NYC Electrical Code?


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Old 07-05-10, 12:30 PM
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NYC Electrical Code?

Hi, just wondering if anyone can help me with NYC electrical codes. I'm not an electrician or anything and I wanted to know if there are codes in NYC that govern the Breaker Panel? I live in a 1 bedroom apartment and our panel has 3 breakers in it, one 15 amp breaker and two 20 amp breakers. Is this in code for NYC?

We have had problems with the electric forever. We cannot run our A/C because the compressor will only stay on for 30 seconds or so. Then it just blows room temperature air for 20 minutes and the compressor kicks on for another 30 seconds. We even tried unplugging every appliance / light / piece of electronics equipment in the apartment and running extension cords to different outlets. No luck.

Also the lights dim constantly. Every couple minutes the lights dim way down and all our fans slow to a crawl (it's more frequent in the summer, but happens all year). The microwave actually shuts off because it can't draw enough power when the lights dim. My plasma TV shuts itself off for the same reason. And we can't use our oven (even though it's gas) because the safety mechanism won't open the gas valve if the ignition system can't draw enough power.

I have talked to my landlord multiple times about this and he even had an electrician come look at the panel and something in the basement. After the guy left the landlord told us that everything was fine and we should just get used to the lights dimming because it's NYC and that happens everywhere. He told us before that we were on the same electric line as the subway, and that causes the lights to dim, is that even possible?

I would really like to know if there is some sort of code violation here that I could possibly use as leverage to get him to actually do something about this problem.

If you need more information, please ask.

Thanks for any help you can give me.
 
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Old 07-05-10, 02:08 PM
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There is really no code violation other then the circuit needs to be sized for the load to be served but when the building was built I would bet they never thought there would be and A/C, plasma TV, microwave, etc. As long as the circuits are not over fused I doubt there is any safety issue other then burning up your electronic equipment due to voltage drop.

Do you have an electrical meter? What is the voltage coming out of the wall when you have stuff running?

BTW - You A/C is drawing too much current on the circuit you have it plugged into. You either need to use another circuit or get a smaller/more efficient A/C unit.
 
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Old 07-06-10, 08:21 AM
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It sounds like the electrical system in your building is substantially undersized for modern living, which is a common problem in old buildings. Your electrical system does not meet modern code, but there is no requirement that upgrades be made until the time of a major renovation; otherwise, the building only needs to comply with the code from the year it was built. Assuming the landlord is not willing to make the upgrades, your only options are to use fewer appliances or find a new place to live.
 
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Old 07-06-10, 12:10 PM
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Frown. Thanks anyway guys. I really liked this place too, but these heat waves are killing me.
 
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Old 07-11-10, 03:17 PM
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Voltage Update

OK, I went and bought a cheap multimeter and measured the voltage on my living-room outlets. With everything unplugged and the lights off it measures ~113 VAC. When I turn on my TV, computer and monitor, and overhead lights the voltage on the same outlet drops to ~106 VAC. This is on a 15A breaker

The plug on my A/C unit says 15A, 125 VAC, 1875W.

I unplugged everything in the kitchen which is on a 20A breaker and measured ~110 VAC.

I don't understand, if the A/C unit pulls 15A and I plug it into an outlet on a 20A breaker with nothing else plugged in shouldn't it work fine? Does it have something to do with the voltage being lower than 125VAC? I read that standard US oultets are 120VAC, why would it require 125VAC?

Any help is always appreciated.

btw my girlfriend does NOT want to move....
 
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Old 07-11-10, 03:29 PM
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120 volts is a nominal voltage 120v +/- 10% is considered it normal. The 125 volt on the unit is just a nominal voltage.

Your unit draws 15 amps just on it own. If it is on a 15 amp circuit it will more than likely trip the circuit breaker. This unit should really only be run on a 20 amp circuit only because it is a continuous load. If it trips a 20 amp breaker there is another load on that circuit or some thing is wrong with the unit.
 
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Old 07-11-10, 04:23 PM
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The A/C unit works on the 20A circuit, but the compressor won't stay on. The voltage on my outlets fluctuates a lot, I measured it again when I noticed the lights dimming (with nothing plugged in or running) and it had dropped to ~80 VAC. Doesn't a lower voltage require more amperage for the same amount of power?

I googled and came up with this; please correct me if I'm wrong. Watts / Volts = Amps.

