I just met a GC from San Diego that is going to expand/renovate a friends' house here in NY (LI). I will be doing the work which will likely amount to a complete rewire. During discussion of what has to be done by code (NY) and what they want done some interesting expectations came up. I was told it is common in CA to have a Meter/Main Panelboard installed outside the house and that it is recessed into the exterior wall. This includes the conduit mast above the meter. (it is inside wall) He said that the only thing exposed is 18" of mast above the roof for the point of attachment and the weatherhead. Can anyone confirm this? I don't think this would be permitted in NY.
Also, on receptacle placement he cites a "six foot rule" for spacing. He confirmed that it means an outlet every six feet and said it is the code out there. Is that a fact, or is he misunderstanding something?
As you might expect I would like to make sure that we are all on the same page and I know what everyone's expectations are. Working for friends is sometimes a chancy thing.
[This message has been edited by Bill Addiss (edited 07-13-2002).]
I am in Northern CA and what you described is pretty much the normal for all of the areas in the state I have worked in. We usually install a flush panel that has a meter socket, main breaker and a 24 or 40 circuit distribution panel. All of the manufactures make panels like this. A common one used is a Square D SC2040M200C. If overhead service is used then the mast usually needs to be at least 30" above the roof. The drop should be attached a minimum of 18" above the roof and most electric utility's require 12" between the point of attachment and the weather head (I know this is a PG&E requirement but not sure if its a EUSERC requirement). Please feel free to ask any other questions about this type of installation.
Re: California Codes ....#81142 07/12/0208:36 PM07/12/0208:36 PM
Thanks for the response. What I was surprised to hear was about the mast being inside the wall. The norm here is surface-mounted equipment (never saw anything flush-mounted on the outside of a house) and an exposed mast that is visible for its entire length except if it must pass through a soffit. If the service mast is inside the wall isn't that considered inside the house?
What about the six-foot rule?
Re: California Codes ....#81143 07/13/0206:39 PM07/13/0206:39 PM
Bill, A flush mounted meter/main combo with service conduit in the wall has been pretty common out here for quite some time. Although my house is underground I live in an area where over head services are still installed a lot. If I didn't leave my camera at work I would take a few PICS for you. (That and find a house where they wouldn't come out with a gun because I am taking pictures of there house for no particular reason ) As far as the six foot rule for receptacles goes I think he has misinterpreted the code section. I don't know of any areas around here that have any amendments like that.
Re: California Codes ....#81144 07/13/0207:21 PM07/13/0207:21 PM
Nice to see you around! The more I think about it the less strange it seems. This would only be permitted if there was a main outside, right?
Is RMC required for this? or are other methods allowed? SEU?
Please forgive my ignorance here. An outside main is not very common here at all except if required for some reason. I have never seen an outside Panelboard anywhere in NY at all. I've seen some in FL but they were surface-mounted.
[This message has been edited by Bill Addiss (edited 07-13-2002).]
Re: California Codes ....#81145 07/13/0208:00 PM07/13/0208:00 PM
I'm in Northern California, and have lived in Southern Calif. Here, if it's an overhead supply and new construction, the riser is always in the wall. Retrofits are usually surface-mounted w/the pipe strapped to the wall.
The service entrance panel (all-in-one) is sometimes installed semi-flush, with about 4" of panel outside the wall. The bottom of the panel outside the wall has a couple of KOs in it, and boy does that make it easy to add a circuit later--just surface mount the conduit.
The riser must be GRC, min. diameter 1.5 inch in my area. For a 200A service and copper SECs, 2 inch min. This doesn't leave much of a two-by-four top plate, but most people are using two-by-sixs for exterior walls.
I have never seen SE cable out here, even for surface-mounted panels. It's always pipe.
As far as why we don't use meterbase or metermain and interior panel, I think there are two reasons we use SEPs instead: moderate temps/little snow, and NO basement or mud rooms, so no good place to mount an interior panel. We don't have to out in the winter to check the panel in two feet of snow and below zero temps!
As far as no good place to put an interior main panel, most older (pre-WWII) houses have a small entry inside the back door (service porch or laundry room), but it is small. And w/windows and cabinets/cupboards, there isn't usually enough wall space to mount a main panel. Newer houses usually have laundry room in the core of the house, or in an attached garage. It would be possible to install a meter base outside and a main panel in the garage, but I just don't think it's done.
I have a question for you all in the east where meter bases are used and the OCPD/main cutoff is at the panel inside the house--doesn't it matter to the Fire Dept. that there's no main cutoff accessible from the outside of the building? Is it mainly a cost issue? Some firefighters mistakenly think that they can pull the meter to disconnect power, but I've heard of firefighters who tried that under a short circuit/ground fault condition and got the suprise of their lives when the arc blew them across the yard (fortunately not seriously injured)!
Why don't you install a meter base and cutoff or metermain putside, and then a MLO panel back-to back (or w/in 10 feet)? BTW, my AHJ has a supplementary code requirement that limits the 10 foot tap rule to 5 feet (before main OCPD). Is this common elsewhere?
Sorry to hijack the thread Bill, but these differences have been buggin' me for a while...
Re: California Codes ....#81146 07/13/0208:35 PM07/13/0208:35 PM
Thanks for the info. As far as the why goes, maybe someone else can help with that. We generally must have a main OCPD within 5 feet of where the service conductors enter the house or must provide one outside. They will sometimes make some allowances depending on circumstances if it is well protected.
As far as the service conductors above the meter go they will balk at any part being hidden from view or enclosed in the building finish. I think that part of this is for fear that someone will tap into it before the meter. I have seen where this was done. A customer of mine bought a house from a utility employee some years ago. Where the service cable (SEU) passed through a 12 inch soffit the previous owner had tapped into it and soldered 40A fuses to the wires and continued to his Electric Stove. This was a 'Flying Splice' in the attic that I wish I could've caught on film. Though disconnected now, I think it is still there.
You say that you have a 5 foot rule before OCPD? Is this in addition to the 10 feet that's in the riser already? That would make 15 if I'm understanding correctly
Re: California Codes ....#81147 07/13/0209:10 PM07/13/0209:10 PM
Well, my recollection was wrong--the city ordnance reads like this:
"Service entrance Conductors not having overcurrent protection prior to entering a building or structure on the property served shall not exceed 10 feet in length after entering the building or structure."
It's not an issue for residential installations, as it's all service entrance panels with the main OCPD (and the branch CBs too) outside the house.
Hoo-boy, that flying splice sounds scary. We had a case locally where some guy on the board of directors of a local suburban/rural utility company was caught stealing power at his home, bypassing the meter. That cut his political career short!
And back to your original post, the 6'/12' rule, straight from the National Code, is what's used locally. But there are a few areas whree my AHJ is a little tighter than the NEC; for instance, my AHJ requires one 15A general lighting circuit for 500 SF in service calcs (instead of 600 SF derived from the 3VA/SF general lighting load table).
Re: California Codes ....#81148 07/14/0209:58 AM07/14/0209:58 AM
Thanks Bill! Yes, rigid metal conduit is required for risers here. For the past 20 or so years the utility here (Southern California Edison) has required service panels to be on the front side of the house. In 99.9% of the homes going in these days that translates to flush mount facing outside in the garage wall. All meters and mains are outside. Underground services are done in PVC. Other that that I haven't seen any other wiring methods used for residential services here.
Re: California Codes ....#81149 07/14/0212:11 PM07/14/0212:11 PM
Bill I know of people who interpret the NEC receptacle requirements to mean one every six feet. It seems pretty clear to me however. I don't know about in Cali though. Every six feet seems rather excessive.