National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Question:

Gentlemen, I’m hoping you can help with an opinion.

As you seem to understand how to apply the NEC rules from a practical viewpoint. Section 230.72 indicates the two to six service disconnects permitted in Section 230.71 must be grouped. There is no maximum distance on between the two to six disconnects, so how far is too far before the installation would not meet the grouping requirement. Could signage be installed to assist in meeting the grouping requirement? Any opinions would be very appreciated.

Mark Taylor 

A

Answer:

Hi Mark, Thanks for the kind words and for your question.

Ah the old grouping issue… This one definitely gets into a gray area of the NEC that requires good practical and logical judgment by the AHJ. It also requires good communication and coordination with the installer. Here is our opinion. First, the reason for grouping is to help readily facilitate the disconnection of all power to the building or structure served. That said, the farther the distance between the service disconnects of a grouped arrangement to meet 230.72, the more the gray area is exasperated. The grouping requirement is easily achieved for all service disconnects that are installed side by side. In larger facilities, it is not uncommon to see multiple section service switchboards or switchgear (each with a service disconnect) to be installed in the same electric room of the building. Service disconnects in multiple large pieces of equipment in the same electric room are often considered by the AHJ to meet the grouping rule. Each six-disconnect installation warrants its own assessment to determine compliance. An example of noncompliance would be two of the six service disconnects installed on one corner of a building and the other four of the six installed on another corner or the same building. The Code does not include a maximum distance or any insight from (as defined) text that could assist when this judgement has to be applied. It is also worth noting that these sections 230.71 and 230.72 do not include any service disconnecting means identification and directory information as provided in Section 230.2(E). Perhaps this an opportunity for a proposed revision for the 2023 NEC which is now open for Public Input, visit www.nfpa.org.

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