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Old 03-03-2009, 08:02 AM   #1
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


Not sure exactly how to phrase the question. I've got a 1970s bi-level. The current panel is an older Square D Homeline 20 that's full. On top of that, most of the existing wiring in my house is Aluminum with the occasional copper circuit that's been added along the way.

At this point, I'm wanting to add some additional circuits, fix some bad stuff (copper-only toggles, etc), and replace the aluminum with copper throughout the house. I've got access to the entire house via both the basement and attic.

My question is can I do one of the two options:

1.) Install a new main panel without service, run new copper throughout the house as time and money allow to this panel.

2.) I noticed that Siemens has some panels that can be switched between main lug and main breaker. Can I buy one of those, run it as a sub off of the existing main, and start moving circuits as I can.

Either way, I will have an electrician out to cut over the service and probably wire the water heater and furnace.

Thanks,

Mike

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Old 03-03-2009, 10:19 AM   #2
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


you can use a main lug only panel and use it as a sub-panel while making the transition. You will also find that changing the water heater and furnace are your easiest projects.

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Old 03-03-2009, 11:45 AM   #3
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


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Originally Posted by Bob Mariani View Post
you can use a main lug only panel and use it as a sub-panel while making the transition. You will also find that changing the water heater and furnace are your easiest projects.
Bob,

I figured that would probably be the best way to go. I think where I'm stuck is whether I should I look at getting a bigger panel like a 30/40 or something and plan to eventually transition everything to the new panel, or should I get something smaller that'll hold 10-20 circuits and plan to keep it permanently as a sub to the main?

Mike
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:04 PM   #4
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


Actually I would HIGLY reccomend that you install a 200 amp MAIN BREAKER panel with a minumum of 30/40 (30 Spaces/40 Circuits Max) but I would reccomend a 40/40. Use the new panel as a sub panel off the existing panel, but try and keep it as close in physical location to the existing panel. Once you are ready to have the power switched over, its a quick and easy task of having the POCO shut off the power at the meter, and re-wire to the new panel, inspector inspects the work and gives the OK to the POCO to turn power back on.

I would reccomend against just simply installing a sub panel especially with a panel full of 20 circuits and the additon of more circuits coming. The 200 amp panel will act as a sub only until you can move everything over and get an electrician to make the final connection and disconnect the old panel.

I have an old GE panel at home that has I believe at least 20 1/2" slimline breakers and a couple full-size breakers, I ended up installing a small 6 space sub panel and was able to make do with what I had. Though I'd rather change it all out to a bigger panel, no room to install a second panel to switch over and can't have the power out for an extneded time to change out the existing.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:08 PM   #5
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


I would also recommend that you go with a 200a MAIN breaker panel
Make this your main panel once you switch over

Do you have 100a or 200a service?
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:47 PM   #6
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


going with a small sub-panel and later changing to a larger 200 MB panel will still allow the slow transition you want.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:27 PM   #7
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


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I would also recommend that you go with a 200a MAIN breaker panel
Make this your main panel once you switch over

Do you have 100a or 200a service?
Currently I have 100a. I know that at some point, I'm probably going to need to upgrade to 200a in order to support a larger panel.

I know that subs have specific requirements (splitting the ground/neutral, etc), but I assume from everyone's comments that I could use a main breaker panel as a sub panel rather than a main lug only panel until the time comes to fully transition to the bigger panel?

Don't know if it affects any decisions, but, when I say my box is full, it's full of breakers, but probably not load, as I know there is at least one double and one half breaker that are currently turned off.

In fact, the double was what got all of this started. I had posted a few days ago about using that double to run a sub panel to my garage. But, as I started looking at prices, the larger boxes were more affordable than I had expected, and I figured I'd get better use out of upgrading the house first and then the garage, but I wasn't sure exactly how to use one to make a gradual transition as I'm not ready to do everything at once.

Also, as far as location, I should have plenty of space right next to the existing main panel, as it's in the corner of the unfinished part of the basement and got nothing really near except for some shelving that can be removed if needed.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:00 PM   #8
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Can I wire a new panel without service or run a "big" subpanel?


Usually you want all of the 240v loads in the Main panel
So run what you need, get the power switched over
Then switch the 240v loads over to the Main panel

The only way you can find out if you need more power is to do a whole house Load Calc.
I have quite a bit of electric & my Load Calc comes out at 143a
I have a hot tub, electric dryer, electric radiant floor heat in a few areas, electric water heater

Yes you can use a Main breaker panel as a sub
I prefer to do this & every sub I have run has a Main breaker
Even the one 3' to the left of my Main panel

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