I have an apartment building, with a panel that supplies 2 different apartments.

Breaker #15 supplies all electricity to 2 bedrooms and a living room including lighting and electric outlets.

Breaker #2 supplies 1 bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen (kitchen has gas stove). The service to this panel is 100 amps.


    1. Does this panel meet current electrical code standards?
    1. If it does not meet code, can I simply replace it with a code conforming panel or must I rewire all the wires going from each breaker to the electric outlets & lighting fixtures upstairs (something that I am trying to avoid because of the extensive cost). This panel is in the basement, and the apartments that it powers are on the 1st and 2nd floors.
    1. Does the current electric code limit how many rooms can be supplied by a single circuit breaker. In other words must I run additional wires upstairs to the 2nd floor or is the #2 and #15 breaker setup enough to pass code inspection? This is a rental, thus I am trying to avoid excessive repairs and remodeling due to budget constraints.

Main Panel

  • 2
    You might want to consider putting a sub-panel in each apartment; that keeps most of the re-wiring in the apartment, and also means the tenants don't need to access the basement or call the landlord for minor trips.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 22:46
  • 5
    FYI rental == you must hire a licensed electrician. You cannot legally DIY rental electrical work in the vast majority of jurisdictions.
    – nobody
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 23:43
  • Which rooms are in which apartments? Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 0:51
  • 2
    I suspect the lugs on the top of the buses (above breakers 1&2) may not be listed for two wires. Look for permitted size and quantities on the panel cover or etched on the lugs themselves.. Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 3:05

2 Answers 2


There's a concept called grandfathering which says If the work was legal on the day it was installed, then when Code changes later, it's still legal. You're not required to tear out a bunch of wiring every 3 years when Code is revised.

This gets into a lot of lawyering about when the work was done and what was legal then. However we can safely pass judgment on things that were never legal.

There are at least 3 panels in this building. If you look on the "main lugs" above the breakers, you see 2 wires tapped onto those lugs.

  • One set comes from another location containing a main breaker or main panel, which presumably limits current on these wires to 100A.
  • Then you have this panel, of course.
  • Then the other set of wires goes onward to yet another panel.

Those wires are not service wires. A service is what comes in straight off the meter. Once it's past the main breaker, it is feeder. And both panels - this and the next - share that 100A of feeder. Daisy chaining panels like this is legal, except for...

The most obvious code violation is the double-tapping of those main lugs. Can't do it. Those 2 wires need to go into a 3-void Polaris connector, then a same-size pigtail needs to come down to the lugs so there is only 1 wire per lug.

Your subpanel doesn't have any ground bar, but that's not unusual when you have a panel that is connected entirely with metal conduit or armored cable, since that metal shell covers the need for grounds. I do see one ground wire that some epsilon-minus put on the neutral bar; that's not OK and must be dealt with.

To your questions:

#1. Does it meet current Code standards? It doesn't have to. It's grandfathered.

#2. Can I simply change a nonconforming panel? You wouldn't need to change the panel; unless you smuggled it in from a third world country, surely the panel is legal stock. You might have to correct defects, like the double-tapped lugs.

#3. Does NEC limit number of rooms per breaker? Not as you'd think. NEC 2020 has requirements for a number of dedicated circuits. 2 dedicated kitchen receptacle circuits. Dishwasher. Disposal. Built-in microwave. 1 dedicated bathroom recep circuit. 1 dedicated laundry room circuit. Almost all of them are GFCI or AFCI, and the AFCI must be done at the breaker, unless the route to the first receptacle is in metal conduit.

I don't understand why you're saying that the work has to come up to modern Code. It doesn't. The only exception is if the work was done illegally (i.e. without a permit), at which point the city is at liberty to make you tear out all the illegal work (even if there is nothing wrong with it) and then make you pull a permit to re-do the work properly. Since the permit would be this year, this year's Code would apply.

Lastly, as you have been cautioned, a landlord cannot DIY electrical on a rental unit. All work must be done by a licensed electrician. It really doesn't matter what your financial situation is; you just can't do it. That law is to prevent landlords from doing inferior work that puts others' lives in danger. The logic is an owner-occupant has incentive to do the job properly: a landlord only has incentive to do the work as cheaply as possible.


There are multiple problems here. Assuming the work met code when done, they may not be active problems, but certainly not to current codes.

Item the first - Apartments, plural - fine if landlord is paying electric bill, not fine otherwise. If tenants pay for electricity, you need a separate metered service for each tenant plus a separate metered service for common areas, paid by the landlord.

Current code would require re-wiring, since you need two 20A circuits for countertop outlets in the kitchen, and one 20A circuit for the bathroom (for each apartment, not shared with other uses) and at least one more (depends on square footage) for other outlets and lighting.

So that is a minimum of 8 circuits, 6 of which must be 20A for two apartments, and more may be required depending on the size of the apartments.

Current code also requires AFCIs and/or GFCIs on most circuits.

On the plus side, most of the wiring is in conduit.

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