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Old 02-22-2010, 11:10 PM   #1
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


Greetings,

We recently bought a house in need of quite a bit of work. I took a few pictures below of the current panel in the basement. I found out that the exterior electric service was replaced about 3 years ago and upgraded from 100 to 200 amps. As you can see not many of the breaker spots are being filled. Over the next several months I plan to do a lot of re-wiring. We have fairly large bedrooms and 2 outlets on an 18' wall just doesn't cut it for me.

Basically I'd like to hear your opinion on whether or not I should keep this panel. For starters, I can't find the cover for it anywhere in the house - the only place I haven't looked yet is the attic, and that's highly unlikely. I have some background in electric and have read a few books and done some common electric work, but I don't have an extensive knowledge of what the 'premier' breaker box is to go with now a days. It seems people speak highly of Square-D. Well, any comments are greatly appreciated, thanks.

John
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Old 02-23-2010, 12:02 AM   #2
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with the panel itself. Is it a Cutler-Hammer (Eaton) with type CH breakers? You might able to get a replacement door from an electrical supply house.

Now, the way the panel is made up is another thing. What's with the cables just flying in through the open door? And the NM in the panel that isn't properly stripped? And double check the wire size of the feeders. It looks smallish in the picture but that might just be a matter of perspective.

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Old 02-23-2010, 12:48 AM   #3
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


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Originally Posted by Jupe Blue View Post
I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with the panel itself. Is it a Cutler-Hammer (Eaton) with type CH breakers? You might able to get a replacement door from an electrical supply house.

Now, the way the panel is made up is another thing. What's with the cables just flying in through the open door? And the NM in the panel that isn't properly stripped? And double check the wire size of the feeders. It looks smallish in the picture but that might just be a matter of perspective.
Yes, after taking a look I found some Cutler-Hammer markings on the box & breakers. And yes, I realize it's a hack-job setup as it sits right now. The previous owners had a land contract with a guy who was in the process of remodeling the house. The yellow lines (and orange for A/C) are new lines that he ran. The others, I imagine, he had fiddled with and left them as-is. When you say the lines aren't properly stripped, you're talking about the outside layer that holds the inside wires right? Normally when I see pics of lines inside boxes you see the hot/neutral/ground all separated, so I'm assuming that's what you mean.

As I said, I don't have much panel experience, but I'd like to work in it as it seems mostly straightforward. Is there an issue with going outside and turning off the main service - or can that be done? I've never opened it up before, and I imagine the power co doesn't want me in it...
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:01 AM   #4
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


That is a top of the line Cutler-hammer (Eaton) CH panel that looks relatively new. you can purchase a cover at any dealer that sells CH products... all you will need is the panel model number.
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:42 AM   #5
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


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Yes, after taking a look I found some Cutler-Hammer markings on the box & breakers. And yes, I realize it's a hack-job setup as it sits right now. The previous owners had a land contract with a guy who was in the process of remodeling the house. The yellow lines (and orange for A/C) are new lines that he ran. The others, I imagine, he had fiddled with and left them as-is. When you say the lines aren't properly stripped, you're talking about the outside layer that holds the inside wires right? Normally when I see pics of lines inside boxes you see the hot/neutral/ground all separated, so I'm assuming that's what you mean.

As I said, I don't have much panel experience, but I'd like to work in it as it seems mostly straightforward. Is there an issue with going outside and turning off the main service - or can that be done? I've never opened it up before, and I imagine the power co doesn't want me in it...
Normally the sheath or overall jacket of the cable only extends into the panel 1/2" or so. The Code requires a 1/4" minimum sheath inside the box or cable clamp.

The large breaker at the top will kill all the power below the breaker. The large lugs where the thick wires from the large gray cable will remain hot all the time. You are correct about the power companies not wanting you in their cash register, aka meter socket. It is a felony in some areas. It is also extremely dangerous to attempt to work in the socket, and is no way for a DIY.

You also need to properly secure the cables coming into the panel.

Like someone else said, just buy the cover. Cutler-Hammer CH is a nice panel. No reason to throw out a $150 panel just because the cover is missing.
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Last edited by Jim Port; 02-23-2010 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:43 AM   #6
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


The yellow jacketed cable need to be properly clamped where it enters the box. It also needs to have the jacket stripped off. 1" of jacket only inside the panel.
Same goes for the orange cable on the left and the large black cable on the right.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:30 AM   #7
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


Well I'm glad to hear it's a good panel. I'll look around for a cover instead of replacing as well as properly secure and strip the wires entering the panel. Thanks for your comments. If I think of it I'll post some updated pics once I get the cover and fix things up.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:32 AM   #8
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


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The yellow jacketed cable need to be properly clamped where it enters the box. It also needs to have the jacket stripped off. 1" of jacket only inside the panel.
Same goes for the orange cable on the left and the large black cable on the right.
Joed, it looks to me like the cables in the top of the panel are secured by the black button connector from Arlington.

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Old 02-23-2010, 07:45 PM   #9
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


question? Do you have a neutral wire it is hard to tell in the pic. but it looks like 2 hot and a ground.
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:04 PM   #10
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


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question? Do you have a neutral wire it is hard to tell in the pic. but it looks like 2 hot and a ground.
This is the service panel. The neutral is bare aluminum color. Look in pic #2 near the two incoming hot legs to see it.
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:40 PM   #11
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


I take it you didnt get the house inspected before you bought it?

Did you check with the county to see if a permit was even pulled on the electrical upgrade?

I hope you got a good deal on the house.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:56 PM   #12
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


Yeah, only $12,000 so I don't know much, other than I'll be opening up everything and getting the appropriate permits myself.
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:10 AM   #13
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


Update...

I've been looking on ebay and calling local supply places but have had no luck in finding the right cover for my panel. I decided to contact Eaton to see how much a new cover would cost and they quoted me $167! That is not an option since I could go to the store and get a brand new panel for less than that.

That leads me to this question - is there any way that I could pass an inspection without the standard cover for the panel? I could create a cover but it obvously wouldn't match the panel. I'm going to be getting permits for all my work so if this is going to hold me up then I guess I'll be forced into buying & installing a new panel.
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:15 AM   #14
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


I don't see why the supply houses would not have a cover for a recent panel like that. If you can still buy that same panel just install the cover.

What is the panel model number?

PS, prices quoted are often several times the retail.
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:22 PM   #15
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Do you think I should keep this breaker panel?


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Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
I don't see why the supply houses would not have a cover for a recent panel like that. If you can still buy that same panel just install the cover.

What is the panel model number?

PS, prices quoted are often several times the retail.
CH42B200K

I found a CH cover on ebay but after comparing its measurements to the measurements of my panel, I don't believe it would be the right fit.

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