ECN Forum

Language on the panel directory?

Posted By: gfretwell

Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 07:13 PM

There is an interesting thread over on Fl IAEI BB.
They have a Chinese restaurant and the panel directory is filled out in Chinese. Is that compliant?
What do people do where they have a multi-language society?(Eastern Europe?, Eastern Canada?, Miami?) wink
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 07:24 PM

Greg:
This has come up in the Twp I work in. We have many asian ethnicities.

I have to be able to read the panel ID, so english is required. However, in the understanding that the occupants & employees have to be able to read the directory...sub-titles in another language are OK.

Along the same line of thought...the legibility of handwritten directories is another issue! The directories with an 'accent' usually make a bad day slightly funny.

Yes, I have red tagged illegiable directories, or the ones with 'outlets' in all 40 spaces.

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 07:59 PM

Greg, it's funny you should mention that ....

Here at ECN I have posted pictures of panels labled in Korean as well as Chinese. I 'inherited' the Korean panel, and was responsible for the Chinese one.

For the Chinese one, I was 'taken to task' by an "inspector" who objected to the writing on the panel cover, right next to the breakers. It was his assertion that the NEC required a 'directory,' which he understood to mean that you MUST use the little cardboard thing. (FWIW, I had already obtained a ruling on that point from the appropriate committee laugh )

IMO, the breakers need to be ID'd in a manner that makes it crystal-clear to the OCCUPANT exactly which breaker controls what. If that means the Chinese characters mean "Jimmy's bedroom," that's OK with me. It's not for me to speculate as to the needs of the next occupant.

After all, it's not the inspector who will be frantically looking for the right breaker when the air conditioner decides to let its' smoke out.

For public buildings, or areas under the control of 'qualified personnel," I would insist upon English. This is, after all, a country that started with 13 ENGLISH colonies.

My Chinese panel? I Marked the breakers in English as I built the place (lables right on the faces of the breakers) ... then had the customer mark the cover next to them in Chinese as well.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 08:36 PM

The panel directory is for the electrician, the inspector AND the customer. If they want Chinese, that has to be in addition to English (or the prevailing language).
That is what we are coming up with at IAEI anyway.
Posted By: Alan Belson

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 08:38 PM

So, it was a case of many Hans make light work?

[Ducks and runs for cover]
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 10:42 PM

I've looked all through Article 90, and I can't find the part that says that "The purpose of the code is to make things easier for the inspector." If we're going to 'red tag' something, perhaps it's time for some more specific rules.

Another panel I did - for a secondary distribution system in a commercial building of UPS / isolated circuits had a 'panel directory' that was completely lacking any language at all. Rather, I posted a floor plan, with colored lines and breaker numbers for each circuit. Different? Sure- but the customer loved it.

My goal has been to make it as easy as possible for a completely untrained person to quickly find the correct breaker. I'm gradually becoming a believer in lables on cover plates and disconnects as well.

No matter how you feel on the topic, I think we can all agree that it is nearly impossible to identify things, at the panel, as clearly as we would like - especially when a circuit jumps all over the place, or after a few remodels.

It's ironic that I have had folks question the legality of putting lables directly on the breakers, writing on the panel cover, or doing anything besides filling in the card on the door - even when the door presents the card to you over your head and upside-down.
Posted By: mikesh

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/16/10 11:00 PM

We require the directories in 1 of Canada's official languages and any other language the customer wants too.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 02:01 AM

If the inspector can't read it, how does he know that it is legible?
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 02:15 AM

Those Korean & Mandarin & Cantoneese characters are usually real neat, so I guess it legiable?

Thinking about it...do we have an official (really) language?

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 02:28 AM

Quote
do we have an official (really) language?


Florida along with Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming do have English only laws.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 03:16 AM

Greg:
Ya forgot Jersey....and New York?
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 04:46 AM

Originally Posted by HotLine1
Greg:
Yes, I have red tagged illegible directories, or the ones with 'outlets' in all 40 spaces.

