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wwh 03-31-2012 07:24 PM

GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?
 
3 Attachment(s)
I'm adding a subpanel for a basement finish and it looks like I have insufficient room in the main panel's neutral bar to connect the neutral for the subpanel.

Here is the main panel with the subpanel feeder entering from the top. The unconnected wire with the white stripe is the one I'm having trouble with.

Attachment 48378

Neutral bar detail:

Attachment 48379


The main panel is a GE TX2415 RH originally installed in 1979.

So, does anyone know if there is a larger neutral bar I could use in the main panel, or an "expansion" neutral bar?

--

I do (possibly) have another option, but it would involve rerouting the subpanel feeder, which is not my idea of fun (it's a 1/0-1/0-1/0-2 Al SER).
The house also has a separate 150 amp service for an electric furnace that has long since been removed. Perhaps I could replace the existing 150A furnace breaker (picture below) with a 100A, and connect the here instead? It looks like I'd need a GE TQD22100 breaker (which are rather pricey and may not be manufactured any more) and also a different neutral lug to connect the incoming (yellow) neutral and earth ground to the subpanel feeder's neutral and ground.

Attachment 48380

Thoughts?

- Bill

Jim Port 03-31-2012 07:30 PM

The proper thing to do is to add a grounding bar and move all the copper grounding conductors to the new bar. As it is now the grounding conductors are not properly terminated. That lug is for one conductor, not many.

plummen 03-31-2012 07:55 PM

Or even better why not just replace that outdated existing panel with a new panel big enough to handle everything,then you wont need a sub panel? :)

rrolleston 03-31-2012 08:23 PM

Would be much easier to replace the panel with separate neutral and ground bar so you can make it neater.

Looks to me like it should be treated like a sub panel anyways.

k_buz 03-31-2012 08:31 PM

It should be treated as a subpanel because it is a subpanel.

HouseHelper 03-31-2012 08:32 PM

You could add a ground bar as previously noted, but I would strongly suggest you replace that old spilt bus panel with a new one.

plummen 03-31-2012 09:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by k_buz (Post 889393)
It should be treated as a subpanel because it is a subpanel.

If I read it right that outside disconnect in the picture is for a seperate service,and is not feeding that GE panel. :)

k_buz 03-31-2012 09:56 PM

you appear to be right

wwh 03-31-2012 10:08 PM

Clarification...
 
Thanks for the suggestions.

A clarification --

The panel I called the "main" panel I guess technically is a split-bus subpanel. There are two main breakers in a pedestal with the meter at the corner of the property, each 150 amp. One supplies the split-bus panel and the other supplies the old electric furnace's panel (both attached to the house, but separately supplied from the meter).

The subpanel I'm adding (whose neutral I'm having trouble connecting) is inside the house, and would be supplied from either the split-bus panel (or its replacement) or the old furnace panel.

It sounds like the *best* option is a panel replacement, but I was looking to avoid that in case some of the new, expensive code requirements (like AFCIs) would apply.

I thought the ground wire connections looked strange (all under one lug), but the builders did it like that. Perhaps that was normal 33 years ago? Or they were just lazy.

- Bill

k_buz 03-31-2012 10:17 PM

AFCI's are not required to be installed on a panel change. You could double check with the AHJ, but I'm fairly certain you won't be required to do so.

So, that split buss panel is a subpanel? Then those neutrals and grounds need to be separated.

wwh 03-31-2012 10:29 PM

So, that split buss panel is a subpanel? Then those neutrals and grounds need to be separated.[/quote]

I may be mangling my terminology. I assumed "subpanel" to mean a panel without a main disconnect (or can the 2-pole breakers in the top section of a split-bus panel collectively be considered the "disconnect?").

This panel is the main electrical point of entry for the house, though, and is connected to the grounding rod.

k_buz 03-31-2012 10:32 PM

If there is a main breaker/disconnect that turns off this panel somewhere other than in this panel, it is a subpanel.

k_buz 03-31-2012 10:39 PM

The split bus panel has the wire from the ground rods?

wwh 04-01-2012 12:04 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by k_buz (Post 889481)
The split bus panel has the wire from the ground rods?

Yes -- the ground rod is connected to the split bus panel and also to the electric furnace disconnect panel.

Attachment 48384

- Bill

k_buz 04-01-2012 12:22 AM

Ground rods need to be connected at the main service, that being on the line side of the main disconnect. That being said, there may be some local codes that would come into play whether it be from your community, or the POCO.

Today's code would require you to have rods at both the main service location, and at the house due to the feeders running underground.

Do you know that the split buss panel goes specifically to ground rods, or are you assuming it goes to ground rods? The reason I ask, is that your house's water system should be bonded to those panels. You might be seeing the "water ground" and are assuming the wire goes to ground rods and I do believe the panel and disco at the house should be bonded together (without searching my code book).


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