Main disconnects located outside?

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Old 03-06-08, 07:16 PM
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Main disconnects located outside?

I am putting on addition and have to have new service entrance put in. My existing entrance is two 200amp feeding two meters with two disconnects feeding two breaker boxes. I told electrician I wanted one meter since I am paying two electrical bills currently. The electrician was here today and told me he was putting the meter outside garage and the main disconnects inside garage and then wire to circuit breaker boxes in basement. I got home and I see the two entrances OUTSIDE garage-no meter yet. Then there are what look like two main disconnets outside. they have wire that goes into garage and runs all the way to the boxes. seems very strange to have disconnects outside? thoughts on this? looks unsightly from outside and if I ever need to check anything I have to go outside. any reason why it was done this way?

bill ---baltimore, MD
 
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Old 03-06-08, 07:22 PM
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Unless your meter base is back to back with the circuit breaker panel, the disconnect(s) must be outside. This is to allow emergency services the ability to shut down power immediately without having to enter the residence.
 
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Old 03-06-08, 07:27 PM
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Interesting cause my current setup had the disconnects INSIDE and I don't remember seeing disconnects outside at any of the neighbors homes.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 05:12 AM
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The disconnects are usually part of the meter base, so it is one unit on the exterior of the house. Are you referring to a circuit breaker panel, or just the single 200 amp disconnect? Reason I ask, My daughter lives in Denver and their circuit breaker panel is outside. Weird.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 07:37 AM
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Wow, I couldn't imagine having the whole breaker panel outside - that just seems so _massively_ inconvenient. I could understand it in the case of rental property maybe where the landlord is evicting people? But for normal housing, what reason is there to put the WHOLE PANEL outside, as opposed to just the disconnect in the meter base?

Also, isn't it possible that more people have this setup than they think? If you just look at your breaker panel and see a shutoff at the top, that doesn't mean there isn't an external disconnect, does it?
 
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Old 03-07-08, 07:47 AM
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Just for info...here in N. AZ all the houses on the whole street (built around 1990) that i can see have the breaker box outside. Our utility services (except H2O) all are fed from service alleys in the back.

I know, took some getting used to.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 09:21 AM
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What was placed outside is just main disconnects not the breaker box. I got chance to speak to electrician today. It is not code that they have to be outside but preferred by electrical company. I don't really like it. someone can easily throw my power off. it is lockable, but kinda defeats purpose of easy access for power company, fire dept, etc if I lock it.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 10:07 AM
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When I built my house I put the Service Disconnect outside. The previous house I lived in was this way also. I have never had a problem with anyone shutting it off, nor have I heard of this problem. (Unless you live in a neighborhood with kids who like to play pranks )
 
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Old 03-07-08, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by hammerash View Post
It is not code that they have to be outside but preferred by electrical company.
In most places it would be code to have external disconnects if the panel is not directly inside from the meter, so I guess you're not alone. In my area we would have installed the disconnects like you have.

it is lockable, but kinda defeats purpose of easy access for power company, fire dept, etc if I lock it.
The panel lock won't really be a match for their bolt cutters. I haven't ever heard of any mischief with outdoor disconnects. Sure it's possible, but I just don't think it happens very often. Gas meters and disconnects, hot tub disconnects, air conditioner disconnects are almost almost mounted on the exterior of homes and you just don't hear about anyone ever bothering them.
 
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Old 03-11-08, 07:10 PM
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I live in Dallas and my house was built in 1954. I have a Federal panel and it is in my master bedroom closet. I am having the panel replaced as it is a HUGE fire hazard. However, current code says the panel can not be in the closet. So, the replacement can not be installed where the Federal panel is. Since the wall that the panel is on is an exterior wall the only way to replace the panel "economically" is to install it on the exterior wall (e.g. outside). I think it's kind of crazy but what's a girl to do?!?!
 
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Old 03-11-08, 07:56 PM
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May be unfused conductor issue.
May be grouping of discos issue.
May be a tap rule issue.
I know its a ugly issue, but NEC and POCO dont care about ugly.
 
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Old 03-11-08, 10:47 PM
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I have a meter/panel combo on my 10 year old house.

I believe it's basically a cost-cutter approach. $70 for one unit or probably twice that for a separate meter and panel. Itís not the way I would have planned it, but I canít afford to do anything about it.

A couple advantages: I can line all the walls of the garage with cr@p. The panel never has anything in the way. Also, no unfused wires running through the walls.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 10:55 AM
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Probably 90% of the panels here are on the outside of the building. I always thought it was stupid. What the heck if you trip a breaker on a dark and stormy night? Out there in the pouring rain trying to reset a breaker doesn't make much since but that's the way it is. It's interesting how areas vary. I don't think I have ever seen a main breaker/meter can combo. The meter can is usually directly above the panel.If the meter is some distance from panel they just run conduit on the outside of the house. I've seen 30 feet or more run.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 02:19 PM
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I learn something new each time I come on here. I had no idea that your panel could be outside the building. Around here you have a panel inside, wire goes from the panel and punches through the exterior wall and into the meter base (outside).

If the fire department (or whomever) needs to kill your power, they pull the meter.

Outside panels? What a pain.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 02:51 PM
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I spoke with my Fire Chief about this today. He told me that EVERY fire truck has huge bolt cutters to cut locks. he said that some people have even put a heavey duty lock on their meter box to prevent electric theft.

They also have provisions to pull the globe if necessary. He prefers outside disconnects with a lock. Then Fire Dept cuts the lock and opens the circuit. He does not like playing with globes much.

Ironic that this thread popped up today.
 
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Old 03-12-08, 08:40 PM
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This is a ugly issue only. It is a safer install overall IMO. Hard and fast rules=Mains must be acessable-mains must be grouped-no more than 6 throws of the hand to disconnect all ungrounded conductors, 7 with exceptions. Pulling MB is not reilable with services over 320a ie CT svc. There are rules in place formed by much larger factors than a 200 or 400a resi svc. If my place is burnin up inna fire, the faster FD can pull the one-armed bandit and hose me down the better.
 
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Old 03-13-08, 05:27 AM
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Ray, to further your comments, that is exactly what I thought. I installed a ceiling fan in a new location for my daughter while I was visiting a few weeks ago, and told my SIL to go turn off the breaker to the room. He said none were labeled, and I was there without any of my testing tools, so it was click off-click on time. He handed me a walkie talkie. I had a big question mark on my face. He said the panel was outside. My question mark went bold. Standing in 8" of snow wasn't my idea of safe electrical work, but we did it. Here, in the south, where the meter base and CB panel are back to back, no disconnect is required, but if the panel is dissociated one is required. Pulling the meter is too easy to disconnect all the service during an emergency, regardless.
 
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Old 03-13-08, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by chandler View Post
Pulling the meter is too easy to disconnect all the service during an emergency, regardless.

Pulling a meter under load even for a properly trained and equiped person is still extremely dangerous. Google arc flash and see what can happen. Molten metal flying at you from arms length is no fun.
 
 

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