Yeah mate,
It really annoys the heck out of me, these people that don't give very good descriptions of what a CB controls.
After all, that's what a panel ID sheet is for, isn't it?

One thing about hand-written labels on panels, I know an Inspector that will fail an installation on sight of these works of art, he once told me that if you can't be bothered to get a cheap electronic label-maker, what does that say about your work ethic?
I'm not entirely sure I totally agree with that idea, but I've seen some panels that have little more than scribbled "words", like somebody was in a hurry to get away from the place! grin
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 06:18 AM

I always get a kick out of the folks over at the homeowner BB who say you should just go downtown and get a copy of the electrical plan.
They assume it has all the breakers identified, point to point wiring diagrams and every outlet precisely identified on each circuit.
You are very lucky if the panel directory is close to right and nothing really looks like the plan.
Posted By: Trumpy

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 07:21 AM

Originally Posted by gfretwell
I always get a kick out of the folks over at the homeowner BB who say you should just go downtown and get a copy of the electrical plan.
They assume it has all the breakers identified, point to point wiring diagrams and every outlet precisely identified on each circuit.

What??!! grin
That's pretty out of it, Greg.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 08:01 AM

I read one of those notes to my wife who built over 100 houses for a production builder and beer came out of her nose.
Posted By: Texas_Ranger

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 02:21 PM

In commercial wiring, full floor plans with circuit numbers in addition to directories are pretty much standard. In residential you usually get printed labels with more or less helpful notes - my pet peeve: "Room 1, Room 2,..."

Personally I try to use distinctive features of rooms like "bay room" for rooms with bay windows or the orientation of the room (front/street, back yard facing,...). Where that still doesn't allow for a clear distinction I add at least a scribbled sketch of the floor plan with room names or numbers.
Posted By: ghost307

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 02:43 PM

Actually I find that Commercial works great for the initial installation, but after a few years you find the directory either:
-has never been updated
-lists "Bob's office" when Bob retired 3 years ago
-"new copier" in an office with copiers all over the place.

I find that the scribbles are often more reliable than the typed/printed cards; if only because whoever put it in had a pencil handy in their pocket.

BTW, a few years ago I saw a safety switch at Midway airport that was still in use and labelled "Fred Harvey". That was pretty tricky to track down since Fred Harvey restaurants have been out of business for many years...and tenants change at the drop of a hat over there.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 03:07 PM

Reno:

You wrote "I've looked all through Article 90, and I can't find the part that says that "The purpose of the code is to make things easier for the inspector." If we're going to 'red tag' something, perhaps it's time for some more specific rules."

The more specific rule is within Article 408.4 spells out the directory issues. When I did the '08 changes CEU's that was a hot topic with some ECs.


Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 03:50 PM

27 out of 50? Looks like some progress is being made.

I'll agree that any sort of "official" language rule is enough to mandate a directory in that language. Absent such a rule, I think we'd have to accept a directory in Klingon!
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 04:34 PM

Actually 408.4 eliminates most of these problems if you just enforce it

Quote
No circuit shall be described in a manner that depends on transient conditions of occupancy.


In a year when that Chinese restaurant goes out of business and a pizza joint moves in, nobody will be able to read that directory.
Posted By: ghost307

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 07:53 PM

Nice catch, Greg.

I like it.
Mind if I use that on my next job??
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 08:39 PM

John was the one who had me back rereading it.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 09:00 PM


"Transient conditions" ... Thanks, Greg; I had forgotton about that addition to the code last cycle. So, I guess "Jimmy's BR" is out as a proper description.

When I built the new headquarters for a plumbing company, I took pains to lable the breakers as to the rooms they served. I described the offices in objective, directional terms, using points of the compass.

