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Old 05-01-2011, 10:33 PM   #1
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Installing panel


I'm buying a house with a pretty old panel + meter socket combo. It has no main breaker, and it has only 4 breakers. It's also incorrectly wired: one of the circuits is directly connected to the hot bus, and another breaker has two circuits on it. I was recommended to replace the panel. I'm planning on adding to the house in the future, so replacing the panel really seems like a good idea.

I want to give a try to do the replacement myself, and I'm trying to gauge the complexity of the project. I think I can manage the wiring, but the mechanical part is a little questionable. My biggest problem is how to mount the new panel on the wall. I never mounted anything more than a coat hanger.

This is in California, the supplier is PG&E. I was planning on using this panel: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053. Does anybody have some info on how should I mount the panel, what is code and what is not? Simple things like how to cut the wall, how do i support the weight, etc. The wall is currently covered with stucco. Maybe I should post this in a drywall forum? Sorry if I'm off topic.

Thanks,
Balint
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Old 05-01-2011, 10:49 PM   #2
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Installing panel


Changing a panel isn't a job you should take on. You should leave that to the professionals. Changing a plug or a switch I can see you taking on but not a panel...
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Old 05-01-2011, 10:52 PM   #3
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Installing panel


start by reading the code.
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Please follow the code - its there for your safety no matter how inconvenient.
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:27 PM   #4
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Installing panel


Is it legal for you to do the work in your jurisdiction?
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Old 05-01-2011, 11:46 PM   #5
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Installing panel


I second dSilanskas' suggestion that you have an electrician do this. While I would not say that a panel change is an inappropriate DIY project, it is a pretty advanced one. It's certainly not something to take on if you're inexperienced at doing fairly complex electrical work. The biggest issue associated with this project will be coordination with the power company and inspector, since the utility will have to disconnect the house, then you'll connect the new panel, have it inspected, and then the utility will reconnect power. Any mistakes along the way could leave you with no power for an extended period of time.
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:04 AM   #6
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Installing panel


Thanks! I'll only do this if I'm confident that I can do it safe. Right now, my biggest problem is that I have no idea how I'm supposed to mount the panel. If you guys have any experience with that, I'd appreciate. I've been Googling around trying to find images/videos/texts about mounting the panel, but most of what I found is panels located indoors, or just wiring stuff. Mounting the panel does not seem to be so interesting for anybody, but that's what really interests me :-)

Yeah, it's legal for the homeowner to do this here. I just need to have permits and two inspections: one before reconnecting, one afterwards. I've already checked with the power company, they are fairly quick in scheduling the reconnect after the inspection passes. I actually budgeted a few days after closing escrow but before my current rent expires, so being without power for a few days is not the end of the world. I'll definitely read the corresponding parts of the code.
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Old 05-02-2011, 12:27 AM   #7
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Installing panel


I'll give you that much. Now, understand that an electrician has his own preferences. There are many ways to do what you want. Some better than others.

I would use unistrut mounted horizontally, one for the top and one for the bottom mounting holes for the panel. I would probably use lag bolts into the studs of the wall.
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