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  1. #1
    Terry Beck's Avatar
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    Default How far away can mian disconnect be?

    1970's rural property. As typical, there is a pedestal or power pole, and meter with panel which is the electrical service entrance for the property. This pole or pedestal may be a 100 feet or a 1000 feet from the house. (Today was a pleasant winding hike of about 200 yards from the house). Sometimes, this panel at the meter may also provide service to a detached garage, a barn, or a guest house (that can created a complicate mess with lots of grounding and bonding confusion).

    The system ground is always at another panel either on an exterior wall of the house, or inside (the exception is manufactured homes). There is almost always a main service disconnect at this panel at the house. However, not today.

    Question 1 - what qualifies as the "Service Entrance" in this situation, the panel at the meter, or the panel at the house? (I don't know if this makes a difference, but the grouding system is always at house)

    Question 2 - Does the main disconnect at the panel next to the meter qualify as the 'main disconnect' for the structure.

    My question comes up because there is no main disconnect at the main house panel (30 or so breakers, far more than the max of 6).

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  2. #2
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: How far away can main disconnect be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    The system ground is always at another panel either on an exterior wall of the house, or inside
    THE system ground MUST BE at the "service equipment", with another one at each structure is the "service equipment" is not at the structure (actually, the pedestal, power pole, etc., *IS* "a structure" and therefore the service equipment and grounding electrode system are at a structure).

    Question 1 - what qualifies as the "Service Entrance" in this situation, the panel at the meter, or the panel at the house?

    (I don't know if this makes a difference, but the grouding system is always at house)
    Well, first, you are using a term which is not applicable to your question. The service "entrance" goes along with "service entrance conductors", however, I believe you are only asking at the "service equipment".

    What qualifies at "service equipment" (which is what you are really asking) is that is where the service drop (for overhead service)/service lateral (for underground service) from the transformer ends at (after going through the meter, which could be someplace else).

    For example, you have an overhead service drop from the utility company pole where the transformer is, which drops down to the meter on the pedestal, where service entrance conductors go from the meter to the main disconnect (service disconnect). There may be, or may not be, all depends, other breaker in with the main disconnect. You could have a panel with the service equipment in the same enclosure - the entire enclosure, main disconnect and the integral panel are then the "service equipment".

    For the example above, the grounding system IS REQUIRED to be there at the "service equipment".

    From that "service equipment" you have feeders (the neutral now must be insulated) which feeds one or more structures, each of which would have a panel (plain and simply a "panel", or you could call it a "loadcenter", or "panelboard", or maybe even "remote panel" to indicate that it is "remote from" "the service equipment" - regardless, though, it is simply an "electrical panel" and IS NOT "service equipment".

    Question 2 - Does the main disconnect at the panel next to the meter qualify as the 'main disconnect' for the structure.

    My question comes up because there is no main disconnect at the main house panel (30 or so breakers, far more than the max of 6).
    Looks like I answered Question 2 in with answering Question 1.

    The "panel" in each structure (house, barn, shed, etc., are each just "panels"). The "service equipment" is back at the pedestal where the main disconnect/service disconnect is located.

    Each of these panels at the separate structures must either have a main for that panel or a maximum of 6 breaker spaces in the panel.

    Thus, your house with 30 breakers in its "panel" - *which is not service equipment* - still requires a maximum of 6 breakers because it is at a separate structure.

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

  3. #3
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: How far away can mian disconnect be?

    One variation I am aware of, at least in my area, is that one provider requires an outside disconnect if the panel is more than 20 feet from the meter.


  4. #4
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: How far away can main disconnect be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Zborowski View Post
    One variation I am aware of, at least in my area, is that one provider requires an outside disconnect if the panel is more than 20 feet from the meter.

    In my opinion, the main service disconnect should be required to be outside, and, as an option (such as snow areas, hurricane areas, etc.) an inside panel disconnect would be allowed - as it already is - for each interior panel.

    The reason for the outside disconnect is that many fire departments will not spray water on a fire until electrical power has been turned off, and with an outside disconnect that puts the ability to turn power off within their reach in most cases. Without that, they wait until the utility shuts power off in some cases.

    Having a panel main is, to some, overkill, however, to me it is an additional level of safety ... which of course is above and beyond "minimum" code.

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

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