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Old 01-29-2013, 08:47 PM   #1
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Hi -
This isn't exactly a DIY question (the work was done by an electrician). But I have a question about the work that he did. I wanted to install a sub panel to power my addition (garage conversion, attached to house). The electrician provided an 8 space, 16 circuit Main Lug panel. He mentioned that because the sub panel is out of sight from the main panel, that it would be a good idea to put a main breaker in the sub panel. This sounded good to me. So, now there is a 60A breaker in the main panel, and a 60A breaker in the sub panel. Since it is a Main Lug panel, the 60A breaker is taking up one of the spaces that would have been ordinarily used for a typical circuit breaker.

Is this to code / should it pass inspection? Is this a typical arrangement? I became a little concerned when I noticed that the electrician forgot to cover one of the junction boxes under the house - and that he wrapped the THHN wire with electrical tape coming out of the conduit (I though you had to run conduit all the way from one junction box to the other, but he insisted that the electrical tape wrap is acceptable).

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Old 01-29-2013, 09:05 PM   #2
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


The breaker is no big deal. It is legal, not necessary, but legal. The tape thing on the other hand is leaving me scratching my head. If you could take a picture of what you are talking about it would be of great help here.

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Old 01-29-2013, 09:23 PM   #3
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Hey K-buz - thanks for the quick reply. I have attached an image here:



Thanks!
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:33 PM   #4
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Quote:
Originally Posted by fulmar2 View Post
Hi -
This isn't exactly a DIY question (the work was done by an electrician). But I have a question about the work that he did. I wanted to install a sub panel to power my addition (garage conversion, attached to house). The electrician provided an 8 space, 16 circuit Main Lug panel. He mentioned that because the sub panel is out of sight from the main panel, that it would be a good idea to put a main breaker in the sub panel. This sounded good to me. So, now there is a 60A breaker in the main panel, and a 60A breaker in the sub panel. Since it is a Main Lug panel, the 60A breaker is taking up one of the spaces that would have been ordinarily used for a typical circuit breaker.

Is this to code / should it pass inspection? Is this a typical arrangement? I became a little concerned when I noticed that the electrician forgot to cover one of the junction boxes under the house - and that he wrapped the THHN wire with electrical tape coming out of the conduit (I though you had to run conduit all the way from one junction box to the other, but he insisted that the electrical tape wrap is acceptable).

Thanks in advance for any input.
The panel the electrician installed is likely a 100 amp rated panel. He supplied it with 60 amps which is fine. The panel has the capability of 8 single pole circuits or 16 single pole circuits (120 volt circuits). Using full size single pole breakers you would have 8 branch circuits. Using single pole tandem circuit breakers you would have 16 branch circuits. These panels have the option of installing a backfed main breaker using a double pole breaker with common trip. This breaker is installed in the panel and the hot legs (two of them) are terminated to the breaker instead of the main lugs which will be unused. The electrician was also required to install a main breaker 'hold down' kit. You should be able to see this hold down kit. To finish .. main breaker labeling came with the panel and the electrician should have attached that labeling to the panel index to identify that a main breaker is installed.

That main breaker should take up two full size spaces not one unless this is a GE panel using slim line double pole breakers. If you could take a picture of the panel and post it here that would help.

Per your picture It is absolutely not acceptable by the NEC or local codes to wrap thhn individual conductors outside a conduit with electrical tape or to use electrical tape in place of conduit. If he did this I would be very sceptical of his credentials.

Last edited by Stubbie; 01-29-2013 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:53 PM   #5
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Hi Stubie -

Thanks for the helpful reply. I did not know what a main breaker hold down kit is, but I have taken a picture of the sub panel:



Thanks again!

Last edited by fulmar2; 01-29-2013 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:46 PM   #6
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


I looked up the Main Breaker Hold-down kit, and I am pretty sure that it is not present. So, I suppose that this is required, and that I should get him back out here to add that as well as fix the electrical tape-conduit issue. If you notice anything else, that would be nice.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:03 PM   #7
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Wire in conduit has to be wet rated THWN. and what kind of conduit pipe comes into the back of that panel? I don't see a lock nut and bushing.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:09 PM   #8
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


I would say he has some work ahead of him before this will pass inspection.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Hi Roll -
This is THHN. I hope that is OK, b/c that would be pretty hard to fix. Here is an image of how the wire comes into the back of the sub-panel. I admit it is pretty weird, but I don't see how he could have come in from another angle (it's an exterior surface mount panel). It could not be mounted anywhere else for various code reasons. I did make the mistake of paying him already; hope he comes back to fix things.

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Old 01-29-2013, 11:20 PM   #10
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


THHN is not code for below grade use and THWN would be required. Where does the conduit that is in the dirt go? I don't see any lock nut and bushing on that conduit that would also be required. Like others stated the tape is not the right way to do that and a breaker hold down is required if you use that breaker as a main
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:27 PM   #11
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


It appears that I may be mistaken about the wire he used; I looked more carefully, and it says THWN-2 OR THNN. It says some other stuff, so maybe it is correct. I could take a picture. The conduit in the dirt goes underground for ~15 feet, and then it comes up in the picture that has the flexible metal conduit. It appears that he used an adapter that glues one end to the PVC conduit, and the other end attaches to the flexible metal conduit.

When I questioned him about the electrical tape, he did mention, "the inspector is never going to go under there!" After I get him to fix this, he will not be coming back to do any more work. Thanks again for the helpful replies.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:11 AM   #12
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


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After I get him to fix this, he will not be coming back to do any more work. Thanks again for the helpful replies.
I found something else that is questionable: This red plastic insert in the main panel. I figured that those metal NM clamp things were required (like the one in the knockout to the right of it). Is this red plastic thingie allowed? In the gap between where the two pastic edges come together, there is a piece of metal left over from the knockout, and I can see that the outer sheathing of the Romex is punctured (i.e. you can see the sheathing of the individual wires within).

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Old 01-30-2013, 04:58 AM   #13
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


Everyone here has pointed out the violations. The issue about no lock ring or bushing is not an issue, since it looks like he used a pvc box adapter. That is acceptable.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:01 AM   #14
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


An LB is not allowed in an enclosed wall, and it is not properly connected to the enclosure.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:05 AM   #15
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Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel?


It is clear that this guy is a hack. Have you already paid him? I would ask for his business license number and proof of insurance. An inspector WILL catch these things which makes me think there is no permit.

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