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  1. #1

    Question Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    I am used to seeing Main panels with the Top main disconnect almost ALWAYS being fed from the top. If they are fed from the bottom the main disconnect is at the bottom.

    I was at a house yesterday and the panel was fed from the bottom... but the main Feeds ran along the left side of the panel mixed with the circuits on the beakers on that side of the panel all the way to the top of the panel.

    I didn't think you could do that.... could I get an opinion please???



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    Last edited by Bob Sisson; 10-08-2011 at 05:19 PM. Reason: Picture didn't show up
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    No NEC violation to do it this way. A few local AHJs may have issues because it extends the length of what might be unprotected cable (no over current device) if this is a main panel.

    I'm not too fond of this as it makes it somewhat difficult to do a neat job of terminating the branch circuit conductors, but I'm accused of being crotchety about a number of things anyhow so you can take my opinion for what it's worth.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kriegh View Post
    No NEC violation to do it this way. A few local AHJs may have issues because it extends the length of what might be unprotected cable (no over current device) if this is a main panel.
    I agree with Bill, if this is the service equipment, which it looks to be, then the service entrance conductors are too long because the main disconnect breaker is required to be nearest the point of entrance of the service entrance conductors, and that point of entrance is at the bottom of the panel, not at the top of the panel. It may be possible for the interior of the panel to be rotated around such that the main service disconnect is at the bottom of the panel, and that would be compliant.


    but I'm accused of being crotchety about a number of things
    And I've never been accused of being crotchety about anything ...

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Perfectly legal. Millions of panels and switch gear are fed from the bottom.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    While it could be interpreted that the service cables are not truly "as short as practical" or "nearest the point of entry", I have only heard of one person being red tagged for bottom feeding a top mounted main.

    I would have mounted the panel with the main down to save gutter space and so I did not need to buy as much service cable. The main looks to be a horizontal action so there should have been the option to flip the panel. Some feel that the feed must always be at the top, similar to a meter socket.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Perfectly legal. Millions of panels and switch gear are fed from the bottom.

    Just because there may be millions of panels done that way does not make it "perfectly legal" ... a better term would be "perfectly illegal".

    Kind of like driving 80-90 mph on the Florida Turnpike in South Florida while the speed limit is 65 mph or 70 mph ... it is "illegal", but there is little risk of getting stopped for it - because everyone else is doing the same thing. That would make it "perfectly illegal".

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Just because there may be millions of panels done that way does not make it "perfectly legal" ... a better term would be "perfectly illegal".

    Kind of like driving 80-90 mph on the Florida Turnpike in South Florida while the speed limit is 65 mph or 70 mph ... it is "illegal", but there is little risk of getting stopped for it - because everyone else is doing the same thing. That would make it "perfectly illegal".
    Where is the violation? Conductors enter bottom right and go to the breaker in upper left.

    Yes this panel could have been flipped, but many cannot. Where does it say in the NEC that I must. It satisfies 230.71(A)(1)

    (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.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Kind of like driving 80-90 mph on the Florida Turnpike in South Florida...
    You'd be standing still at that speed in South Florida.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Where is the violation? Conductors enter bottom right and go to the breaker in upper left.
    You answered your own question.

    (bold and underlining is mine)
    Yes this panel could have been flipped, but many cannot. Where does it say in the NEC that I must. It satisfies 230.71(A)(1)

    (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.
    "nearest the point of entrance" of the service entrance conductors would be to rotate the panel so that the main service disconnect is at the bottom of the panel as that is "nearest the point of entrance" versus being installed as shown in the photo.

    As Jim pointed out, not many are called on this, but - it is in the code when read as stated in the code.

    Would you allow that panel to be placed on the opposite wall with the service entrance conductors running around the inside of that room from the point of entrance to the panel? I doubt it. I suspect you would say that is not allowed as it is too much unprotected conductor length inside and is not "nearest the point of entrance".

    Okay, so the panel is moved half-way back to the point of entrance, would that be okay? No? Because it is still not "nearest the point of entrance" of the service entrance conductors.

    How about on the same wall but down further? No?

    How about where it is, like it is? No? Why are you saying yes when the panel can be installed with the main breaker at the bottom and be "nearest the point of entrance"?

    Each of the above is just a matter of degree as to how far is too far and how close is close enough, so what makes installing the main at the top acceptable when it could easily be installed at the bottom and be "nearest the point of entrance"?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Jerry, I never said the service disco doesn't have to be in nearest place the service conductors enter a building.

