Does NEC require a Main Breaker Panel inside the home?

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Most use the Nec as their basic electric code, and some make changes to fit their specific demands. If they have supplemental codes, they have to be documented and available for viewing, which is to say, they can't have an inspector make it up as he sees fit. What state is Middlebury in?
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The NEC is a standard, not a law. It has no legal force whatever until a particular jurisdiction adopts it in part or in toto as the electrical code for that jurisdiction.
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[My first attempt to post this didn't seem to go through; apologies if this is a duplicate.]

An important distinction to understand is that once the service conductors from the utility hit the first disconnect and circuit breaker, any conductors after that point are feeder conductors, not service conductors. Outside feeders are covered by Article 225, not Article 230 (Service conductors).
Another point to note is that generally if the main lug only panel has no more than six breakers in it, it can count as a disconnect; it doesn't need to have a main breaker.
The relevant part of the National Electric Code is Article 225 Part II. From the 2008 version, here are 225.31 and 225.32:
225.31 Disconnecting Means. Means shall be provided for disconnecting all ungrounded conductors that supply or pass through the building or structure.
225.32 Location. The disconnecting means shall be installed either inside or outside of the building or structure served or where the conductors pass through the building or structure. The disconnecting means shall be at a readily accessible location nearest the point of entrance of the conductors. For the purposes of this section, the requirements in 230.6 shall be utilized.
[230.6 defines when a conductor is considered outside a building.]
If the pole with the disconnect is right next to the house (some jurisdictions use a standard of within 5 feet), then usually that is interpreted to satisfy these requirements. Otherwise, you definitely need a main disconnect at the house which should be outside or inside "nearest the point of entrance of the conductors". This last phrase is open to interpretation and varying by jurisdiction; some might allow a maximum of 15 feet inside, others more like 15 inches.
I don't know the history of these requirements, but I expect they were in force in 1999.

Many panels can be field configured with a main breaker or as main lugs only, so it is possible that a simple kit will add a main breaker. Failing that, depending on the routing of the feeder from the pole disconnect to the main-lug-only panel inside the house, you might be able to install a stand-alone disconnect before the existing panel, so you don't need to mess with the panel branch circuits at all.
Cheers, Wayne
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Wayne Whitney wrote:

1966 house my father built in Indiana had meter base (buried service) on outside of the carport storage cabinets, with the main disconnect inside the cabinets. It went from there through conduit under carport slab, to the service panel in the basement. From the houses I saw being built in the area through mid 1970s, that was a pretty common arrangement. Only downside to an outside disconnect is that kids can easily put you in the dark.
-- aem sends...
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*Common sense says that it is better to have the wire from the distant meter to the house protected by a fuse or circuit breaker. It is not an electrical code violation and as other have pointed out home inspectors have limited knowledge of everything. Keep pressuring that guy for a code reference. Better still have your brother's lawyer keep calling him for the reference.
I once was handed a report by a home inspector that said there were loose electrical wires all over the attic and they were a hazard. The new owners asked me to correct the problem. I went up in the attic and the only wires visible and loose were cable TV wires.
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I'm not an electrician but I've seen HUNDREDS of homes and your set up is pretty common on newer homes...
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How far is it from the disconnect to the house? Every structure is required to have a disconnect (see my previous post). If the pole disconnect is 50 feet away, then I agree an additional disconnect is required on the house. If the pole disconnect is 3 feet away, then it seems fine as is. The exact distance at which an additional disconnect is required is subject to interpretation by the local authority.
Cheers, Wayne
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The disconnect is about 150 feet away. It sounds like the gray area is that the NEC does not define the distance. I guess some electricians might interpret that it's ok anywhere on the property, others say it has to be attached right to the house wall. It is interesting that the NEC doesn't define the distance. My brother is mostly worried that if he doesn't take care of it now, then he might be required to remedy it if he tries to sell the house later. He just doesn't know if it would cost thousands of dollars to replace the main lug panel in case the electrician determines it's not possible or too costly to add a main breaker in between (because of where the conduit is buried etc). But also since this is a "gray area" in the NEC one has to wonder if there's even any problem or if it's left up to the imagination of whatever local inspector decides the arbitrary distance should be.
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If the disconnect is 150 feet away, there is no question that the NEC requires an additional disconnect on the structure itself. IMO, it's not a grey area. The citations are 225.31 and 225.32, which I quoted in my original response.
Cheers, Wayne
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As a point of reference, last week I replaced a 30 circuit panel with 200 amp main breaker, including about 24 circuit breakers for $750. It certainly isn't going to cost thousands
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I had my service upgraded to 100A, new panel and breakers, added two receptacles and an outside light (I furnished the fixture) for $200 including labor and material.
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RBM wrote:

