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Old 12-21-2011, 11:21 AM   #1
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


First post and sorry for no pics yet, I'm at work but can post a pic tonight when I get off of my panel. It is a fairly new cutler hammer load center with 12 slots mounted on the outside of the house next to the meter. This house was built in 1916 and has alot of knob and tube I'm getting ready to replace. What has me stumped is instead of having a main breaker to turn the panel off, it has a 125 amp double lug with a small screw or bolt between the two. Is this somthing you pull to kill the power to the panel. I'm just being cautious as I didn't know if that bolt is hot, I.E. goes through the lug into a hot bus. Also, it this is the main shutoff, can I replace it with a double throw breaker? I didn't see a disconnect near the meter. I'll take pics tonight to clarify things.

Heres a link of the lug I'm talking about:

http://www.electricalsurplus.net/det...p?ProdID=11535


Last edited by linexrandy; 12-21-2011 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:29 AM   #2
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Nope, that will be hot.
Pictures would help.
How many breakers are in the panel?

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Old 12-21-2011, 11:32 AM   #3
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


That's just a main lug adapter, best not to mess with it.

Sounds like all of the breakers in that panel are your main breakers. It's legal to not have one single main breaker, as long as there are no more than 6 breakers in that panel.

A panel like that is typically meant to be installed with up to 6 double-pole breakers. One breaker would typically feed a larger panel inside the house, another breaker might feed the central A/C, another for an electric water heater, etc.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:37 AM   #4
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Ok thanks for quick responses guys. I think it's a split panel then as it has 3 other double pole breakers in the top and a couple 110 circuits in the bottom. Trying to get it all traced down before I start laying out circuits and pulling wire. What does than main lug function? And I guess only way to kill power to house is have POCO pull meter? Sorry guys, I know from other forums that without pics it's hard to answer.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:50 AM   #5
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


If you could get your hands on a camera and post up some pics of the panel with the cover off, that'd definitely help us figure out what you're dealing with.

The lug adapter just connects power from the meter to the panel bus. The way to kill power to the house is to turn off all of the breakers in the panel. It's pretty much just like any other panel, except instead of one main breaker, you have a few. How many is "a couple 110 circuits in the bottom"? As I mentioned, if there are more than 6 breakers total, it's a violation. Sadly it's all too common for those types of panel to get loaded up with extra circuits over time.

The only real issue with that type of panel is that you can't remove power from the bus bars without having the POCO pull the meter. That's not typically a problem, but it means a lot more caution is required when adding/removing breakers, especially if space is tight or the wiring is messy.

Is there another breaker or fuse panel inside the house, or is the whole house currently running on just a few circuits?
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Whole house is only about 4 or 5 double throw breakers, therefore I am rewiring and putting each room on a circuit. Sounds to me like a good time to upgrade to a larger panel and replace the subpanel in the garage (uses old stablok breakers) with this one as I will have about 10 or 12 circuits total when I'm done.
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Old 12-21-2011, 12:01 PM   #7
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Yeah, your best bet, short of replacing the outside panel, is probably to put a 100A breaker in the outside panel, and use it to feed a new 100A 40-space panel somewhere in the house, or garage.

Well, maybe not a 40-space panel if it's a fairly small house, but you get the idea.

Last edited by McSteve; 12-21-2011 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:02 PM   #8
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Quote:
Originally Posted by linexrandy View Post
Whole house is only about 4 or 5 double throw breakers, therefore I am rewiring and putting each room on a circuit. Sounds to me like a good time to upgrade to a larger panel and replace the subpanel in the garage (uses old stablok breakers) with this one as I will have about 10 or 12 circuits total when I'm done.
Doesn't sound like a bad time to upgrade/replace the panel.

I am partial to Square D - I've worked on many of them, and am very familiar with them. I use HD's website only as reference, as most people are not too far from one. I'm not sure of the circuits you'll need, but here are a few examples.

