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Thread: no main breaker

  1. #1
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    Default no main breaker

    This square d panel does not have a main breaker, as far as I can tell. Any comments? Yes, and it is corroded.

    thanks, Russ

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Can't tell from the pics but it's probably a split-buss.
    I think that is what the upper left breaker is. I think I can just make out the wire going up and over.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    I believe that is a 50 amp break that services a kitchen stove. Most of the breakers didn't even have the amperage rating on them.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    It looks like a 4-wire feeder meaning that there could be an OCPD ahead of the panel feeder. If so it's likely that no main is required.
    Looks like Service Entrance cable to me, which would indicate that there is no main service equipment or main breaker upstream.

    Like Pete, I can't tell from the photo whether or not that is a split bus panel, I tend to think it is not, which means that it does need a main - if that is the "service equipment" and there is no main breaker elsewhere.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Melville View Post
    This square d panel does not have a main breaker, as far as I can tell. Any comments?
    Nope! Not enough info to make a judgment - I'd only be guessing.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    Not enough info to make a judgment - I'd only be guessing.
    "I'd only be guessing."

    You mean ... ... like we are?

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Jerry,

    I don't know what you mean when you say it does not need a main.

    This is not a split bus panel.

    There is no main breaker ahead of the panel.

    Thanks,

    Russ


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Melville View Post
    Jerry,

    I don't know what you mean when you say it does not need a main.

    This is not a split bus panel.

    There is no main breaker ahead of the panel.

    Thanks,

    Russ
    Russ ... huh? Where did I say that it does not need a main?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Looks like Service Entrance cable to me, which would indicate that there is no main service equipment or main breaker upstream.

    Like Pete, I can't tell from the photo whether or not that is a split bus panel, I tend to think it is not, which means that it does need a main - if that is the "service equipment" and there is no main breaker elsewhere.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Russell, if you use a camera with a flash and take better pics, we can be more helpful. No offense intended.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Sorry Jerry, I see what you meant now.

    I know about the camera. I have ruined many by crawling around dirt crawlspaces and ruining the mechanical lens. This camera has a internal lense, and is submersable so it is very durrable, but it does compromise on the picture quality at times. It did flash by the way. I have been meaning to shop for another and am going to put that one away for harsh condition/backup use.

    No offense taken.

    Thank you for your input.

    Russ


  11. #11
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    So many possibilities; a meter / breaker combo, another panel and this is a sub-panel, panel was modified, it's a boot-legged non-compliant panel, probably not split buss, but hard to tell for sure. First "guess" is you are right - - - no main.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    So many possibilities; a meter / breaker combo, another panel and this is a sub-panel, panel was modified, it's a boot-legged non-compliant panel, probably not split buss, but hard to tell for sure. First "guess" is you are right - - - no main.
    *IF* we go on what has been stated, then we know:
    a) "This is not a split bus panel."
    b) "There is no main breaker ahead of the panel."
    c) The conductor coming into the panel is service entrance cable with 2-insulated 'hot' conductors and 1-uninsulated neutral conductor (according to what is shown in the photo).
    d) Based on c), those conductors are "service entrance conductors" and not feeder conductors (which require an insulated neutral conductor and a separate grounding conductor).

    Hopefully, that answers some of your questions and removes some of your stated possibilities.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    That may not be a "service". Example: It could be a "main power feeder".or tap. I may have missed it amongst the OPs contributions to the discussion, but I haven't seen that it has been said that this is actually residential, single building, single occupancy, or that the conductors "feeding" this panel originate at a meter or a service point, a trough, C.T. cutomer owned pole, ag, whatever.

    The panel in question and the overall installation obviously has "some age" to it. I'm not "sold" on the panel being Square D, either. Photo suggests panel may be installed sub-grade (i.e. basement) in unsuitable environmental conditions. The OP has said "there is no main breaker ahead of the panel". That doesn't mean much - it doesn't say/mean that there isn't a single set of OCPD protecting the conductors supplying this panel (fuses and other disconnect for example). I don't believe the OP has evidenced or confirmed that he has visualized the service point for this occupancy. OP indictes unidentified CBs (ratings not indicated) in same.


    Mute anyway the unlabeled and corrosion/deterioration/ev. of foreign collections/intrusion conditions of the panel and presence of more than the minimum percentage of 30A or less, or split phase circuits (L&APB)necessates remediation and/or replacement. Presence of listed equipment, bootleg and/or gray-market cannot be determined from what has been shared.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 09-13-2012 at 09:55 AM.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    The OP says the panel is Square D, the photos confirm this.

    The older Square D did not have the breaker rating painted white as they do now. Before it was just raised black text on black.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    HG,

    Single family, no disconect before the panel which is in the basement, conductors originate at the meter which is a few feet away on the exterior of home, , it is a square d.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Thanks Robert!


