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  1. #1
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    Question Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Have a panel in a condo that has 11 breakers and no main breaker. I opened up the panel and see that the neutral and the ground lugs are isolated from each other.

    I know in a normal panel with a main breaker these are supposed to be connected, and a sub they are supposed to be isolated. Would this be considered a sub panel in this condo unit. Is this correct to be isolated in this instance?

    I was also under the impression that any panel with more than 6 breakers is required to have a main breaker. I run into this often in condos in this area...

    Thanks for any thoughts...

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    In a condo, the main breaker (the service equipment) will be in the electrical room.

    Depending on the size of the condo, that could be every floor, every other floor, every third floor, the ground floor, outside, etc.

    In the condo is only the electrical panel.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Ok, pal, who are you and what have you done with Jerry?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Lots of condos around here have the split panel where one of the breakers controls the lighting and outlet circuits and then up to 5 more dedicated breakers for heat, a/c, range, etc.
    If so, one should be marked as a main/lighting and have power leads from the breaker feeding the buss bars of part of the panel.
    Got a picture?

    Jim Luttrall
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    . (John)


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Hi Jerry,

    This is a 700 sq ft one bedroom condo, one panel no other shut offs in the unit. Would you say bond the neutral/ground together or keep them isolated?

    Thanks


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Here is a photo (hopefully this worked)

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Keep'em isloated.

    RR


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Almost all the condos I see have a similar set-up. There is most likely a main disconnect in a utility room with the meters. If that is the case, the neutrals and grounds should stay isolated.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    There is most likely a main disconnect in a utility room with the meters. If that is the case, the neutrals and grounds should stay isolated.
    Lanny,

    As I stated earlier and John stated above, there should be a meter room/location somewhere and that is where the mains will will.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Lots of condos around here have the split panel where one of the breakers controls the lighting and outlet circuits and then up to 5 more dedicated breakers for heat, a/c, range, etc.
    Hmmmm ... that seems to not be in accordance with the grouping of disconnects required for the structure.

    The *condominium building* is the structure, each condo should just have a distribution panel.

    (Most condos are not large enough to hold a sub, thus they will not have sub panels in them. I also doubt that nuclear reactors would be allowed in the typical condo.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Jerry, my usage (and maybe understanding) of the term "Condo" may be a little skewed or overly broad.
    What is your definition of "Condo"?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Thanks guys isolated it is... have a good day!


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    What is your definition of "Condo"?
    With a condo is where you only own 'paint-to-paint' or 'drywall-to-drywall'.

    With a condo is where the structure is owned in common with all other condo owners.

    With a townhouse, you own from the ground to the sky above, which includes your structure to its property lines on each side and front and back (as the case may be).

    With a townhouse, you own your own structure. The service is required to be on 'your structure', hence townhouses will have the services spread out, one on each structure.

    With a condo, the services are grouped at one or more locations, all on the common structure, thus a condo should not have 'service equipment' in it, thus, the neutrals and grounds should be isolated from each other.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Thanks Jerry, I usually use the term that the client uses for the property, and Condo is pretty much used interchangeably in my experience.

    Is there a specific code you know of the delineates the dicotomy you explained. (my head hurts from big words now).

    Jim Luttrall
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    Dallas, Texas

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Not really a code per se, it's an ownership structure.

    The IRC, though, applies to:
    - R101.2 Scope.
    The provisions of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings shall apply to the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, removal and demolition of detached one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses not more than three stories above-grade in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures.

    From the IRC definitions:
    - TOWNHOUSE.
    A single-family dwelling unit constructed in a group of three or more attached units in which each unit extends from foundation to roof and with open space on at least two sides.

    Thus, if it is not a "townhouse", it is (by definition) 'something else'. Those 'something else' structures are addressed under the IBC, IMC, IPC, IFGC, etc.

    As far as the NEC goes, a condo is also a "dwelling unit", as is a "townhouse", so there is no difference ... except for the service ...
    From the NEC.
    - 230.70 General.
    - - Means shall be provided to disconnect all conductors in a building or other structure from the service-entrance conductors.
    - - - (A) Location. The service disconnecting means shall be installed in accordance with 230.70(A)(1), (2), and (3).
    - - - - (1) Readily Accessible Location. The service disconnecting means shall be installed at a readily accessible location either outside of a building or structure or inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors.


