The service equipment for a townhouse I inspected was oddly grounded, with a grounding wire observed from the distribution raceway where the main incoming service wires branched off the meters for the individual units, but no dedicated grounding electrode at all for the main panel or the meter for the unit (evidently the rightmost meter).
The exterior grounding wire is just left of the conduit on the top 2 pictures (between the conduit and meter on the top picture).
There were other issues observed which were obvious enough, and need not be addressed here.
The panel was wired as a main panel, rather than a sub-panel, so I expected to see a dedicated grounding electrode for the unit.
The grounding wire below the point the main cables entered the wall was evidently for the panel in the adjacent condo.
In any case, the panel obviously has no supplemental grounding, But does the main service grounding electrode configured in this way provide good service grounding?
The main disconnect in the panel itself. Other units evidently had exterior service disconnects. This one did not.
The panel was definitely more recent than the 1985 construction date. Occupant evidently did not want a prankster to be able to turn off their electricity easily outside, which I can well understand. In fact, I write up such situations, especially when there is no main breaker inside – which I see rather often when inspecting condos. I would think that violates the “6 throw” rule, but they evidently pass city inspections.
Those panels are evidently main disconnects for the other condo units. The cable for this one evidently went straight from the raceway to the main panel inside. The cable on the right, next to the conduit…
My main concern is whether or not the grounding is effective for this unit. The service disconnect being inside the unit is better for occupants of the unit than if it were outside (especially if they aren’t sure which is which!) and none inside, as far as I’m concerned, regardless of what codes might say.
Grounding (earth-bonding) is required to be at the service equipment (with exceptions for detached structures) and not at the individual panels. The individual condo/townhome does not require it’s own GES unless it’s a detached structure.
The “service disconnect” should be at or near the meters. You can’t have “service disconnects” located in individual units, even if you feel it’s “a good idea.” Having a “disconnect” for each individual unit is perfectly acceptable, but the structure requires a single disconnect or group of disconnects - aka “service disconnect.”
The panel in your picture (I’m suspecting) is actually a sub panel that has been wired as service equipment, which would be incorrect for this application.
I asked about the panels beneath the meters. My suspicion is that these are likely individual disconnects for the individual units. If there are six or less of these, that could be considered the “group of disconnects,” or the “service disconnect” for the structure.
Thanks, Jeffrey, that answers my main question. So then, the grounding is OK, but for the lack of a supplemental grounding electrode, in case of careless disconnection, such as may occur in the course of groundskeeping.
It’s odd that the unit behind evidently also had a dedicated grounding wire for its panel, but this one did not.
OK, understood, no proper service disconnect for the entire building in one place, the group of external disconnects serving as such, in lieu of a big single main disconnect (such as I’ve observed in most similar buildings). I still would want a main breaker inside, regardless.
Regarding the raceway that was pulled out of the wireway it’s likely that this was caused by ground movement or settling. Not sure how old this installation is but the 1996 NEC added a new requirement to address this issue. One method to prevent damage to the raceway or equipment is to use expansion fittings in raceways that emerge from the ground.