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Old 08-19-2010, 11:24 PM   #1
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


Hi again all

As I posted before, I have a Zinsco panel. While it hasn't caused trouble, I've read that it is a hazard since the breakers commonly fail to trip. I found an electrician who gave a very fair proposal of $700 for a panel change. Unfortunately though, today my power company (PGE) called me and let me know that to proceed, I would be required to upgrade their lines to the curb which involves trenching. I was told it would be around $4000

So I'm trying to think of the best next step for this not so ideal situation.

I could do nothing, I could somehow try to test the existing breakers, I could buy all new circuit breakers from Conneticut Electric (that I would hope would be more reliable) for around $250 or I could somehow get the electrician to change the panel out without calling PGE for a disconnect

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Old 08-19-2010, 11:40 PM   #2
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
Hi again all

As I posted before, I have a Zinsco panel. While it hasn't caused trouble, I've read that it is a hazard since the breakers commonly fail to trip. I found an electrician who gave a very fair proposal of $700 for a panel change. Unfortunately though, today my power company (PGE) called me and let me know that to proceed, I would be required to upgrade their lines to the curb which involves trenching. I was told it would be around $4000
It sounds like we are talking about two different things here. A panel change-out and a service upgrade.
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So I'm trying to think of the best next step for this not so ideal situation.

I could do nothing, I could somehow try to test the existing breakers, I could buy all new circuit breakers from Conneticut Electric (that I would hope would be more reliable) for around $250 or I could somehow get the electrician to change the panel out without calling PGE for a disconnect
If I was in your position and concerned, I would change out the panel for the peace of mind.

PGE is requiring a $4,000 upgrade to their wires when all you want is a shutdown?

Can't your electrician pull the meter himself to cut the power out? Or, dare I say, change out the panel hot?

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Old 08-19-2010, 11:47 PM   #3
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


Getting the disconnect is no problem but getting the reconnect requires a green tag from both PGE and the city. If I can somehow avoid the initial disconnect, I can do the panel change without jumping through PGE's hoops.

PGE has insisted that even if I want to retain my current service level, there is something about my wiring that cannot be grandfathered in and requires trenching and new wire to be run.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:53 PM   #4
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


I see.

$4,700 to do it the "right way". And they wonder why people go to craigslist to get handymen to do the work unpermitted.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:15 AM   #5
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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I see.

$4,700 to do it the "right way". And they wonder why people go to craigslist to get handymen to do the work unpermitted.
That is the biggest issue I have see so far in both Wisconsin and France so I am not amused with that.

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Old 08-20-2010, 07:51 AM   #6
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


I find it odd that you have to pay the power company to upgrade their lines. In my area the cost of infrastructure upgrades like new transformers or overhead drops is the responsibility of the power company. Anything before the meter is their problem.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:06 AM   #7
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


When it's an underground service drop the cable to the nearest pole is often the customer's responsibility.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:20 AM   #8
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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When it's an underground service drop the cable to the nearest pole is often the customer's responsibility.
If this were the case
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PGE has insisted that even if I want to retain my current service level, there is something about my wiring that cannot be grandfathered in and requires trenching and new wire to be run.
The trenching to the "point of connection" would be the customer's responsibility - right?
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:53 AM   #9
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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I find it odd that you have to pay the power company to upgrade their lines. In my area the cost of infrastructure upgrades like new transformers or overhead drops is the responsibility of the power company. Anything before the meter is their problem.
In my area, overhead lines to the weatherhead are POCO responsibility, customer pays for the service mast and conductors. If it's underground, customer pays for it all. This is what I've seen 95% of the time.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:58 AM   #10
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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When it's an underground service drop the cable to the nearest pole is often the customer's responsibility.
Yep around here even if the power company originally put the lateral in, you are now required to pay for any upgrades....KCP&L are at the moment undergoing a huge change out of main direct buried power secondaries due to high increase in failures from being in the ground for so long but will not do the laterals to the meter unless homeowners absorb the cost. I suspect overhead will be the next customer responsibility. They don't have any problem hanging new meters...... The other day I was looking for suspected utility neutral problem before calling poco... I noticed the messenger (grounded conductor) on the overhead triplex was only intact by one strand at the transformer pole. I walked the easement and out of 5 pole drops there were 2 more in the same condition. So lots of issues with old installations (30 yrs or so) and cost to repair is beginning to be passed to the user. And lots of utilities asking the regulators for rate increases.

Anyway not surprising.

Quote:
Getting the disconnect is no problem
So looks like the poco has shot you in the foot. IMO under your circumstances I would opt to keep the same service and just change the panel out to a modern panel. 700$ is a very fair price.

What size service do you have ?? Do you intend to add any energy users like spas/hot tubs etc....if not then your present service will likely serve you into the future. It would be nice to change out the service entrance conductors from meter to panel.

EDIT:

Just read your other thread and you say you have 3 boarders? Is this shared electric cooking facilities? Or gas cooking appliances?
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:14 AM   #11
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


Unfortunately, the $700 price is with a shutdown from the PoCo, who is not willing to even do the shut down without upgrading the lines for $4,000.

If I were the OP, I would find an electrician who would shut it down himself or change-out the panel hot.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:20 AM   #12
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


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Unfortunately, the $700 price is with a shutdown from the PoCo, who is not willing to even do the shut down without upgrading the lines for $4,000.

If I were the OP, I would find an electrician who would shut it down himself or change-out the panel hot.
I see I misunderstood what the poco was telling him ... best check the background of the electrician with that bid to make sure he is what he says he is..... then I would agree with you.

People here will raise eyebrows but changing panels by electrician pulling meter or hot is still fairly common. At 4000 bucks to do the right thing would certainly encourage the later......
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:28 PM   #13
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Can't afford to change out Zinsco panel - best next step?


Thanks everybody for your replies
I talked to the electrician today and he is going to come out again to check the wiring and double check he can do it without PGE (something about there being enough wire length). He's a reputable guy I was recommended by a neighbor and with a Yelp page; I trust he can do the job


My current panel is 100A. The electrician told me after a visual check of the power company's wire, I could go to 125A, which is what I'll do. I have gas water heater and range/oven. No plans for a spa. We are an energy conscious bunch, very low power consumption

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