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Old 03-31-2012, 07:24 PM   #1
wwh
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.

GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?-main_panel.jpg

Neutral bar detail:

GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?-neutral_detail.jpg


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.

GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?-furnace_breaker.jpg

Thoughts?

- Bill

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Old 03-31-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.

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Old 03-31-2012, 07:55 PM   #3
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


Or even better why not just replace that outdated existing panel with a new panel big enough to handle everything,then you wont need a sub panel?
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:23 PM   #4
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:31 PM   #5
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


It should be treated as a subpanel because it is a subpanel.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:46 PM   #7
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


Quote:
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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.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:56 PM   #8
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


you appear to be right
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:08 PM   #9
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:17 PM   #10
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:29 PM   #11
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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.
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:32 PM   #12
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


If there is a main breaker/disconnect that turns off this panel somewhere other than in this panel, it is a subpanel.
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Old 03-31-2012, 10:39 PM   #13
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


The split bus panel has the wire from the ground rods?
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
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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.

GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?-house_electrical.jpg

- Bill
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Old 04-01-2012, 12:22 AM   #15
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GE main panel neutral bar full -- options?


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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