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Old 02-08-2009, 11:28 PM   #16
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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Thanks for the info. Yeah, it won't be the prettiest panel in the world.....mainly due to some cramped space, but on the other hand...I have a lot of extra wire bundled up on the left of the breakers, so it looks uglier now than it is.

I think this is my plan:
1. Either jumper across where the meter was, or (preferred) move the lugs from the lower part to the upper part of the meter connector, thus eliminating the need to jumper across a gap and at the same time making more room in the left side of the enclosure.
2. Possibly punch a hole in the separation panel to fed the neutral wires though and attach the neutral bus bar on the left side where I'll have plenty of room. The separation between the left and the right is only needed when it was a main panel. As a "sub" panel it really isn't required for code requirements (just a guess ).
3. Attach a new neutral bus, not bonded to the panel.
4. Separate the neutral lug from the connecting bar and attach it using a plastic separator plate to the panel. Connect it to the neutral bus bar using some insulated wire (#6 gauge?)
5. Remove all the neutrals off the existing shared bus bar and attach the neutrals to the new neutral.

Given that, it may not be that bad. It will take a little bit of metal work and grinding, but it would be a lot less work (and less money) than having to install a new panel and doing stucco work (you keep forgetting the stucco part!). Plus I'd never be able to match up the stucco color, so next on the list would be a whole house (or wall) paint or re-stucco to make it look right.

Sound ok? (Yeah, I know....I take full responsibility. Duh..)
This doesn't even sound close to being code compliant or safe.
I would just do it right and make friends with a paint store, a good one will help you find a very close match. Patching the stucco isn't really a big deal for a small area.

Cheap is good.
Cheap and Safe is (much) better.
Cheap and Dead is bad.

Jamie

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Old 02-09-2009, 09:49 AM   #17
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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4. Separate the neutral lug from the connecting bar and attach it using a plastic separator plate to the panel. Connect it to the neutral bus bar using some insulated wire (#6 gauge?)
You lost me there.The existing neutral lug will be the new ground lug. The existing neutral bus will become the new ground bus.

The new neutral bus will be fed by the new neutral wire and all the neutrals will be run to it.



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It will take a little bit of metal work and grinding, but it would be a lot less work (and less money) than having to install a new panel and doing stucco work (you keep forgetting the stucco part!).
Grinding? You need to punch or drill holes to accept insulated bushings.




Blah blah blah. You are making all kinds of excuse not to do it right. You already have stucco work to do where you entered the panel with the new feed. Are you going to leave the old riser in place?

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Plus I'd never be able to match up the stucco color, so next on the list would be a whole house (or wall) paint or re-stucco to make it look right.
If you can't do a simple stucco patch and paint match, you shouldn't be doing electrical work. The last time I checked, The Home Depot could color match paint. That's 1990 technology
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:48 AM   #18
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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You lost me there.The existing neutral lug will be the new ground lug. The existing neutral bus will become the new ground bus. The new neutral bus will be fed by the new neutral wire and all the neutrals will be run to it.

Grinding? You need to punch or drill holes to accept insulated bushings.


Blah blah blah. You are making all kinds of excuse not to do it right. You already have stucco work to do where you entered the panel with the new feed. Are you going to leave the old riser in place?

If you can't do a simple stucco patch and paint match, you shouldn't be doing electrical work. The last time I checked, The Home Depot could color match paint. That's 1990 technology
Well, Home depot couldn't match it last time I did stucco work, so why should I trust them this time? I even brought them a chunk of stucco to match and it doesn't.

Yes, using the existing Neutral as the ground would be an option...I suppose there are many ways to skin a cat, as they say. Main thing is, the new neutral has to be insulated from the panel...either by bushing or some other method.

Who says I'm not doing it right? Just because they sell main panel and "sub" panels doesn't mean a main can't be converted and be safe. And no...so far no stucco work at all since I already put the lower feed conduit in when I put the panel in 8 years ago during construction - I was planning on moving the incoming feed underground at some point back then.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:11 PM   #19
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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Who says I'm not doing it right?
That would be me

Like I said earlier, it could be done safely. I could probably do it safely, depending on what it looks like at the meter to main bus. I'd be hesitant to install jumpers plugged in the meter socket unless they we bus material and fit perfectly. Too tight/too loose = problems. Electricity = hot,cold and vibration

Do it and post pics. Make me proud.

PS. Don't let any inspectors anywhere near it They will shoot you down like Dick Cheney
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:19 PM   #20
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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That would be me

Like I said earlier, it could be done safely. I could probably do it safely, depending on what it looks like at the meter to main bus. I'd be hesitant to install jumpers plugged in the meter socket unless they we bus material and fit perfectly. Too tight/too loose = problems. Electricity = hot,cold and vibration

Do it and post pics. Make me proud.

PS. Don't let any inspectors anywhere near it
This hardly sounds like "good advice". I can forsee a large electrical fire resulting from this hack job. The main panel you have is NOT designed or UL listed to be used as a sub panel. There is no way to make this a safe and to code install as a sub panel.

I could ONLY advise doing what is proposed as a TEMPORARY install while a new panel is installed.

Do what has been reccomended by others on here and install a new panel. What is more valuable to you, your precious stucco work or your family's life? You obviously have the money to do the electrical upgrade to 400 amps, spend a little extra money and have a stucco guy come out and fix up the stucco when you are done putting the new panel in.