Also, remember when mounting your new panel that sometimes mounting it "upside down" makes more sense depending where most of your feeds are coming into the box.
ie. My main breaker and and power feed to the house are at the bottom. All of my circuit feeds enter through the top. None of the circuits pass near the main lugs - makes routing easier, safer, etc


I have this panel - 30-Space 40-Circuit. I'm happy with it, breakers are readily available. Even comes with a few
http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...atalogId=10053

They also have this 100A version - 20-Space 20-Circuit:
http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...atalogId=10053

EDIT:

Just wanted to point out this too. It's a QO, opposed to the Homeline. Lifetime warranty, but a few more dollars.
If i had known what I do now, i would have asked the builder to put this in before closing.
http://www.homedepot.com/Electrical-...atalogId=10053

Last edited by fuzzball03; 12-21-2011 at 01:08 PM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 02:20 PM   #9
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


I just wanted to add that if the existing panel is a split bus, where one of the top double-pole breakers turns off power to the bottom breakers, then the bottom section can have as many breakers as will fit. As long as the top section has 6 or fewer.

I can't tell you whether or not it's a split bus without a picture to look at, but my guess would be that it is not.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:28 PM   #10
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Ok guys, here's some pics:
First just shows relation of main panel to meter


Next is my meter. Do I have 200 amp service?


Here is the inside of the main panel. Notice the 125 amp lug that the mains from the meter run into to supply the bus. But all the breakers add up to 190 amps. Feed wire is 2/0 AWG.



The top right 50 amp double throw breaker goes to a subpanel in the garage. So, I have 50 amps in the garage, right? Here's the old stablok subpanel.


Inside the subpanel. Much messier and sloppy. Once again, no main breaker in subpanel. The 40 amp supplies power to the dryer.


Tell me what you guys think. I've got a lot of sorting to do when I rewire each room to have a circuit. All going to be 12/2 on 20 amp breakers. Can I replace the main panel with a 200 amp (once again, can anyone tell me if I have 200 amp service from the pics?) and use the old main panel to replace the subpanel in the garage and if so I presume I have to have POCO to disconnect the meter to kill power to panel. Thanks for all your help fellas!
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:38 PM   #11
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


It's all bad. Real bad.



Nah, not really. But that subpanel has neutrals and grounds connected together, which is a violation.

So, the outside panel is definitely not a split bus, and looks like a 200A service to me, though I'm not certain. Appears to be fed from the meter with 2/0 aluminum. I'm not up to speed on wire sizes for service, I only know that a 100A service in copper needs to be #3 gauge. Wait and see what the pros here say.

Everything about that outside panel is fine, neat, and legal, as long as you make sure there's never more than six breakers in it. That is actually #10 wire on those 30A breakers, isn't it? I see orange cable jacket in the bottom conduit, but I'd like to be sure. I'm always suspicious when I see a single-pole 30A breaker.

You can replace the outside main panel if you want, or you can just power a new subpanel from it, probably replacing that FPE subpanel, and run your circuits from there.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:47 PM   #12
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


'CL200"

That means that meter is designed for up to a 200 amp load.
So I see no issue with going to a 200 amp main panel.

If you're rewiring your whole house, you may think about moving your "main panel" in the garage. I'd hate to have to go outside to restore power to a circuit if a breaker trips.
Im not sure how far your garage is from the meter. But if it's right on the other side, you should have plenty of wire to wire into a new 200 amp panel in the garage with the existing circuit wiring.

Ha, and yes you're right... That small panel in the garage sure is a mess! But sadly, I've seen far worse just as DIYer
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:44 PM   #13
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


Unfortunatly the garage is on the opposite corner of the house, probably would take a 50ft roll of wire to reach it. If I can put a 200 amp main breaker in the current main panel, and keep the big appliances such as the range and dryer in it and run a seperate 100 amp (or more) subpanel to the garage to replace the old subpanel and put all my house circuits into it that would be great. I may even put my seperate kitchen circuits in the original main. For the garage I need a dedicated 50 amp 220 for my welder, a dedicated 20 amp 12/2 to my air compressor and probably will put garage lights and garage outlets on dedicated seperate 20 amp breakers. This starts getting kinda fun once you figure out what your doing!
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:35 PM   #14
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


