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Thread: Is it wise to install service panel on outside of house?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member bobwilli's Avatar
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    Default Is it wise to install service panel on outside of house?

    I need to have an upgraded service panel installed for my 1948 stucco house. Since the clothes dryer needs to be right under where the new panel would be and code doesn't allow this, an electrician suggests mounting the panel on the outside of the house. I am skeptical of the wisdom of this.

    How common is such an outside installation?

    This seems rather insecure and vulnerable to tampering by someone unauthorized. Is there something I'm missing?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Personaly I would not have my box outside the home...

  3. #3
    Electrical Contractor jbfan74's Avatar
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    In some locals, it is very common to place the panel outside.
    Have you driven around town and looked to see how many are?
    220/221 places all his panel outside!
    Yes I am A Pirate-Jimmy Buffett

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Personally, I'd not want to go out in a wet, rainy night to reset a breaker...shouldn't happen often, but I'd rather do it in my shorts, in my own house in the middle of the night, if needed. Now, moving a panel can get expensive, so it depends on how much you're willing to spend, and convenience. You can buy lockable panels, so the neighborhood punks don't just shut you off, but then you have to find the key and hope the lock hasn't frozen up when you do need to get inside it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Every place I've lived in the main panel has been on the outside of the house. It's never been an issue. I wouldn't worry about it.
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default panel

    As long as it is a weatherproof panel and you put a padlock on it, you should have no problem. Here, the panels are either outdoors, or there is a master switch/breaker at the meter controlling an indoor panel. The city/utility require an outdoor access after the meter to disconnect the entire house if needed.

  7. #7

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    Drive around back behind buildings. Drive behind shopping centers for example. And you will see plenty of main electrical panels mounted outside.

    Might be difficult to drive behind houses in your area since there may not be alleys, but if you drive around, follow the electric lines going to houses, then you should see many electric panels mounted on the sides of homes. Some on the front of homes in older areas.

    Quite common!

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    While is some areas it may be common the question asked was is it wize...the answer is no..

  9. #9
    Extreme DIY Homeowner Scuba_Dave's Avatar
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    I'd never want a panel outside
    Here we don't even have a disconnect outside unless they pull the meter
    DIY Handyman (not 4 hire)
    I have enough to do to my own house

  10. #10

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    Why would it not be wise to install an electric panel outside?

    I've lived on the west coast all my life and everybody I know has their main panels installed outside. I've never heard of anyone having any problems with this???

    Also no one I know has their outside electric panels locked (for their house). I don't have mine locked.

    Enlighten me please!

    (Also I know the fire department likes to switch off main power to buildings when there is a fire. Around here that is the first thing they do when they get to a burning building - switch off the main breaker on the outside panel...)

  11. #11
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    I am surprised that you can't even see how inconvenient it is or could be to turn on a breaker should it trip...

    You have been lucky I guess...

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cass View Post
    I am surprised that you can't even see how inconvenient it is or could be to turn on a breaker should it trip...

    You have been lucky I guess...
    Oh I see!

    Actually I have a main panel outside and a subpanel inside with easy to reach breakers.

    Also I have all 20 amp circuits for all the 120 volt things and dedicated circuits to all the power hogs, so I never have any breakers trip.

    Anyway that is a good point, having the individual breakers inside. I agree that would be a good reason to have a main panel inside.

  13. #13
    Licensed Electrical Contractor Speedy Petey's Avatar
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    Also having the panel outside makes running new circuits MUCH harder. Similar to when the main panel is inside a finished space flush in a finished wall.

    Unless forced to, I see absolutely NO benefit to have the branch circuit panel outdoors and several drawbacks.
    Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC. If you're on the '14 already I feel sorry for you.

  14. #14

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    I am surprised that you can't even see how inconvenient it is or could be to turn on a breaker should it trip...
    A) How often do you trip breakers?

    B) How hard is it to walk outside and reset a breaker?

    At least we don't have to climb the basement stairs and move a bunch of crap that is stacked in front of the panel


    Panels are always outside here in the Southwest. That's how we roll

  15. #15
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
    B) How hard is it to walk outside and reset a breaker?
    WHen there may be a 6' snow drift by the panel, flipping the breaker becomes a much more annoying task. So, those living down south or on the west coast may never have experienced the inconvenience. You flip the breaker for more things than just resetting it. It's wise to turn it off for certain maintenance operations as well, and while marking them is supposed to be pretty comprehensive, finding the right one can be a pain, especially if alone and you have to walk all the way around the house to figure it out if you got the right one. Nicer to work on in the rain or snow, too.

    I'll continue to have mine inside, thank you very much...
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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