To suggest anything other than replacing this panel would be an un-safe and bad idea; you are just asking for trouble.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:32 PM   #21
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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This hardly sounds like "good advice". I can forsee a large electrical fire resulting from this hack job. The main panel you have is NOT designed or UL listed to be used as a sub panel.
I've yet to see a panel that couldn't be made into a sub panel
Do you have the specs on his panel?
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:07 PM   #22
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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I've yet to see a panel that couldn't be made into a sub panel
Here's one


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There is no way to make this a safe and to code install as a sub panel.
Safe? Possible. The busing is simply a system of components designed to carry current from the wires to the breaker. If some bonehead in a factory can assemble it, I can too. Again, I can't see behind the meter but there is a possibility that simply moving the lugs to a different location may do the trick.



Code compliant? Not likely. Of course it won't be listed but that can be said about mant modified installations. As far as a fire?....that depends on the modification.

Listen, I told the guy more than once not to do it...but he is going to. The least I can do is advise him of the specicic areas to be careful with ie: don't jumper the meter socket.


I also told him that it would be faster to install a new panel but he didn't want to hear that either.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:40 PM   #23
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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Here's one
Safe? Possible. The busing is simply a system of components designed to carry current from the wires to the breaker. If some bonehead in a factory can assemble it, I can too. Again, I can't see behind the meter but there is a possibility that simply moving the lugs to a different location may do the trick.



Code compliant? Not likely. Of course it won't be listed but that can be said about mant modified installations. As far as a fire?....that depends on the modification.

Listen, I told the guy more than once not to do it...but he is going to. The least I can do is advise him of the specicic areas to be careful with ie: don't jumper the meter socket.


I also told him that it would be faster to install a new panel but he didn't want to hear that either.
Hey, thanks 2020/221. At least you and Scuba Dave seem to have some common sense.

Of course there is a way to make this safe as a subpanel. It's really simple actually - just follow some basic principles. No, it won't be UL listed, but that by itself doesn't mean anything if some jackass installed it incorrectly. I can use a cardboard box and make it safer than some UL listed panels I've seen installed. Whether an inspector likes it is a different question.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:19 PM   #24
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


Many of these meter / main breaker panels have a little saying on the label that says,"Suitable only for use as service equipment." Just another thing that the inspector is going to get you on...

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Old 02-09-2009, 04:23 PM   #25
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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Many of these meter / main breaker panels have a little saying on the label that says,"Suitable only for use as service equipment."
Yeah, "suitable" only when in an unmodified state, but when correctly modified I could make that panel suitable to do many things...like turn it into a sled, or for storing food, or with wheels I could use it to transport soccer gear to my kids games.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:35 PM   #26
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


Homeowner42- Educate me on something, is it legal for you as the "homeowner" to be doing this type of work even on your own home in the State of California? There are limits as the what a homeowner can/cannot do to their existing electrical service here in the State of Georgia. Your project, if inspected, would never pass as "done by homeowner". Different states, different laws. Thanks, David.
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:23 PM   #27
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


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Homeowner42- Educate me on something, is it legal for you as the "homeowner" to be doing this type of work even on your own home in the State of California? There are limits as the what a homeowner can/cannot do to their existing electrical service here in the State of Georgia. Your project, if inspected, would never pass as "done by homeowner". Different states, different laws. Thanks, David.
David,

as far as I know there are no requirements here in California that states a homeowner is not allowed to perform any of the building work, with some exceptions (like A/C refridgerant gas hookups, geological inspections or structural design). Back in 2000 on my house I installed all the electrical, all the plumbing, all the low voltage, and did the painting. On this new guest house I installed the gas lines, all the plumbing, all the electrical, the windows, garage door, some framing, 90% of the A/C ducting. As long as it passes the inspection, who cares? As I see it, my work equal to and in most cases better than what the "skilled" trades would do. Probably because I care, since it's my house, whereas they just want to come in, bang it out and get out. Come on, this stuff isn't rocket science. If it were, they wouldn't be doing it. Just look at some of these morons and the mistakes they make! So much of it is common sense. Yeah, I learn along the way, and it might take me longer to do, but I also have friends and neighbors that have done a lot of construction themselves. And you can always ask for help.
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:48 PM   #28
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


They came and hooked me up on my guesthouse and while it took me many hours to take down the old wires (off the roof riser), clean up the mess and fabricate some stuff, I'm happy with the end result and feel it's clean and safe. I'll post a photo maybe tomorrow or the next day when I get a chance and you folks can judge for yourself. The guys switching the power to the new panel said they see folks converting mains to subs all the time. I hear it's quite common in commercial areas as well to do some panel modifications. I'll report back if an inspector tells me otherwise and makes me redo the whole thing. At least for now, I don't have to work on any stucco. Next on my list is to fabricate a new panel to cover both left and right sides of the panel to make ti look like a regular "sub"-panel.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:16 PM   #29
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


I finally got a photo of the completed panel for those of you who are interested in the final result. The key was to remove the guts that were there to hold the meter. Once that was removed there was plenty of space to mount a neutral bar - isolated from the panel. I added another ground bar to keep things clean - so there is a ground bar up on the left and another one basically where the combined neutral/ground bar was before - down to the right, both connected via a #6 ground wire, connected to the main panel and also grounded locally to a rebar in the ground. I also cut off one the copper bars and then moved the main lugs over. I still want to redo the left panel cover or maybe make a new cover for the whole thing.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:53 PM   #30
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Converting Main Panel to Sub: How to jumper?


Sweet! I'm impressed. A sheet metal shop should be able to whip up a simple cover.

Did the factory bus feeding the main breaker get tweaked a bit when you tightened down the lugs?

I can't really see how you installed the main lugs but I asume it is a good connection.


Last edited by 220/221; 02-17-2009 at 02:56 PM.
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