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Old 01/25/2008, 05:05 AM   #1
lakee911
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Upgrading Electrical Panel Questions

Because I need to add a dedicated CB for my tank and my panel is full (already using tandem breakers) and I've only got 100A service, I'm going to upgrade my panel. I've got some questions though.

Am I allowed to double lug (a circuit breaker) for a hardwired secondary surge arrestor? Considering the fact that the main disconnect is a suitable overcurrent protection device, I could connect the device to the bus bar lugs. The wire size is too small, so how could I fit a #12 wire into a lug designed for something like #1 wire?

Are wire connectors allowed in a panel? I'm replacing a panel and would like to know how to lengthen existing wires if the connectors are not allowed.

Panel is mounted against the wall and the ceiling is low (6.5 or 7ft). Can I bundle the cables (with wire wraps) coming in overhead through one large 2in. knockout and through one cable clamp, or must I bring them in seperately, in conduit? The distance to the ceiling will only be a few inches.

If I mount a 3/4" piece of plywood directly on the masonary block wall with powder actuated fasteners, will 3/4" long fasteners in the plywood alone be adequete to carry the weight of the panel?

Thanks,
Jason


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Old 01/25/2008, 09:57 AM   #2
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bump


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Old 01/25/2008, 10:33 AM   #3
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I'm not sure if we have an good electricians on here, but if you go to www.woodnet.net and go into the forums on there I know somebody can answer your post.

Kim


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Old 01/25/2008, 01:11 PM   #4
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Old 01/25/2008, 01:28 PM   #5
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The proper procedure is to use a cable tray below or above the new box. This is where you lengthen the existing wires. The number of connections is only limeted by the volume of the box. It is also common for the new service panel to be placed beside the old one. The bus bars are removed from the old panel and it is used as a junction box.

Each size (and brand) of clamp is rated for the type and number of cables that can pass through it.

I would much rather see you use tapcons or lead anchors to mount the plywood backer.

You are not allowed to put 2 wires on one lug!


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Old 01/25/2008, 01:30 PM   #6
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Also most surge arrestors are designed to be placed on a dedicated breaker, NOT tied directly to the bus bars. For your size panel, it will likely be a 2 pole 20A or 30A breaker.


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Old 01/25/2008, 02:03 PM   #7
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I agree with BeanAnimal.

No double lugging allowed! Do I smell smoke?

You should always use conduit to bring the service in/out of the box on surface mounts. In some older installations, clamps were permitted, but I don't know what "rules" your house/garage/shop falls under. If this is complete replacement, it needs to be up to new code.

I would recommend a complete replacement panel, you could connect everything in one box and maybe have room for a spare circuit or two for a hot tub. You may have to get your meter upgraded too as it may only be sized for the 100A service.

Be careful with power loads on cinder block. If the block is is not pored full, it will easily fracture. As stated above use tapcons or expandable anchors for the plywood.


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Old 01/25/2008, 02:29 PM   #8
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BTW I suggest Liebert PowerSure TVSS units for home panels. They are resonably priced and offer a high level or protection!


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Old 01/25/2008, 04:16 PM   #9
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Hey all,
Thanks for the responses. I actually get to correct BeanAnimal (first and only time too)! I think you're describing a wireway, not a cable tray. I don't want to use one. I don't think I have much room for one.

I'll put the TVSS on its own breaker. No problem there. My SquareD rep gave me one of their units. I can not remember the model SPD or something like that. I'll use it. Liebert is a good brand. I've got one of their UPSes.

My box is surface mount, but its so close to the ceiling that it seems silly to put in half a dozen 6" stub ups to the ceiling. Besides, I'd be derating the cables. Let me show you a picture of the existing mess.


(It might be a mess, and not up to code, but nothing actually gets hot in there. I've turned on all the loads that I can and the main does not trip, nor do any of the busses get hot.)

Unfortunately the ceiling is not visible, but it's 6-8" below the ceiling joists. Should I use a single knockout with a romex cable clamp? Can I put say lots of wires into a 2" romex clamp?

I've actually had pretty good luck with the powerloads on my block. I don't fire them into the cores, but on the partitions. They're odd three (as opposed to two) core blocks, and the cores are small and they're thicker than regular block too. Old house 1923.

I have a plywood backerboard under my telephone/cable/networking equipment and it makes mounting easy. I assumed I should do the same for this. I see it like that a lot of times. Should I mount directly to the masonary then? Do I need to put 1" standoffs on the wall?

