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  1. #1
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    Cool House Electrical Panel Directory

    I am addressing this thread to Jerry Peck.

    How many times have look at a house electrical panel, and found, one no
    directory, or one poorly wirtten, that nothing adds up.

    Could you please give me a example of what you would expect a directory
    to be written. Thanks.

    Similar Threads:
    Last edited by Robert Mattison; 05-01-2011 at 01:46 PM.
    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    RM

    At a minimum what meets NEC 408.4. (See NEC Article 408, specifically 408.4) which for your convenience I've quoted below:

    Quote Originally Posted by NEC 408.4


    408.4 Field Identification Required.

    (A) Circuit Directory or Circuit Identification. Every circuit and circuit modification shall be legibly identified as to its clear, evident, and specific purpose or use. The identification shall include sufficient detail to allow each circuit to be distinguished from all others. Spare positions that contain unused overcurrent devices or switches shall be described accordingly. The identification shall be included in a circuit directory that is located on the face or inside of the panel door in the case of a panelboard, and located at each switch or circuit breaker in a switchboard. No circuit shall be described in a manner that depends on transient conditions of occupancy.

    (B) Source of Supply. All switchboards and panelboards supplied by a feeder in other than one- or two-family dwellings shall be marked to indicate the device or equipment where the power supply originates.
    The conditions you describe would have been and are a defective and hazardous condition, a dangerous life safety issue, and one in need of immediate correction for any occupancy.

    EDITED TO ADD: Oops, I see you edited and addressed this to Jerry Peck. Ah well.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 05-01-2011 at 02:21 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    To Roger, I apoligize. I will gladly remove this post.


    The conditions you describe would have been and are a defective and hazardous condition, a dangerous life safety issue, and one in need of immediate correction for any occupancy.
    I would hardly consider a missing or poorly defined panel directory to be one that needs immediate correction. After all the house has existed like this for years and proper operation has not been affected. This is not like a sparking connection that could lead to a fire. It is an inconvenience.

    Even with a well defined directory, the lack of power should be verified before any work is performed on the circuit. If there is an emergency it would be easier to flip the main than to read thru a 40 circuit directory.
    The code requirement for a more descriptive directory is also a recent change. It was very common to have a directory that was labeled "lights" or "plugs".

    Last edited by Jim Port; 05-01-2011 at 05:39 PM. Reason: added note to Roger
    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The code requirement for a more descriptive directory is also a recent change. It was very common to have a directory that was labeled "lights" or "plugs".
    It was changed in the 2005 NEC. The change was to add the require for a clear ,evident and specific purpose.

    As far as using the forum to address one particular person, that is what the Private Message ( PM) function is for.
    Not trying to beat up on anyone here , but I see this happen on numerous forums.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    When upgrading a service we always try to mark the panel as much as possible.
    Many inspectors will look for that or ask about it. It is usually not too difficult to mark the kitchen, laundry, mechanicals, appliances, lighting, etc., but there are usually some you can't find. If you are talking an older home, you might need a notebook to write down everything on a particular circuit. Also the homeowner doesn't want you running through their house moving furniture looking for a circuit. (or like a 3-family house that's occupied) I have never seen an inspector write that up on a report, but that would be the best time to label everything when the house is empty.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    While we wait for JP, I'll just post a pic.

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Robert,

    While the first specifically stated requirement for a "circuit directory" appeared in the 2002 NEC ...
    - 408.4 Circuit Directory.
    - - All circuits and circuit modifications shall be legibly identified as to purpose or use on a circuit directory located on the face or inside of the panel door in the case of a panelboard, and at each switch on a switchboard.

    ... I'm trying to remember when a panel *did not have* a circuit directory, even the old panels, really old panels, and if one was provided by the manufacturer, then it should be filled in (NEC 110.3(B) Installation and Use would kick in) and filled in to such an extent to make it useful.

    Besides, the NEC is a minimum standard for achieving a minimum level of safety, and the minimum level of safety would include being able to know which fuses or breakers protects which circuits, and 'Gen. Recpt.' does not state anything of practical use. Instead it should state 'LR/DR RECPT' or something to that effect at a minimum.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Post Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    *** the NEC is a minimum standard for achieving a minimum level of safety, and the minimum level of safety would include being able to know which fuses or breakers protects which circuits ***


    So absolutely true. With the testing equipment available at relatively low cost today, there does not seem to be much reason for not creating a readable breaker directory, even for an "old house." In emergencies, rational thinking does not always prevail. It may not occur to some people that cutting the main disconnect will de-energize a branch circuit. They may look for the circuit with the problem. That can kill.



