No main disconnect?

Here’s a 30 year old well built home. Service and meter in the front yard supplies a gutter and 4 sub-panels in the back yard about 75 feet away. No main disconnect on the home side of the meter (there apparently is one on the POCO side, see photo). Gutter supplies the 4 sub-panels and the sub-panels all have Grounds, Neutrals and Chassis bonded. Did I miss something or does this look OK to the sparky’s? The home has been well maintained and has had some upgrades over the years and the local electricians have placed their logos on the panels somewhat indicating they approve of everything inside. Thoughts?

At that time it seems no one carried 4 conductor cables for feeding subpanels so they used 3 conductors and always thought it was correct.

As long as you have the POCO disconnect switch it should be fine.
Recommend an insulated neutral be ran to each subpanel that has 120V circuits (isolated neutrals) for safety upgrade.

I’m not for sure but I’m thinking the gutter and panels together could be the service equipment and not load side equipment. Was the GEC/GES there at the gutter?

Paul?..others? us out?

It’s simple, if you ask me. Is it “service” equipment, or is it “other” equipment?

The meter and disconnect are the “service” equipment (which are clearly separated from the “other” equipment).

The gutter, which carries the load side feeders (not the service feeders), may very well “bond” the load side panels, but it does not negate the need for isolation of the neutrals (exceptions apply and will, I’m sure, be hammered in by our resident sparkies).

In any event, as Home Inspectors (and thereby, generalists), we should defer for evaluation/repair any time we see load side equipment where neutrals are grounded. Let the sparkies sort it out.

Michael, it looks like the utility enters the meter can from behind thru that utility owned junction box. Then it would leave the meter and enter that big main disconnect. So that would qualify as the house side main.

Most utilities will not allow a disconnect like that before the meter, it would make it too easy to steal power.

I do have to admit that the panel to the left of the meter with the disconnect was assumed to be POCO equipment feeding the meter (the house is to the right in the photo). I guess it really could be house side and the main disconnect. That would change things some wouldn’t it?

Service Equipment. The necessary equipment, usually consisting of a circuit breaker(s) or switch(es) and fuse(s) and their accessories, connected to the load end of service conductors to a building or other structure, or an otherwise designated area, and intended to constitute the main control and cutoff of the supply.

From what I can see in the pictures, I believe that this equipment is in terrible condition, and looks like it has not be maintained for a very long time.

The issues about the neutrals, etc., are not important here. I sincerely believe that the whole system should be evaluated by the Utility Company, the AHJ, and a licensed and qualified electriciian, if any are available.

I would love to be the fly on the wall having this to discuss with knowledgable electricians and inspection authorities on site.

Joe, I agree that the panel area needed attention. The 91 year old owner died in Feb and his 90 year old widow is selling ($750k Texas dollars or $3M in California dollars) and moving to an assisted living facility in Dallas. The rest of the home looked much better than the panel area. Now, unless I can really identify something that is unsafe or very technically wrong I don’t want to simply defer to a sparky because the panels are rusty.


I understand your concern and position, and its not an easy job having to come up with problems. The rust is not the main concern of mine, I see now that the POCO has their main at the outside location where the service entrance conductors pass through it then on through the main switch. The main ahead of the meter was not always the best way, but here it was done probably by the utility in the first place. From the looks of the “Main” I’ll bet two things, one: the bottom resting on the earth is severely rusted, and that goes for the meter too, and the handle would probably not work as it is supposed too, I mean that it may break away, or fall off. The meter socket enclosure (one normally used for the service entrance cable, or raceway added to the right side, looks like an add on since the real location for the meter was in the front.

Look for more and you will find more, then the new owners will have something to live with.

I could go on, and would if I could but I have to get ready to go out on the road, I will be checking in though in between.

That makes sense…appreciate the lesson. :wink:

I will Larry, once I can confirm that the switch is house side and not POCO side equipment. I think it will take another trip out to the community where the house was to talk to the AHJ there.

Glad you’re following up…assuming can really have an effect. :wink:

Mr. Pope you are the Man. I have seen you go from asking seemingly silly questions … to making the sparkies look silly… Thank you for all that you do.:D:D

Don’t remind me. . . :roll:

One thing struck me in the OPs pictures. When they say “less than 6” they mean to disconnect all of the power, not 6 per panel. This installation may be OK but you should have someone looking at it to say that.

Michael -

Call me a silly boy, but once I saw it sitting on the ground and rusting out I’d have been recommending a licensed and competent electrician for further review and evaluation - for safety, age, condition, moisture, etc.

Ditto, I am with you on that one Dan.



I am always amazed at how little people are doing to clean up before a sale. I guess it is just the arrogance of a seller’s market. The other possibility is the “dead rat” theory. If something has a lot of hidden defects you put some very obvious things in plain sight (the dead rat) so when you get your punch list it is trivial to make everything cited, OK.

OK, silly boy, remember that originally it was thought that the meter and the panel next to it were POCO and I’m not gonna recommend an electrician go digging around their equipment unless there was something pretty blatantly wrong.

Now, since I had to go back to the home today to retrieve my expensive flashlight that I had left (gotta remember this was a 5 hour inspection in 104° Texas heat so I wasn’t thinking clearly when I left), I decided to take another look. I now understand and believe the panel to the left of the meter in the photo is house side equipment and not POCO after all. I opened the cover and saw several things that didn’t sit well, i.e. double taps, didn’t see the GEC, etc so I quickly closed it up and revised the report to have a licensed electrician further inspect the system.

Greg…you gotta remember this was a 91 year old man that passed away in Feb and his 90 year old widow is selling the place. I don’t think there was any arrogance involved here.:frowning: Perhaps the Realtor could be a little more proactive in helping her prepare the place but I don’t fault the seller here at all.