I am replacing the whole box. I'm using a box with a 200A bus and a 100A main. This summer I'll be relocating the outside aerial feed underground and upgrading the meter to 200A. I want to get this out of the way now because I have the time and just for piece of mind. Besides, I can do this for a day now because I can run furance from generator, but not A/C later.

I don't want to use the existing box for a junction box because I just want one neat clean box on the wall. I want to get rid of that existing 1x6 backboard too.



Thanks,
Jason


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Old 01/25/2008, 06:52 PM   #10
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Jason,

Yup! I should have proofread what I posted! Wireway is the word that should have been used, not a cable tray.

You are not permited to use the 2" clamp for what you intend. However, you may be able to use a piece of 2" pipe that extends into the floor joist area. Of course the romex would need to be stapled as required by code. I could be wrong and you really should ask your inspector. You know me, I think permits are a scam most of the time. However, I would get a sticker for the new panel. It makes selling the house so much easier.

If it were me, I would use the wireway at the top of the new panel and extend the old runs into the new panel via that wireway. This will allow a neat installation. All of the new runs can then be entered into the sides of the new panel.

I would still use the tapcons or lead anchors. I am not at all a fan of shooting into block. If the wall gets damp I would use standoffs.

If you have any doubts, make an anonymous call to a local inspector and ask questions. That way you know you are doing it they way the local guys want to see it.


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Old 01/25/2008, 09:45 PM   #11
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I am sorry to say this but that scares the hell out of me. I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that is my house with my family sleeping in there. There are some things that you should not short cut to save a buck, make it easier, or to just get it done. One of thoese things in an elestrical upgrade or anything with the panel. I hope you have no problems.


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Old 01/25/2008, 10:10 PM   #12
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Personnaly, I would remove the panel and all wire from the box, install a 200A panel with a 100A main and install your wires back. it would be quick with no fuzz.

You can make connection inside the panel with wirenut as it's an electrical box.

All your wire can be in a single clamp on the wall but the need to enter the panel in their own connector if I recall.

It might be different a bit here in Canada but it's basicly the same.
About the TVSS, you need it on a breaker or directly to the buss, depending on model.


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Old 01/26/2008, 12:24 AM   #13
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Dont show that to an inspector theres lots to work on to get that up to code. Hire a local sparky to help you out theres lots to do. To many questions to awnser just lookin at one pic. You need someone to come look at it. JMOP good luck. TIMMYE thats realy not the worst out there dont scare the guy. I think your probly safe as long as your conections are tight but yea id personaly change it if in your shoes.


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Old 01/26/2008, 12:35 AM   #14
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No that is not the worse I have seen. But it is not good either.

I was changing out a furnace one day and I was trying t kill the power to but all of the breaker in the main panel and the three sub panels would not shut it off.....So I am thinking to myself what the hell.....I pull th panel cover off and there were 3 (14-2) wires going directly to the bus bars. I did not even know what to say after seeing that.

But back on topic I agree with Icefire, what he suggested would ge you legal & safe!!


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Old 01/26/2008, 07:27 AM   #15
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Wire nuts in the service panel....

Most inpsectors don't like to see that... but worse, it makes for a very sloppy panel. The neater the panel, the less an inspector nit-piks about other things.

I think we can all point out problems with the current installation, but I don't think that is what the OP is looking for.

I would hope that he would correct the problems in the new install.


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Old 01/26/2008, 09:26 AM   #16
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Wire nuts in a panel is no prob at all its the mess of exposed wires outside and above the panel. Also the lack of grounding. That genorator panel to the left has to be wire nuted it gets back fed through that box the then wire nuted to the circuit in the main panel. The first step is to go get a new 200 amp panel semins square D cutler hamer what ever you pick. Then get the mess of wires into the new panel from inside the wall or frame around it with 2x4. Anyway tell us what you do this is interesting i like to see diy projects.


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Old 01/26/2008, 09:29 AM   #17
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Quote:
However, you may be able to use a piece of 2" pipe that extends into the floor joist area
I may do this, but I'm concerned that the wire will have to be derated because so many current carrying conductors will be in one conduit. What do you think?
Quote:
I am sorry to say this but that scares the hell out of me. I would not be able to sleep at night knowing that is my house with my family sleeping in there.
Why do you think that I'm doing this?
Quote:
There are some things that you should not short cut to save a buck, make it easier, or to just get it done. One of those things in an electrical upgrade or anything with the panel. I hope you have no problems.
I'm very confident in my abilities to get this done properly and that's why I am here asking the questions. I'm not attempting to short cut anything; it will be done right. Also, I would not be able to afford to have this done if I didn't do it myself.
Quote:
Personally, I would remove the panel and all wire from the box, install a 200A panel with a 100A main and install your wires back. it would be quick with no fuzz.
That's the goal!
Quote:
I think we can all point out problems with the current installation, but I don't think that is what the OP is looking for.
I would hope that he would correct the problems in the new install.
Yes, the current install is ****! Like I said, fortunately, I've not had any problems with the existing panel. But, I'm attempting to correct any problems that I have. My goal is to have the new one be safe, clean, neat and up to code.


