National Electrical Installation Standards

Standards as High as Your Own

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Hello, I am a home inspector here in San Diego County. I did a home inspection and the A/C unit did not have an emergency disconnect. The electrical panel with the circuit breaker for the A/C was about 5 feet next to the unit. 
Question: Would an emergency disconnect be required to be installed if the circuit breaker for the A/C is in sight?
Thank you, Ken Stoermer


Hi Ken, thanks for the question.
First let's clarify the terminology used in your question. The term "emergency" is used here, but the disconnect referred to in the question is not an emergency disconnect as would be covered by the requirements in Article 700 which addresses "Emergency Systems." The requirements for a "Disconnecting Means" for A'C equipment are covered in Section 440.14. The required disconnecting means must be installed insight from the equipment or it can be in accordance with either Exception Nos. 1 or 2 to 440.14.
These exceptions read as follows:
Exception No. 1: Where the disconnecting means provided in accordance with 430.102(A) is lockable in accordance with 110.25 and the refrigerating or air-conditioning equipment is essential to an industrial process in a facility with written safety procedures, and where the conditions of maintenance and supervision ensure that only qualified persons service the equipment, a disconnecting means within sight from the equipment shall not be required.
Exception No. 2: Where an attachment plug and receptacle serve as the disconnecting means in accordance with 440.13, their location shall be accessible but shall not be required to be readily accessible.

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