  17. #17
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Looks like Service Entrance cable to me, which would indicate that there is no main service equipment or main breaker upstream.

    Like Pete, I can't tell from the photo whether or not that is a split bus panel, I tend to think it is not, which means that it does need a main - if that is the "service equipment" and there is no main breaker elsewhere.
    There is evidence of non-professional work, so the type of feeder cable in play, ( SE or otherwise ), carries no weight in my view. I have seen split-buss configurations where the lower panel feed source was not visually evident. The last / third breaker on the right is hard to read; appears to be a 20/2, but if a 70/2, I would argue for a split buss. However, Russell says it is not. The main lug configuration is different and could represent a removed main breaker. Long shot I know, but MLO main panels are pretty rare, so somethin odd is goin on.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    but MLO main panels are pretty rare, so somethin odd is goin on.
    Main lug only panels are really quite common, at least where I have been.

    Maybe in some areas MLO panels are rare, but definitely not rare in other areas.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    The main breaker appears to be at the top, between the two phase leads. The insulated (black) neutral, is connected to the neutral bus, then extends down, around to the right, and enters the panel thru the second bushing from the right.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    No one has mentioned that the larger photo shows multiple conductors in several breakers intended for a single conductor. Also the rust stains on the breakers indicate there is a water problem as well.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Roberts View Post
    The main breaker appears to be at the top, between the two phase leads.
    Being as we were not there and the original posters has stated that there was no main breaker in that panel, I am going with the fact that is not a breaker.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Roberts View Post
    The main breaker appears to be at the top, between the two phase leads. The insulated (black) neutral, is connected to the neutral bus, then extends down, around to the right, and enters the panel thru the second bushing from the right.
    Had to read all the posts to verify that somebody caught the violation of 6 throw rule.

    Nice catch Robert.

    Michael pointed out the multiple conductors landed on a circuit breaker.

    I cannot verify that the circuit breakers pictured are listed as capable of landing two wires but inspectors should be aware that some manufacturers, Square D being one, do specify that particular breakers can accept two conductors.

    JMHO but panel looks to me to have been improperly converted from main breaker to main lug via installation of a kit available from the manufacturer.

    The panel may accept such, however; for reasons previously reiterated, the installation does not meet the code including the absence of a fourth conductor even though Mr. Roberts sees one. ( No offense intended.)

    I do see the conductor he has pointed out at the bottom of the panel, landed on the neutral terminal but I cannot see that conductor passing through the connector at the top with the two line and bare neutral conductors much like Service Entrance cable.

    I'd even go so far as to say that the cable entering the top of the panel appears to be round as in sub-feed cable but from the evidence presented, this one is inconclusive.

    Maybe it's one of those optical illusions.

    Or maybe it's just another example of creative wiring method.

    I'm leaning toward the latter.

    Only Russ will be able to answer that for sure.

    Last edited by Richard D. Fornataro; 09-14-2012 at 07:51 AM. Reason: additional comment

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Any one know in what year the "up to 6 disconects" rule came into play as far as code? I have seen several older panels (built over 30 yrs ago) with the main disconect outside and no main at panel.

    Also not all Square D breakers are aproved for more than one conductor. From the photo, the two breakers that have the double taps do not look like the Square D that are aproved. The ones below may be however.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Main lug only panels are really quite common, at least where I have been.

    Maybe in some areas MLO panels are rare, but definitely not rare in other areas.
    MLO panels are probably the single most common panel type made. MLO panels as a residential main service panel, ( as in this OP ), are rare.


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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Morrison View Post
    Any one know in what year the "up to 6 disconects" rule came into play as far as code?
    Basically since Day 1 in time of the electrical codes.

    Actually, it started out being "1" single main disconnect in the first NEC (1897) and subsequent editions, then (in the 1910s or maybe it was the 1920s) an exception was added to allow up to six for dwelling units only. I forget when the exception for dwelling units only was dropped and it was changed to all occupancies, with an additional 1 disconnect for a fire pump.

    Thus the short answer is that it was *1* disconnect was the requirement until 6 disconnect were allowed.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    MLO panels are probably the single most common panel type made. MLO panels as a residential main service panel, ( as in this OP ), are rare.
    Main Lug Only panels as residential service equipment panels are far from rare, the are actually quite common. A back-fed breaker is installed in the MLO panel - as long as the panel is rated as being 'Suitable for use as service equipment' - an that back fed breaker needs to have an additional screw or clip holding it in place.

