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  1. #1

    Default Condo panel question

    I did a 1988 condo yesterday and had a question regarding the panel setup. The panel was located in an exterior utility closet; no problems with it. But it was clearly a subpanel, with no main shutoff. The meter box was (I think) located in a locked area just outside the condo, labeled "contractor access only".
    Each unit was billed separately for electric. How would that work with a subpanel? And what should I tell my client regarding the more-than-six throws needed to cut power to her unit?
    Oh yes, and there were no GFCIs in the kitchen or exterior. I really need to memorize the code implementation years...

    Elite MGA Home Inspector E&O Insurance
    Welmoed Sisson
    Inspections by Bob, LLC, Boyds, MD
    "Given sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine."

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Hillsborough, NC

    Default Re: Condo panel question

    Hi Welmoed,
    Almost certainly there is a main panel next to the meter in the locked contractor access area. It probably has one breaker in it, which satisfies the six throws or less question. Since you can't see it you have to disclaim it, and probably any observations about proper grounding, etc. I would think that access to the panel should be open so that the main shut off could be accessed in an emergency. Might want to check with the local Building inspections Dept.
    I keep some boiler-plates in my reporting software so I don't have to remember the exact dates for GFCI implementation. Here's what I have for exterior GFCI's (dates may be different here in NC than where you live):
    "Beginning in 1973, local standards require that exterior receptacles be protected from ground faults. "
    I just state where the receptacles are located that aren't protected and then paste in that line.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado

    Default Re: Condo panel question

    I see a separate service disconnect located at the meter bank all the time on condos. Only in older buildings do I see the meter bank and disconnect in a locked room. Around here that was allowed when those older buildings were built. I just note the situation and move on.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    New Mexico

    Default Re: Condo panel question

    Quote Originally Posted by Welmoed Sisson View Post
    . I really need to memorize the code implementation years...
    I don't think you need to memorize the implementation years. It wouldn't change your recommendation (or it shouldn't) anyhow. I make no mention of it, and make the same GFCI recommendations if it is a new house or 70 years old.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI

    Default Re: Condo panel question

    Mrs. Sisson,

    If the building is provided with on-site 24/7 maintenance/management attendant with keyed access to control room (panel/s disconnect/s), the code is satisfied. It is not uncommon to restrict/control access to those with special knowledge, permitted work-plans, (NEC 70E) appropriate qualified training, PPE, etc. esp. in larger multi-family occupancies, which are supplied with other than simple 120/240 1~PH 200A or less building service.

    A dedicated main power feeder is not uncommon for an occupancy; neither are CTs for other than split-single-phase metered power supply, Feed-through poly-phase panels from risers, you have ecountered before and presented on this forum.Power distribution from utility transformers is a complex, location specific engineered application.

    Some buildings employ self (non-regulated utility) metering and some employ third-party metered distribution beyond building utility supply. Utilities also employ metered occupancy distribution within larger multi-occupancy buildings.

    Generally a condo owner has title to air space within the unit, which may or may not further grant limited to unit specific or limited to certain units limited common elements in addition to those common to the entirety to the building or portion of the entirety of the holding association.

    From your limited description in and of itself, there is nothing particularly problematic regarding the distribution scenario you described.

    As you are aware, within Maryland there are certain counties and certain incorporated cities which have varying histories as to adopted requirements regarding electrical code requirements. Your best recource for a particular location is the AHJ regarding the local history of requirements being adopted.

    Without a qualifying event to trigger subsequent (more recently adopted) requirements, unless incorporated electively or through a government funded or insured program requirement (such as FHA/HUD. VA. , etc. funded or insured purchase, conversion, development for example) it would not be all-together uncommon to not find more modern safety equipment/requirements/standards. Should same have been earlier employed, the removal of such without having maintained equivellant or better provisions/equipments/protections would be problematic.


    P.S. you can easily access your posting history and link to your prior discussion/topics by visiting your own profile page.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 10-26-2013 at 08:40 AM.

  6. #6
    don agel's Avatar
    don agel Guest

    Default Re: Condo panel question

    I have always written it up as a problem. Several times it will be a third story condo with a main breaker panel on the base level on the opposite side of the building. Locked or not this is not readily accessible now is it? As for the 6 throws or less rule in the panel my question would be were all breakers except the main located in the condo accessible sub? Probably not as the HVAC compressor unit, oven, dryer breakers may still be outside. Would you want these having problems as you run around the building trying to figure out where and which breaker to throw? I even had a townhouse 3 months ago which had the units breaker panel located and accessed on the neighbor's patio. May not be an issue in an emergency unless the neighbor's bulldog is outside and upset about someone frantically running into the patio area to access the breakers.


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