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I have a situation where there are two apartments and one laundry room. Room for 1 washer and 1 dryer. There are 2 circuit boxes and 2 meters. We want to have a run for each circuit panel the dryer outlet. Thereby flipping the breaker to run each apartments laundry so each pays their own way. Is that possible?

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    They appear to manufacture the transfer switch that could work for this. I’ll be interested what the code geniuses here say about being able to use that switch in this application.
    – Tyson
    Nov 3 '18 at 22:36
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    Yes, because you'd have to switch the neutral also. Can't commingle neutrals from 2 panels, holy smoke no, you really can't do that. Nov 3 '18 at 23:39
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    Legally this is a mess, though. How do you power the washer? You can't just hang it on one tenancy. Since you're changing it, you would need to change it in a way which complies with current laws, which is to have a third meter for commons space. Nov 3 '18 at 23:47
  • @Harper I would have agreed initially, but after searching I truly wondered, the transfer switch I linked is a 30amp 3-pole 240v switch. Would it matter how/where services are divided? I’ve seen 2-tenant house (duplexes) a single utility company drop dual meter with main breaker at the meter. It’s true that’s it’s not a thing you see everyday, but are there instances where it can be used that way? Marketing materials say it’s purpose “to switch one load between two different power sources.”
    – Tyson
    Nov 4 '18 at 15:48
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    @Tyson the point with the third meter for commons spaces is the landlord pays for that. He can't punt the commons-space electric bill down to the tenants and say "split that". Speaking of that, what about hot water? Nov 4 '18 at 20:05
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The shared washer-dryer is a commons-space load. Those are required by various Codes to be on their own meter. This is obvious in an apartment building with parking lot, hall and stairway lighting, coin operated laundry etc. Duplexes are often built as independent homes with no commons spaces at all, and I would imagine that's what you had if your AHJ permitted your build with 2 meters. Unless the tenants agree to do it on a handshake (that's what we did), you'll need to go back to the AHJ and have a conversation about this sutuation, and whether a changeover switch would be allowed.

Generally with a washer-dryer, you have 6 utilities to plumb.

  • Cold water
  • Hot water
  • Sewer
  • 120V (low power) electricity
  • Gas or 240V (high power) electricity
  • Dryer vent

So it's not quote as simple as a transfer switch.

Just swap plugs

Were it any other load, I would propose blue receptacles and red receptacles, and have the tenant switch the cords. However the large dryer receptacles are not durable enough for frequent change. Breaking a neutral on a NEMA 10 plug or socket will kill your tenant, but you will hook it up NEMA 14. They do make frequent-swap styles, such as NEMA L14-30 or other makes; the solution could be as simple as that.

Subpanel

Since you need to power the washer too, and possibly a water heater, a subpanel may be called for. This might seem like a clever way to kill 2 birds with one stone using "generator interlocks" made for a panel: wrong! This application requires we switch neutral also, which calls for a 3-pole transfer switch. You could do that with a 3-phase panel and wire neutral as a phase, with two breakers backfed to the two supplies, and the dryer and washer on additional 3-pole breakers. It would be up to the AHJ to understand and approve that. Otherwise you'd need an external transfer switch with 3 poles, and rated for the current. That's one neat thing about subpanels as transfer switches, they can handle high current cheaply, since they are just breakers.

Each tenant would need to shut off their house breaker to keep the other tenant from just leaving the switch on them and poaching power. That might be a problem for the AHJ. A better answer might be an Intermatic style timer rundown switch that operates a contactor, so the tenant can set the timer and power the washroom for 2 hours, say. The contactors alone could not be the interlock, unless the AHJ certified that, and I doubt they would.

60A is a good feed current as it works with #6 wire, the breakers are still cheap, and will power an electric dryer (23A), a washer (12A on half the circuit) and a "20A" on demand heater (15A) without kissing circuit limits too badly.

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In my opinion a good way is to put 'sub-meters' for the laundry room, with utilities connected to one apartment's supply then split 50-50 the laundry's consumption.

I'll choose to go for all electric (no hot-water nor gas hook-up) so only cold water and electricity sub-meters are needed.

I can find cheap meters at Brico. (about 30€ each)

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  • Many utilities in North America don't like submetering setups of this nature, and have the right to yoink service if they discover these sorts of shenanigans going on. Dec 9 '18 at 18:03
  • Here there are difference between hidden customer (someone that has no contract to utility and buys energy from another that is connected) and "usage division for a common service". In any case utility will never be aware of you installing meters in laundry room. At least in a 2-home building that still have 2 contracts. It's like saying that living in a condo where there is central heating so a single gas bill, all the tenants shouldn't be paying heating according to calorie-meters and hot water meters.
    – DDS
    Dec 9 '18 at 20:36
  • In any case even in the US exiusts the 'minimal service' on shared meters: *Minimal service—the quantity of shared service recorded on the shared meter is estimated to be less than 10 percent of the total monthly consumption recorded on the meter over the last year, or 75 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month or five therms of gas per month, whichever is greater*
    – DDS
    Dec 9 '18 at 20:46
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    Splitting 50-50 is disadvantageous to the tenant that uses the laundry less or more economically.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 13 '19 at 15:07
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I have no clue about how code will deal with this, so be aware this may not be allowed in a residential setting, but it should meet what little code I know.

You could install a triple-pole triple-throw switch. (example). Each subpanel feeds into the switch (two hots and a neutral) and then you feed one plug from the panel. Then you put a 30-amp triple pole on-off switch (example) in each apartment. When Apt A wants to run the dryer, they flip the switch ON in their apartment, come to the common switch and switch to their side. They (in theory) can't use power from Apt B because that switch should be OFF. When they're done, they simply turn their switch OFF. Avoids constant plugging and unplugging.

Mind you, this is ridiculously expensive to do, but it should pass most codes and be simple enough for your residents to use.

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