THat the price for parts and labor? What part of the country?
Lou
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Most of my work is in Bill and Hillary Clinton's neighborhood. The price was for materials and labor

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wrote:

Why would he be required to do that? If it met Code when it was installed, that's all that's needed.
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wrote:

I agree, this house was built in 1999. If the house didn't meet codes at that time, a certificate of occupancy wouldn't have been issued. Even if the location of the disconnect doesn't meet their current codes, Grandfather laws would keep it in compliance, until such time when the service is upgraded, and would have to comply with any new code changes.
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Is it 150 feet from the house or 150 feet from the breaker box? If it is 150 feet from the house, then yes it sounds like a violation according to what Seth G. dug up. If your brother is handy at all, he could fix it himself after he owns a home. A new breaker panel isn't that much money. Most of the expense is from labor, since it can be time consuming to re- wire it, but it should be pretty simple. You just have to keep all of the wires straight when you switch everything out.
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It looks like the home inspector did a heads up job on this one. There does need to be a Disconnecting Means for the building. As someone already pointed out the first thing to check is if the lighting & appliance panel board inside the home can be converted from main lug to main breaker. If that is not possible then adding a disconnect ahead of the main lugs is the next cheapest alternative. In 1999 a four conductor feed from the service disconnecting means to the house was not required. If it were installed today it would be required. There is a possibility that no one has mentioned so far. If the homes lighting and appliance panel board is of the split buss type and it is listed for use as service equipment the present installation would be code compliant. A split buss panel has a section with twelve or fewer slots in it that will accommodate six double pole breakers. One or two of those breakers control the current to the rest of the panel. The six or fewer double pole breakers in the main lug portion of the panel meat the requirements of 225.33 Maximum Number of Disconnects. The feeder supply breaker at the meter meets the requirements of section 408.16 Exception 1.
"225.33 Maximum Number of Disconnects. (A) General. The disconnecting means for each supply permitted by 225.30 shall consist of not more than six switches or six circuit breakers mounted in a single enclosure, in a group of separate enclosures, or in or on a switchboard. There shall be no more than six disconnects per supply grouped in any one location."
"408.16 Overcurrent Protection. (A) Lighting and Appliance Branch-Circuit Panelboard Individually Protected. Each lighting and appliance branch-circuit panelboard shall be individually protected on the supply side by not more than two main circuit breakers or two sets of fuses having a combined rating not greater than that of the panelboard. Exception No. 1: Individual protection for a lighting and appliance panelboard shall not be required if the panelboard feeder has overcurrent protection not greater than the rating of the panelboard."
If the panel in the house is neither split buss nor convertible to main breaker then the only remaining remedy, short of replacing it with a main breaker panel, is to install a separate enclosed switch or circuit breaker at the house end of the feeder to control the current to the house's Lighting and Appliance Branch-Circuit Panelboard. The enclosed switch or circuit breaker would have to be listed for use as service equipment in order to satisfy the requirement of Section 225.36 Suitable for Service Equipment.
225.36 Suitable for Service Equipment. The disconnecting means specified in 225.31 shall be suitable for use as service equipment. -- Tom Horne
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This is in occordance with the NEC but possibly does not agree with local code. Even the electtrical inspectors are sometimes wrong. As of 1990 all the house built where I lived were suppose to have the breaker panel on the outside of the house. My house was built in '89 and had the panel inside. WHen I remodeled which resulteed in me moving my current grandfathered in panel 48 inches the local inspector wanted me to relocate it to the outside of the house telling me that this was local code. I requested a copy of the reg and found this was not the case, only the main brreaker had to be external. This saved me a lot of money and I dispise having an external breaker panel as many of my neighbors do. Check the local code, read it yourself. I like having the exteral disconnect, now if I have to go into the box I can do it know it is abosolutely dead inside of it and I dont have to work about coming in contact with the main feed.
Jimmie
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iwdplz wrote:

I don't know about the code, (the answer to your question) BUT i can tell you replacing the panel should not be over about $400 to replace with a main breaker panel.
s
You could rewire the entire house for "thousands".
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