Alas, this firm now has a "Midwest Office" .... as well as a ""Mid-East Office" as well! Sometimes you just can't win. laugh
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 09:45 PM

Last ('08) changes CEU I got a lot of heat about saying 'pink bedroom; yellow bedroom, etc' was NOT going to be compliant.

One EC asked if I (we) were going to carry a compass for N-S-E-W designations; or if I (we) were going to go from the basement up to the rooms to 'check'.

Posted By: mikesh

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 10:07 PM

Originally Posted by gfretwell
I always get a kick out of the folks over at the homeowner BB who say you should just go downtown and get a copy of the electrical plan.
They assume it has all the breakers identified, point to point wiring diagrams and every outlet precisely identified on each circuit.
You are very lucky if the panel directory is close to right and nothing really looks like the plan.

We flatly refuse to take plans for residential suites, houses or rooms. Outlets are prescribed so when a dwelling unit is inspected the inspector gets out his tape and measures. 12 feet no plug then add 1. If I cannot tell if the wall has a bookshelf by looking at the building permit plans then it needs the plug either at rough in or at final when the bookshelf is not yet installed. Very simple.
Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/17/10 10:15 PM

That is exactly my point. Even in a tract house they usually allow some home owner options and that can change receptacle placement, They also let them add other things so when the electrician actually lays out the job, the plan is just a guideline. In most cases they don't even alter the electrical plan from the master, even if there are massive changes.
The county charges based on the price of the house, not by outlet so they don't care.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/18/10 03:02 AM

Resi plans are more or less a floorplan layout, and the NEC requirements prevail upon inspections. Items above the quantities setforth in the original permit app are required to be updated before a CO is issued. Resi SFDs are great for options/extras.
As to our permit fees, they are based on items installed, not on the esitmated job costs.

Back to the topic.....
Today, a <$2M McMansion was red tagged for incomplete and incorrect panel directories. (4x40 circuit). ID was handwritten, legiable, and in english. IMHO, this was a deliberate 'fail' for finacial issues. An additional set of completed directories are to be provided to the HO prior to closing in Hindi. And..NO, I do not read Hindi.

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/18/10 06:35 PM

My wife did have an engineer type owner who came over right before the FEPA/C and mapped every circuit point to point from the outlet back to each breaker but he also took the permits out of the permit box, down to Kinkos and burned a copy of the whole package. If he had asked they probably would have just given him a set. You are usually nice to a guy who is spending three quarters of a million.
Posted By: Alan Nadon

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/18/10 07:16 PM

As a former inspector I ran into the problems of the Chinese labeled panel and more recently the Spanish labeling. Hard to tell if there are two kitchen circuits and a laundry in a house when none of the CBs are labeled kitchen or laundry. Cosina & lavadora (I think)
I was forced to allow it under the old rules because it was labeled, however I would usually get them to add English labeling when I explained that they might speak the language, but the $ 75 dollar an hour electrician might not and he would have to spend extra time tracing circuits.
Money talks.........
Posted By: harold endean

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/20/10 01:27 PM

Everyone is talking about labeling the panel, but did you see the size of the directory? smile You don't even have enough room to write the word "Receptacle"!

I have seen where people go to the computer and print up a very nice new directory.
Posted By: jdevlin

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/20/10 02:43 PM

In our office buildings every receptacle, most junction boxes. whips to furniture etc. get a lable that indicates the breaker panel and breaker(s) that turn them off. Every panel has a lable on it indicateing its name.
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/20/10 06:11 PM

I certainly agree with Harold that the 'furnished' directories are woefully inadequate.

Yet, if you simply print up a nice, large, clear directory, someone is sure to complain that you've covered up 'essential' lables on the panel. That, I conclude, points right to the core of the problem.

The core is: everyone wants to write rules to make their particular task easier- but no one cares about the final user! As far as the consumer is concerned, all those code & listing required lables - in multiple languages and multiple orientations, no less!- are as relevant as the legendary mattress tag.

