Safely adding an apartment to your home
So you’ve decided to supplement your income with a rental apartment or two. Here’s how to make sure you have Electrical Safety Code compliant apartments.
Do I need a separate electrical panel for each apartment?
There is no need to install separate electrical panels for each unit. This is best accomplished by making the room that has the electrical panel into a common laundry or storage area or a combination of both. It also allows opportunity for pay-for-use laundry equipment for each tenant to use.
If it is not practical to make an always-accessible common area there must be a separate electrical panel with a main breaker for shut off purposes for each unit. All electrical devices in the unit must be powered from that panel. The panel must have a legend clearly and labelling each breaker’s use in ink.
Although separate hydro meters can be installed for each unit, it is important to assess added capital expense versus the potential of inconsiderate tenants.
Many eligible tenants prefer budgeting without variables and some will have trouble paying the deposit with the utility company for the hydro service to their unit.
Does the wiring for each unit have to be separated?
The only separation of electrical wiring is ensuring that light switches control lighting for their own unit only.
Smoke and CO detectors
Smoke/CO detection also depends on the layout of the units. If each unit is accessed from its own entrance/exit and is not connected to a common entrance or one of the other units the smoke/CO detection can be unique to its own unit only. If there is a common entrance and then the units are accessed from that entrance the smoke/CO detection system must be interconnected. This is not as onerous as it once was as wirelessly interconnected, battery powered units are readily available.