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  1. #1
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    Default new home - full panel

    This is a big house and I usually see two service panels with homes this size. This home was turned over from the builder to the buyer with the panel full.

    It has two places where the neutrals are doubled an I know thats wrong so its getting written up for that at least.

    I looked but can't find information about requirements for expansion room. I thought I had heard it talked about before. Is there a IRC or NEC code or other requirement for there to be room for expansion in the panel of a new home?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    I looked but can't find information about requirements for expansion room.
    This is what the NEC says: (bold and underlining are mine)
    - ARTICLE 90 Introduction
    - - 90.1 Purpose.
    - - - (B) Adequacy. This Code contains provisions that are considered necessary for safety. Compliance therewith and proper maintenance results in an installation that is essentially free from hazard but not necessarily efficient, convenient, or adequate for good service or future expansion of electrical use.
    - - - - FPN: Hazards often occur because of overloading of wiring systems by methods or usage not in conformity with this Code. This occurs because initial wiring did not provide for increases in the use of electricity. An initial adequate installation and reasonable provisions for system changes provide for future increases in the use of electricity.

    This one sentence is quite telling of the NEC:
    - Compliance therewith and proper maintenance results in an installation that is
    - - essentially free from hazard
    - - but not necessarily
    - - - efficient,
    - - - convenient,
    - - - or adequate for good service
    - - - or future expansion of electrical use.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Well, if that's the best that's out there, there is not a blanket "requirement" for expansion space. Just a requirement that things are generally safe.

    Thanks Jerry for the quick answer.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Well, if that's the best that's out there, there is not a blanket "requirement" for expansion space. Just a requirement that things are generally safe.

    Thanks Jerry for the quick answer.
    John,

    Remember, all codes, including the NEC, are MINIMUM codes ... not 'good', not 'better', not 'best', just ... 'minimum' ... and 'minimum' does not get you much.

    Not only is there "not a blanket "requirement" for expansion space", there is not even a requirement that the electrical system be "efficient", "convenient", or "adequate for good service" ... only that the electrical system will be "essentially free from hazard".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    This is a big house and I usually see two service panels with homes this size.
    Must be a regional thing, I have never seen more than 1 service panel on a single family home.


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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    Must be a regional thing, I have never seen more than 1 service panel on a single family home.
    I've had a dozen or more of them this year so far. Here's an example of one from last week. The left panel upper left two breakers were a multi wire circuit fed from the same bus with one shared neutral. Fortunately there was not any scorching of the neutral......yet.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Here's the two SEC's comming off the meter.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Here's the two SEC's comming off the meter.
    Between the photos of the panels and the meter, things don't look right.

    First, the service entrance cable should be protected from physical damage or be back against the building surface.

    Then, the two service entrance cables go into the exterior wall about 4 feet apart, above floor level (based on the window on the right), then they must go down the wall to where the panels are, then bend in toward each other to meet the panels 18 inches or so apart where the cables enter the panels ... that just seems like way too much service entrance cable "within the structure" and seems to exceed what would normally be allowed.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Jerry, I don't think the two installs are necessarily related. The cable probably goes thru the outside joist or band board and turns down into the panel. Without seeing the inside I doubt the cable length is excessive.

    I know the whole "subject to damage" is undefined, but the inspectors where the OP is do not consider that subject to damage. I only see age damage to cables from UV, not from outside factors. Also the cables are connected by a sub to the power company and most want to get in and get on the the next job so that explains the lack of bends or clamps.

    John, where was the house, Millersville, SP or in the city?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Jerry, I don't think the two installs are necessarily related.
    Jim,

    I presumed them to be the same install because John said: (underlining is mine)
    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Here's the two SEC's comming off the meter.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    When he said here is an example from last week I was not sure if they were related.

    I would also say the distance between the SEC into the house looks about right to come straight into side by side panels.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    When he said here is an example from last week I was not sure if they were related.
    John did say here is an example from last week, but then posted the other photos stating that these were the service entrance cables ...

    I'm still thinking of the height, unless that window is almost down to the floor.

    Guess we'll need to have John clear up any this confusion.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    Must be a regional thing, I have never seen more than 1 service panel on a single family home.

    See multiple (usually two) SEPs on larger homes and there are spares (or slots available) in both panels.

    Common sense ... at least we get "some" such (IE: Common sense) in Texas now and then.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    I'll try to clear up the confusion.

    The pics in post #1 are from a house built in 2010.

    The pics in posts #6 and #7 are from a house built in 1994. They are the same install. The dual SEC's going through the wall in post #7 feed the dual panels shown in post #6. The SEC's do pass through the band joist and go straight down to the panels. The top of the panels is about 6 feet from the basement floor with 8 foot ceilings. Therefore, less than 6 feet of SEC's (each individual) passes through interior space before entering the panels.

    6 feet is the limit for un-protected SEC on the interior, correct?


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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    The NEC does not have a hard and fast limit. The wording says the SEC are to be "as short as practical".

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    Must be a regional thing, I have never seen more than 1 service panel on a single family home.
    It is very common for me to have 2-3 panels in a home and the service panel on the exterior. I did a home a couple of weeks ago with 6 panels! It also had just a tad bit more than a 200 amp service!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    6 feet is the limit for un-protected SEC on the interior, correct?
    As Jim said, there is no hard and fast rule, but the various jurisdictions I've been in all used 5 feet of "conductor length", which is different than "measured distance".

    Based on your photo and description of the location, there would be about 2' (8'-6'=2' to top of panel) + 2' (top of panel to terminals) + 1' (to band board where they go through) or about 5', maybe even slightly less.

