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#698060 - 12/25/11 06:21 AM Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel?
peleliu Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 104
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
A house of a friend has a 200a combo meter socket/breaker panel mounted to the basement exterior wall. I am trying to figure out why this was done instead of the traditional back-to-back arrangement with the meter socket outside and the breaker panel on the interior basement wall. It seems to me that breakers should be inside and not exposed to the weather.

In what situations are combo panels used? Perhaps houses with crawl spaces or houses without a garage to mount the breaker panel inside?

Does the electrical code address the use of combo panels?

The house is being rewired because of tornado damage and I'm thinking that it should be changed to the back-to-back arrangement. The electrician is about to start and I want to make sure it is being done properly.

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#698069 - 12/25/11 08:41 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: peleliu]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 11937
Loc: muttonville,ny
Some areas it is all you find. Some areas all are back to back as you are used to. In one area here we put the panel in the center of the basement. Then Meter out side garage. Power piped under the floor and up into panel in basement.


The code just requires the main disconnect be outside OR nearest point of entrance as possible.
_________________________
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." - Hippolyte Taine

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”
— Winnie the Pooh


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#698072 - 12/25/11 09:14 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: peleliu]
SpeedyPetey Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/20/03
Posts: 5489
Loc: NY State
In some areas it is code required to have an outside disconnect. In some areas the whole panel itself is outside, like crazy California.

The other time it would be required is if the panel is too far into the structure, as Ceis mentioned.
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#698075 - 12/25/11 09:40 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: code_ceis]
peleliu Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 104
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
Originally Posted By: code_ceis
Some areas it is all you find.


Why would it go outside in the weather if there is a basement where it is protected and you don't have to go outside to get to a breaker?

Is it cheaper/quicker for the installer?

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#698078 - 12/25/11 10:25 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: peleliu]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 11937
Loc: muttonville,ny
Not necessarily. As Pete mentioned some areas require it outside as per fire code. Allows first responders to turn off power from outside. Some people will build as they are accustomed with not by local customs. FEMA is now requiring panels on first floor not in basements in flood areas.
_________________________
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." - Hippolyte Taine

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”
— Winnie the Pooh


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#698112 - 12/25/11 09:29 PM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: SpeedyPetey]
captain150 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 12790
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: SpeedyPetey
In some areas it is code required to have an outside disconnect. In some areas the whole panel itself is outside, like crazy California.


When I was there that's all I saw. Confused the hell out of me, took me forever to find the panel.

It seems like, well, kind of a dumb thing to do. The panel I looked at wasn't more than 5 years old and was just packed with dust (desert area). So...I don't get it. Guys, just put the panel inside the house...



In Canada, my panel is on the opposite side as the meter. So the service wires come in underground, go up the exterior wall to the meter, and then back down underground, all the way around the house underground, and down into the basement on the other side. I think that's pretty stupid too.

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#698115 - 12/25/11 09:47 PM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: captain150]
code_ceis Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/29/09
Posts: 11937
Loc: muttonville,ny
Originally Posted By: captain150
Originally Posted By: SpeedyPetey
In some areas it is code required to have an outside disconnect. In some areas the whole panel itself is outside, like crazy California.
I think that's pretty stupid too.



We do not regulate STUPID.


"Stupid is as stupid does." Said Mr. Gump
_________________________
"I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior." - Hippolyte Taine

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”
— Winnie the Pooh


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#698344 - 12/27/11 06:45 PM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: peleliu]
MCA Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/09/06
Posts: 4943
Loc: Illinois
All-in-one panels are used because they are cheaper since its all one box and they don't need a feeder between the two. A seperate outside main and an inside panel could be used where an outside main is required. Around here all panels are inside, usually the main is in the inside panel, some local codes say maximum 5 feet between the meter and inside main panel. There are a few local codes here that require a main disconnect outside.

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#698505 - 12/29/11 10:39 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: code_ceis]
ChrisB71 Offline
" Silver Eagle "
fanatic

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 543
Originally Posted By: code_ceis
Some areas it is all you find. Some areas all are back to back as you are used to. In one area here we put the panel in the center of the basement. Then Meter out side garage. Power piped under the floor and up into panel in basement.


The code just requires the main disconnect be outside OR nearest point of entrance as possible.


With the length the SE cable is run from the meter base to the can does that mean there has to be a seperate disconnect, effectively turning the main panel into a sub-panel?

One electrician I know says that if the main panel is > 3' from where the SE cable enters the house, a disconnect is required in between. i.e., if the panel is located 10' from the outside wall, a disconnect is required no further than the 3' mark.

Is that code, local code, just his idea or am I mis-interpreting what he said?
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Regards,
Chris

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#698508 - 12/29/11 10:50 AM Re: Why use combo meter socket/breaker panel? [Re: code_ceis]
ChrisB71 Offline
" Silver Eagle "
fanatic

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 543
Originally Posted By: code_ceis
Not necessarily. As Pete mentioned some areas require it outside as per fire code. Allows first responders to turn off power from outside. Some people will build as they are accustomed with not by local customs. FEMA is now requiring panels on first floor not in basements in flood areas.


The first responders reasoning makes sense, but in this area (NE Pa) the panel being outside would probably cause them to need to come to our homes in the first place...

I think it's interesting that the FEMA would require them on the first floor in flood zones. It's not a terrible idea from a getting flooded standpoint, but if they push for that people will start wanting to put the panels in closets as panels aren't really decorative. What kind of problems will that cause? If I recall correctly, the code is pretty specific about panels and closets.

Do you think that's a good idea?
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Regards,
Chris

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