Commercial Electrical Sub Panel Installation: What Do You Need To Know?
February 22, 2021 | Cristina Dinulescu
Given the latest technological advancements, more and more businesses are forced to constantly upgrade or completely replace the electrical wiring. Oftentimes, the power needs specific to their equipment surpass the electrical network the business has. Whether you need an electrical sub panel installation or new wiring in both indoor and outdoor spaces, one thing commercial properties need to consider is respecting local and national safety codes and requirements.
Commercial spaces have an even greater responsibility to do everything by the book because the stakes are higher. As a business owner, you are not only responsible for your business, but for your staff as well. You need to ensure a safe workplace and avoid exposing your employees to any risks.
Because the power requirements of your business diversify and expand through the years, installing an electrical sub panel becomes a valid solution. The sub panel is actually one of the most efficient ways of ensuring that your entire electrical work is up and running, especially if your business is growing fast and you are constantly adding offices or rooms to your building. Plus, the electrical sub panel offers easy access for repairs and maintenance which is an important advantage.
Electrical Sub Panel Installation: A Job For The Pros
If you do decide in favor of adding an electrical sub panel, make sure you find licensed electricians with experience in commercial installations, because:
- an experienced electrician will provide a proper, professional installation, reducing any potential risks. The more experience they have with the particular type of project you need, the better, so you can always ask about previous work.
- a professional electrician will know the safety rules and regulations that apply to your particular commercial project and local codes depending on where your business operates.
The bottom line is that this installation can be quite complex, especially if your electrical system is complex in itself. Having a sub panel installed can very well interfere with the safety and efficiency of your electrical system. Therefore, the choice of commercial electricians is crucial. They should be able to properly assess your needs and recommend the right size sub panel.
Commercial Safety Requirements
Owning a business means adhering to existing electrical safety standards. These regulations come in different forms:
- Local safety codes;
- National safety codes;
- Industry-related safety codes.
The NEC Code
The National Fire Protection Association is responsible for a series of guidelines that represent the National Electric Code (NEC). The NEC code presents a series of recommendations, as they are not laws per se, regarding the installation of electrical components, including electrical panels and sub panels. For instance, the location of the panel box is one of them.
Even though localities and states are the ones determining the rules, all codes agree on one aspect: the importance of precision. Whether it is an electrical sub panel installation or the wiring of a workshop, it is highly recommended that the electrical work be carried out in a highly precise manner, paying attention to each detail. Keep in mind that any mistake opens up significant electrical risks due to a malfunction of either appliances or systems.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is well known for providing workplace safety recommendations, including electrical safety. Among their most important standards are:
- Safety for Electricity Generation – this code provides special instructions for those who work in electrical power generation, distribution, and transmission.
- Personal Protection Equipment – When working on dangerous electrical systems, it is required that adequate electrical protective equipment is worn.
Installing An Electrical Panel/Sub Panel
The NEC provides you with several requirements regarding the installation of an electrical panel and sub panel. To ensure safety, these recommendations need to be followed:
- Mind the working space: When installing a sub panel, the electrician needs to make sure that it has a minimum of 36 inches of clearance in front of the panel, 78 inches above the floor, and a minimum of 30 inches of clearance across the face of the panel.
- Mind the room: You might need to install a sub panel because you’re adding an expansion to your business and you need a separate panel to serve that side of the property. However, in order for the installation to be possible, it;’s essential that you choose a dry location that has easy access. Also, install a sub panel in an area that is not exposed to flammable materials or moisture like a bathroom or swimming pool. The same rule applies to the main panel as well.
- Mind the height: According to NEC, the handle of the highest grip should not be higher than 6 feet.
- Mind the light: At least one light needs to be present in the room where the sub panel is installed. This way you can see what you are doing in case repairs are necessary.
Installing a sub panel is not an easy task. It is not enough to have some electrical experience. Your electrician needs to be skillful, precise, and informed. They also need to respect all safety recommendations and be up to date with any changes in the national or local codes.