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Old 12-05-2010, 08:29 PM   #1
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Add a sub-panel


I'm in the process of rehabbing my mother's 60 year old kitchen. I've replaced the galvanized plumbing with copper supply and PVC drains and vents. I'll be installing new flooring, cabinets and countertops. I've replaced most of the drywall in advance of this. I've also rewired (conduit) most of the kitchen and realize now that ideally I need more circuits!! So....I'm thinking of adding a 100A 6 circuit sub-panel. The existing panel it a Seimen's "Pushmatic" and I believe rated at 125A. My questions are these: is this project within the scope of a fairly skilled DIYer like me? (I've done most everything electrical, but never a panel upgrade.) Is a 100A 6 breaker sub-panel appropriate? How large a breaker do I put in the panel to feed the sub-panel? What gauge wire do I use to feed the sub-panel? Where do I find a Pushmatic breaker and what should it cost? Everything is in conduit and metal boxes therefore, do I need a grounding bus bar in either panel? Can I bring several new circuits from the kitchen to the sub-panel in one 3/4" pipe? I plan to have each circuit use its own neutral as I understand that "shared neutrals" are frowned upon. I'm sure some will suggest that I simply replace everything with a new 200A panel and while I understand the merits of that option I am trying to keep costs down and avoid the permitting and inspection process. All advice and comments are welcome.

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Old 12-06-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
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Add a sub-panel


Quote:
...avoid the permitting and inspection process.
That statement will get you very few helpful responses here.

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Old 12-06-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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Add a sub-panel


If memory serves me a sub panel can only be 60% of the main.
AKA 75 amp max for your sub, which should be more than enough for the kitchen.
Remember that neutrals and grounds should be kept seperate in sub panels: only tie them together in the main.
Yes, you can run multiple circuits in one conduit, but google a fill calculator and err on too large, because you know some cowboy is bound to pull something else in the future.

Sounds like you are doing things in the wrong order. I would do my wiring before drywall, and I'd put in the panel before the wiring.
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Old 12-06-2010, 09:59 AM   #4
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Add a sub-panel


These look familiar? Really not that hard to find. http://www.aplussupply.com/break/push/push.htm

That being said, why add a sub panel, add the circuits in the existing panel, if there is available space and pull wire back to the kichen.
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Old 12-06-2010, 03:15 PM   #5
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Add a sub-panel


IF there were any open slots in the existing panel THAT would be a GREAT option. However, let's assume there are NO OPEN slots. What about removing one or two single pole breakers and replacing them with TANDEM breakers??? Are tandem breakers a NO-NO?? Are they safe? Are they effective?? I could get by with only TWO new circuits. Is this a viable solution?
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Old 12-06-2010, 03:37 PM   #6
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Thanks to Michaelcherr for helpful info! Fear not! I put all my new conduit in the kitchen walls BEFORE I hung the drywall. I "stubbed" them all into the unfinished basement while I wait for resolution to my original question.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:20 AM   #7
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Add a sub-panel


OK, here's "the rest of the story". There are NO open slots in my 12 slot, 125 amp Pushmatic panel. Therefore, I think I am left with but one option. As my panel says it is a "Class CTL", I believe that means that "tandum" breakers should NOT be used. That would eliminate the option of removing 2 or three single pole breakers and replacing them with tandum breakers. The only remaining option would be to remove 2 side-by-side single pole breakers and replace them with a 70 amp double pole breaker and use that to feed a sub-panel. Have I got all this right so far?? My questions then are these: Does the sub-panel need a neutral bus bar or can all the neutrals go to the main panel bus bar? What size wire do I use to feed the sub-panel? Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome! Thanks!!
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:20 AM   #8
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Add a sub-panel


Planning to do this work, especially as a novice, without an inspection is just plain foolish and will put you and your family at risk.

There are very specific rules for subpanels regarding neutral bars being isolated from the ground bus, wire size and other things.

Check out this post for a lot more info. There are also links to other threads with people who had similar questions.
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:12 PM   #9
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Add a sub-panel


As a salesman I will tell you that you are looking at ALOT of cash for this job.

Youd be looking at 100+ just for that double pole 70A subpanel feed. AT LEAST. Thats if you can find them. Most of them are no longer OEM, they are either refurbs, replacements or used.

You should NOT need to upgrade your actual service to 200 amp. Your service drop should reflect USAGE not circuits.

Personally I would look into changing out the main panel and getting a 30 space 100A. A 30 space 100A BR series would run you about 80 bucks.

It sounds like you should enlist the help of an experienced friend or electrician as the questions you are asking are way too detailed to be effectively answered online.

As secutanudu said, you are putting your family at risk. I think your work as a DIYer has come to a crossroads. If you were my customer I would refer you to an electrician for your safety.

Pushmatics are right behind FPE in terms of dangerous and malfunction failure rates....get rid of them.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:10 AM   #10
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Had the electrician in to take a look yesterday. He too suggested I replace the main panel and trash the Pushmatic panel. So, next week HE will change out the panels and install a 100A 30 circuit new panel. He quoted $650 for EVERYTHING which I think sounds reasonable and fair.
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Old 12-11-2010, 04:39 PM   #11
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Add a sub-panel


Y'know... try as I might, I can't find any reputable source telling me pushmatic breakers are a hazard.

They've got some really annoying quirks, granted - such as the on/off indicator becoming out-of-sync with the actual switch state (or just sticking altogether), or the manual operating mechanism drying out and becoming very hard to operate... but comparing them to FPE/Zinsco is simply insane.

I just found a 2pole 60a pushmatic breaker on ebay for $15, buy-it-now.



I semi-agree with the inspection arguments. If you don't know what you're doing, I'd certainly have SOMEONE look over it after - be it an actual inspector or a qualified electrician who you know well...

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