I'm getting a new well drilled and was trying to make everything as least noticeable as possible. According to the well driller I need a disconnect right by the well head, yet I see many home wells with no visible panel box. Assuming this is a new rule/regulation, what would be the minimum distance from box to ground(soil)? I'm thinking the lower to the ground the less visible distraction.

It will be 30Amp slow blow fuses with a red handle safetyswitch style. Exactly like this: SafetySwitch

If anyone can explain how other well heads don't have an ugly disconnect/safety switch right next to the well head I'd like to know how I can legally do that instead!

  • You will be using a submersible motor for the well pump, right? (Just about all modern wells do) – ThreePhaseEel Aug 7 '19 at 23:20

Read article 430.102 of the NEC for a description of why some well installations do not require a disconnect within sight of the motor. One of the examples used in describing the exception condition (a) is "submersible motors", which covers a lot of well pump motors. If you have a submersible, you don't need a disconnect at the top of the well, it can be elsewhere. If you have a jet pump or turbine pump where the motor is at the top, you do.

There is no general rule on minimum height, but there are several unrelated rules (mobile home and trailer pedestals, EV chargers, etc.) establishing 2ft from the ground as a minimum, so it's best to use that even though it doesn't apply. But if you are in a flood plain, you should pay attention to the "100 year event" level.

  • 1
    I wonder if this would be applicable then? Almost every well I see installed is submersible. The well installer did not seem to go off code, but instead just what he had seen most people do or something that he always did. Those kinds of scenarios where once they do it, they always do it. I'm thinking I need to ask someone who would be inspecting it what they prefer to see. I see no point in the disconnect there as well as 105' away where the meter can is, where a 30 amp breaker is installed in a main panel lug box that feeds the well. – Nic Aug 7 '19 at 21:57
  • I guess it then goes back to local AHJ , if in a structure we have to have one. – Ed Beal Aug 8 '19 at 22:05
  • Ed, the pump is a submersible pump but there is a pressure tank and the controller for the pump outside next to the well head. You're saying that automatically means a disconnect is needed within sight of the well now? – Nic Aug 8 '19 at 22:20

The disconnect needs to be “within sight” code defines this as 50’ and being able to see it from the well. My state allows for the circuit breaker to be locked out if a permanent locking device is added to the breaker. As far as minimum height the only place I remember that is for things like RV pedestals and disconnects close to water. If in a structure it could be touching the ground (my house has a small wishing well surround and roof with the disconnect ~12” from the concrete the the structure is built on. I did double check and only the maximum height is 6’7” to the circuit breaker or switch handle in its highest position. Other than the 2 I listed above I did find a panel board in a mobile home must be 2’ off the floor but as far as disconnects there's only a maximum listed.

  • Okay, I was shooting for 3'. I think that will be plenty off the ground. 2' would maybe work but I'm afraid I'll catch grief for that being too low to work in. Side question; Does that 'within site' rule of 50' also relate to my 'reasonable distance' service entry cable into the house and how the panel has to be 'within reasonable distance' of the service entry? It urks me the code does not define reasonable distance in terms of locating the 200 amp main panel. – Nic Aug 7 '19 at 15:50
  • "within site" or "within sight"? The latter is more normal English usage (but normal rules of English usage often don't apply to legal documents like Code). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Aug 7 '19 at 16:25
  • Not sure what happened to my comment but fixed + however I did define it by distance and being able to see it. – Ed Beal Aug 7 '19 at 19:32
  • Nic code is vague on the distance from the service (meter). In Oregon 6’ is the general rule but I have gone 25’ where we were not able to mount the panel closer from the service drop location. One way around this is to have the main disconnect at the meter then it doesn’t matter and since the wire is protected it doesn’t have to be in conduit inside the home to your breaker panel. – Ed Beal Aug 7 '19 at 19:48
  • Ed, I assume the 200 Amp breaker in the meter can panel box would count as the main disconnect, yes? The POCO uses a panel box that holds both the meter can and a 200Amp breaker/disconnect. – Nic Aug 7 '19 at 21:59

You need a disconnect, but can skip the fuses

While your disconnect need not be in sight of the motor, and can't be for a submersible pump motor, you do need a disconnect in sight of the controller (in your case, the pressure switch), as per NEC 430.102(A), as the exceptions to that rule do not apply to us at all:

(A) Controller. An individual disconnecting means shall be provided for each controller and shall disconnect the controller. The disconnecting means shall be located in sight from the controller location.

The good news is that you don't have to use the fused safety switch you propose in your question. Instead, you can use a non-fused AC disconnect box, such as this GE TFN60RCP, as the motor overload protection is provided in the motor (for smaller motors) or the control box (for larger motors) instead of by a set of fuses. This saves you money, and the possibility of having to troubleshoot and change blown fuses as well.

  • This is where I got hung up when I read 430.102 - it looks like they omit the discussion of submersible pumps not needing a disconnect by using this language. The only time I could have submersible pump but not have electric disconnect right by it would be if my controller was inside the basement and it's most definitely not. Thanks for clearing it up. I had already bought the fused safety switch so unless I can use it for another project I'll leave it be. – Nic Aug 10 '19 at 11:56
  • @Nic -- you should be able to return the fused safety switch – ThreePhaseEel Aug 10 '19 at 13:07

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