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Estwing magic
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The NEC has a requirement that won't allow a breaker handle to be down in the on position. So a sideways mounted panel would only be allowed to use the bottom spaces because any breaker on the top would have the handle down in the on position and that would be a code violation.

Does the Canadian code not have that requirement?
Nope and it drives you guys bonkers :) .

This comes from Square D, for example:

"CSA approved for vertical, horizontal or inverted mounting and suitable for Al/Cu conductors"
 

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Estwing magic
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There is a practical reason for it. Canadian panels, as far as I know, are different than yours'. The main breaker area is barriered. It makes an 80 circuit panel very long. With the main breaker at eye height, the lowest breaker is down at your knees. If the panel is mounted horizontally, all the breakers are at eye height. Highest breaker according to code should be at 5'6" (I did the metric conversion for you).
 

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Estwing magic
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No, we cannot have any branch circuit wiring in the barriered area. For all intents and purposes they are considered two distinct enclosures. It would be considered the same as passing branch circuits through a fused service disconnect.
 

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Estwing magic
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Can you provide a part number for that removable plate shown in the pic (installs over the service entrance conductors). I have asked our square D rep for it and no dice. Would make cutting/ or adding circuits in live panels much safer. Shoot me a private message if need be as this is a bit off topic and will be piced apart and cut to pieces here.
It's a Canadian panel, 123. By code, we require a separate "service box" for the main disconnecting means. The barrier satisfies the requirement for a service box. All our panels come barriered.

By the look of it, our panels are alike except for the barrier. Square D might be able to order it for you as a separate Canadian part but it would be an unusual request, even for us up here in the frozen north.
 
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