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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    John,

    This is where the location of the service disconnect is required to be located: (bold and underlining are mine)
    - 225.32 Location.
    - - The disconnecting means shall be installed either inside or outside of the building or structure served or where the conductors pass through the building or structure. The disconnecting means shall be at a readily accessible location nearest the point of entrance of the conductors. For the purposes of this section, the requirements in 230.6 shall be utilized.
    - - - Exception No. 1: For installations under single management, where documented safe switching procedures are established and maintained for disconnection, and where the installation is monitored by qualified individuals, the disconnecting means shall be permitted to be located elsewhere on the premises.
    - - - Exception No. 2: For buildings or other structures qualifying under the provisions of Article 685, the disconnecting means shall be permitted to be located elsewhere on the premises.
    - - - Exception No. 3: For towers or poles used as lighting standards, the disconnecting means shall be permitted to be located elsewhere on the premises.
    - - - Exception No. 4: For poles or similar structures used only for support of signs installed in accordance with Article 600, the disconnecting means shall be permitted to be located elsewhere on the premises.

    - 230.6 Conductors Considered Outside the Building.
    - - Conductors shall be considered outside of a building or other structure under any of the following conditions:
    - - - (1) Where installed under not less than 50 mm (2 in.) of concrete beneath a building or other structure
    - - - (2) Where installed within a building or other structure in a raceway that is encased in concrete or brick not less than 50 mm (2 in.) thick
    - - - (3) Where installed in any vault that meets the construction requirements of Article 450, Part III
    - - - (4) Where installed in conduit and under not less than 450 mm (18 in.) of earth beneath a building or other structure

    Thus, from 230.6, the "point of entrance" of the service entrance conductors is where the SE cables first enter the siding and are no longer 'outside' of the structure.

    Then, from 225.32, the disconnect shall be at (i.e., "installed") a location nearest the "point of entrance" of the service entrance conductors.

    The 5 feet is taken from (arbitrarily taken from) here:
    - 250.52 Grounding Electrodes.
    - - (A) Electrodes Permitted for Grounding.
    - - - (1) Metal Underground Water Pipe. A metal underground water pipe in direct contact with the earth for 3.0 m (10 ft) or more (including any metal well casing bonded to the pipe) and electrically continuous (or made electrically continuous by bonding around insulating joints or insulating pipe) to the points of connection of the grounding electrode conductor and the bonding conductors. Interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall not be used as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system.
    - - - - Exception: In industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings or structures where conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons service the installation, interior metal water piping located more than 1.52 m (5 ft) from the point of entrance to the building shall be permitted as a part of the grounding electrode system or as a conductor to interconnect electrodes that are part of the grounding electrode system, provided that the entire length, other than short sections passing perpendicularly through walls, floors, or ceilings, of the interior metal water pipe that is being used for the conductor is exposed.

    At least that is how the "why" for the 5 feet has been explained to me by the few people who made the rules in the AHJ.

    The only way to know is to ask your AHJ who much service entrance "conductor length" is allowed inside the building from the "point of entrance" to the service disconnect.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Good to get things cleared up. I had previously thought there was a specific limit for unprotected SEC distance inside the structure.

    Shortest as practical can be pretty vague.


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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Jerry, I don't think the two installs are necessarily related. The cable probably goes thru the outside joist or band board and turns down into the panel. Without seeing the inside I doubt the cable length is excessive.

    I know the whole "subject to damage" is undefined, but the inspectors where the OP is do not consider that subject to damage. I only see age damage to cables from UV, not from outside factors. Also the cables are connected by a sub to the power company and most want to get in and get on the the next job so that explains the lack of bends or clamps.

    John, where was the house, Millersville, SP or in the city?
    Jim,

    The new house with the full panel is in Hanover. The 17 year old house with the dual panels is in Odenton.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Great information guys. I had thought that there was a requirement for a panel not to be full in a new home. I don't cite code, but tell the client that there isn't room in the panel to add circuits and that it may or may not be a concern for them. Then we talk about how they plan to use the home and how it may be different than the current owner.

    When there are two panels side-by-side, I put tape on the corner of one panel cover and on the wall near that corner of the cover before removing them. There often isn't space to put the cover right below the panel.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    As pointed out by Mr. Peck, "the disconnecting means shall be nearest the point of entry of the service conductors." "Nearest" is undefined and is up to the interpretation of the AHJ. Most inspectors in New York state will accept whatever length of cable can meet the intent of requirement "nearest." If I can demonstrate a manner of installation that would be "nearer" the installation therefore would not meet the requirement.

    I have come across documentation on the Internet that reflected that the state of Washington defines "nearest" as 15 feet which in my opinion would be excessive travel for unfused cable.

    Additionally, the discrepancy I noted from the picture of the SE cables leaving the meter cabinet and entering the house would be 230.51(A) Service Cables. Service cables shall be supported by straps or other approved means within 300mm (12 in.) of every service head, gooseneck or connection to a to a raceway or enclosure and at intervals not exceeding 750mm (30 in.).

    My perception from the photo is that the installation depicted ecxceeds the 12 in. requirement for support.

    Said SE cables should also be protected from physical abuse if the area of installation would facilitate such. If such an installation were subject to pedestrian or vehicle traffic, protection wuold be required. Is a maintenance man with a weed whacker a means of physical abuse? Could be.....again, up to interpretation of the AHJ.

    Last edited by Richard D. Fornataro; 09-12-2011 at 07:58 AM. Reason: ADDITIONAL INFO

  23. #23
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    Default Re: new home - full panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    If I can demonstrate a manner of installation that would be "nearer" the installation therefore would not meet the requirement.
    Richard,

    Good way to put it ... if it *can* be installed "nearer", then the other location is not "nearest".

    I like that.

    It *can* be installed on the other side of the exterior wall, and that would definitely be "nearest" the point of entrance.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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