IMO, our entire approach to panels took a wrong turn right from the start- and a lot has to do with the manufacturers' influence on the code panels. Sometimes, it seems that certain manufacturers care greatly about everone EXCEPT the consumer, even want to 'load the dice' against the final uses; but I wander.

It's not that the consumer doesn't care; the box stores sell plenty of labled magnets for sticking on the panel next to the breakers! At the other end of the wire, the phone guys have had lables on their cover plates since Eisenhower was in Office.

If only breakers were the only identification issue. I worked in one office building where circuits often originated in different tenants' offices on different floors - and even the service was mis-labled, as folks took their old office numbers with them when they moved! (So the meter that read "Suite 101" could very easily be feeding an office that had "318" on the door).

Remember: it's the final customer who pays our bills; we need to serve him, rather than expecting him to serve us.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/20/10 06:59 PM

Yes Reno, on some panels the blank directory on the door is woefully inadequate for any 'clear' attempt at identifing the loads on a breaker. That leads to creativeness on the part of the installer/electrician.

Personally, I have no gripe with a label adjacent to the cb on the panel, nor do I have anything against a 'directory' that is adjacent to, or attached to a panel.

Perhaps it may be time for some of the mfgs to look into the directory requirements spelled out in the NEC, and come up with a more 'compliant' directory.

For instance, why do they glue the mfg info data dead center on the 40 circuit panel door? Why not favor the top or bottom quadrants to allow for a larger directory?

BTW, what do you guys think of the clear plastic sleeve on the comm/ind panels, with the removable directory card?

Posted By: gfretwell

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/20/10 07:56 PM

Perhaps this would be an opportunity for a creative person to offer an aftermarket directory. I could see some kind of multi page album type deal where you have a couple of pages to write on.
Posted By: SteveFehr

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/22/10 06:25 PM

Internationally, I typically require all panels (and key controls for generators, HVAC systems, etc) to be labeled in both english and the local language.

It's simply unsafe for a panel to be labeled in a way that's unclear to someone who may need to use it.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/22/10 07:20 PM

I took a pic of a english/chineese directory today, an will post it ASAP.

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/22/10 07:32 PM

A bit of a tangent here ...

How often have you seen a panel labled with information besides specific circuit details?

I think we see it all the time .... at a minimum, when certain breakers are marked as the ones to turn on at sunset (outside lights and signs) or to turn off at closing. I've also seen circuits tagged as the ones you want to flip when the Fire Marshal comes to inspect the exit signs and bugeyes. Or, the ones that are also controlled by the Ansul system.

What I'm getting at is that the panel makers have really dropped the ball, by providing products that are so unfit for this most basic of functions. Heck, all they need to do is paint the covers in a satin-white paint that you can write on! Or, for that matter, leave the face of the breaker blank, with a lable to fill in. (Do we really need the UL lable, AIR, etc., to be visible, readable with a magnifying glass, for all time?)
Posted By: mikesh

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/22/10 11:24 PM

Originally Posted by jdevlin
In our office buildings every receptacle, most junction boxes. whips to furniture etc. get a label that indicates the breaker panel and breaker(s) that turn them off. Every panel has a label on it indicating its name.

Ever come to work on Monday the day after the painters have repainted the entire office? They take off all the plates and replace them in random locations.
worse than that is this happens the morning the engineer is doing his final walk through to check on spec compliance and to sign off. The first circuit we turn off is mis-labelled and we look like morons until the clean up guy tells us about the painters over the weekend.
Fortunately we had good as builts to rearrange the labelling.
Posted By: mbhydro

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/22/10 11:54 PM

Mike at least you had a new building.

Your story reminds me of the time in the 80's when the painters came through one of our buildings on a weekend and took off all the face plates and coax leads (200 +/- dumb terminals / printers), to make it easier to paint the walls with a roller.

