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Old 04-05-2010, 02:49 PM   #1
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subpanel in attic?


Is it against code to put a sub-panel in your attic? I live in California if that helps. Thank you for your time!

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Old 04-05-2010, 02:57 PM   #2
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subpanel in attic?


Not against code if clearance requirements are met. At least 30" side to side, At least 3' rearward from the front of the panel. 6.5' headroom.

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Old 04-05-2010, 04:50 PM   #3
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subpanel in attic?


brric,

While there may be no prohibition against placing a subpanel in an attic, doesn't one have to be "readily accessible" and would that not depend on how easily one has access to the attic. For example, something I read suggested that a panel couldn't be located in a spot that could only be accessed by means of a ladder. Some have stairs leading to an attic, some have a pull down ladder, and others have to lug a ladder in from the garage and possibly up to the second floor in order to gain access through a tight port hole to gain attic access.
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Old 04-05-2010, 05:00 PM   #4
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brric,

While there may be no prohibition against placing a subpanel in an attic, doesn't one have to be "readily accessible" and would that not depend on how easily one has access to the attic. For example, something I read suggested that a panel couldn't be located in a spot that could only be accessed by means of a ladder. Some have stairs leading to an attic, some have a pull down ladder, and others have to lug a ladder in from the garage and possibly up to the second floor in order to gain access through a tight port hole to gain attic access.
I would say you have a good point. I will also say I have seen panels in crawlspaces, so I guess one should ask the local AHJ.

I didn't make my reply specific enough. I have seen MAIN panels in crawl spaces. Go figure.

Last edited by brric; 04-05-2010 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:21 PM   #5
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subpanel in attic?


bbric,

The thing about crawl spaces made me think. I may have confused accessible with readily accesible. While the disconnect means may need be readily accessible, isn't that your main panel, while the clearance you cited is necessary to assure accessibility should work upon the panel be needed. I think there are slightly different underlying reasons for the two rules.

The disconnect need be readily accessible so that power can be readily disconnected in an emergency. Repairs are not quite as urgent, once power as shut off. The concern then focuses on allowing the repairman enough space to reduce the risks inherent on working with hot equipment. How that jives with placing a sub panel in the confines of a crawl space I don't get.

The OP and I are both in CA, but he is in Northern and I am in South Cal. I know my local inspector will permit a subpanel to be placed in a garage where access is clearly blocked if a car is parked in that bay. I would think that a violation, but he explained that they assume nothing will be parked there if "a licensed electrician" hangs a subpanel at that location. Like you said, check with your local jurisdiction, but the more I think of it an attic subpanel should be alright so long as it is located per the open space you quoted.
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:32 PM   #6
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subpanel in attic?


I wouldn't think a sub-panel would be as critical for placement in an attic, provided that a shut-off is in the main panel
Depends upon the attic too...mine is a walk-up
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:09 PM   #7
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subpanel in attic?


A question for you NEC guys....i keep seeing about hot work in the posts. The cec strictly prohibits and live work unless certain circumstances are met(such as changing out a plug that a life support system is plugged into) I was wondering if the NEC has similar writings?
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Old 04-05-2010, 09:25 PM   #8
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I live in Southern California(Rancho Cucamonga). I can meet the space requirements, ,one story house,but, i do not have stairs to the attic. The main is located in a highly accessable place.
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Old 04-05-2010, 10:05 PM   #9
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A question for you NEC guys....i keep seeing about hot work in the posts. The cec strictly prohibits and live work unless certain circumstances are met(such as changing out a plug that a life support system is plugged into) I was wondering if the NEC has similar writings?

common sense says turn it off if you can. Won't swear to it but I do not believe there is anything in the NEC concerning this. It would be more of an OSHA situation than electrical code.
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:41 AM   #10
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I live in Southern California(Rancho Cucamonga).

Sorry, For some reason I thought you were up by Sacramento. I should have known better as I used to live in Phillips Ranch, CA, and often had business in Rancho.
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:41 AM   #11
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subpanel in attic?


Thank you all for the info, now i have what may be an ignorant question? I would like to put each room(bedrooms) on its own circuit. Can you tell me why this is not a good idea? My house is an electrical spaghetti factory (thats how i got it.).
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:53 AM   #12
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There isn't any problem with putting each bedroom on its own circuit
Under NEC 2008 they need to be AFCI protected
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Old 04-06-2010, 12:06 PM   #13
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Thank you all for the info, now i have what may be an ignorant question? I would like to put each room(bedrooms) on its own circuit. Can you tell me why this is not a good idea? My house is an electrical spaghetti factory (thats how i got it.).
I suggest not putting each room on it's own circuit. I would share 3 circuits with 3 rooms though. If you put one circuit per room, if you overload that circuit (hair dryer, space heater, vacuum, whatever), you would have to feed something from another room to be able to alleviate the problem. If you split circuits between the rooms, you can share the loads between multiple circuits.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:09 PM   #14
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subpanel in attic?


Thank you again, I will add AFCI's.Does that have to be every plug? And thank you for the tip and reason for splitting up rooms.
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Old 04-06-2010, 01:37 PM   #15
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Thank you again, I will add AFCI's.Does that have to be every plug? And thank you for the tip and reason for splitting up rooms.
it not only has to be every plug but it has to be every OUTLET.

an outlet would include lighting and a fire alarm. You just install an AFCI breaker in the panel for any circuits the feed anything in the bedrooms.

Um, we have a problem Houston, maybe.

Do you know what code cycle your area is governed by? The 08 instituted a much greater coverage of AFCI's so depending what else you are doing with this panel, you may need a few more AFCI breakers.

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