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no main shut off


John Dirks Jr
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This panel has no main shut off. There is no shut off outside at the meter either. This is the first time I have seen this. Should I call for a main switch to be added to this panel?

I think this was an upgrade from a fuse panel and they used a panel that was too small for the application. You can see all the doubled breakers. Should the whole thing be redone with a larger panel?

Sorry if my terminology for describing this is wrong. In any event, this is the main panel and the only piece of electrical service equipment other than the meter.

I see the neutrals sharing terminals with other wires and I know that is wrong. What about the fact that there is no main shut off? Is that wrong too?

How would describe this setup in your report?

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How about something like..

This is an ungrounded panel served by conductors with an uninsulated neutral. There is no main disconnect. Circuits are improperly doubled on breakers because the home has more circuits than can be provided for with the existing panel. All of these items are safety hazards. I recommend having a licensed electrician install a service panel that conforms to current standards.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

This panel has no main shut off. There is no shut off outside at the meter either. This is the first time I have seen this. Should I call for a main switch to be added to this panel?

No. That panel wasn't designed to accept a main breaker. Someone could probably install a disconnect on the supply side, ahead of the panel though.

I think this was an upgrade from a fuse panel and they used a panel that was too small for the application. You can see all the doubled breakers. Should the whole thing be redone with a larger panel?

Probably. In fact, I wouldn't characterize this panel as an upgrade. They might have been better off with the old fuse box. Where's the grounding electrode conductor? Where's the bonding wire to the water piping? Is this panel rated for use as service equipment? Was there a permit sticker anywhere?

Sorry if my terminology for describing this is wrong. In any event, this is the main panel and the only piece of electrical service equipment other than the meter.

I see the neutrals sharing terminals with other wires and I know that is wrong. What about the fact that there is no main shut off? Is that wrong too?

Yes. As Tim explained there should be six or fewer disconnects.

At least they put the transformer on the outside of the enclosure.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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BTW, there is a grounding conductor hidden beneath the wires that hook to the left bus

I've been calling those things "terminal bars" and the individual holes in them, terminals. I've been calling the conductors that carry the breakers, "bus bars"

Are the bars that the neutral and grounds terminate in bus bars or terminal bars? I've been meaning to find out for a year.

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Originally posted by Chad Fabry

BTW, there is a grounding conductor hidden beneath the wires that hook to the left bus

I've been calling those things "terminal bars" and the individual holes in them, terminals. I've been calling the conductors that carry the breakers, "bus bars"

Are the bars that the neutral and grounds terminate in bus bars or terminal bars? I've been meaning to find out for a year.

The NEC doesn't define either term. However it uses the terms as you describe in your first two sentences. It uses the spelling "busbar," a single word.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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In the electrical distribution industry (I am an electrical engineer), the components that supply power (what we see breakers connected to) would typically be called 'busbars'. The 'bars' that we see routinely neutral and grounding wires connected to are 'terminal bars'. These terms seem to be used interchangably in the home inspection industry, but they are not really interchangeable. Using the proper terms is best.

The panel in the OP definitely looks like it has some issues and was put in by drunk cousin Ned. Definitely call it out for review and repair/replacement by a licensed and qualified electrician.

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Originally posted by Richard Saunders

How about something like..

This is an ungrounded panel served by conductors with an uninsulated neutral. There is no main disconnect. Circuits are improperly doubled on breakers because the home has more circuits than can be provided for with the existing panel. All of these items are safety hazards. I recommend having a licensed electrician install a service panel that conforms to current standards.

I don't think any naive homeowner could understand anything in the above text.

Also, I'm not so sure the logic holds up on the "because the home..." statement.

Maybe it's just me,

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

Well, I wrote the panel up so that's in the rear view now.

Back to means of disconnect. Can any of the six throws be made with the side of your hand which could throw multiple switches with one motion? Is it required that the six throws actually be not more than six individual switches?

John,

I have always interpreted this requirement as six movements while gripping the individual breaker handles. A 240 volt breaker would count as one disconnect, even if it is two single pole breakers with a handle tie.

Tim

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

Well, I wrote the panel up so that's in the rear view now.

Back to means of disconnect. Can any of the six throws be made with the side of your hand which could throw multiple switches with one motion?

No.

Is it required that the six throws actually be not more than six individual switches?

