As usual, never consider the following commentary associated with these photos as a formal interpretation of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Without criticizing anyone or any product, the following scenarios present us with serious safety questions.
All references are based on the 2005 NEC.
KEEP IT COOL
Thomas H. Ford, a partner of Bhamani, Ford & Associates, Inc., Miami, found these unique panels in a restaurant. “On the top of each panel an inline fan has been installed to provide ventilation for the interior of the panel,” says Ford. “This was done because the vestibule, where the panels are located, is so warm that the breakers would trip. The fans solved this problem, but created another. The kitchen air is so laden with cooking oil particulate that when it is forced into the panel the cooking oil settles on the interior components. After the gutter was installed, the walls were tiled, covering the left side of the panel. Screws hold the cover to the gutter. This now means the cover can't be removed.”
When you think about “conditions of use,” you must take into account the ampacity of the conductors (Art. 100) and make sure they don't exceed their temperature rating [110.14(C)]. You must do the same for the conductor terminations. It's hard to imagine the original installer addressed this in the initial design. But one thing is for sure: The practice of installing makeshift ventilation systems to minimize overheating problems should not be allowed or tolerated by anyone.
MOVE THE RECEPTACLE OR THE WALL?
Mark Gravill, a service technician with Gaylor in Phoenix, found this unique situation on the roof of a building. “I'd say either move the receptacle or move the wall,” says Gravill.
It's apparent that the electrician was here first, so the wall must go! I'm not sure of the circumstances at this specific location, but it looks like the right type of cover was used, and it's probably GFCI protected in accordance with 210.8 and 406.8(A) and (B).
Found a Code violation? E-mail your text and photos (no cell phone images please) to Joe Tedesco at email@example.com