Although there are many things to consider when installing an Electrical system, one of the most important things to consider is the electrical service. Anytime you have a location that is powered through an electrical utility; it will have such a service. It is sometimes referred to as an electrical service panel, service panel, breaker box or electrical center. It is the box that holds the circuit breakers and is wired to distribute power throughout the facility.
The electrical service is also one of the most common areas to be red tagged by the inspector. In many cases, it would be possible to avoid having the inspector red-tag the installation by just looking for some common issues. Here are a few are the most common to keep in mind.
- No Cover: When the electrical panel is energized, it should always have a cover. A cover works to contain sparks in the case of a fault, to hold the circuit breakers in place and prevent arcing. It also protects personnel from a shock hazard.
- Plumb: It is important to ensure that the service panel is firmly secured and plumb
- Directory: It is necessary to have an accurate and complete directory, as it will be used for de-energizing circuits during maintenance or in the case of an emergency.
- Bonding to Water Pipe: According to the National Electric Code, the electrical grounding system must be bonded to the water piping using an appropriately sized bonding conductor in an area that is accessible.
- Knockouts: If any knockouts have been removed but are not used they must be secured with closure blanks
- Grounding: Supplemental grounding may be necessary under certain circumstances. It may be possible to achieve this by adding a second ground rod. It also needs to extend the grounding electrode conductor raceway below grade. It should be bonded at the bottom.
- Main Bonding Jumper: This should be field-installed
- Sizing: The lighting loads in addition to service loads will be used to determine the service. Commercial calculations are different from residential estimates.
- Corrosion Inhibitor: Aluminum conductors require the use of corrosion inhibitor to keep the connections from oxidizing due to arcing and heat.
- Service Wire Size: The service conductor sizing is associated with the connection load.
- Non-Service Conductors to Masthead: This is a relatively common issue. The connection of any non-service conductors to a masthead is a code violation.
- Ground Clearance: The point of attachment must be at least 10 feet above finished grade where it connects to the building. It needs to maintain that clearance for the entire span.
- Arc Fault Breakers: There are specific areas where arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) must be installed. It will be obvious to the inspector if they are missing.
- Coupling in Masthead: There is to be no coupling located between the point of attachment and where the raceway enters the roof.
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