Yes. The general rule is that the service disconnecting means should have no more than six breakers or switches. The general rule says nothing about "operations of the hand."

The only place where the NEC talks about "operations of the hand" is regarding multiwire circuits. If a multiwire circuit comprises one or more of the main disconnects, it's individual breakers can be tied together with an *identified* handle tie or a master handle to enable someone to disconnect them with a single operation of the hand (with a total of "six operations of the hand" to shut all of the disconnects).

Now, remember that this is the 2008 NEC. In previous editions, there were still a maximum of six disconnects for the entire service but the number of disconnects per panelboard depended on the type of panelboard. If it was a lighting and appliance panel, you could only have two disconnects. (A lighting and appliance panel was defined as having 10% or more of it's circuits protected at 30 amps or less.) That's why, for the past 20 years or so, we rarely saw more than two disconnects per panel. That rule is now gone.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 4 weeks later...
Originally posted by Chad Fabry

BTW, there is a grounding conductor hidden beneath the wires that hook to the left bus

I've been calling those things "terminal bars" and the individual holes in them, terminals. I've been calling the conductors that carry the breakers, "bus bars"

Are the bars that the neutral and grounds terminate in bus bars or terminal bars? I've been meaning to find out for a year.

While your at it...recommend they also install the requirements of 250.53(D)(1) and (D)(2) and then of course comply to 250.56

IE: Supplimental Grounding Electrodes and their associated requirements.

Always worth a suggestion if the option arrises....;)

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  • 4 weeks later...
Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

Well, I wrote the panel up so that's in the rear view now.

Back to means of disconnect. Can any of the six throws be made with the side of your hand which could throw multiple switches with one motion?

No.

Is it required that the six throws actually be not more than six individual switches?

Yes. The general rule is that the service disconnecting means should have no more than six breakers or switches. The general rule says nothing about "operations of the hand."

The only place where the NEC talks about "operations of the hand" is regarding multiwire circuits. If a multiwire circuit comprises one or more of the main disconnects, it's individual breakers can be tied together with an *identified* handle tie or a master handle to enable someone to disconnect them with a single operation of the hand (with a total of "six operations of the hand" to shut all of the disconnects).

Now, remember that this is the 2008 NEC. In previous editions, there were still a maximum of six disconnects for the entire service but the number of disconnects per panelboard depended on the type of panelboard. If it was a lighting and appliance panel, you could only have two disconnects. (A lighting and appliance panel was defined as having 10% or more of it's circuits protected at 30 amps or less.) That's why, for the past 20 years or so, we rarely saw more than two disconnects per panel. That rule is now gone.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

What about this lay-out. Each panel is an exterior disconnect. Five separate disconnects in all, but the exterior covers have to also be opened. Can you count opening the exterior panel cover as an operation?

Never mind that you have to pull up the hinged porch cover to get to the lower two diconnects or the house main panel located in the bathroom, just minor details!

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That def. does not look like 6 throws of the hand...amazing what some people will do with electrical work. I would have to imagine that the individual that had this work completed did not have a permit. Simple enough as to say that there is currently no main-disconnect and improper wiring practices; would recommend a licensed electrician evaluate the main panel and offer solutions. Something along the lines of that anyway..

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Originally posted by Ponyboy

What about this lay-out. Each panel is an exterior disconnect. Five separate disconnects in all, but the exterior covers have to also be opened. Can you count opening the exterior panel cover as an operation?

Never mind that you have to pull up the hinged porch cover to get to the lower two diconnects or the house main panel located in the bathroom, just minor details!

In that setup, I see a possibility for three main disconnects. The large box at the upper left looks like a cabinet for current transformers. There shouldn't be any disconnects in there.

At the lower left, there's a disconnect switch that can be operated by throwing down the wire lever on the right side of the box.

To the right of it are two boxes. It looks as if the upper one feeds the lower one. I'll bet that there's only one main disconnect between those two.

And the third disconnect is just below the meter.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by hausdok

Brad,

Were there any outbuildings, signs, or underground pumps there? Maybe one of those is the main and the rest are disconnects for other stuff downstream from the main.

OT - OF!!!

M.

Yes their is a bunch of other stuff at this house, a detached garage with a 200 amp panel and additional panels for hot tub and pool equipment. One more panel is only accessible when the porch is lifted. None of the panel covers were secured, including the large meter box.

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