Is a transfer switch considered a major up grade?

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Old 08-28-11, 08:17 AM
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Is a transfer switch considered a major up grade?

I post here time to time, about my electrical escapades at my mothers house. Her house was built in 1987, with the main panel installed in the closet. I know that this is not allowed by current code. I am also under the assumption that if a major upgrade is going to be completed, the whole thing has to be brought up to current code. Question is, would the addition of a transfer switch for a generator, require that the panel come out of the closet, and be installed in a proper location? Thanx John.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 10:06 AM
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Unfortunately, that is a question only your LOCAL inspector can answer.
 
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Old 08-28-11, 11:19 AM
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.................Thanks Furd
 
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Old 08-29-11, 11:21 AM
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Yeah that's a touchy one that I think you'd have to get the inspector involved with. One option to do less work on that panel might be to put a transfer in at a meter/main unit outside and leave the existing main as-is. In that case, you may or may not need to convert the main to a subpanel depending on local enforcement.

Another option might be to locate a single or multi-circuit transfer switch somewhere else which is a legal location and get a conduit back to the main panel. That way you would only be modifying branch circuits and not the main panel.
 
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Old 08-29-11, 10:39 PM
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I don't know, IMO the pre-wired multi-circuit switches wouldn't constitute modification of the panel. It installs downstream of the breakers (albeit AT the breaker), and it is simply an inline switch. In a lot of jurisdictions, the transfer switch costs less than the permit threshold (ie: I don't need a homeowner permit for any work that totals less than $400), so it wouldnt be subject to inspection anyway. But YMMV so definitely check with the building dept.

I think at MOST, it would constitute modification of the CIRCUITS that you connect to the switch, so those circuits would be required to be upgraded to current code (ie: it may be required to add GFCI or AFCI protection). But the panel itself and non-modified circuits should remain grandfathered.

You would only be required to MOVE the panel to a code approved location if you were changing it (ie: upgrading to larger service or replacing a damaged/obsolete/dangerous panel [FPE or Zinsco]).
 
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Old 08-30-11, 05:39 AM
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The way I read the code, the fact of being in a closet is not the big issue; it's the fact of being in close proximity to flammable materials, as in a clothes closet or the like. If you can maintain clearance inside the closet, you should have a good argument.
 
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Old 08-30-11, 08:26 AM
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That's correct. The closet is not the issue (unless it's smaller than 30x36), it's the contents of the closet. The code would require this to be an electrical equipment only closet with no other storage to be compliant.
 
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Old 08-30-11, 09:18 AM
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So clean out the closet before the inspector comes and put a professionally made sign on the door with a couple of lightning bolts that says:
High voltage
Electrical only
No storage

Seriously if this is on a an outside wall you may be able to place a box on the outside of the house directly over where it is inside and just gut the old one and use it as a junction box. You'd only have to have the Poco remove the meter so you could move the feeders. I assume meter is outside and position of meter would determine how well this would work.
 
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Old 08-30-11, 05:30 PM
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This is a clothes closet. The closet is a little less than three feet deep, but its about ten feet wide. The panel is mounted in the narrow wall of the closet, which actually the exterior wall. The meter is back to back with the panel.
 
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Old 08-30-11, 07:49 PM
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That closet sounds like it can be a valid location. With the door open, you have 36" accessibility in front and side to side you should have 30" (the panel doesn't have to be centered in the 30"). If you make sure there's no closet rod above the panel, and possibly even a (somewhat temporary) separator to show that no clothes come in front of the 30" of panel clearance, you should be good. (in my opinion at least)
 
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Old 08-31-11, 03:16 AM
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The panel is as close to the front of the closet, as it could be installed. If you put a T shirt in the closet, the sleeve would probably overlap the panel by about six inches.
 
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Old 08-31-11, 05:29 AM
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As I said, you may not even need a permit to do this, depending on your jurisdiction. So before you work yourself up over it, just ask.
 
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Old 08-31-11, 09:04 AM
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If you erect a "permanent" barrier as shown in green this would be a legal closet for the panel.
 
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Old 08-31-11, 11:05 AM
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Just for two cents. I had a transfer switch put in my residence. I consulted with the local inspector and he told me that as llong as the switch was for a portable generator no permits were required. If it was for a permanent stand-by then you are in for a host of permits, regulations .
 
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Old 08-31-11, 05:15 PM
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If you erect a "permanent" barrier as shown in green this would be a legal closet for the panel.
I always assumed that it needed to be at least 36" on all sides, as well as in front. This is a good idea though. Thank you.
Just for two cents. I had a transfer switch put in my residence. I consulted with the local inspector and he told me that as llong as the switch was for a portable generator no permits were required. If it was for a permanent stand-by then you are in for a host of permits, regulations .
This is a portable generator.
 
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Old 09-01-11, 09:06 AM
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The clear zone requirement is 30" side-to-side. The panel(s) do not need to be centered in the 30" and if you have panels right next to each other their clear zones can overlap. It extends 36" out from the face of the panel. If there is a door in the clear zone, you can ignore it as long as it can be opened in a way to satisfy the 30" x 36" zone.
 
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Old 09-01-11, 09:45 AM
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I'm still not convinced that this is a panel upgrade by any definition, therefore this is all unnecessary. You are not modifying the panel at all, you are modifying only the circuits that the t-switch connects to. It's no different than installing the t-switch at a pull box instead of at the panel. The panel itself will remain grandfathered, and at worst, only the modified circuits would need to be brought to code.
 
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