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  • Time to meet and exceed NEC 408.3 panelboard safety requirements

Code updates happen for one main reason: safety improvement. National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 408.3 helps take electrical safety for service entrance panels to a new level. The code, updated in 2017, includes provisions to provide shock protection via panelboard barriers. The barriers protect from energized conductors on the line terminals of the main overcurrent protection device (OCPD) in a panelboard. When the main circuit breaker in a panel is turned off, line side terminals and conductors remain energized from upstream via the utility or another panelboard. With these barriers in place and the main OCPD turned off, installers are better protected when pulling wires into the panelboard. Today, all panelboards are shipped with shock-protective barriers. However, barriers are new to installation procedures, so contractors may not recognize them and accidentally throw them out — easily and often.

When aligning with NEC 408.3, be sure to implement barriers whenever installing a new panelboard. 

Tom Domitrovich, Vice President, Technical Sales

Change and compromise within NEC 408.3

The 2014 and 2017 code review cycles included public input for barriers on the line side of the main OCPD of a service entrance panelboard. In 2014, the NEC established rules whereby every panelboard, residential or otherwise, must feature a complete top-of-the-panel barrier. In 2017, they reached a compromise for a new requirement: protective coverings and barriers must protect exposed energized lugs and conductors, but only on the line side of the main OCPD in service entrance panelboards. With these coverings in place, conductors are still permitted to be pulled through the top of the panel past the fingersafe protective coverings of those energized lugs.

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