So the A/C unit takes 1875 W of power to operate (I assume this is peak consumption). If the outlet is 120VAC then the amps required = 1875W / 120 VAC = 15.625A

Now if my voltage drops to 80 VAC, then it would require 23.475A (1875W/80VAC). Does this explain why the unit will not work on a 20A breaker? Or explain why the compressor will not stay on. I assume it hits peak wattage when the compressor kicks on, so if the voltage drops while the compressor is on then it shuts off.

Does this make sense?
 
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Old 07-11-10, 05:49 PM
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A voltage that drops to 80 volts under load is too much out of the 10% range. Likely this is why the compressor will not start. Also, when the compressor starts it will draw even more amps for a short period of time. You have a voltage drop issue. You might want to show this to the landlord. Maybe the power company has an issue, Have you always had this problem?

BTW - Your formula is correct for figuring amps. Ohm's law.
 
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Old 07-11-10, 06:38 PM
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I would suspect very old wiring and very old degraded connections in service to your panel and within the branch circuit are causing the unusually high drop in voltage. I would also suspect the landlord will tell you to either get rid of the window A-C or get a smaller unit.
 
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Old 07-11-10, 09:36 PM
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Ok, last question.

I understand that old wiring is what probably causes the voltage to drop, but why does it fluctuate? Shouldn't it constantly be at 80 VAC? Why would it be 113 VAC one time and then 5 minutes later drop to 80 VAC? Or even 75 VAC?

This is with every single thing in the apt unplugged.

thanks again.
 
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Old 07-12-10, 05:04 AM
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Could be a loose neutral at the service entrance, something the POCO would need to check out.
 
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Old 07-12-10, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by dc4582 View Post
Now if my voltage drops to 80 VAC, then it would require 23.475A (1875W/80VAC). Does this explain why the unit will not work on a 20A breaker?
That's the gist of it, although with a motor it's even more dramatic of a current spike as the compressor nears its stall point.

I understand that old wiring is what probably causes the voltage to drop, but why does it fluctuate? Shouldn't it constantly be at 80 VAC? Why would it be 113 VAC one time and then 5 minutes later drop to 80 VAC? Or even 75 VAC?
It fluctuates because the supply to your building is overloaded. The supply panel(s) you share with other apartments in the building are probably also undersized so when your neighbor's appliances are running it pulls down the voltage of everyone who shares that panel. Compound that effect across a whole building and the voltage will be very unstable. You also mentioned that the building may be affected by a subway station -- I would say it's plausible as I have seen bad voltage problems in houses located near industrial buildings which do not have adequate supplies. The same principle could apply to an electric train.

There could also be loose connections somewhere in your panel or the building's supply which can produce unstable voltages. This would need to be checked out by an electrician and/or the power company.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 02:48 PM
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to dc4582

Hello one of the problems that your apartment might have is the wiring. your building might be wired up incorrectly as a series circuit or with a thin wire that doesnt with stand the current that is passing through the a/c. ask the landlord dont move.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 06:52 PM
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Pros is it ever permitted for a renter to add their own meter and panel just for a couple of dedicated receptacle. In most situations I wouldn't suggest it because of cost but given the NYC rental market if a long term lease I'm thinking it might make sense. I'm not talking rewiring the apartment just adding receptacles from a separate source using conduit on the outside. Ok I know way outside the box.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by efab1012 View Post
Hello one of the problems that your apartment might have is the wiring. your building might be wired up incorrectly as a series circuit or with a thin wire that doesnt with stand the current that is passing through the a/c. ask the landlord dont move.
Welcome to the forums. It would never be series wired so that can't be the problem.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Pros is it ever permitted for a renter to add their own meter and panel just for a couple of dedicated receptacle. In most situations I wouldn't suggest it because of cost but given the NYC rental market if a long term lease I'm thinking it might make sense. I'm not talking rewiring the apartment just adding receptacles from a separate source using conduit on the outside. Ok I know way outside the box.
If I am correctly interpreting what you are asking Ray the answer is no. Electrical codes prohibit more than one service to a building except for some very special purposes and a tenant in an apartment wanting an additional (and alternate) source of power is not going to be one of the exceptions.
 
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Old 10-06-10, 09:11 PM
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Electrical codes prohibit more than one service to a building except for some very special purposes and a tenant in an apartment wanting an additional (and alternate) source of power is not going to be one
Thanks Furd. I thought I read that somewhere, just couldn't remember. Weird idea anyway but my mind wanders on strange paths sometimes.

More to the posters problem if you really like the apartment and want AC ask the landlord to let you upgrade the service to your apartment. Offer to pay part of the cost. Warning cost would most likely exceed $1000. Note this might not be possible if building service is maxed out.
 
 

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