Two Main panels? Pic included

The main disconnect was on the little panel and the larger panel
controlled the branch circuits. I need help on writing this configuration up.
I could not read the amperage on the main disconnect. 60 amp ? plz help.

The cover below the meter should have a municipal lock on it.

As for amperage, I need a closer picture.

The panel on the left appears to have an FPE beaker. Not good.

Typically, the main is where the service disconnect is and the other is a sub panel. The enclosure on the left looks field modified. I mean, I’ve never seen wood framing when I opened a panel before. :shock: Let an electrician sort it out.

I can’t tell the amperage from the pic. I’d guess either 60, or more likely 100.

If this is a commercial property, I agree it should have a lock on it.

The panel on the right would be the main, and the panel on the left would be a sub panel.

I’m not sure what is going on with the big outer box, and smaller inner box. That’s kind of weird, maybe it was some sort of upgrade at some point in history.

There is only one service panel, with a disconnect. The other is a “sub” panel, and should be wired as such.

This is a pretty standard installation for the late '40’s and '50’s in CA. The original panel (with the meter) did not have enough room for additional circuits and the other panel (on the left) was added for “expansion.” No lock is required on the service equipment.

There is nothing wrong with this “setup” (assuming the sub panel has a cover), but it’s difficult to tell whether or not they’re wired properly.

These are both FPE’s, as David mentioned.

Defer it to an electrician as these panels are designed to be surface mounted and must have an air gap between the enclosure and the surface on which they are mounted per 312.2

I understand 312.2 Mike, but what are you basing your observations on?

I see this type of original panel installation several times a week. It’s very predominate in the San Fernando Valley where most homes were built in the early fifties or prior.

Usually when I see the sub panel installation like this, it’s not listed for wet locations, and therefore, placed inside an additional box.

The meter main combo is surface mounted equipment and the installation is in violation of both the NEC and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

I see this type of installation as being more of a danger than some of the other items mentioned throuhg out this web site and repeated daily on this forum.

Interesting. . .

I’ll try and get the listing info from one of these panels if it’s available. I’ll post it here when/if I do.

Thanks everybody…Nachi is the eyes for the neophyte Home Inspector.

What is the hazard Mike?

In order to answer this question one is forced to post NEC code.

312.2 Damp, Wet, or Hazardous (Classified) Locations.
(A) Damp and Wet Locations. In damp or wet locations, surface-type enclosures within the scope of this article shall be placed or equipped so as to prevent moisture or water from entering and accumulating within the cabinet or cutout box, and shall be mounted so there is at least 6-mm (¼-in.) airspace between the enclosure and the wall or other supporting surface. Enclosures installed in wet locations shall be weatherproof. For enclosures in wet locations, raceways or cables entering above the level of uninsulated live parts shall use fittings listed for wet locations.

Exception: Nonmetallic enclosures shall be permitted to be installed without the airspace on a concrete, masonry, tile, or similar surface.

240.32 Damp or Wet Locations.
Enclosures for overcurrent devices in damp or wet locations shall comply with 312.2(A).

404.4 Wet Locations.
A switch or circuit breaker in a wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet that shall comply with 312.2(A). Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

408.37 Panelboards in Damp or Wet Locations.
Panelboards in damp or wet locations shall be installed to comply with 312.2(A).

As clearly stated if it has overcurrent devices or switches and is in a wet location it must comply with 312.2. The installation in the pictures of the original post does not comply with 312.2.

To carry this a little deeper into discussion it could be pointed out that on these type of installations one will find more than one white wire under one screw and lots of times there will not be GFCI protection for receptacles located outside, in baths and kitchens.

Although these doubled white wires and lack of GFCI protection will be called out although at the time of installation they were not required but the panel and meter enclosure being install against code is mostly overlooked.

From my first day on this forum I have listened to some who make thier inspections based on the UL Srandards outlined for the manufacturing process and some that make their inspections from the UL listing and labeling. I have even listened to some who will argue that by simply changing an electrical motor will make an ornamental pool into a Permanently Installed Swimming pool.

Most of these calls could be based totally on the opinion of the person doing the inspection. The installation in the picture can not be based on anyone’s opinion as it clearly is a violation of the NEC at least four different times.

Does this answer your question?

Nothing is wrong with the meter/main installation on the right, there are no hazards, MILLIONS of these have been installed throughout the South West, etc., approved and inspected, and are in still use, think SEMI-FLUSH!](

Always verify any meter installations with the local utility company specifications.


My thought is if there is water behind that stucco in the wall, corrosion of the electrical cabinet is not going to be their biggest problem.

Now Joe you know that that installation is in violation of UL Standard 67 as well as the above mentioned code articles.

There has been **MILLIONS **[size=2]of the double tapped grounded (neutral) conductors installed trough the South, North, East and West that were approved and inspected and are still in use, think double ground![/size]

Just because something has pased inspection is no indication that it was done correctly now is it?

Mike, there are specially designed semi-flush panels and meter cans. They have a flange spot welded around the outside of them, much like the nailing flange on a new construction window. They area purpose built to be installed in stucco, as pictured. The most you can say is that there’s not enough information to say whether these cans are the proper semi-flush style, or a surface mount enclosure that someone stucco’d around. I installed a Seimens multi-metering center this summer that was to have Dryvit around, and I had to use a “semi flush kit” installed on a regular surface mounted multimetering center. It was nothing more than a flange. There was no way to tell after the stucco was done whether this kit was utilized or not. The CH outdoor equipment rated for semi-flush mounting looks identical to the surface mounted stuff, to my eye.

More Factual Information Here!

See page 165 here for another example

I tend to agree that these “semi-flush” installations are proper, based solely on the mounting hardware. You can clearly see how it is intended to be mounted. . .





It’s interesting to hear about all the installation issues from places where it actually rains! We would never think twice about that installation here in the desert.

Sorry everyone as I didn’t take a second look at the original picture when making my post.
I should have gone back for a second look after it was recommended by this expert in the electrical field,

But I still didn’t take a second look. I just assumed that there was a hub plate on the top of that meter base without looking.

The whole of my comment stems from a job that was done close by where the siding contractor installed “J” channel around a meter/main combo which was turned down by the electrical inspector on a heat pump change out on the same job as the heat pump was wired from the outside meter/main combo.

The electrical contractor called me for help on the installation to wit I commented that the siding was in violation of 312 of the NEC.
With this fresh in my mind, my mind saw the hub plate in the picture which is not there.

Please accept my apology for my mistake, especially you Joe. Can you please forgive me for not looking closer?
Joe has been telling me for years to look before I leap but I just didn’t listen this time.