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Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 9th 12, 09:16 AM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 2
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

I have a friend who runs a business. Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)

Gene

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  #2  
Old June 9th 12, 12:40 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 5,914
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

On Sat, 09 Jun 2012 03:16:49 -0500, wrote:

I have a friend who runs a business. Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg


I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?


If it was high voltage, even inside it would be required to have a
lock. In this case, code or not, it world be locked.

  #3  
Old June 9th 12, 01:47 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,442
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

On 2012-06-09, wrote:

Anyone know anything about this?


It's complicated by local state laws. They are probably all
different. It's also bizarre cuz of onwnership.

Case in point. Back when young and communal living was common, my
wife and I shared expenses with another couple on the home we rented.
One day, the ditzy blonde of the couple declared they were not going
to pay rent, that month, like it was some kinda lifestyle choice. I
ended up having to break the lease and move out, paying some hefty
penalties. The couple decided they were NOT gonna move out and
essentially squat. The electric service was in my name. I called the
utility and told 'em to cut it off. They told me as long as there was
someone living in the house, the would not discontinue service. I
went to the house, turned off the pwr, and put a lock on the breaker
box. The utility found out and demanded I remove the lock. I told
'em not until the shut off service, which they finally did.

The whole episode was ludicrous in the extreme. The box is not the
utility company's. It's installed and owned by the homeowner. So how
come they can dictate its use. Also, they would have no problem
turning off pwr if I failed to pay the bill. Why did they insist they
couldn't turn off the power when someone was illegally using it. To
this day I despise PG&E and jerk 'em around whenever possible.

I would suggest calling the public utilities commision (PUC) in your
state. OTOH, they're no doubt in the major electric utility's pocket
and will refer you back to the utility, but it's worth a shot.
They're all lying scumsucking dirtbags of the worst sort.

nb


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vi --the heart of evil!
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  #4  
Old June 9th 12, 05:55 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,954
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?


wrote in message
...
I have a friend who runs a business. Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)

Gene


I would say that just based on the lockout/tagout statutes of OSHA, there
would be no problem about locking it. Just make sure the necessary people
have a key or combo.

Steve


  #5  
Old June 9th 12, 06:07 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 1,418
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?


"Steve B" wrote in message
...

I would say that just based on the lockout/tagout statutes of OSHA,
there

would be no problem about locking it. Just make sure the necessary people
have a key or combo.

Steve

I think you may have it backwards. OSHA is concerned about locking
electrical items so no power can be applied.

At work there are atleast 100 breaker panels. We put hasps on them to lock
them. Later we were told that we could not do this and to take all the
hasps off. Seems that it is not legal to lock a breaker in the ON
position. We have to lock out each circuit in the panel when we work on
them instead of locking some off and some on.

The rules are very 'funny' from one time to the next and maybe even in each
city.
While they probably will not know, it is best to check with someone in the
electrical inspector department of the area you live.


  #6  
Old June 9th 12, 06:31 PM posted to alt.home.repair
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Posts: 170
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?


wrote in message
...
I have a friend who runs a business. Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)

Gene


The only code that matters is the one that has been adopted for your area.
Enforcement of that code is up to the local electrical inspector. So, call
the city or county office in your area and talk to the electrical inspector
(no charge) and ask what you should do. If you can get something printed or
written from the inspector's office on the subject, that's even better. It
would be worth your while to go to the office and talk personally if that's
possible.

Once you know what to do and complete the work, you may have to have it
inspected and there could be a charge for that -- or you may even need a
permit (not very likely) and there is sure to be a charge for that.

Anyway, work with the inspector who has probably encountered the situation
before.

Tomsic


  #7  
Old June 9th 12, 06:56 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,117
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

On Jun 9, 4:31*am, wrote:
On Sat, 09 Jun 2012 03:16:49 -0500, wrote:
I have a friend who runs a business. *Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. *Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. *The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg


If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. *The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. *Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. *It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. *That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. *The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. *I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.


I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. *I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. *This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? *Maybe the power
company?????


Anyone know anything about this?


One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. *Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. *Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. *At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.


Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? *I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)


Gene


This comes under the definition of readily accessible. You are allowed
to put disconnects and overcurrent devices behind a locked door to
prevent access by unauthorized persons as long as all tenants have a
key.

The fire department is not an issue. If they want in, they will get
in.

The NFPA 70 handbook says "The definition of readily accessible does
not preclude the use of a locked door for service equipment or rooms
containing service equipment, provided those for whom ready access is
necessary have a key (or lock combination) available."


You are so full of ****, may AHJ's require total access
to buildings protected by a fire alarm system which
is connected to the fire departments dispatcher...

So yes, given the commercial occupancy access
to the main utility cut offs no matter what flavor
is something the fire department will have a say over...