    Some panels cannot be flipped. Are you trying to say I cannot lateral and install this panel?




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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Are you trying to say I cannot lateral and install this panel?

    I could possibly answer that if the photo was not in-line in the post and was attached where it would show in a higher resolution. Zooming in on that low resolution thumbnail does not show what I would need to see.

    That is one of the disadvantages of placing the photos in the posts as some have started doing - much better to have them as thumbnails which can be clicked on and viewed in higher resolution.

    One answer to your question though would be to lateral into the top and install it that way.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I could possibly answer that if the photo was not in-line in the post and was attached where it would show in a higher resolution. Zooming in on that low resolution thumbnail does not show what I would need to see.

    That is one of the disadvantages of placing the photos in the posts as some have started doing - much better to have them as thumbnails which can be clicked on and viewed in higher resolution.

    One answer to your question though would be to lateral into the top and install it that way.
    How can you lateral into the top of a panel. Lateral is a underground feed.

    III. Underground Service Conductors
    230.30 Insulation. Service-lateral conductors shall be insulated
    for the applied voltage.

    Here is your thumbnail.

    tm2020.jpg

    Flip this panel and you are in violation.

    404.7 Indicating. General-use and motor-circuit switches,
    circuit breakers, and molded case switches, where mounted
    in an enclosure as described in 404.3, shall clearly indicate
    whether they are in the open (off) or closed (on) position.
    Where these switch or circuit breaker handles are operated
    vertically rather than rotationally or horizontally, the
    up position of the handle shall be the (on) position.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    This is another case where there is no right and wrong. The shorter the wires the better but there is no official distance where they are too long. So a main breaker at the top is fine.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    This is another case where there is no right and wrong. The shorter the wires the better but there is no official distance where they are too long. So a main breaker at the top is fine.
    Ah, don't go and bring reason into this.

    You are going to spoil our silly argument.

    Last edited by Derek Guridi; 10-09-2011 at 09:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Mr OP, Bob Sisson, what is your location? Those long service conductors mixed with the branch circuits would not be permitted in Canada under the CEC.
    In fact, in Canada, a metal barrier is installed to keep branch circuits separated from the service wiring. If the panel could not be flipped, then the service conductors would be fed to the top in external conduit, if that was in Canada, which you didn't say.

    PS, I put this info up for the few Canadian HI's that lurk here. Happy Thanksgiving to you'all. If you are in the US, ignore this.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 10-10-2011 at 12:31 PM. Reason: PS
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck
    Would you allow that panel to be placed on the opposite wall with the service entrance conductors running around the inside of that room from the point of entrance to the panel? I doubt it. I suspect you would say that is not allowed as it is too much unprotected conductor length inside and is not "nearest the point of entrance".

    OK, so the panel is moved half-way back to the point of entrance, would that be OK? No? Because it is still not "nearest the point of entrance" of the service entrance conductors.

    How about on the same wall but down further? No?

    How about where it is, like it is? No? Why are you saying yes when the panel can be installed with the main breaker at the bottom and be "nearest the point of entrance"?

    Each of the above is just a matter of degree as to how far is too far and how close is close enough, so what makes installing the main at the top acceptable when it could easily be installed at the bottom and be "nearest the point of entrance"?
    Jerry,

    It sounds like you are trying to incite the troops with this argument and I'm not buying it. I believe, You are also contradicting earlier statements you have made about your "unprotected length and the nearest point of entrance".

    If I remember correctly, in past discussions you may have stated that 4-6 ft was a reasonable distance for short unprotected length and this certainly looks like less than 6 feet of length.

    It is possible that the only unprotected length is within the service equipment. What about panels where the wire is exposed for short distances?? Let's be practicle about this thread.

    Ken Amelin
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Jerry,

    It sounds like you are trying to incite the troops with this argument and I'm not buying it. I believe, You are also contradicting earlier statements you have made about your "unprotected length and the nearest point of entrance".

    If I remember correctly, in past discussions you may have stated that 4-6 ft was a reasonable distance for short unprotected length and this certainly looks like less than 6 feet of length.

    It is possible that the only unprotected length is within the service equipment. What about panels where the wire is exposed for short distances?? Let's be practicle about this thread.
    It is just a little Sunday morning banter. OP already got his answer.

