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Old 03-15-2013, 10:39 AM   #1
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Critique my Panel Wiring Please


So I'm replacing all the interior wiring of our 1954 ranch. I've basically replaced all but 2 or 3 circuits that have rooms that we haven't touched yet (bathrooms, boiler, kitchen). I passed my Rough in inspection last week friday, and got everything wired up with 20 amp AFCI breakers, except for the few GFCI circuits (2 for garage, 1 for bathroom) and the smoke/carbon which is a standard 15 amp breaker. The other standard breakers are from the previous BX wiring. All wiring is 12-2 NM coming into the panel (except the BX and the one 14-3 wire from the previous owner). I had the service and panel upgraded to 200 amps by a licensed electrician. It's a Square-D QO 40 breaker panel.

Only problem I realized afterwards is that the GFCI circuits (with regular breakers) are pigtailed at the receptacles (first point on the circuit), so the first GFCI receptacle isn't protecting the lights which are in series after the receptacle. In this case do I need to replace the standard circuit breakers with GFCI breakers? otherwise I'd have to use a jbox to make a splice... for example the family room "powder room" (half bath) has a single 20 amp circuit for it's self, since I read you can run a single circuit for a bathroom as long as it only serves that room. The first stop is the GFCI receptacle in the bathroom, but it's pigtailed to go to the lights, which are NOT then protected by the GFCI. This same scenario is for the garage, first item on the circuit is the GFCI, and it's pigtailed out to the lights which theoretically need GFCI protection?

As for the physical cabling, I left a lot of length on the wires, so it's getting a bit crowded in the middle, but I didn't want to cut anything short in case I have to move it around later. Also I plan on using most if not all of the panel by the time we're done doing the bathrooms, kitchen, central air etc... From my experience, short, beautiful and neat is great until you need a little more length 5 years down the road.

The inspector didn't do as thorough a job as I would have preferred. For example the inspector didn't even go up into the attic to look at how I ran the wiring through the joists or into the can lights... basically he just looked at a few of my switch boxes and presumably saw they were neat, no box fill issues (I made a huge effort to splice elsewhere so I wouldn't overfill boxes with 12 gauge wire).

The main reason I'm posting is because I want it done right, and safely. I worked for an electrician over a summer in college, and for 4 years worked pulling wires for low voltage systems in residential systems. i.e. a/v, phone/data and security. So I am pretty good at running wires, but high voltage panel wiring is new to me, although I've wired probably a hundred houses with cat5/RG6 panels. I've also read and studied quite a bit (even went so far as to buy and read most of the 2008 NEC handbook amongst other books). So hopefully I'm pretty close, but any critique would be appreciated, because I'm fairly terrified of all of the stories of houses burning down because of faulty wiring. But I trust my new wiring more than the crazy stuff that was going on in the house with the old wiring.

I'm glad to have any help, Thanks, Bill














Last edited by Ocelaris; 03-20-2013 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 03-15-2013, 11:59 AM   #2
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Critique my Panel Wiring Please


IMO you left the leads to the breakers too long. I don't leave all that excess. It just fills up the gutter space and is not needed.

The leads in the switch boxes look too short. You need 6" or more of free conductor in the box and they should extend at least 3" outside the box face.

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:32 PM   #3
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IMO you left the leads to the breakers too long. I don't leave all that excess. It just fills up the gutter space and is not needed.