    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    As I recall, the requirements of the Listing Standards have included labeled wiring diagrams, labeled panel directories to be field "filled" and instructions to do the same long prior to the NEC creating duplicate language echoing same for both panels & switch boards.


  10. #10
    Norman Ellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    To Roger, I apoligize. I will gladly remove this post.
    I would hardly consider a missing or poorly defined panel directory to be one that needs immediate correction. After all the house has existed like this for years and proper operation has not been affected. This is not like a sparking connection that could lead to a fire. It is an inconvenience.

    Even with a well defined directory, the lack of power should be verified before any work is performed on the circuit. If there is an emergency it would be easier to flip the main than to read thru a 40 circuit directory.
    The code requirement for a more descriptive directory is also a recent change. It was very common to have a directory that was labeled "lights" or "plugs".
    Un labeled and miss labeled eletrical paneal are a safety and fire hazard. over 20% of residential electrical accidents and fires are caused from addition and remodel jobs. miss wire, overlapped circuits, undersized wiring, faulty devices and more!

    older electrical services have additional safety problems from deterioration factor from years of use and power demand that increase from the time of installation by the property owner and how they develop their electrical environment.

    every 30 seconds we have an electrical fire in the residential region of our communities, and it is this type of complacency from people with lack of electrical knowledge that only increases this factor.

    When you come across an electrical panel that is not labeled, miss labeled do not just pass it off, recommend to the client they bring in an electrician or you can take my course on electrical environment evaluation certification (triple E) course to evaluate the electrical service for your clients.

    This type of issue is one of the main reasons I became a home inspector.

    with your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consultants & service
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


  11. #11
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Robert,

    What do you mean by, "Nothing Adds Up?"

    If you are thinking that you can add the amperage of each breaker and they should total up to the Main Circuit breaker, they never will.

    You do a "Load Calc." to determine the size of the conductors and needed amperage.

    Each circuit is then independent of the load calc.

    You do want the phase "A" circuits and the phase "B" to be as close to equal as you can get them in order to reduce the unbalanced load the neutral must carry back to the service.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Farrell View Post
    Robert,

    What do you mean by, "Nothing Adds Up?"

    If you are thinking that you can add the amperage of each breaker and they should total up to the Main Circuit breaker, they never will.

    You do a "Load Calc." to determine the size of the conductors and needed amperage.

    Each circuit is then independent of the load calc.

    You do want the phase "A" circuits and the phase "B" to be as close to equal as you can get them in order to reduce the unbalanced load the neutral must carry back to the service.


    Load calculation! can at no point equil more than 125% of the panel total rating. ( when electric heat is in use you count heat or a/c which ever is the greater) and that would be adding up the breaker size and count. 2 pole breakers are at 100%. dedicated circuits to motors are at 100%, dedicated and general circuits with duplex receptacles, lighting, devices open to general use are set at 80% of circuit breaker size and rating.

    wire size is rated by circuit capacity and breaker rating.(remember aluminum wire is required to be one size larger than copper)

    the neutral wire does have burden of returning unused balance of usage in a circuit, in signle pole or two pole circuits. a balanced load in a panel helps reduse this requirement. an unbalance load will use more electricity as well to level out the load demand.

    with your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World electrical Consultants & Servie
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


  13. #13
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Please explain this,

    Load calculation! can at no point equil more than 125% of the panel total rating. ( when electric heat is in use you count heat or a/c which ever is the greater) and that would be adding up the breaker size and count. 2 pole breakers are at 100%. dedicated circuits to motors are at 100%, dedicated and general circuits with duplex receptacles, lighting, devices open to general use are set at 80% of circuit breaker size and rating.
    This does not sound like the NEC load calculation formula.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  14. #14
    Norman Ellis's Avatar
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Please explain this,



    This does not sound like the NEC load calculation formula.
    every item listed is for circuit rating and in the formula to do a load calculation.

    NEC has changed if forms omitting, or adding but the ratings are a standing rate, and we are dealing with mostly older homes and the load calculation will be at standing code at time of installation or at time of electrical upgrade. (you can thank the grandfather clause for this issue)

    With your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consultants & Service
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


  15. #15
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Ellis View Post
    every item listed is for circuit rating and in the formula to do a load calculation.

