Where do I find the the main electrical breaker/disconnect to shutoff power for a condominium?

Friday, August 23, 2019

Most condos have the main disconnect breaker that shuts off all power to the unit at a meter cluster at ground level on an exterior side wall of the building, like in the photo above. The is a hinged plastic flap over the breaker for weather protection. The unit number is not usually as clearly marked as in the photo below. It is most often just a stamped into the metal below the breaker, so you will have to look carefully to find it.


    Some large condo towers put their electrical meters and disconnects in a locked room, which means the condo owner does not have immediate access to the main breaker. Turning off all breakers in the subpanel in the unit, however, will accomplish the same thing. Article 230.72 of the National Electrical Code (NEC) allows an exception for the standard requirement that every owner has access to the service disconnect, but only in multiple-occupancy buildings where “electrical service and maintenance are provided provided by the building management and where these are under continuous management supervision, the service disconnecting means supplying more than one occupancy shall be permitted to be accessible to authorized management personnel only.” Unfotrtunately, we regularly inspect condo buildings with locked meter rooms where there is no on-site, continuous management around to provide access to the main disconnect in the locked meter room.

    Because a condominium is a type of legal ownership arrangement and not a type of construction, some condos, usually townshouses or older buildings that were converted from apartments, will have the main breaker in the panel inside the unit just like a single-family residence.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

 What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

 What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

 When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

 What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

 When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

 Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

 Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

 Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

 My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

 What is a split bus electric panel?

 How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

 What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

 What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

 What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

 Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

 Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

 What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

 Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

 What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

 What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

 What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

 What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

 What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

 Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

 Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

 Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

 What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

 What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

 What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

 My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

 Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

 What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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