The leads in the switch boxes look too short. You need 6" or more of free conductor in the box and they should extend at least 3" outside the box face.
"You need 6" or more of free conductor in the box and they should extend at least 3" outside the box face."
Is this code or just good practice?
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:42 PM   #4
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That is a code requirement.
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:50 PM   #5
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That is a code requirement.
Thank you Sir, I picked it up somewhere but was not sure if it was code or not.
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:28 PM   #6
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Critique my Panel Wiring Please


Thanks, So the inspector came the first time, and i hadn't made up all the boxes, so he said he'd come back when that's done. He also mentioned at that time I was short on some receptacles (the switches all had at least 2 feet hanging off them at that time). He also said I might have some box fill issues, although I had calculated and was pretty sure I was fine, he just pointed out 12-2 and 12-3 is stiff and even if I was under filled, I would still have issues. So I was a bit paranoid, and jboxed a bunch of wires so I had no more than 2 cables coming into any gang box. And that led me to make the leads probably shorter than I should have... But I've got all the switches and receptacles on now anyways... Realistically the pics aren't quite doing justice to the switch boxes, they're actually pretty close to 3" out and 6" total.

As for the Panel, I realized I could have taken much more off, I was just paranoid about rerunning homeruns or splicing around the panel if I didn't have to. I'll probably go and fix those lengths in the panel as I add more and really do need the room.
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:09 PM   #7
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My question is, why did you replace all of the wiring? Did you have a fire at the place, breakers kept tripping after replacing outlets and breakers?

Just because you replaced the panel, does not mean that you have to pull all new wiring.
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Old 03-15-2013, 06:18 PM   #8
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We bought the house 3 months ago and planned on that from the get go. Basically nothing has been done to maintain or update it since it was built in 1953 (original stove, boiler etc...) There was a 20 breaker panel with a 100 amp service. Wiring was a combination of steel BX with cloth/rubber and cloth romex which was badly decayed, and only about 8 circuits in the house, in actuality only 3 circuits managed 90% of the outlets/lights that we used. After going through a lot of the wiring as I've been running new wiring, I'm much more comfortable after finding buried boxes with no caps, and other problems. One switched receptacle had something like a 18 gauge wire jerry rigged, and was really hot when I opened up the box. It was basically in unusuable shape for a modern house, besides only having 1-2 receptacles per bedroom etc... We're also redoing the bathrooms (only 1 worked), and needed to run new circuits for that. It was easier to run new wire than fix the messed up tangle it had become over time. We were blowing breakers just running a floor vacuum and a 100w floor lamp. Plus we wanted can lights everywhere, which there weren't any.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:03 PM   #9
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AFCI breakers sure take up space don't they...
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:51 PM   #10
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AFCI breakers sure take up space don't they...
No more space than if they had to put in gfci breakers. It is nice that you can now get AFCI outlets and do away with the afci breakers in the panels all together.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:25 PM   #11
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The AFCI receptacle would not protect the whole circuit. If it were used it would require a metallic cable between the panel and the first receptacle.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:41 PM   #12
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I just went back and looked at the pictures again. Why did you strip the outer sheathing off of the ground bonding wire, where they both enter the panel? Big no. You really have sorry to say, started to create more work for yourself, or the next person that moves into this place, by what I feel, rushing through this job. When I rewired our place, I went through and did a room at a time, and took my time doing it. Since I had been an Electrician in the Navy, my habits of doing clean work, and making sure I did a proper map of what was there, and what needed to be done, made it easier, as I progressed through getting our 70+ year old house rewired.

As for the old BX being dried out for the rubber where it was in the boxes, that usually comes from too high of a wattage bulb in the lighting fixtures.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:31 PM   #13
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IMO you left the leads to the breakers too long. I don't leave all that excess. It just fills up the gutter space and is not needed.
I occasionally wish my leads were longer to make it easier to change things around.
Other than not being needed, is there a problem with long leads?
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:40 PM   #14
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I just went back and looked at the pictures again. Why did you strip the outer sheathing off of the ground bonding wire, where they both enter the panel?
I think if you look again, it looks like he put green electrical tape on an otherwise bare copper wire so as to insulate it as it runs near the main service conductors.
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Old 03-16-2013, 01:10 PM   #15
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I think if you look again, it looks like he put green electrical tape on an otherwise bare copper wire so as to insulate it as it runs near the main service conductors.
Just saw that. He should have left the insulating jacket on, until it got closer to the lugs.

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