I think at this point, I'm leaning to using wire nuts in the new panel. It may be possible to buy some of those pigtailed nuts which would at least allow them to lay flat, but I'm not sure if the pigtails would be long enough. I can position the new breakers where ever I want, so I don't think it will be too much of a problem, really. I'm thinking of making the connections for the manual transfer switch in another box though.

Thanks for the opinions and advice. I'll continue to research this and let you know what I find. I'll post the final pictures when I get the new panel in, in a few weeks.

Thanks,
Jason


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Old 01/27/2008, 09:41 AM   #18
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Because my ceiling is so low, I'm going to put the top of the panel all the way up to the ceiling joists. Then I'll just bring in each cable in to its own clamp and won't have to worry about the transition from ceiling, along wall to panel.


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Old 01/27/2008, 03:25 PM   #19
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there is a max height allowable for the highest breaker in the panel, about 6 feet if I remember right. SO don't mount the panel too high.


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Old 01/27/2008, 04:26 PM   #20
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The max height is 6'6" to the main breaker!!! per N.E.C.


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Old 01/27/2008, 04:32 PM   #21
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just pick up a junction box, like a 12" x 12", install it as close to the ceiling as possible while still leaving room to bring in your existing service cables along with all of the romex, add onto the backboard or just install the new 200a panel on the wall itself below the junction. come out of the junction box in pvc to the new panel. i would do atleast a couple pieces a 1 1/2" pvc. junction the service cable with a connector such as a polaris connector, wire nut all of the romex ofcourse and bring them through the pvc into the new panel and you are golden. when you comeback later to upgrade the seu to handle 200a it will be a breeze. p.s. i do work in maryland, and have always been told that junctioning (wire nuts) in the panel is a no-no. hopefully you have access to a good drill, hole saw kit and/or knockout kit as well.


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Old 01/27/2008, 04:43 PM   #22
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Just for the sake of completeness:

The height is 6' 7" to the center of the handle when in the highest position.


Quote:
Article 404.8.
Accessibility and Grouping.


All switches and circuit breakers used as switches shall be so located that they may be operated from a readily accessible place. They
shall be installed so that the center of the grip of the operating handle of the switch or circuit breaker, when in its highest position, will
not be more than 6 ft 7 in. (2.0 m) above the floor or working platform.
There is some contention as to the interpretation. The code designates "used as switches". However, many inspectors interpret the code to mean "all breakers". If you have a compelling reason to argue, then I suppose you could. Code is NOT inferred, it is taken word for word. If it was meant to apply to ALL circuit breakers, it would say "ALL CIRCUIT BREAKERS". If was meant to apply to the main service disconnect or the panels main disconnect, it would explicitly say so.

Again, most electricians read the above code section and apply it to ALL breakers. Inspectors do the same. Wrong or not, unless there is a compelling reason to argue, it is not likely worth the trouble.


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Old 01/27/2008, 06:55 PM   #23
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Well, my ceiling is so low and the main is so low in the panel that I'll meet that requirement, no problem. Thanks for pointing it out though!


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Old 01/28/2008, 09:46 PM   #24
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Thats true 6ft 7inch. I like to see the accual code brought out, thx anaimalbean. Wire nuts in a panel is not a problem. Bring up that from the code if you would like to look, but if it takes wire nuts to extend the wire its still a 100 times nicer than what is there. Most inspectors would rather have a few wire nuts in a panel than what is there. Panel changes usally have pig tails and never look beautiful. Anyway the main concern is geting that exposed romex and servie wire non exposed. The service is romex to not URD so it can be stapled to studs. J box, emt, pvc pipe iv heard alot of ideas i personaly would box it in with 2x4 studs to get it in a wall. It looks like a basment? I would just frame that one wall out if it is. anyway post more pics.


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Old 01/28/2008, 10:01 PM   #25
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Since theres no current demand (load) for a TVSS or lightning arrestor NEC alows you to double up on circuit breaker lugs, or just use wire nuts to connect it to a circuit breaker. Thres no need for you to go to the main lugs with a TVSS, since they work much faster than a circuit breaker. I would use any circuit breaker in the box to feed it.


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