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Old 06-01-2010, 11:14 AM   #1
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adding in a remote electrical panel


I am adding a 100 amp outdoor fuse box, mainly to run a heatpump for a pool. It will also be powering everything else out there too once it is in.

I am trying to decide the best way to wire it in to the main power.

The house has a box that runs power to 2 seperate 100 amp pannels for the house. Why not a 200 amp single? either they weren't around 30 years ago, or it is just another piece of evidence that the electrician was a moron.

Do I just slap in a 100 amp breaker into the one that has the lowest draw and conect it to that? or would I be better off hooking a pair of 100 amp bus fuses to the big box, and hook up to that? The first would definatly be the easiest, but I'm not sure it would be the best. for the second, I'd probably bring in a licensed electrician to do the hookup to the main.

I've already got 150' of 3x 2/0 al wires with a 4th bonus smaller ground wire burried 2' down and run most of the way through the basement. I think I was oversold (and I'd feal better if that 4th was uninsulated), but its done now. I guess its OK. I figure if a hot developes a hole in its insulation down the road (stray shovel or something), I can swap it with the big neutral.

what is the general practice for the ground rod(s) for the remote box?
the soil is fairly sandy there, and I may not be able to drive a rod super deep without hitting granite bedrock. we had to reorient the pool, and still have a big lump toward the deep-end because of it

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Old 06-02-2010, 07:12 AM   #2
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adding in a remote electrical panel


Does the existing wiring have two meters? It would if you were getting a special rate for electric heat.
I don't think you will get away with running a 100 amp sub off a 100 amp panel. And another thing, if you run this as a sub-panel you will need all 4 of those wires. You will need to bring two hots, the neutral, and the ground to the sub-panel.
I think you will have to run this as a service lateral and connect up to the meter.
If there is only one meter, do both panels feed from the meter?

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Old 06-02-2010, 07:43 AM   #3
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adding in a remote electrical panel


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Originally Posted by forresth View Post
I am adding a 100 amp outdoor fuse box, mainly to run a heatpump for a pool. It will also be powering everything else out there too once it is in..

The house has a box that runs power to 2 seperate 100 amp pannels for the house. Why not a 200 amp single? either they weren't around 30 years ago, or it is just another piece of evidence that the electrician was a moron.

I've already got 150' of 3x 2/0 al wires with a 4th bonus smaller ground wire burried 2' down and run most of the way through the basement. I think I was oversold (and I'd feal better if that 4th was uninsulated), but its done now. I guess its OK. I figure if a hot developes a hole in its insulation down the road (stray shovel or something), I can swap it with the big neutral.
it
Can you post a picture of the big box, preferably showing the insides?

If you tap into the big box (I assume that is the main disconnect switch(es) location, you may need to upgrade the service cables from there out to the utility pole.

If you damage a wire, you don't swap it out with the neutral. The neutral must be insulated. You will need to lay or string brand new wires.

It is not unusual to add a second 100 amp panel instead of replace the existing 100 amp with a 200 amp. It depends on how the wiring is arranged, for example a box (with the main disconnect) must exist or be added upstream to feed both panels. The original panel, if not already configured as if it were a remote panel (as a subpanel), would have to be so reconfigured. In a subpanel, grounds and neutrals must go to separate terminal strips (or bus bars) with the neutrals not bonded to the panel itself.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 06-02-2010 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:01 AM   #4
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adding in a remote electrical panel


2x 100 was original to the house, but like I implied, the original electrician was a moron. I think it was something like: Dad was the real electrician and Dad died, so Mom made Son finish up all the contracts instead of giving back the money. I was only 2 at the time, so this is what I picked up from my Dad. could be he had extra 100 amp pannels laying around. I'm also not fond of the all 20 amp breakers and 14 gauge wireing, or the multitude of loose conections I've found thoughout the years.

the first box has a plate, screwed shut, no doors, no switches (about 12x12, maybe less). I think that is were the power comes in (1 meter, no electric heat) then they divided it to the pair of 100 amp pannels about 3 inches below the first box.

why does the neutral need to be insulated? its conected to grounding rods anyway.

Last edited by forresth; 06-02-2010 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:42 AM   #5
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adding in a remote electrical panel


It's a long story why neutrals need to be insulated.

The neutral is the offical current return path back to the source (main disconnect switch or breaker, here). Ground is connected to neutral only where the main disconnect switch(es) are located. The ground wire in branch circuits is not supposed to carry current under normal conditions but must be able to dissipate any current should a defect occur in the wiring or in an appliance. The neutral may not be allowed to touch (and short against) grounded items If ground and neutral are tied together in various places, current returning will go both ways, that is, some current will use the ground wire. This is not supposed to happen.

Given that the first box has no switches or breakers, your system is not code compliant if the two 100 amp panels are not next to each other. It has to be possible to turn off everything (including things powered by your third panel) while you stand in one place.

Note: Upstream of your main panel(s), one wire acts as shared neutral and ground and support wire going out to the utility pole. This is an exception to the idea that ground wires don't carry current, Meanwhile your system ground is supposed to include a wire running from the ground bus bar in the main panel to a "ground electrode" in or near your house. This may be an 8 foot rod pounded into the ground, or your cold water pipe entering the house. Run, if not already, a #6 copper wire from each panel, or a #4 wire (200 amps combined service) to one panel with a #6 wire continuing to the other panel.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 06-02-2010 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:46 AM   #6
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adding in a remote electrical panel


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Originally Posted by forresth View Post
I'm also not fond of the all 20 amp breakers and 14 gauge wireing, or the multitude of loose conections I've found thoughout the years
14g wire is not rated for a 20a breaker
You need to swap out the 20a breakers for 15a breakers

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