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  1. #1
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    Default Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Hello all, I'm working with a 1973 condo which has a panel without a main breaker. The main is located in a locked meter room where each condo has it's own single breaker panel and meter.

    The condo's panel does not have a separate ground bar like your standard subpanel and a transfer switch was installed for emergency backup power.

    Since the panel does not have a ground bar the transfer switch was wired with both the neutral and ground wires to the neutral bar. What is the ruling on this type of connection?

    Thanks
    HJ

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  2. #2
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    Oct 2015
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    il
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Quote Originally Posted by HJ Gallego View Post
    Hello all, I'm working with a 1973 condo which has a panel without a main breaker. The main is located in a locked meter room where each condo has it's own single breaker panel and meter.

    The condo's panel does not have a separate ground bar like your standard subpanel and a transfer switch was installed for emergency backup power.

    Since the panel does not have a ground bar the transfer switch was wired with both the neutral and ground wires to the neutral bar. What is the ruling on this type of connection?

    Thanks
    HJ
    I would say separate the grounds and neutrals if a 4 wire feed HHNG or a 3 wire feed with HHN and a metallic conduit connection to the service panel. Without either of these you will not have a source to ground so separating grounds and neutrals would make the ground wire on the branch circuits useless. As for the transfer switch I will defer to those more in the Know.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    First question: Your description indicates that this generator would be the unit owner's generator, not an association owned generator, correct?

    Second question: Your description stated "locked meter room" ... where will that unit owner's generator be placed when in use?

    Third question: That main service equipment belongs to the association, not the unit owner, so I would question who permitted the transfer switch on the disconnect and does the association know it is there?

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

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Is the transfer switch in the locked meter room with the service or is it in the condo unit?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Correct, the unit owner will use an electric, battery powered not gasoline generator inside their own unit only.

    I don't know if the association is aware of that modification but the owner claims that he installed the transfer switch because his panel didn't have a main breaker and did not want to backfeed when using the generator.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    First question: Your description indicates that this generator would be the unit owner's generator, not an association owned generator, correct?

    Second question: Your description stated "locked meter room" ... where will that unit owner's generator be placed when in use?

    Third question: That main service equipment belongs to the association, not the unit owner, so I would question who permitted the transfer switch on the disconnect and does the association know it is there?
    - - - Updated - - -

    it's inside the condo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Is the transfer switch in the locked meter room with the service or is it in the condo unit?



  6. #6
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Quote Originally Posted by HJ Gallego View Post
    Correct, the unit owner will use an electric, battery powered not gasoline generator inside their own unit only.
    so,basically speaking, they are using a large UPS (uninterruptable power supply) ... except that it may not be connected as 'uninterruptable'?

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 11-01-2017 at 01:21 PM. Reason: Meant to end the question with a "?", not a "."
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    How are they connecting the battery to the panel?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  8. #8
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    Oct 2017
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Yes it's basically a larger UPS connected to the transfer switch with a standard 120v 15 amp plug.

    There is a black ground wire connected to the panel's case at one point but that appears to be the only ground wire used. There are no other ground wires coming from any other point into the panel, just the neutrals connected to the neutral bus bar.

    Should this transfer switch have it's ground wire connected to that same point on the case instead of tied to the neutrals bar?

    Thanks again


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Are you saying they are using a suicide cord to connect the two?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Are you saying they are using a suicide cord to connect the two?
    That was my thinking too.

    If I understand the description correctly - the UPS is plugged into a receptacle for power to keep the batteries charged, and a suicide cord is plugged into the UPS power outlets and plugged back into a wall receptacle using a cord with two male plugs.

    And, yes, I have made and used suicide cords before, but ... if you unplug the energized end ... instead of holding a safe female receptacle, you are holding an energized male plug ... one wrong slip of the hand or finger and you are grasping 120 volts!

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

  11. #11
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    Oct 2017
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    Sorry I should've mentioned that it was not a suicide cord. The male end of the extension cord goes to the inverter and the female end of the cord goes to a nema 1420 adapter that plugs into the transfer switch. It's perfectly safe because there are no exposed live contacts at any time.


  12. #12
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    Feb 2009
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    Southern Vancouver Island
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    4,585

    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    If the original condo wiring is in metal conduit, the panel is grounded by the nut where the conduit comes into the panel. You say there is a black wire connected to the panel case.
    Usually a ground lug or bus can be installed on the back of the panel somewhere, maybe with a self-tapping screw. That sounds like what is needed here, but best to have an electrician check it out.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 11-02-2017 at 11:06 AM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Condo panel and transfer switch question

    I agree, thanks for your help.


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