A lock box containing keys which open the whole
building is how a lot of those AHJ's define
"readily accessible"...
  #8  
Old June 9th 12, 07:03 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 11,579
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

wrote:
I have a friend who runs a business. Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. The problem is that the
box, had a plastic tab. Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the
rest of the box is metal), is beyond me. It had a lock on it, but
the plastic tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off
the power at least once a month. That affects all kinds of
electronic equipment inside, and disrupts business. The business
owner is a woman who dont understand all the technical issues, she
just wants the box to be tamper proof. I told her I'd see what can
be done, and will install something if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with
pop rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any
sort of legal requirements. I suppose in the event of a fire, the
Fire Dept might want to shut off the power. This makes me question
what to do. I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? Maybe
the power company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just
use a cable tie through the slot and the hole. Anyone can cut it
off, but it might be enough to discourage them. Right now all they
need to do is lift the cover and shut off the breaker. At least a
cable tie would require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily
cut in an emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)


Having a locked breaker box, and a secured lock-out box, might discourage
a/c compressor coil thieves.

A lock certainly won't hinder the fire department. They'll rip the box off
the wall in a nonce if they feel like it.


  #9  
Old June 9th 12, 07:04 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,117
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

On Jun 9, 4:16*am, wrote:
I have a friend who runs a business. *Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. *Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. *The box looks similar to this:http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. *The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. *Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. *It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. *That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. *The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. *I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. *I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. *This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? *Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. *Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. *Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. *At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? *I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)

Gene


It sounds more like the business whose electrical service is
arranged in this manner got hosed by the contractor which
installed that particular style of enclosure given its location
and the fact that it can be tampered with...

You should look at what possible replacements you could
install which would be more tamper resistant... Installing
an accessory padlock hasp on the particular enclosure
you have now might only result in damage to the
enclosure the next time the pranksters want to play at
flipping the switch...

Is that the only means of service disconnect ?
Is the meter can located adjacent to it ?
Is the breaker panel inside main lug only or does it
have an additional means of disconnect {a main breaker)
also ?

It seems like the question to ask is why that specific
type of equipment was installed... Was it required
by the AHJ or was it just the best the contractor
who installed it could cobble together ?
  #10  
Old June 9th 12, 08:56 PM posted to alt.home.repair
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 11,128
Default Is it legal to lock a main breaker box?

On Sat, 09 Jun 2012 14:53:34 -0400, wrote:

On Sat, 9 Jun 2012 10:56:14 -0700 (PDT), Evan
wrote:

On Jun 9, 4:31*am, wrote:
On Sat, 09 Jun 2012 03:16:49 -0500, wrote:
I have a friend who runs a business. *Their main breaker is on the
outside of the building right along a busy back alley. *Inside the
building directly behind that main breaker is the panel with all the
individual breakers. *The box looks similar to this:
http://www.solarpanelstore.com/assets/ch_dpb222r.jpg

If you look on the bottom, there is the tab that sticks out with the
hole, which is meant for a small padlock. *The problem is that the box,
had a plastic tab. *Why the manufacturer used a plastic tab (the rest of
the box is metal), is beyond me. *It had a lock on it, but the plastic
tab broke off, and ever since people keep shutting off the power at
least once a month. *That affects all kinds of electronic equipment
inside, and disrupts business. *The business owner is a woman who dont
understand all the technical issues, she just wants the box to be tamper
proof. *I told her I'd see what can be done, and will install something
if possible.

I suggested drilling a few holes and putting a hasp on the box, with pop
rivets and padlocking it, but I tend to wonder if there is any sort of
legal requirements. *I suppose in the event of a fire, the Fire Dept
might want to shut off the power. *This makes me question what to do.
I'm also not sure who to ask locally about this? *Maybe the power
company?????

Anyone know anything about this?

One other thought was to drill a hole right below that slot and just use
a cable tie through the slot and the hole. *Anyone can cut it off, but
it might be enough to discourage them. *Right now all they need to do is
lift the cover and shut off the breaker. *At least a cable tie would
require more effort by tamperers, and still be easily cut in an
emergency.

Is this covered in the USA electrical codes? *I dont have the book.
(Are the codes available online?)

Gene

This comes under the definition of readily accessible. You are allowed
to put disconnects and overcurrent devices behind a locked door to
prevent access by unauthorized persons as long as all tenants have a
key.

The fire department is not an issue. If they want in, they will get
in.

The NFPA 70 handbook says "The definition of readily accessible does
not preclude the use of a locked door for service equipment or rooms
containing service equipment, provided those for whom ready access is
necessary have a key (or lock combination) available."


You are so full of ****, may AHJ's require total access
to buildings protected by a fire alarm system which
is connected to the fire departments dispatcher...

So yes, given the commercial occupancy access
to the main utility cut offs no matter what flavor
is something the fire department will have a say over...

A lock box containing keys which open the whole
building is how a lot of those AHJ's define
"readily accessible"...



And your qualifications to call someone who quotes NFPA "full of ****"
is ???

Cite the NEC rule that says the disconnect can't be inside a locked
door.

Darn thing should be INSIDE the building, for starters.
In the office building where I work every morning, both the main
transformer vault and the electrical service room, which contains a
couple smaller transformers, main disconnect, several timers and 2 sub
panels are under lock and key at all times. 2 other sub-panels are
located in the kitchen. All 4 sub-panels have key-locks on the doors,
but are not locked. This is in Canada - so could be different in the
USA.
 




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