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    Thread: Electrical panel direction; horizontal or vertical

    1. Senior Member spockcat's Avatar
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      04-26-2011 05:51 PM #1
      Until I started watching Holmes on Homes, I don't recall ever seeing an electrical panel installed horizontally. Of course, virtually every house he works on is in Canada.



      Is it a Canadian thing or is there a good reason why they like to install them horizontally?

      Vertical installation seems more logical for the door to open.



      In fact when looking for an image of one installed horizontally on google images, I was only able to find 1 image in 25 pages of results.

    2. Member unimogken's Avatar
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      04-26-2011 07:38 PM #2
      Wow I have never seen one mounted like that.
      I can see it making some sense for organization of the wires because there are probably more punch outs on the side.

      But as a guess for why they're probably mounted vertically is to fit in between studs?
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      04-26-2011 10:15 PM #3
      If the instructions do not forbid horizontal mounting, it should be ok and in at least one way might be better. With horizontal mounting, the temperature rise will be more consistent from one end of the breaker stack to the other as compared to vertical mounting where the upper breakers will see a higher ambient temperature than the lower breakers. Ambient temperature will have an effect on the thermal trip (overload) characteristic of a breaker with a warmer breaker tripping sooner. Gravity should have a minimal effect on the magnetic trip (short circuit) characteristic so for that, breaker orientation is not a factor. Magnetic trip is independent of ambient temperature.

    4. Senior Member F1_Fan's Avatar
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      04-27-2011 02:49 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by spockcat View Post
      Is it a Canadian thing or is there a good reason why they like to install them horizontally?
      Nope, every house I've been in has a vertically mounted panel. Looking at that install though, horizontal makes sense since all wires are coming from above.

      Measuring on the screen it appears like that opening is shorter than it is wide so maybe the panel orientation wasn't optional
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    5. Senior Member spockcat's Avatar
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      04-27-2011 04:04 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by F1_Fan View Post
      Measuring on the screen it appears like that opening is shorter than it is wide so maybe the panel orientation wasn't optional
      You are in BC and I think Holmes on Homes is based more in Ontario?

      That horizontal install is only an example (only one I could find with a google search).

      The ones shown on TV usually are on basement walls (not inbetween studs) and not hidden behind an opening like this example. It just seems like the normal Canadian way to install a domestic electrical panel is horizontal and in the US we almost always go vertically.

      So far the only benefits mentioned would be possible temperature advantages, more knockouts on the sides. Maybe there is also slightly less wire used? Maybe the panel ends up being higher up so kids can't reach it?

    6. Member robr2's Avatar
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      04-27-2011 05:32 PM #6
      I'm going to toss something out. Doesn't the panel have to have a metal door covering the breakers? Every electrical inspector I've dealt with has admonished me for having the door open when they visit.

    7. Senior Member spockcat's Avatar
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      04-27-2011 06:50 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by robr2 View Post
      I'm going to toss something out. Doesn't the panel have to have a metal door covering the breakers? Every electrical inspector I've dealt with has admonished me for having the door open when they visit.
      Thinking about it, most of the ones I've seen on Holmes do not have doors. And of course, if you install one with a door horizontally, which side do you install the hinges on; top or bottom?

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      04-28-2011 09:37 AM #8
      Ours is horizontal with the door hinged at the top. But the conversion from fuses to breakers was done by the previous owner in the 1970's and he did a LOT of weird s*** to the electrical system. Yes, it's quite a pain to hold the door open while reading an old fart's inaccurate labels to find out which breaker to turn off when the attic fan control switch starts smoking.

    9. 04-28-2011 09:01 PM #9
      yes most of holmes on homes is filmed in toronto ontario and surrounding areas, thus they dont have to abide by the NEC, i believe they follow the CSA.

      as to the orientation of an electrical panel:

      http://www.ecmag.com/?fa=article&articleID=7650

      “Enclosures for overcurrent devices shall be mounted in a vertical position, unless that is shown to be impracticable. Circuit breaker enclosures shall be permitted to be installed horizontally where the circuit breaker is installed in accordance with Section 240.81. Listed busway plug-in units shall be permitted to be mounted in orientations corresponding to the busway mounting position.”

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      04-30-2011 05:51 PM #10
      I don't see how the horizontal mounting helps with wiring. All the wires are now entering the box over the ground buss and half of them have to wrap around the bank of breakers.
      Next edit by onebadbug; tomorrow at 10:13 AM.

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      05-05-2011 10:14 PM #11
      The CEC (rule 6-206) does not require panel or switchboard installations to be one way or another, just that it be accessible, meet minimum clearances and satisfy other rules such as ambient temperature, protection, etc. My own panel is horizontal because of the closet dimensions it is located in but when possible i always try to install panels vertically, just personal preference. A good electrician will have no difficulty wiring a panel in either horizontal or vertical installations, in most residential installs solid wires (vs stranded) allows for very tidy wiring in panel enclosures.

      Chris

    12. 05-05-2011 11:37 PM #12
      Horizontal installation creates an imbalance due to the electrons having to fight gravity to get into the box on the low side and accelerating into the box on the high side.

      I live in Ontario, and most houses I have been in have vertical boxes. I think I've only seen horizontal boxes in retrofits in older homes. It may be in part due to height restrictions?

      And no, the Electrical Safety Authority in Ontario doesn't require a metal cover over the breakers themselves.
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