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The Service equipment (main panel, entrance conductors, meter base, and associated hardware) must be adequate to safely supply the required load. If you haven’t already done so, you can use my Free Load Calculator to determine the size that you will need.

The main service equipment panel shall be mounted either outside or inside the dwelling at the point of entrance of the service conductors to the building. All service equipment and electrical panels shall have a clear area 30″ wide and 36″ deep in front. This clear area must extend from floor to ceiling with no intrusions from other equipment, cabinets, counters, appliances, pipes, etc. Panels are NOT allowed in clothes closets or bathrooms.

According to Article 250 of the NEC, the neutral in the main panel must be bonded to the service enclosure and the grounding electrode system. Also in the main service equipment, the neutral and equipment grounding conductors are bonded together; in sub-panels, the neutral is isolated from ground – this is to maintain a single point ground system and avoid a condition known as a ground loop.

Branch Circuits Guidelines

  • Do NOT mix different wire sizes on the same branch circuit.
  • Type NM cable must be stapled within 12″ of metal boxes, 8″ of plastic boxes and every 4½ feet thereafter. Proper connectors must be used where NM cable enters metal cabinets, boxes or panel boards.
  • When Type NM cable is installed parallel to framing members, or in bored holes, it shall be located at least 1¼” from the nearest edge of the framing member, where nails or screws may penetrate the cables. If this distance cannot be maintained, the cable shall be protected by a steel plate or sleeve at least 1/16″ thick. Section 300.4 (A), NEC.
  • Cable or raceway-type wiring methods installed in a groove, to be covered by wallboard, siding, paneling, carpeting, or similar finish, shall be protected by 1/16-inch steel plate, sleeve, or equivalent, or must be recessed in the groove 1 1/4-inch for the full length of the groove in which the cable or raceway is installed. Exception: Raceways as covered in articles 342, 344, 352, and 358. Section 300.4 (E), NEC.