    NEC has changed if forms omitting, or adding but the ratings are a standing rate, and we are dealing with mostly older homes and the load calculation will be at standing code at time of installation or at time of electrical upgrade. (you can thank the grandfather clause for this issue)

    With your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consultants & Service
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service
    NEC load calculation will very, NEC has load calculations of 150% for motor start up for commercial and industrial installations, tranformers have cacity ratings, and so on.

    my point is the ratings I quoted are the ratings set for residential load calculations, the form or sheet you use will need these numbers in order to complete a load calculation.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    A load calculation does not rely on adding up or using the rating of overcurrent devices in a panel.
    I challenge you to post the NEC code article that states to use the breaker ratings.

    Grandfather clause ? There is no such thing in the code. The NEC tells one how to determine the load in an existing structure.

    A load calculation is based on the square footage of the dwelling multiplied by 3 watts a square foot, 2 small apliance circuits, nameplate ratings of all appliances fastened in place, ranges/wallovens / counter mounted cooking units,clothes dryers, water heaters, heat, A/C, a Laundry circuit for the washer. That plus there are demand factors that may apply.
    This is just the basics of a load calculation.

    I do not mean to offend anyone or beliitle any HI with the following statement:
    Most HI are not qualified or trained to even attempt a load calculation as per the NEC.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    ken

    HI here i agree

    cvf


  18. #18
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    I do not mean to offend anyone or beliitle any HI with the following statement:
    Most HI are not qualified or trained to even attempt a load calculation as per the NEC.
    That seems to be true of others too ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Ellis View Post
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consultants & Service
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    A load calculation does not rely on adding up or using the rating of overcurrent devices in a panel.
    I challenge you to post the NEC code article that states to use the breaker ratings.

    Grandfather clause ? There is no such thing in the code. The NEC tells one how to determine the load in an existing structure.

    A load calculation is based on the square footage of the dwelling multiplied by 3 watts a square foot, 2 small apliance circuits, nameplate ratings of all appliances fastened in place, ranges/wallovens / counter mounted cooking units,clothes dryers, water heaters, heat, A/C, a Laundry circuit for the washer. That plus there are demand factors that may apply.
    This is just the basics of a load calculation.

    I do not mean to offend anyone or beliitle any HI with the following statement:
    Most HI are not qualified or trained to even attempt a load calculation as per the NEC.
    NEC 1993-article 220 branch circuit, feeders, and service calcs
    NEC1999-article 220 branch circuit, feeders, and service calculations
    NEC 2011 article 220 Branch circuits, feeders, and service calculations

    you find tables on types of circuits and equipment, and tables on type of locations , structures, distance, all factors. but i will point out NEC 2011 article 220.
    (I) Recepticle outlets. except as covered in 220 14 (J) and (K) Recepticle outlets shall (MUST) be calulated at no less than 180 voltampers for each single or for each multiple receptacle on one yoke. A single peice of equipment (lighting fixture or device) consisting of a multiple receptacle comprised of four or more recepticles shall (MUST) be calculated at no less than 90volt ampers per receptacle. this provision shall (MUST) not be applicable to the receptacle outlets specified in 210.11 (C)(1) and (C)(2)

    NEC article 210 Branch Cicuits
    210.2 other articles for spacific purpose branch circuits
    (refur to table 210.2)
    210.6 (A) through (E)
    (1) Luminaries
    (2) Cord and plug end connected loads 1440 volt ampers, nomonal or less or less the 1/4 hp
    ok!! 120v x 15 amps = 1800w nominal wattage allowed is 1440
    180v x 8A = 1440w that is your 80% of load capacity on 15 amp general circuits.

    This is only one of many load calculations required for the design and installation of a home's electrical Service.

    (C) dwelling units
    (1) Small appliance branch circuits. in addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section two or more 20 ampere small appliance Shall (must) be provided for all receptacle outlets specified by 210.52.
    This specifies the allowed distance of power to appliance location to be no more than 6'

    lets move to article 220.52
    220.52. Small appliance circuit loads. in each dwelling unit the load shall be calculated at 1500 volt amperes for each two wire small appliance branch circuit as covered by 201.11 (C)(1) where the load is subdivided through two or more feeders the calculated load for each 2 wire shall include not less than 1500 volt amperes for each two wire small appliance branch circuit. these loads shall be permitted to be included with the general lighting load and subjected to the demand factors provided in table 220.42

    220.53 Appliance loads dwelling units. it shall be permissible to apply a demand factor of 75 percent to the nameplate rating load of four or more appliances fastened in place other than electric ranges, clothes dryers, space heating equipment, air air conditioning equipment that are served by the same feeders or service in a one-family or two-family or multi-family dwelling.

    ok the electrical appliances such as coffee makers, can openers, toasters/ovens, blenders, mixers, and so on can be added up at 75 percent load the the circuit, but the circuit is still figures at 80 percent capacity in design and in load calculation.

