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Old 08-20-2011, 07:40 PM   #1
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Main Circuit Breaker Question

I live in a 12 unit complex and have a question regarding the main electrical circuit breaker box located outside the apartment complex.

Inside all apartments and most homes, there is an electrical panel box which has switches, levers or for older places, cartridges that each control the power, oven, hot water and so on.

I wanted to know with the main circuit breaker located on the outside of my apartment complex, granted that these apartments were made in the 1970ís. Irrespective, as I observed the main circuit breaker box on the outside of the apartment complex, I noticed a row of 12 or so cartridges next to one another. I wanted to know, could the electrical power to a single apartment be turned off from the main circuit breaker box located outside the apartment complex if one of these cartridges are removed?

Or better put, is it possible to turn the power off to a single apartment from the main circuit breaker box which would override the ability of the electrical panel located within that apartment to reinstate that power again?

The reason I bring this up is because I do remember an electrician knocking on my door saying that the power is going to be turned off for a few hours, how was he able to disable power without entering my apartment, did he simply remove the cartridge from the main circuit breaker located on the outside of the apartment complex?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, much appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you all.


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Old 08-20-2011, 07:53 PM   #2
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In the US it would be typical for an apartment complex to have an electrical room with switches that could turn off all power to each unit. There may also be 1-6 switches that could kill all the power to the building. These switches will typically be just inside the where the power comes into the building. Since these switches are ahead of your unit panel it would override the apartments panel.


Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:15 PM   #3
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Since there are more than 6 units there would typically be a main disconnect ahead of all the units feeder disconnects. He may have had to work on one of the other units feeders and had to shut off the main to do this work.

The only thing that might change this is if the units are fire-walled between them. Then each unit could have it's own main and there would be no need for a single main for the whole place. Each unit in a case like this is treated as a separate structure.
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