Condo Panels

Are individual condominium units required to have a main service disconnect breaker or subject to the six throw rule? I have a unit that appears to have a recently updated panel but no primary breaker and multiple overcurrent protection devices. Thanks.

The main breaker will most likely be inside a meter room somewhere in the building. That’s perfectly normal.


Thanks Bert. Yes, there is a meter room but it was locked at the time of the inspection and I did not have access. I appreciate you getting back.

I find them locked many times. The following typically applies in these cases… NEC 240.24(A)(1) through (4)

I typically just note in the report that the rooms are not accessible.


Next code section 240.24(B)(1) & B(2) applies to the situation that was brought up. It states that the main breaker need not be accessible to the occupants of the condo.


The confusion seems to stem from the fact that most inspectors believe a panel requires a disconnect.

PANELS do not require disconnects (see NEC for definition of disconnect), it’s the BUILDING or STRUCTURE that requires a disconnect.

Panels (other than service equipment) require over-current protection for the feeders serving the equipment. Before you say “What’s the difference,” give it some thought…

Actually now that you brought it up most (sub) …yeah yeah remote distribution (takes longer to type) panels are not labeled properly and in a emergency I would prefer to see a main breaker at living unit installations ,required or not.

All these years and I still do not fully comprehend the five throw rule.
Means 5 breakers or 5 swipes?
Five swipes would vary according to the size of your hand.(see can not even recall it is 6 ) 5 fingers makes it relate that way.

The “six throw rule” (not 5) means six or less, switches or breakers.

A 120V circuit (single-pole breaker) counts as one
A 240V circuit (double-pole, internal or external tie) counts as one
Two 120V MWBC’s with an external tie counts as one

You’re correct Jeff. I apologize for posting in haste.



NEC 230.71
Maximum Number of Disconnects.
(A) General. The service disconnecting means for each service permitted by 230.2, or for each set of service-entrance conductors permitted by 230.40, Exception Nos. 1, 3, 4, or 5, shall consist of not more than six switches or sets of circuit breakers, or a combination of not more than six switches and sets of circuit breakers, mounted in a single enclosure, in a group of separate enclosures, or in or on a switchboard. There shall be not more than six sets of disconnects per service grouped in any one location. For the purpose of this section, disconnecting means used solely for power monitoring equipment, surge protective devices, or the control circuit of the ground-fault protection system or power-operable service disconnecting means, installed as part of the listed equipment, shall not be considered a service disconnecting means.


Here are two helpful PDF’s going through Art 230 involving service entrance installations.

Service Entrance Pt 1

Service Entrance Pt 2


I hate most code write ups as I feel a need to learn Latin or “doublespeak”
Jeff does this apply to both main and sub panels as well ?

A certain well known Inspector not to mention many other threads and posts through the years argued 6 swipes of a open hand (never mind who) so… will…cement this in my head now.

Please explain in English here…lol

Oh see you posted above me .

Very nice…:slight_smile:

You’ve seen the size of his paws…he can take care of a 42 space panel with one swipe.:smiley:


Bill, it could be six single poles in a panel in a garden shed or 6 multi-pole breakers in others. It is not counted by how many you can operate at the same time.

Remote panels in an attached structure do not need a main.

Again, it does not apply to PANELS.

There is no requirement that a PANEL have a disconnect. It applies to the BUILDING - more accurately, the service conductors of the building.

The service conductors of the building are required to have a disconnect. As Jim pointed out, it can be a group of switches/breakers (no more than six), or a single disconnect.

OK so if there are 30 breakers at a sub and the main panel near the service entry has 6 breakers all is good, if I once and for all understand this correctly once and for all here.

To restate : A main breaker is not required at the main panel or the sub.
The sub has zero requirements and no 6 throw rule applies.
The main panel also is not required to have a main breaker but the six throw rule does apply.

The confusion sets in because of the term throw rather than breaker.

Sure a double is technically a set or pair but we think of a double as one on the practice side of things.

Sorry to digress but we do say things such as “you have two double breakers” rather than “oh you have 4 breakers with two sets of tie bars” :slight_smile:

Bob, there are several issues above. As Jeff stated the panel does not require a disconnect. It is the building that requires the disconnect. This is commonly supplied at the panel or a standalone disconnect.

A remote panel in an attached structure does not require a disconnect means. If in a detached structure it would need to fall under the 6 throws or less or it needs a main.

Breaking it down…

OK ,assuming you are correct I now have it exactly correct which actually is what I always thought.
Sorry to bust nuts but the subject can be confusing due to the mis information in many posts I have seen and from others .:wink: