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Old 03-15-2009, 07:49 PM   #1
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


I have an old Federal Pacific panel in my garage and itís time to replace it before something bad happens, plus I need some new circuits and to clean up a number of things the PO did. I am planning to call in an electrician to do the work but I have what seems like an unusual service entrance and I want to figure out the proper configuration so I can talk intelligently with the electrician and minimize the number of options in order to get a good price comparison.

I have a 200A service to the house with the meter set in a Crouse-Hinds panel on the outside of the house. The meter box has a 100A main breaker that feeds the 125A Federal Pacific breaker panel in the garage, and a second 30A breaker that feeds a load center for a swimming pool.

The questions are: Should I plan on installing a new 200A panel in the garage with a new 200A main breaker and then feeding the subpanel at the pool from that? Can I leave the exterior meter can and just wire directly into the new panel with itís own main breaker and bypass the previous breakers or do I need a whole new meter can? Or should I keep the exterior meter can with the separate breakers for the pool and house and just replace the panel in the garage? If so, then I assume I should upgrade the current 100A breaker to something larger. Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:13 PM   #2
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


What you do depends on what kind of load you are adding.

A load calculation will tell you what size circuit you need to feed your main panel. Google residential load calculations.

If you have electric range, (or cooktop/oven) , AC, dryer and and water heater you will be pretty much maxed out already. If you are all gas, the 100 amps will be sufficient.

You can check the wire size/type that is feeding the panel and you may be able to change the 100 main to a 125.

If the service is in good shape, you will save at least a thousand dollars by leaving it. If you need 200 amps in the garage, you will have to change the service panel to one that has a 200A breaker and bus space for the pool panel. Siemans makes one.

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Old 03-15-2009, 09:26 PM   #3
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


The issue is not so much adding load as it is addressing the Federal Pacific breaker issue and getting a better panel that is easier to work with, not so crowded, and one that I can add breakers to more easily. The house is 1800 sf, so relatively small. Oven is electric, and water heater, cooktop, and dryer are gas. No AC now but it will be added sometime in the future. I checked the feeder wire from the 100A breaker to the panel but can't tell the size, there are no visible markings. The feeder wires are aluminum and the outside diameter of the insulation is 7/16".

Sounds like you are advocating keeping the existing meter panel and exterior breakers and only upgrading the main panel, but I am curious what would make doing the full upgrade so much more expensive? The breaker panel is directly behind the meter box so the feeders only pass through the wall.

Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:31 PM   #4
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


i'd get that changed asap...fpe breakers dont even work!
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Old 03-15-2009, 10:32 PM   #5
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


Quote:
Originally Posted by DIYDesign View Post
Sounds like you are advocating keeping the existing meter panel and exterior breakers and only upgrading the main panel, but I am curious what would make doing the full upgrade so much more expensive? The breaker panel is directly behind the meter box so the feeders only pass through the wall.
It would definitely be more hassle. Does the "pool" breaker go to a subpanel or is that just a single circuit?

If that's a subpanel, it might not be rated to be service equipment, so you'd still need something like what you have now with your meter mains.
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Old 03-15-2009, 11:23 PM   #6
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Federal Pacific Panel Replacement Question


From the picture you posted I would say the feeder is to small for a 200 amp service so changing the main breaker to a 200 amp would also require replacing the feed . Do you really need 200 amp service? Most homes, unless they have electric heat, don't really need more than 100 amps. I wouldn't think that you would need more than 100 amp even if you add AC in the future. The breaker at the meter is probably required by your local code and if so can not be bypassed. Another consideration is the fact that if you upgrade to 200 amp local code may require all electrical be brought up to current code. Code restrictions for pool areas is very strict in most jurisdictions and any change may require complete codification changes in the pool area.

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