    Because I am new, Jerry is just seeing if I am for real. No big deal. I am a big boy and can handle myself.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    How can you lateral into the top of a panel. Lateral is a underground feed.
    The easiest way would be to run the lateral riser up outside into the meter, then run from the meter can up the wall into an LB with a nipple through the wall which would go into top area of the panel.

    Problem solved.

    Here is your thumbnail.

    tm2020.jpg

    Flip this panel and you are in violation.
    The thumbnail did not bring up a photo of higher resolution, but I can see the main at the top and, yes, flipping that panel would make that main breaker 'upside down' and the 'on' position would now be down instead of the required up or horizontal.

    Nonetheless, you do run from the meter to the panel like I stated above and the problem would no longer exist as the service entrance conductors would enter into the top area of that panel.

    One must be able to consider other alternatives than what they just normally do.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    This is another case where there is no right and wrong. The shorter the wires the better but there is no official distance where they are too long. So a main breaker at the top is fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Ah, don't go and bring reason into this.

    You are going to spoil our silly argument.
    James,

    There IS an "official distance", just not a "measured distance".

    The "official distance" is "inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors" and Derek was kind enough to post it.

    Derek,

    There are no silly arguments when discussing code. They are what lead to greater understanding of what the code actually says, and they lead to code changes to clarify what the code is saying.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    It sounds like you are trying to incite the troops with this argument ...
    Me?

    You are also contradicting earlier statements you have made about your "unprotected length and the nearest point of entrance".

    If I remember correctly, in past discussions you may have stated that 4-6 ft was a reasonable distance for short unprotected length and this certainly looks like less than 6 feet of length.
    Not contradicting myself. The discussion about most AHJ accepting 5 feet of conductor length inside was about what most AHJ accept and why they require the service equipment to be where they require it to be.

    This discussion is about what the code actually allows: "inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors" and that if the main disconnect and overcurrent device may logically be located closer, then it was not "inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors" where it was first planned, correct?

    It is possible that the only unprotected length is within the service equipment. What about panels where the wire is exposed for short distances?? Let's be practicle about this thread.
    Lots of things are "possible", but what the code is stating reduces those possibilities. In the case of the original photo, without any knowledge of what is outside at that location (in this presumption example there is something blocking routing the service entrance conductors up the exterior wall), thus that *may* be acceptable as it looks to be within the 5 feet you brought up ... HOWEVER ... depending on what is outside, that *may not* be acceptable as the service entrance conductors *could* (in this presumption example) be run up the wall and into the top of the service equipment.

    Not enough information is given to KNOW either way, so to say that it is acceptable without actually knowing that it is acceptable is incorrect.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    James,


    Derek,

    There are no silly arguments when discussing code. They are what lead to greater understanding of what the code actually says, and they lead to code changes to clarify what the code is saying.
    Sure there are. Wanna do ground up or ground down?

    The official distance is purposely undefined in length, because the CMP wants it that way. Different scenarios present different solutions and the CMP recognizes that and leaves it up to an AHJ to decide what is safe or not.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    Sure there are. Wanna do ground up or ground down?
    Ground down.

    I don't buy the ground up argument - the breaker will take care of that, I do accept the ground down fact - that will save lives.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ground down.

    I don't buy the ground up argument - the breaker will take care of that, I do accept the ground down fact - that will save lives.


    Okay, now since we both know what 230.71(A)(1) says and we can beat this horse to death: I am done with topic.

    So, you gonna welcome me to this forum?


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post
    So, you gonna welcome me to this forum?

    You are welcome.

    Oh, wait, *I'm* supposed to be the one to welcome you, got it.

    Welcome to the sandbox ... er ... forum.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Guridi View Post


    Okay, now since we both know what 230.71(A)(1) says and we can beat this horse to death: I am done with topic.

    So, you gonna welcome me to this forum?
    You will soon see that if you said it is raining JP will say it is just drizzling and if you said it is drizzling JP would say it is raining. You will never be right so I would not be concerned about it.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    You will soon see that if you said it is raining JP will say it is just drizzling and if you said it is drizzling JP would say it is raining. You will never be right so I would not be concerned about it.
    We are just having fun.


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    I think in the argument here I'd have to maintain that the entire panel is part of the disconnecting means - mainly because the main breaker isn't listed to be used without it. And to me that means the wire in the enclosure doesn't count as extra to the distance calculated to "the disconnecting means". Further, I interpret the language to indicate that a panel must be mounted at or very close to where the service conductors enter the structure and not have the meter on one end of a house and the disconnect on the other.