    With condos, that's the meter rooms/areas.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
    M Kelekci's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    In Houston Tx, I have yet to see an electrical room in condominium complexes. The service entrance is usually inside the units.
    If the picture had belonged to a unit in Houston, I would write up that it needs main breaker and grounding and grounded conductors should be bonded.
    Guess means and methods change from one part of country to another.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    In Houston Tx, I have yet to see an electrical room in condominium complexes. The service entrance is usually inside the units.
    If the picture had belonged to a unit in Houston, I would write up that it needs main breaker and grounding and grounded conductors should be bonded.
    Guess means and methods change from one part of country to another.

    Mehmet,
    I think you will find that ALL parts of the country are pretty much the same with respect to condos. Not all will have an electrical room. Some will simply have the service disconnects in an exterior rated panel mounted on the exterior wall. But... it will be an extremely rare occassion where you will find a main disconnect inside the unit.

    Most will be of a split-buss type.

    Rich


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by M Kelekci View Post
    In Houston Tx, I have yet to see an electrical room in condominium complexes. The service entrance is usually inside the units.
    So, there are *NO* service entrance disconnects outside or in a common meter room/area?

    Do you have common meter rooms/areas?

    If not, where are the meters located?

    Guess means and methods change from one part of country to another.
    Not if the different parts of the country are using the NEC.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rushing View Post
    But... it will be an extremely rare occassion where you will find a main disconnect inside the unit.

    Most will be of a split-buss type.
    Those are the ones I am having a problem with, they should not be that way.

    How and where do the service entrance conductors run?

    It's one thing to run feeder conductors through other people's walls, ceilings and floors (which, while 'allowed', is not a very good idea when you think about it*), but it is an entirely different matter to run service entrance conductors through those same places (basically not allowed).

    *What if you have feeders to several units running through a wall in one unit?

    - Set aside the fact that if there is a fire caused by one or more sets of feeders that it will affect all sets of feeders.

    - Set aside the fact that if there is a problem with one or more sets of feeders that it will mean damaging some else's unit to replace them.

    - Set aside the fact that if someone in that unit used a large nail to hang a picture on, it could easily penetrate NM cable being used for feeders to some other unit.

    - Set aside the fact that if the there is a fire in one or more sets of feeders that not only will it affect the other sets of feeders, *it will cause a fire in the unit they are passing through*.

    - Set aside the fact that if that unit owner starts to remove that wall ...

    - Set aside the fact that ...

    I think we can all see by now that it's not a good idea.

    ALL feeders should be run in common areas (not code, just common sense).

    ALL SERVICE ENTRANCE CONDUCTORS should be terminated at SERVICE EQUIPMENT as close as possible to where they enter the structure (it is code).

    Keep in mind that the condo structure (singular) is ONE structure, not separate structures (plural) like townhouses are.

    Can you say "Houston, we have a problem." (I believe that was Jim Shepard with Apollo 13.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    You mean Jim Lovell not Allan Sheppard (my name Jose Jeminez ).


    Rich


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Yep, ah shorenuf did mean dat.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    So, there are *NO* service entrance disconnects outside or in a common meter room/area?.
    Most of the units I have seen got circuit breaker panels inside. Some of them have main breakers, some of them don't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Do you have common meter rooms/areas?.
    We don't usually have common meter room/area in Houston. Please keep in mind that condo market in Houston is dominantly consist of units that are converted from apartments which are conventional wood buildings. Not the hi rise buildings.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If not, where are the meters located?.
    Meters are located outside mounted on the exterior of the building.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Ground/Neutral Bonding

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rushing View Post
    Mehmet,
    it will be an extremely rare occassion where you will find a main disconnect inside the unit.

    Rich
    Rich
    Houston had a condo conversion boom prior to oil bust in 1985, so a lot of them are old units and don't even have main disconnects. For some of them, the maintanence/association fee includes electricity since they are sharing the meter/panel boards etc.


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