Local Codes May Determine Electrical Service Panel Locations

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Why is the main electric service panel located outside some homes? Your Main Electrical Panel Location may Depend on Local Codes.

Installing a Main Electrical Panel

Electrical Question: Why is the main electric service panel located outside some homes?

  • I live in the Chicago land area. My son bought a home in Phoenix, AZ area. In the mid west, the electrical fuse panels are located inside the home or in the garage.
  • In Phoenix, the electrical panels are installed on the outside of the building. What is the reason for this?
  • If someone wanted to play a prank on me or I had a neighbor who just did not like me, could turn off the electricity at the main breaker and I could come home from a vacation with a frig or freezer with spoiled food.
  • Also, if I had an alarm system on my home, it would be very easy to cut the power to the system if the fuse box is located outside.
  • It does not make any sense to me that disabling power to a home would be so easy in Arizona. Please help me understand.

Background: Bruce, a Handyman from Rolling Meadows, Illinois for a job site in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical panel question Bruce.

How to install a Home Electrical Panel

Your Main Electrical Panel Location may Depend on Local Codes

  • I understand the concern of this question, however I believe that the home electrical panels in the mid western states of the USA are there due to extreme weather and that many homes have basements.
  •  In Arizona the weather is much different. For example; here in California it is required by code that the main electrical disconnect switch is located outside so that in the event of a fire the electrical service can be turned off to prevent hard to the firefighters as well as the structure.
  • Keep in mind that all panel covers usually have a tab that will allow a lock to be placed to prevent tampering. This is why are some electrical panels installed on the outside of building when others are located inside.
  • Electrical wiring is installed according to the National Electrical Code, NEC,  as well as Locally adopted electrical codes.

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