Had to spend Monday reconnecting everything to the proper wall jacks as we figured out which ones were which.
Posted By: jdevlin

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/23/10 05:36 AM

Originally Posted by mikesh
Originally Posted by jdevlin
In our office buildings every receptacle, most junction boxes. whips to furniture etc. get a label that indicates the breaker panel and breaker(s) that turn them off. Every panel has a label on it indicating its name.

Ever come to work on Monday the day after the painters have repainted the entire office? They take off all the plates and replace them in random locations.
worse than that is this happens the morning the engineer is doing his final walk through to check on spec compliance and to sign off. The first circuit we turn off is mis-labelled and we look like morons until the clean up guy tells us about the painters over the weekend.
Fortunately we had good as builts to rearrange the labelling.

Painters don't touch the electrical. They cut in around them. Nobody touches electrical but electrician. Company is very serious about only properly trained persons operating equipment(tow motors, scissor lifts etc.) or opening things they don't belong inside of.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/23/10 01:28 PM

I've seen jobs where the painters not only remove plates, they mysteriously vanish. It happens a lot in multi family resi with the basic 'all one color' motif.

Must be a near perfect world north of the border?

The majority of the 'ofice' type jobs have panel and circuit labels on the faceplates, and typed/printed directories within each panel. 99+% are correctly ID'd; occasionally a goof shows. Having a qualified person on site upon inspections settles the issue.

On Reno's last note...I used to see a lot of breaker handles 'marked' with red paint/nail polish and a cryptic note scrawled on the panel door 'red stays on'. Other places had white, indicating lighting, some had tape over the handle 'do not touch', and a host of other methods.

The requirements within the NEC have made improvements to ID, but alas, this is not a perfect world for sparkies, inspectors, clients, etc. The end result, no matter what, goes back to pride in workmanship. Yes, we may take pride in what we do, but there may be another guy/gal that does not care.



Posted By: Texas_Ranger

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/24/10 03:50 PM

I've been known to use an ancient Dymo label printer, the kind that embosses plastic strips. In most cases they last forever (on some surfaces they won't stick though). For large panels you'd need one of the better models though, labeling 40 circuits with a Dymo Omega sounds like a major pain in the rear (the last panel I did had a whopping total of 6 circuits, if you have a 230V 2w single phase service any more than that seems pretty useless).
Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/24/10 03:51 PM

Not to beat a dead horse ....

I have just come from an industrial panel that has just recently been re-labled. The work was done by a team of professionals, including engineers and technicians. It is considered by all to be both current and clear. Here are some of the lables:

1,3,5: Kusakabe

8,10,12: Nakata

7,9,11: Elva

13,15,19: Pillar

14,16,18: PMC

I think you get the drift; they have labled the breakers according to the brand names of the equipment they serve.

I suppose that if you have ever worked in a pipe factory the lables make perfect sense ... but I doubt that they mean anything to anyone else. Yet, I have trouble with claims that these lables are in any way in 'violation,' thugh one might concievably some day replace one of those multi-million dollar machines with a machine made by someone else (or that corportions might change their names).

"Transient" or not, I think they're good lables.
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/24/10 07:56 PM

Recent Chineese/English directory pic is in Photo Gallery.

Renovated Chineese (Ethnic, not American) resturant.

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/24/10 09:10 PM

John, that directory is much, much neater than my attempt!
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/24/10 09:42 PM

Reno:
That's not my handiwork. Credit to a electrical contractor who cares. He understands I need english, and the employees need chineese.

Posted By: renosteinke

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/25/10 04:15 PM

shi shi (thanks)
Posted By: HotLine1

Re: Language on the panel directory? - 09/27/10 12:53 AM

Reno:

The only issue that someone may bring up is the mfg info label is covered by the directory.

I personally did not make an issue of this. This particular job was a renovation, and the panel was/is existing, and most of the wiring is replaced. The 'old' directory, on the door was obsolete, so making 'modifications' would be tough.

I see nothing wrong with how this was executed.

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