    I've been doing this a while and I've never had anyone but Jerry say the wire entering the bottom of a cabinet with a top mounted main was a violation, and suspect the lack of altitude (too much O2) and too much salt in the air has a great deal to do with it. I can envision a number of circumstances with floor levels and outside ground heights in relation to the floor where the installation in the picture would be the shortest route from the meter to the main breaker given a box where the guts couldn't be flipped, and I've never seen anything in writing that says I'd have to flip guts in a panel, but only if I could legally, or else use a different panel, to make an installation compliant. Never had an inspector say otherwise and I've dealt with a few as crotchety as I am.

    I also think most folks expect to find a main on top in a panel

    For those who want to pick, my remarks concern a stateside installation. I'm well aware our northern neighbors have a different set of rules. I'm also pretty sure if the pictured installation was an issue here we'd have the same guard required that they do.


  28. #28

    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    To the person who asked where I am...I am in Maryland (USA)

    My greatest concern was the mixing of the Unprotected SE wires and the Protected Branch circuits in the left gutter.

    I have seen lots of versions of the "shortest Practical" distance...

    My favorite is a Townhouse with a separate garage behind it, and the Main Feed Comes up the Alley behind the Garages.... I have seen:
    • The MAIN breaker in the garage with a 4-wire feed to the house 'sub' panel
      (all that was in the box was a 200A disconnect. The garage circuits were fed from the house panel)
    • The Main Panel was in the garage, a 200A disconnect and a 200A breaker feeding the house (4 wire) and a lone 15A GFCI breaker for the garage circuits.
    • The Main disconnect was in the House Kitchen area, 65' from the Meter Base, the SE cable was in conduit from the Meter in the alley, under the garage, under the back yard, into the house..
    • The Feeder cable went under the garage (in conduit) and the meter was on the back of the house with-the main disconnect a few feet away.
    All of these were in the same county, with the same rules, and possibly with the same inspectors.

    The one I thought was WRONG was the 65' between the Meter and the Panel...as that could not be considered "as short as practical" by anyone... Don't think it got corrected as the builder got their electrician to "bless it" and they had their occupancy permit...


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Sisson View Post
    [*]The Main disconnect was in the House Kitchen area, 65' from the Meter Base, the SE cable was in conduit from the Meter in the alley, under the garage, under the back yard, into the house..[*]The Feeder cable went under the garage (in conduit) and the meter was on the back of the house with-the main disconnect a few feet away.[/LIST]All of these were in the same county, with the same rules, and possibly with the same inspectors.

    The one I thought was WRONG was the 65' between the Meter and the Panel...as that could not be considered "as short as practical" by anyone... Don't think it got corrected as the builder got their electrician to "bless it" and they had their occupancy permit...
    The overriding factor would be whether the unfused conductors were considered outside the dwelling. Under a slab is considered outside. Surrounded by 2" of concrete would also make them "outside" in the code view, even if they were inside the building envelope.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    The overriding factor would be whether the unfused conductors were considered outside the dwelling. Under a slab is considered outside. Surrounded by 2" of concrete would also make them "outside" in the code view, even if they were inside the building envelope.
    Correct , well could be correct if the correct conductors are used.

    If it was SE cable in that conduit there still is a violation.
    SE cable is not permitted underground with or without a raceway.
    2008 NEC Article 338.12 (A)(2)


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    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    Correct Ken. I was not sure if BS meant Type SE cables or SE as just service entrance.

    Glad to see you back.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Can a top Beaker Main panel be feed from the Bottom

    SE means Service Entrance to me...

    It gets confusing as I know there is no such thing as a "Sub" panel, there are mains, and everything else, SE cable, Drop Cable (from the Pole to the Weather Head) , Feeder Cable (before the meter right?) and lots of other terminology. If I am not sure of the terminology I will often say "the wire from the street to the meter" rather than call out the WRONG thing...

    Don't get me started about a "hot water heater"....

    As for the Meter separated from the Panel by 65', there was no reason for it... houses one block over, same sub-division, different builder, had a disconnect in the garage...65' is not "as close as possible" in any shape or form... the builder just didn't want to spring for a 200A disconnect and 65' of 4-conductor when he could use 3-conductor and schedule-80 conduit which he had to put in anyway....


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