    Again, I suspect this varies by location. In colder areas with basements it is likely that the main service disconnect and service equipment panel is located in the basement. In warmer climates it is not at all unusual to find the main service disconnect and service equipment mounted on the exterior of the dwelling, with the distribution panel inside the house. Many times that main service disconnect and service equipment panel will also have a panel section with breakers which allow the condenser unit to be fed from a breaker in it, the lawn irrigation system pump to be fed from a breaker in it, the pool pump to be fed from a breaker in it, etc., there are breakers for many things in the exterior service equipment panel. Sometimes those panels are MLO panels with back fed main service disconnects.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    As I said before, I see numerous (split) half-phase breakers and wiring suggestive of a significant (i.e. more than 10%) number of circuits on the buses which are 30A or less, which suggests that this (pictured & described panel) is a Lighting and Appliance Branch Panel - and therefore it would require not more than two disconnects/OCPDs, ahead of same to disconnect/de-energize all the circuits on the L&APB bus(es) not six "handles".

    It would be wrong to have a L&ABP (such as SERVICE EQUIPMENT) MLO Buses with no protection and disconnect ahead of it. I see no evidence of backfed sub-bus(es) in the less-than fully-revealing photographs.

    Thought I saw a lt. green w/black label on the backwall of the cabinet.

    Several generations of wiring, deterioration in and outside of panel, evidence of infiltrtion, needs to be referred.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Roberts View Post
    The main breaker appears to be at the top, between the two phase leads. The insulated (black) neutral, is connected to the neutral bus, then extends down, around to the right, and enters the panel thru the second bushing from the right.
    You're on to something Jimmy. What's that black phenolic stuff doing there at the panel top ? A fused pull-out ? Why is there a big insulated wire terminated on that bottom neutral buss and where does it go ? It's a panel type I've not seen B4.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Melville View Post
    This square d panel does not have a main breaker, as far as I can tell. Any comments? Yes, and it is corroded.

    thanks, Russ
    Did you look next to the meter. Often I found the main breaker next to the meter outside of the home.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Repeat:There is no disconect ahead of the panel. The entrance cable covering was frayed and allowing moisture to enter through the meter into the panel, causing corrosion, the panel was quite badly corroded, there IS NO MAIN DISCONECT, and there are double tapped breakers. Enough for me to call it out for an electrician to eval and repair.




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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    As I said before, I see numerous (split) half-phase breakers and wiring suggestive of a significant (i.e. more than 10%) number of circuits on the buses which are 30A or less, which suggests that this (pictured & described panel) is a Lighting and Appliance Branch Panel - and therefore it would require not more than two disconnects/OCPDs, ahead of same to disconnect/de-energize all the circuits on the L&APB bus(es) not six "handles".

    It would be wrong to have a L&ABP (such as SERVICE EQUIPMENT) MLO Buses with no protection and disconnect ahead of it. I see no evidence of backfed sub-bus(es) in the less-than fully-revealing photographs.

    Thought I saw a lt. green w/black label on the backwall of the cabinet.

    Several generations of wiring, deterioration in and outside of panel, evidence of infiltrtion, needs to be referred.
    HG,

    Could you please cite a code reference for the above statement as it pertains to not more than two disconnects?

    I am unaware of such.

    If the code is 2011 NEC, then my apologies in advance as I am inspecting under the 2008 NEC per NYS.


  32. #32
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Are you serious? Are you suggesting the pictured panel and circuit breakers present were manufactured, marked, labeled, and listed to the 2008 or later edition of the NEC? Are you suggesting that the limitations of UL 67 and the UL Marking Guide do not apply to Listed (Square D) panelboards?

    Start with Article 110, and applying equipment according to its Listing and within its Listed limitations.

    The requirement did not magically go way when the NEC stopped repeating definitions, and elements of UL 67 and the UL Marking Guide for Panelboards (conveniently located in Appendix A of your UL White Book), regarding Current Ratings of Panelboards, nor Lighting and Appliance Branch Circuit Panelboards.

    UL Marking Guide for Panelboards

    CURRENT RATING section of the UL Marking Guide for Panelboards
    10. A lighting and appliance panelboard marked as suitable for use as service equipment is limited to two main disconnects. To prevent overloading, the current rating of such panelboards shall equal the combined current ratings of the two disconnects as required by Section 408.36(A) of the NEC (2005 Edition) or Section 408.36, Exception 2 (2011 Edition). Where main disconnects are not provided with the panelboard, the NEC requires that main overcurrent protection be provided in the feeder circuit supplying the panelboard.

    Be sure to review the Panelboard marking guide's Glossary, repeated from UL 67.

    You should also review Notes 20-24 in their entirety.

    You'll find similar in your 2008 UL White Book containing the 2008 UL Marking Guide for Panelboards.

