No Main Disconnect

This is a panel in a condo in Chicago. There is no main shut off, there are no other panels in the condo. What do you guys think? I am thinking that the main shutoff is in the electrical closet in the outside hallway, which I did not have access to because there was no staff authorized to allow me access.

Also, the circled area, seems to be the ground wire. Shouldn’t that be connected to the neutral bus? Is this a way of bonding?


This is a typical (LSE) sub panel. The main SE breaker (shut-off) is located in a mechanical room at the main floor or basement of the building.

Simply note “No access to Main SE panel”.

Where are the ground wires?

Wired in metal conduit.

Where do you see BX?

EMT serves as ground

Never assume Mike ,but I am going to stick out my neck and say your main panel is in the meter room.

I do not know the layout ,but remember to always follow the mast and try to get in to the locked room where it enters the buiding if not in a hall closet.

Small buildings it will be ground floor.

Mike the conduit serves as ground and the green wire is most likely for a spa tub.(guess)Reason is you have gas powered appliances.

How do I know? (only one double):slight_smile: (for HVAC)

Ground wire and the box should be connected but separate from the neutral bar.(look for a green screw or small bracket which bonds the box to the neutral bars which would be incorrect)

I see no problem from the picture.(If this is a new Condo please do call out lack of AFCI for the bedroom)

Will show you the flat head screwdriver trick (just kidding).

As stated in my first post, there is an electrical room about 2 doors down from the unit. No one at the building could give me access. I did not see the bond screw, I thought that the circled item in the pic was a type of bonding. I read on the board that sometimes the screws that are used to install the bus bars act as the bond.

No spa tub or whirlpool.

This is an older building, I think it is the Millenium Building. It seems to me that the unit owner should have a way to shut off all electric to the unit.

I did tell the client about AFCI, and since he is going to have an electrician fix some receptacles, I suggested that he ask the electrician about installing AFCI.

I think the idea is that, in an emergency, the power can be shut off to multiple units much quicker than going unit by unit, seeing if people are home.

And they do - they should have access to the electrical room.

Not much different than having the main breaker at the meter.

I am an idiot! Don’t everyone agree to quick.

#1 rule-NO bonding in a sub-panel!! No wonder I didn’t see it.

Brush up a little on the definition of bonding. It causes more greif for inspectors than you may know.

There are components of the electrical system that are “bonded” at load-side equipment (i.e. sub panels), such as EGC’s, metal conduit, etc. The rule is - no bonding of the neutrals to the panel.

I challenge you


The panel has one MAJOR defect… NO legend!! I am surprised no one pointed that out…:wink: No professional would leave that puppy unlabeled for branch circuit layout .

As for the “main” in this “distribution panel” your going to see the various configurations /types all over the place in Chicago. This is not uncommon but personally I would prefer to see one (main). Call it out… but be prepare to get ripped into. I have seen many and even had Union contractors slam me for it. It follows two different paths of concern. One occupant safety, the other electrical equipment protection. Guess which one this falls under? Your looking at client safety… “them guys who installed it say you da wrong pal”… AFCI ain’t required… We don’t installed thems…

As for the closet down the hall. Very common also. Does the building have an engineer on site. Then they are the person responsible for access. Is the building a mega high rise or a three unit condo. Different configuration?

At the next chapter meeting I will have a challenge for you on Chicago electrical installations…:wink:

The “legend” is above the preprinted label on the panel door.


Focus paralysis!!:roll:

Patrick, I know you would have seen if if you had been there.

Inspecting from pictures sucks.

Good topic. All posts on this are good, but let’s not forget that, if needed, all breakers can be turned off in six swipes or less with your hand.

Since it is a high rise, the AHJ may state that all service disconnects are in one location for reasons that Rick states.

Finally, discussions on inspection topics with no underhanded remarks. Off to an inspection.

Tough guy ehh
wo wo wo:twisted:

How in the heck are we supposed t see the labels at the angle.:shock::wink:

Yous better behav’e ther, Cuz wes gonna takes you out… Ands I don’t means to dinner!!:smiley:

There is a legend, it is on the door of the panel cover. The building is 60 floors, I bet they have an engineer, but the client did not know. The agent was on vacation, and the association did not appear to be very helpful to my client. The inspection was done at 6:30pm, I assume they did not want to put in any extra time. The condo was downtown at the Millenium building and the unit is a foreclosure.

I agree that their should be some type of shut off in the units and recommended they consult an electrician about that issue and about having AFCI installed in the Bedrooms. Safety first.

I explain and have in my reports the following statement “It is important that you understand that all comments of conditions, observations and recommendations are my opinions. Comments in the report are based on my interpretation of the various industry standards and practices. Throughout the report, all comments and notes are to be considered as starting with the phrase… “In my opinion”. Be aware that others may disagree or have a different perspective than mine. Not all home inspectors or tradesmen agree on defects, installation methods, seriousness or other considerations.”

I all comes down to $$. Adding breakers will add to the bottom line. Right?
“If it ain’t in da code books then we don’t need em”

Chicago is working on there interpretation of the NEC 1999 so don’t expect many rapid improvement such as AFCI’s too. “The city that Werks”

Here is an important paragraph related to main breakers. It comes directly from my NEC 1999 binder under

" 230-72 Grouping of Disconnects

© Access to Occupants. In a multiple-occupancy building, each occupant shall have access to the occupant’s service disconnect means.

Exception: In a multiple-occupancy building where electric service and electrical maintenance are provided by the building management and where these are under continuous building management supervision, the service disconnecting means supplying more then one occupancy shall be permitted to be accessible to authorized management personnel only. "

So as you read it. You can see how this installation is “acceptable” in your case.:wink: