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?)
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.
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 )
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.
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.
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.
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.