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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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