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audivid 05-04-2011 08:56 AM

Electrical Panel (whats live?)
Ok, I have installed my subpanel and wired up my sub panel receptacles. Now Im faced with my fear, the main LIIIIVE Panel. My question is: What exactly on my main service panel is LIVE??? I have reached the point where all I have to do is connect my breaker to the main panel but Im nervous because I dont wanna touch ANYTHING in the box until I know for sure Im not gonna get zapped. I want to screw in the neutral and the ground but that makes me nervous.

a7ecorsair 05-04-2011 09:13 AM

OK, before you start digging around turn off the main breaker and remove the panel cover. Learn how your panel is configured. I'm going to assume this is a typical panel with snap in breakers. The main breaker will be at one end of the two bus bars and it is permanently mounted and the branch circuit breakers connect to these bus bars. Locate the three large wires that feed the panel. Two will connect to the main breaker - these are HOT all the time.
Turning off the main breaker will remove power to the two bus bars so it is safe to work in the panel. Just stay away from the feed lines.

audivid 05-04-2011 09:39 AM

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Ok. Thanks. But I think my situation is a little different. Ive included a photo of my panel. Here is what I am faced with.....My panel box is a little older and when they wired this box they did not install a main breaker. They stuck with the code that 6 throws of the wrist is okay to shut it down so as you see the 60 amp will shut down the bottom half of the box and the top half, you'll have to flip those off manually if you want it to shut down. With that said, that means that my bus bars are always hot, correct? So, the 40 amp breaker on the top right is coming out, as that was my range and I switched over to gas. Thats where I want to install my new subpanel breaker. Should I be fine to get my flathead screwdriver and insert the neutral and ground without being bit?

McSteve 05-04-2011 10:23 AM

Oh, a split-bus panel. Those aren't common anymore. You'll be fine connecting the new neutral and ground on the bars. Just be extra careful, because as you correctly assumed, the entire top section of the buss is hot at all times. Plan your movements as you're manipulating tools and wires in the panel, to make sure nothing, including your hands, gets too close to the live buss.

audivid 05-04-2011 10:45 AM

Thanks a lot.....but ?....Is ONLY the metal tabs LIVE and nothing else? If not, then what exactly in the panel is live? Thanks in advance....

McSteve 05-04-2011 11:06 AM

If you turn off all of the breakers in the top section, the metal busses that the top breakers clip onto will still be live, as will the main incoming wires and the terminals they attach to.

As long as you are very careful, you won't have a problem. But if you are all uncomfortable working around live parts, you should either have power company remove your meter to kill the panel completely, or get an electrician to connect this circuit for you.

Saturday Cowboy 05-04-2011 02:00 PM

This just might be something you want to get some help with. It sounds like you are not comfortable working around hot electrical.

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