    The requirement and the definitions didn't disappear just because they stopped being repeated from the Standards by the NEC. If you're ignoring as Ex. No. 3, its in error, as ex. no. 3 only "flies" if the panelboard was installed as per its rating, listing, and marking in the first place.



  33. #33
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    HG,

    I asked because as stated " I was unaware of any NEC reference to that statement."

    As an electrical inspector in New York State, I am not authorized to cite references from the UL White book unless I can show a specific path to such.

    Therefore, I am relegated to the reference material authorized and published by the state.

    One and two family dwellings are regulated by the Residential Code of New York State.

    That publication contains code requirements as it pertains to electrical, in chapters 33 - 42.

    While it is similar to the NEC or more accurately the IRC, it is indeed not such.

    "Other than one or two family residences" are then subject to the Building Code of New York State.

    That publication refers an inspector directly to the 2008 NEC presently.

    I do have access to "Existing Building Code" and "Existing Residential Code" which CAN at times provide paths to other NYS publications such as the Energy, Property Maintenance, Fire Code, etc. but not the UL White book.

    When challenged by anyone desiring to do so, inability to provide a concise path to any other reference material, "ties my hands", so to speak.

    I am cognizant of the fact that HI's may not be subject to the same restrictions, however; I do believe if challenged, documentation to corroborate such would be mandated.

    I appreciate your extensive knowledge of additional references, however; in the future, I would also appreciate if you would keep the above denoted in mind before responding with incredulity and condescension at the innocuous petitioning of a query regarding statements posted in a reply without such substantiation.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    I asked because as stated " I was unaware of any NEC reference to that statement."

    As an electrical inspector in New York State, I am not authorized to cite references from the UL White book unless I can show a specific path to such.

    Therefore, I am relegated to the reference material authorized and published by the state.
    Why are you not allowed to use the UL White book?

    The NEC, in 110.3(B), states that listed and labeled items are required to be installed in accordance with their listing and labeling, the UL White Book contains 'The Reader's Digest Condensed Version' of the listing and labeling information.

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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Jerry,

    You may have something there.

    I will look into that.

    The problem is that I have to show a path to the code I am citing utilizing the NYS code references.

    As an example, an apartment complex is being renovated to remove the central heating appliance and install electric baseboard heat in each apartment..

    I would have to utilize the Existing Building Code because the apartment complex is greater than a 1 or 2 family.

    From that manual, I would have to determine the level of alteration as defined by the code in chapter 4 - Classification of Work.

    There are three levels per the code.

    A level two alteration includes the reconfiguration of space, the addition or elimination of any door or window, the reconfiguration or extension of any system , or the installation of additional equipment.

    Once I determine the level, the next paragraph would indicate that Level 2 alterations shall comply with the provisions of Chapter 6 for Level 1 alterations as well as the provisions of Chapter 7 of the same manual.

    Chapter 7 of the Existing Building Code would then indicate what code requirements are enforceable such as Building Elements and Materials, Fire Protection, Means of Egress...Electrical and Energy Conservation, etc.

    Section 708 - Electrical would then refer me to the requirements of NFPA 70.

    Now I can require load calculations for the service, branch circuit calculations, etc.

    Additionally, I can enforce the requirements of the Energy Code, per Chapter 7 of the Existing Building Code, which would mandate the use of Department of Energy software to properly size the heating units, etc.

    BTW, it is adamantly apparent that NYS does not want to make such an endeavor easy due to the inefficiency of electric heat as compared to central heating systems.

    Property owners want to do so because now the cost of heating the building becomes the responsibility of the tenant whom is more than likely, in these circumstances, a Social Services client and therefore directly increases the economic burden on the state and subsequently taxpayers.

    OK...long drawn out explanation but when challenged by the property owners attorney, I have to show the direct correlation between what I know to be the code and how I get to that code.

    I will research your suggestion to see if it is applicable to enforcing information available in the White Book based on your reference.

    At the end of the day, that's all I was asking for.


  36. #36
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    Default Re: no main breaker

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    OK...long drawn out explanation but when challenged by the property owners attorney, I have to show the direct correlation between what I know to be the code and how I get to that code.
    If you have ANY reference to the NEC or ANY reference to 'listing' or 'intended use', then you have your link to the UL White Book.

    While NYS may use an older code edition, the newest version of the White Book, and even updated information on the NFPA web site, is the current information for new products being installed.

    This is from the 2012 UL White Book:
    - "Practical Application of the White Book in the Field
    - - Using the White Book in the field to help identify the intended use of a Listed product to assist in determining compliance with Section 110.3(B) of ANSI/NFPA 70, ‘‘National Electrical Code’’ (NECŪ), can be accomplished by at least two methods."

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