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Electrical Service Panel Upgrades - Single Family and Duplex Homes

An electrical permit and inspection are required to upgrade the main electrical service panel of homes; no plans are required. Requirements for the upgraded electrical service panel are outlined below:

Load Calculations and Putting the Main Service Raceway Underground Are Generally Not Required Unless

  • Additional load is being added and the inspector requires the calculations.
  • The existing service entrance is underground or if PG&E or the Building Division determine the need to underground the service entrance.

Service Panel Installation Requirements

  • Required meter height - 36 to 75 inches above ground.
  • Required clear space in front of service panel - 30 inches wide by 36 inches deep with a minimum headroom clearance of 6 feet-6 inches.

Circuit Breakers

  • The circuit breaker brand must be listed and approved for use as stated on the panel label.
  • A multi-wire circuit (3-wire, 120/240 volt circuit) requires a handle-tie on the circuit breaker. This is common where the wiring serves both the garbage disposal and the dishwasher.
  • Existing breakers must be replaced with GFCI or AFCI only if receptacles are being replaced OR wiring is being added or extended.

Grounding - Refer to California Electrical Code (CEC) Table 250.66 to Size the Conductor

  • If the water piping system is the only grounding source, then a supplemental electrode must be installed.
  • If using only a single ground rod, a verification document from the contractor stating a resistance to earth of 25 ohms or less at the property is needed prior to final approval.
  • A minimum 5/8” ground rod must be buried at least 8 feet in the ground. Locate the ground rod as close as practicable to the electric service.

Bonding the Water Piping System - Refer to CEC Table 250.122 to Size the Conductor

  • If the main water service piping to the house is metallic, accessible bonding must occur within 5 feet of where the water service enters the house.
  • If the main water service piping is non-metallic, the cold water piping system may be bonded at any accessible location. Piping is commonly bonded at the water heater.
  • The hot and cold water piping systems are effectively bonded together by the brass plumbing mixing valves at tubs and showers, etc. The San Jose accepts a single bond to the cold water piping only; an additional bonding jumper to the hot water piping is not required.

Bonding the Gas Piping System

  • If gas appliances are available, the gas piping is bonded via the grounding conductor in the branch circuit to the gas appliances.
  • If the electrical system does not contain equipment grounds, the gas piping system must be bonded externally with a bonding jumper (same as water piping system).
  • Gas bonding shall only be connected to the house side of the PG&E gas meter.

For your questions regarding permits, codes, inspections or plan review, send an email or voicemail to one of our knowledgeable inspectors and they will respond within two business days:

Email: infoinspector@sanjoseca.gov
Voicemail: (408) 535-7641

A PDF handout version of this information is available on our Building Handouts and Forms page.