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  1. #1
    Barrington Sheffield's Avatar
    Barrington Sheffield Guest

    Default Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Good Morning,
    I inspected a house a couple days ago and found a sub panel in the laundry room. The panel was not accessible to the home owner because rivets were put in the panel. The pan does not breakers and just seems like a junction box. The main panel is directly above it on the second floor. If access is denied to the occupant does this need to have breakers?

    Barrington Sheffield
    Aggie Property Inspections, LLC
    Duluth, GA
    http://www.myapinspections.com

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  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Sounds like this was the orginal location for the panel. A new panel was installed in a different location (upstairs).
    This is not uncommon and is allowed.
    Someone else on the board can tell you more.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    This is allowed and is quite common in my area. Many times older panels get gutted and are used as junction boxes. They pull the feeds to the new panel location.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    This is allowed and is quite common in my area. Many times older panels get gutted ...
    Except that one was not gutted, they left the interior in there.

    If they remove the interior it would probably be fine, but not with the interior still in there. (Removing the interior "panelboard" from the "cabinet" leaves you with just a "cabinet", and that use would be okay.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Jerry P,
    Why is the presence of the interior components harmful?

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    The remaining interior components (bus bar) was probably difficult to remove so they just left it there. It most likely has no way of becoming energized and is not a concern. However most times you see the panel entirely gutted.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    The remaining interior components (bus bar) was probably difficult to remove so they just left it there. It most likely has no way of becoming energized and is not a concern. However most times you see the panel entirely gutted.
    Not unless some yahoo gets a bright idea and decides he wants to try some DIY expansion of the electrical system. I'd say as long as the bus bars and guts remain inside the panel, it is a possibility.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood View Post
    Why is the presence of the interior components harmful?

    Because:
    - With the panelboard interior left in place it is "still" a panelboard which is not allowed to be used as a junction box.
    - The panelboard interior bus bars, terminal bars, etc., have sharp edges which could damage the insulation of the wiring laying on them.
    - With the panelboard interior left in place there is the risk that a damaged conductor could energize the panelboard, which could then lead to other conductors becoming energized.
    - Because the listing on the panelboard in that enclosure would not allow it to be used that way - the only way is to use the cabinet *only* and then follow the listings for the cabinet and the requirements in the code for cabinets.
    - Someone could intentionally energize the bus bar and insert some breakers, making that into one large dangerous mess.
    - The above should do for starters.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    The panel was not accessible to the home owner because rivets were put in the panel.
    Is it OK to use rivets on a "junction box"?


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barrington Sheffield View Post
    The panel was not accessible to the home owner because rivets were put in the panel.
    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    Is it OK to use rivets on a "junction box"?

    Nope.

    Dang, I missed that part in the original post, had to go back and re-read the posts to find where that was.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Just an observation....if there is not a main breaker before the SEC/feeders get to this panel you could have both fused and unfused wires in this panel and that is a no-no. Most likely not an issue but worth mentioning.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    .
    Just an observation....if there is not a main breaker before the SEC/feeders get to this panel you could have both fused and unfused wires in this panel and that is a no-no. Most likely not an issue but worth mentioning.
    .
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    Just an observation....if there is not a main breaker before the SEC/feeders get to this panel you could have both fused and unfused wires in this panel and that is a no-no. Most likely not an issue but worth mentioning.
    James,

    Good point.

    I presumed the 4-wire feeders were ... well, "feeders" ... as they are 4-wire. Typically (but not always) service entrance conductors will be 3-wire instead of 4-wire.

    Service entrance conductors, being unfused at their source, are not allowed to run with other conductors while feeder conductors, being protected at their source, are allowed to be run with other conductors.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  14. #14
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Jerry & Nick,
    Thanks for your replies to my question. They make sense.

    Darrel Hood
    DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES


  15. #15
    Heron Longoria Jr.'s Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    From what I understand , it is allowed as long as the "guts" have been removed, it's accessible, then it pretty much, basically becomes a giant junction box.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Nope.

    Dang, I missed that part in the original post, had to go back and re-read the posts to find where that was.
    It looks to me like the rivets are in the hinged door, but the cover was removable by the screws. That's OK, right? With the breakers gone, it would Not be OK if the hinged door was Not riveted, IMO.

    I believe the point was that the bus bars should have been removed, and that those large cables may not be service conductors. There are enough questions there to call for repair.

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

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It looks to me like the rivets are in the hinged door, but the cover was removable by the screws. That's OK, right? With the breakers gone, it would Not be OK if the hinged door was Not riveted, IMO.

    As a "junction box" the hinged cover needs to be permanently secured to the main part of the cover.

    *IF* it was still a panel, that would be a major no-no.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  18. #18
    chris mcintyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can a electrical panel act as a junction box?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It looks to me like the rivets are in the hinged door, but the cover was removable by the screws.
    Good eye John, that is what I get for reading and not looking at the pictures.

    I need to send this post to my mom, because she never believed me when I said I was reading and not looking at the pictures.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Can a electrical subpanel act as a junction box?

    Hi all. Long-time lurker and Inspector - first post.
    I don't think I would have 'popped' any rivets to take a look inside the box. Not without the homeowner's permission anyway. Even then I would be very hesitant. Undoing a few screws is a different matter. If I considered the panel/box to be suspicious, I would have called it just that and encouraged further evaluation by a licensed qualified professional. Is that too 'passing-the-buckish'?


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