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Can 3-unit condo electric panels be located in the common storage area?

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The 3 electrical panels with circuit breakers for our 3 unit condo bldg are located in the storage area.  A realtor's inspector said they had to be in the individual units.  Does having the panels in the common area comply with the bldg code?  The building was built in 1998.
asked in Electrical by ray (130 points)
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1 Answer

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Hi Ray,
This might depend on your location / local jurisdiction requirements and particular conditions of your "common storage area" (you'd have to describe panel's location and accessibility) but the following are from 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code) and concern location of overcurent device in a building. Unfortunately I don’t have access to 1998 NEC.
A couple NEC definitions first:
Overcurrent Device is a fuse or an overcurrent trip unit of a circuit breaker so the paragraphs listed below refer to panelboards otherwise known as electrical panels / circuit breaker panels / fuse boxes that include those overcurrent devices.
Accessible, Readily (Readily Accessible). Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.
230.91 is for the service main disconnect which should always be located close to the service’s entrance to the building:
230.91 Location. The service overcurrent device shall be an integral part of the service disconnecting means or shall be located immediately adjacent there to.
The following might be applicable to your situation:
230.92 Locked Service Overcurrent Devices. Where the service overcurrent devices are locked or sealed or are not readily accessible to the occupant, branch-circuit overcurrent devices shall be installed on the load side (that would be inside the condo unit), shall be mounted in a readily accessible location (wherever the occupant of a condo unit will be able to readily access it and turn it off), and shall be of lower ampere rating than the service overcurrent device.
240.24 Location in or on Premises.
(A) Accessibility. Overcurrent devices shall be readily accessible and shall be installed so that the center of the grip
of the operating handle of the switch or circuit breaker, when in its highest position, is not more than 2.0 m (6 ft 7 in.) above the floor or working platform….

(B) Occupancy. Each occupant shall have ready access to all overcurrent devices protecting the conductors supplying that occupancy, unless otherwise permitted in 240.24(B)(1) and (B)(2).
(1) Service and Feeder Overcurrent Devices. Where electric service and electrical maintenance are provided by the building management and where these are under continuous building management supervision, the service  overcurrent devices and feeder overcurrent devices supplying more than one occupancy shall be permitted to be accessible only to authorized management personnel in the following:
(1) Multiple-occupancy buildings
What I would suggest is to contact your local building department for guidance. Of course, if the installation violates 1998 code requirements in your location… well, they might ask you bring it up to code which wouldn’t be cheap.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)