No Sub Panel?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by PM5K, Apr 30, 2011.

  1. PM5K

    PM5K Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    San Antonio, TX
    I don't know if that's the correct terminology, but I've always seen setups like this:

    Main breaker panel outside near the meter. This panel would typically have very few breakers, for example I have one for a garage, one for my home, and a separate one for a 220 outlet.

    Then inside my home I have a sub panel that contains additional breakers that turn off specific sections of my home.

    So for example one breaker outside can turn off the entire home, then inside many breakers can turn off individual rooms, such as the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.

    On a relatives home I saw recently it only appears to have one panel outside by the meter. I haven't gone through it thoroughly but it has a lot of breakers, similar to what you'd typically see inside.

    Any thoughts on that? I was under the impression that you need to have one main breaker that can turn off power to the entire house. I don't know if there is something like that in the one breaker box outside.

  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Jun 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    Yes, there has to be a service disconnect that is sometimes called the “main”.
    All the branch circuits or the breakers that turns everything off one at a time can be located either inside or outside.

    It is compliant to have the meter outside and the service disconnect inside with all the other breakers in that inside panel.

    All this is a design issue and is mostly the choice of the installer.
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Either way is proper. Sometimes it comes down to economics, which way uses the least wire to reach all the outlets in the house, and/or whether there is an appropriate location to install a subpanel.
  5. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Jan 5, 2008
    Test, Don't Guess!
    Land of Cheese
    Often it depends on what part of the country you are located. You won't find any outdoor panels up here where it snows and blows. The houses all have one main panel with a main disconnect on the inside, as near to the service entrance as possible.
  6. drick

    drick In the Trades

    May 16, 2008
    The main breaker is most likely in that outside panel. There is no need for a separate panel. Take a closer look and you'll probably find a breaker marked for 100, 150, or 200 amps. This would most likely be the main for the house. It should be located at the top row or bottom row in the panel.

  7. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

    Sep 13, 2008
    New Jersey

    Same thing in my area.....Meter outside.....panel inside very close to meter....main disconnect in that panel. Usually a 200 amp or larger service with todays electrical demands even if an older house gets a service change.......

    I was just in my next door neighbors basement helping him and noticed his servcie panel was like new...The house is old and that panel was done in '98.....probably when they bought it...200 amp panel.....Old one might have been flagged as needing replcament as a condition of the sale. I think it was a foreclosure and bank owned......Might have been so old it has glass fuses...mine did....
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