context, pictures and commentary. It really helps to interpret the intent of the code.

I know that Mike Holt sells some comparable products like the "Understanding the NEC" series.

I'm curious what other's opinions are of these products.
Do you prefer one over the other? Why?
Are there other products out there that you recommend or prefer?

Appreciate any input.

tom baker

First Chief Moderator
Staff member
Handbook is OK. I was an instructor and used a lot of his products. If you are looking to really understand the Code, then his UNEC, Bonding and Grounding are great (esp the Bonding and Grounding). Mikes product go into more detail. Handbook is good for a desk reference


Senior Member
Mikes books are good but they are only a supplement to the Handbook or the Code book. His books help you understand them better but they don't cover every line of code, every exception, etc. If you bought mikes book you would need the regular code book as well. I use the handbook and Mikes books for further clarification. His books also don't have all the tables, etc.


Senior Member
I like the McGraw Hill electrical code handbook written by McPartland , Hartwell etc

Doesn't look like it's available now
Years ago the big advantage of that one was the references. You had to use both together and it had great examples like walking through ampacity calcs. But it doesn’t have the Code text. So on more obscure material review all the “see also” notes.

The advantage of the official NEC Handbook is that you get the Code plus a lot of “here is what we meant”. Good if you already know the Code, so-so for learning.

Mikes books are good for learning in general but there are lots of things it doesn’t talk about like how to look things up quickly or “what’s on the test” state specific. Depending on how your state test is written it may or may not be a good fit. There is no substitute for reading and understanding. Many licensed electricians don’t know or think they know it but don’t.