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Originally Posted by linexrandy View Post
Unfortunatly the garage is on the opposite corner of the house, probably would take a 50ft roll of wire to reach it. If I can put a 200 amp main breaker in the current main panel, and keep the big appliances such as the range and dryer in it and run a seperate 100 amp (or more) subpanel to the garage to replace the old subpanel and put all my house circuits into it that would be great. I may even put my seperate kitchen circuits in the original main. For the garage I need a dedicated 50 amp 220 for my welder, a dedicated 20 amp 12/2 to my air compressor and probably will put garage lights and garage outlets on dedicated seperate 20 amp breakers. This starts getting kinda fun once you figure out what your doing!

You state the panel next to the meter is 125 amp rated or just the sub feed lug? If the panel is 125 amp rated it is a major violation to have a 200 amp service connected to it without overcurrent protection . Not to mention it is in violation of the 6 handle rule and cannot use the six handle rule as service equipment. There is many differences between a main lug panel and a service equipment panel. Your panel may read "suitable for service equipment when a main breaker is installed" other wise it can't be service equipment. Service equipment is where the first means of disconnect is located for the 'service' and that can be six handle rule if there is at least one combination of breakers that result in six throws of the hand and all spaces in the panel are used. That combination is almost always 6 double pole breakers. If not then a main breaker must be used.

So the panel your picturing is fed via a sub-feed lug which would be compliant if the added breakers were double pole and when 5 were installed no more spaces would be available and it was rated 200 amps not 125. So without going into the details of the code changes on power panels and lighting and appliance branch circuit panels .... your panel is in violation of its listing for service equipment. You need to install a 125 amp main breaker (with hold down kit) in place of the sub feed lug that is there now. The panel will then be compliant on a 200 amp service. 125 amp backfed double pole is the largest available to be used as a 'main' connected to bus stabs.

Second you need an abrasion bushing on the offset nipple and in the meter pan there better be a bonding bushing correctly installed on that offset.

The stab lok panel needs to go and has numerous violations. The worst of which is no separation of ground and neutral and as it is with no bonding means installed the metal of the panel could become energized and a breaker will not trip.

Knock outs have no connectors in the stab lok and will likely run the risk of cutting the insulation on the ungrounded conductor causing a phase to case fault that will not clear due to no bonding means to the case as a result of the wiring error. That error being a 3 wire feeder and not a 4 wire unless I'm not seeing the equipment ground.

EDIT: to add your going to have to run a new feeder to your garage as it appears to be 3 wire and not 4 assuming your going to keep the 'service equipment as is....

Some other things but that is enough for now ....
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Last edited by Stubbie; 12-22-2011 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:27 PM   #15
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125 amp main lug vs breaker to kill power?


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Originally Posted by linexrandy View Post
Unfortunatly the garage is on the opposite corner of the house, probably would take a 50ft roll of wire to reach it. If I can put a 200 amp main breaker in the current main panel, and keep the big appliances such as the range and dryer in it and run a seperate 100 amp (or more) subpanel to the garage to replace the old subpanel and put all my house circuits into it that would be great. I may even put my seperate kitchen circuits in the original main. For the garage I need a dedicated 50 amp 220 for my welder, a dedicated 20 amp 12/2 to my air compressor and probably will put garage lights and garage outlets on dedicated seperate 20 amp breakers. This starts getting kinda fun once you figure out what your doing!

Sounds like a good plan.

You can actually do a 200 amp panel outside, and place another 200 amp panel on the inside. This would give you plenty of room in the future; *JUST* as long as the calculated load doesn't exceed the allowable ampacity of your service(which appears to be 200 amps)

Make sure that the conductors you use to feed the second panel are rated for the breaker decide to use to feed that sub panel.

The 2011 NEC 250.122 states that you'd need:
  • Copper/Al.
  • 200 amps: 6/4 AWG
  • 100 amps: 8/6 AWG

Stubbie brings up alot of good points. Changing both panels, or at least getting a breaker in the main panel seem like something that should be done sooner rather than later.

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