Neighbor's Sftub wiring - not cool

My neighbor has just added a "Softub" hot tub on his patio. It requires it's own 20 amp circuit as the pump/heater unit is 110v. At the rear of his house adjacent to the patio, is his 100 amp disconnect (directly beside the meter) and his service panel (breaker box) is in the garage at the front of the house. He is planning to just add a breaker box with 2 - 20 amp breakers right off the 100 amp disconnect panel becasue he doesn't want to run wire from the patio to the service panel in the garage thru the attic. He says this would be shorter and is nothing more than a subpanel. I told him I was pretty sure that was against code but can someone verify this? I thought a subpanel had to actually come off the main service panel. I think he's treading on thin ice here. He's also talking about doing the same thing for the above ground pool he's ordered.
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First, why are you getting involved in your neighbor's wiring?
Second, I'm no expert, but my understanding is that the "service entrance" is the panel with the service disconnect, and that anything after that is technically a subpanel. So the "service panel in the garage" that you refer to is a subpanel, and there is nothing wrong with adding another subpanel off the main disconnect. Perhaps someone else here can confirm my understanding, since I'm not an expert.
Cheers, Wayne
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GRIN. My first thought was that he should have kept his intentions to himself and his neighbor out of it. Anyone want to bet that an inspector will show up? <G>
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As I told Mr. Whitney, he asked my advice and I'm just trying to find out some info for him. Any info may also help me and others down the road someday. He's a policeman, and a good neighbor, so I'll help him anyway I can.
Thanks Glenn, have a good day.
Glenn wrote:

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I got involved because he asked my advice. But I'm a mechanical engineer and not an electrician. I told him I'd check and see what I could find out, but that I suggested he call an electrician. He has 6 kids all under 12 and I'm sure he would want it to be as safe as possible. He spoke of just tapping off the lugs for the new box and it didn't seem kosher to me. Like I said, I'm just trying to find info for a good neighbor, which is a good thing to have these days.
Thanks for your input.
Have a good day!
Wayne Whitney wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@grandecom.net wrote:

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Andy writes: The real question is whether an electrical inspection is required. It it is, then the inspector will straighten everything out without your involvement.
If he lives in an area where he can do the wiring himself without having an inspection, then the only issue is safety. Nothing you have described sounds unsafe to me...
In fact, he could install a big-ass outdoor breaker panel right at the 100 amp service disconnect, and feed both his garage panel and his new tub from it. The garage panel would become a sub panel....
Except for maybe some changes to the ground rod connection, this would certainly meet code, as I understand it. Local codes may have their own special rules.....
Andy
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According to the code here, I had to add a disconnect where the meter pan is when I upgraded to 200A service. On the new meter pan disconnect panel there are provisions for 4 circuit breakers. They normally would feed an outside AC unit. If the disconnect has the space for the breakers, there should be no problem. But if he is going to 'tie into' an existing circuit, that would not fly. At least not here.
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He should be alright. It's OK to branch off and add a sub-panel after the main disconnect in most cases.
But tell him that he will need to get a permit through your local building department *before* doing anything. This is something he will absolutely need a permit for in most every part of the country (and in many counties will also need a licensed electrician as he's inside the "service equipment" enclosure. He will also need to employ GFCI protection for these circuits as well as use exterior-grade enclosures. (Local inspector will walk him through when he applies for the permit.)
As for being against code, I believe what your thinking concerning "coming off the main service panel" is a panel, in-which also contained the service disconnect (fairly common.) If the distribution panel )located in the garage) also contained the service disconnect (not just a main disconnect in his case, but a "service" disconnect), you would have been correct. However the service disconnect must be located as close to the meter as possible, which is why they installed the disconnect outside and fed to a distribution panel in the garage. (The first is necessity the second is convince.)
FWIW, the difference between the two is, a service disconnect is rated to carry the short-circuit rating of the transformer (10,000 amperes or more depending on the size the transformer on the pole), while a main disconnect need only carry the short-circuit rating of the total load served in the dwelling (100 amperes).

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