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So I purchased a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo in Arizona not too long ago. It was built in 1984. I recently took a good look at my load center and I see there is no main breaker installed. The label on the door of the box says it is a 125amp service. Wouldn't a main breaker be required or is that a local building code issue?

load center exposed

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    Is there a disconnect near the meter, or where the service enters the building? – Tester101 May 19 '17 at 17:09
  • Can you post a photo of the panel? – ThreePhaseEel May 19 '17 at 18:32
  • In particular, do the top 8 or 12 breaker spaces seem to be segregated from the rest? – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 19 '17 at 20:06
  • Arizona Public Service puts a meter can with main breaker normally. – Tyson May 19 '17 at 22:43
  • Can you post a photo of your meter and associated equipment? – ThreePhaseEel May 21 '17 at 18:05
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Only if it's being used as the first means of disconnect. Try and find your meter and see if there isn't a Main Fuse or Breaker beside it.

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  • Thanks for all the input everyone. I have added a photo to my original post. I spoke the the local county building department. He wasnt quite clear, said alot of ifs and buts. My place was actually built in 1981, so it is possible that this setup passed code then, but has since been banned. I am contemplating installing a small (Ecosmart-11) tankless water heater that requires a Dbl Pole 60W breaker. There is space in the box, there is an old double 50W that is no longer in use. But will I be exceeding the 125amp? – Dave S. May 21 '17 at 16:36
  • @DaveS. -- ask a new question please, that way it can get the attention it needs :) – ThreePhaseEel May 21 '17 at 18:05
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This may sound silly but being older in Arizona make sure it doesn't have a remote breaker somewhere between it and the power source.

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My GE panel (150 A service) installed in 1970 in our tract houe has no main 150-A breaker. This is a so called 'split bus' panel. There are four 2-pole breakers in an upper section (30 A, 40 A, 50 A and 60 A, respectively, for the clothes dryer, a/c condensing unit, electric kitchen range, and a "main section" breaker which feeds all the branch circuits in a section below. The output of the "main breaker" is connected to a separate bus below by heavy wires, hence the term "split bus".

So I need "four flips" to shut off all power in the house. This kind of panel is no longer manufactured, and at some point I plan to replace it. This may be what you have.

Or you may have a main breaker in a panel under the meter. I have seen an arrangement where a 2-pole main breaker is in a panel under the meter outside and the other 2-pole 240 V breakers are there too. Then in a separate panel just on the opposite side of the wall inside there is a panel which contains just single pole breakers for the branch circuits with no main breaker for all the branch circuits. I think that technically the inside panel may be a sub-panel.

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    Also called a "rule of six" breaker panel. You must be able to deenergize the entire panel with six or fewer flips. Often those Ro6 panels have 12 spaces for 6 double-pole breakers, and people don't need that many so they stick single or duplex breakers into the Ro6 area, exceeding 6. This was only done because large 100A+ breakers are ex-pen-sive; in CH a 30-60A 2-pole is $16, a 100A is $75. Youch. – Harper - Reinstate Monica May 20 '17 at 2:51
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    Split bus panels were no longer allowed in 1984. – Retired Master Electrician May 20 '17 at 18:46
  • My sister bought a 1400 sq ft house in a small tract development just outside Gulfport MS. I had occasion to look in the electrical panel in the garage and to my shock there was no main breaker even though there was an intact punch-out for one! And there were only single pole breakers! Where were the 2-pole breakers for the electric dryer, a/c, condensing unit and range? It did not occur to me that they would be outside under the meter. The panel door looked like it was sealed, but a neighbor showed me how to open it. What looked like a captive door dropped down when opened a little. Why? – Jim Stewart May 20 '17 at 19:17

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