    Ok this would cover kitchen counter, dining area, utility circuits in a dwelling.but we still have major appliances, electrica heating, air conditioning, and any other major electrical equipment installed.

    LOOK!!
    every three years NEC ammends/omits/removes article sections from the code book because of findings from lab test, manufacturing of electrical devices and equipment, reports from the NFPA, FEMA/USFA from electrical malfunctions that cause electrical fires and accidents every day.

    the grandfather clause is not in the NEC it is the act of standing code on existing electrical services and what NEC code is enacted at time of installation. and this has been inbattled by the U.S fire marshals since the 80's when we had the major electrical fires at the MGM in las vegas and a major hotel in Newhemshire. the reports are on the NFPA web site under record files.

    and every single part of this is a factor to how safe an electrical service can supply power to a home, but once the electrical service is installed
    !! THAT IS IT !!! without a safe electrical service to supply power the occupent has a greater chance of developing an unsafe electrical environment by how they choose to arrange their electrical items in that dwelling, plus when you are using an older electrical service that is deteriorated from years of use, plus designed long before the power demands of todays electrical needs and comforts you only add to the chance of an electrical malfunction that can cause an electrical fire.

    so I hope tis will help you in understanding LOAD CALCULATIONS need to be done by people trained in the electrical field.

    if you find an electrical panel not labeled properly, wires not connected, different/newer wires installed and not labeled, deteriorated/discolored wires, in the home you notice blanked outlet, outlets at different levels, covers not the same color as the receptacle, newer lighting fixures HAVE YOUR CLIENT BRING IN A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN

    With your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consulting & Service
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


  20. #20
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    ok the electrical appliances such as coffee makers, can openers, toasters/ovens, blenders, mixers, and so on can be added up at 75 percent load the the circuit, but the circuit is still figures at 80 percent capacity in design and in load calculation.
    These loads are covered by the small appliance allowance of 3000 va. There is no need to add them in again. There would also be no 75 or 80 percent circuit limit either.

    Where is the hazard when the trim plate doesn't match the device color? Are you serious that you would refer a mismatched color for correction or evaluation? What are you the decorating police?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    These loads are covered by the small appliance allowance of 3000 va. There is no need to add them in again. There would also be no 75 or 80 percent circuit limit either.

    Where is the hazard when the trim plate doesn't match the device color? Are you serious that you would refer a mismatched color for correction or evaluation? What are you the decorating police?
    the decorating police wouldn't have anything to do with the home owner changing receptacles, altering the circuits wiring, most hidden issues that cause electrical fires are visible when you look for the things mentioned. go to NFPA.com type in real cost of electrical fires or maybe you should go to USFA.com and look up residential electrical fire search and you will find access to many articles. or you can just cut the chase and find every link on my website, and read up on the fact not found from the home inspection mostly provided from the average home inspection. so keep working with the decorating police till the day you findout you missed an electrical issue that cost one of your clients their home or even worse the life of a loved one. we have over 5000 people injured or killed every year by electricity in the home. and over 40 percent are in older homes that are owned by third or forth time owners.

    With your electrical safety in mind
    Norman W. Ellis
    Founder
    New World Electrical Consultants & Services
    (safe home energy LLC)
    Safe Home Energy LLC Inspections, Consulting & Service


  22. #22
    Lou Romano's Avatar
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    Default Re: House Electrical Panel Directory

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Aldering View Post


    So absolutely true. With the testing equipment available at relatively low cost today, there does not seem to be much reason for not creating a readable breaker directory, even for an "old house." In emergencies, rational thinking does not always prevail. It may not occur to some people that cutting the main disconnect will de-energize a branch circuit. They may look for the circuit with the problem. That can kill.

    I have and use several types of circuit tracers. I have expensive ones as well as the low cost versions and I can tell you from experience that it is NOT always possible to identify every circuit in a panel! Regardless of the equipment you have at your disposal, unless you are identifying circuits in a panel on a new construction project you are likely to find circuits that appear to feed nothing, yet there is a wire attached to the breaker.

    Maybe it is an abandoned circuit capped in a box or maybe it is feeding some obscure item somewhere. Either way unless someone wants to spend a lot of time taking things apart to physically trace the wiring, which does not usually make economic sense, they will usually identify it as "general lighting" or "lighting & receptacles" on the panel schedule.

    Personally I ID these circuits as "Not found" because I believe it to be less confusing than the generalizations described above. I also ask my clients to leave these circuits in the off position until such time as something is found without power.


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