Main Breaker Panel Help... - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-10-2013, 09:33 AM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 186
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Hello:

The other day I mapped all the breakers in my panel. It is a 150A panel - Murray LC230EC. I do have several questions so please bear with me. After reading through some posts on this forum last night about ground and neutral bars in the panel I wanted to take a look at mine. It looks like I have numerous problems with the connections if I am correct with what I read. I have attached photos of everything.
Here are my questions:

1- Is it bad that the neutral and grounds are mixed on the 2 bars for this panel, should the grounds be on one and the neutrals on another or is that just for sub-panels?

2- From what I read you cannot combine the neutrals and grounds under one screw on the grounding bar, I have several places where that occurs and from what I can see it is from the construction work I had done about 10 years ago by an electrician and approved by the inspector. Should these be fixed?

3- One place on the grounding bar has 4 wires (2 grounds and 2 neutrals) under one screw and the panel clearly states a maximum of 3, should this be corrected?

4- when combining grounds and neutrals, can you combine 14 and 12 gauge grounds under one screw or no? To me it does not read that way on the panel.

5- the bar on the right seems to have another bar next to and lower about an inch. The only things attached to that are the large ground wires for the house (2 of them) which are hard to see in the picture. Can anything else be attached to that bar?

thanks for any help possible!!!
Attached Thumbnails
Main Breaker Panel help...-panellabel.jpg   Main Breaker Panel help...-breakers.jpg   Main Breaker Panel help...-barleft.jpg   Main Breaker Panel help...-barright.jpg  

Advertisement

zephed666 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:26 AM   #2
MarginallyQualified
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Winston-Salem NC
Posts: 3,794
Rewards Points: 2,262
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


It ain't pretty and it ain't perfect.

If at some point you have some OTHER reason (aside from the OCD) to dive into the panel...
then by all means take the time to neaten it up as a part of that project.

hth

Advertisement

TarheelTerp is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:29 AM   #3
Licensed electrician
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 8,001
Rewards Points: 2,800
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


If this is your only panel or the first panel after the meter you can have the grounds and neutrals on the same bar. Subpanels need to be separate.

The neutrals need to be one per hole. Grounds can be multiples, but need to follow the label for sizes and number in the same hole.
__________________
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
Jim Port is online now   Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Jim Port For This Useful Post:
electures (05-10-2013), mm11 (05-10-2013), MTN REMODEL LLC (05-10-2013)
Old 05-10-2013, 10:36 AM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 186
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
If this is your only panel or the first panel after the meter you can have the grounds and neutrals on the same bar. Subpanels need to be separate.

The neutrals need to be one per hole. Grounds can be multiples, but need to follow the label for sizes and number in the same hole.

I do have a little bit of OCD...

This is the only panel for the house.
So the neutrals should be on their own. As you can see in the pics, there are 8 places where the neutral and ground are under the same screw. I found 1 neutral not even under a screw but just stuck through one of the holes on the grounding bar....

As is, does this pose any hazard? It has been this way for at least 8 years....

Also, when putting the grounds together under one screw, can 12 and 14 gauge wire be mixed?
zephed666 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:43 AM   #5
Remodel and New Build GC
 
MTN REMODEL LLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Colorado @ 7651'
Posts: 2,974
Rewards Points: 2,218
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by zephed666 View Post
Hello:

The other day I mapped all the breakers in my panel. It is a 150A panel - Murray LC230EC. I do have several questions so please bear with me. After reading through some posts on this forum last night about ground and neutral bars in the panel I wanted to take a look at mine. It looks like I have numerous problems with the connections if I am correct with what I read. I have attached photos of everything.
Here are my questions:

1- Is it bad that the neutral and grounds are mixed on the 2 bars for this panel, should the grounds be on one and the neutrals on another or is that just for sub-panels?

2- From what I read you cannot combine the neutrals and grounds under one screw on the grounding bar, I have several places where that occurs and from what I can see it is from the construction work I had done about 10 years ago by an electrician and approved by the inspector. Should these be fixed?

3- One place on the grounding bar has 4 wires (2 grounds and 2 neutrals) under one screw and the panel clearly states a maximum of 3, should this be corrected?

4- when combining grounds and neutrals, can you combine 14 and 12 gauge grounds under one screw or no? To me it does not read that way on the panel.

5- the bar on the right seems to have another bar next to and lower about an inch. The only things attached to that are the large ground wires for the house (2 of them) which are hard to see in the picture. Can anything else be attached to that bar?

thanks for any help possible!!!
CAVEAT... I'm a GC..not a sparky....but AFAIK:

I'm certain/assume this is your main service panel.

1) Mixed neutral/grounds are fine electrically on your main (sub-panels require isolation/floating of the neutral. Can't see clearly enough, but both of your ground/neutral bars need to be bonded or jumped to your box. (I believe normally in a main lug box, they come that way. Sometimes, in older boxes, they require a jumper from the neutral buss to the box. You may want to check.( I don't think it's a code req, but often for neatness when there are multiple neutral/ground bars, a sparky will divide them up in the main.)

2) In the absense of a manufacture's specific instructions allowing more than 1 wire per lug/screw, you should have only one. Per your below statement, it seems that those are permitted three. You may want to check. This is often violated, and really just has to do with the clamping and good contact characteristics of the lug/screw.

3) See 2 above... Sounds like yes.

4)See 2 above... Sounds like no.

5)It's probably an additional bar added with lugs of sufficient size to accept your #4 or #6 grounding system. It should be actually tapped to the box with paint scrapped away for good electrical contact. Yes, other grounds/neutrals could be connected subject to #2 criteria as above. (You could add a whole additional grounding/neutral bar if you needed)

I believe you have some other not-CURRENT code exceptions involving MWBC (multiwire branch circuts) but per se it's not required to relabel and per se is not an electrical safety issue (more of a clarrity and maintence issue)

Just my best opinion....
MTN REMODEL LLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:46 AM   #6
Special User
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Idaho, US
Posts: 615
Rewards Points: 628
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by zephed666 View Post
As you can see in the pics, there are 8 places where the neutral and ground are under the same screw.
I'm going to assume that you don't have enough holes to separate all these out, but the good news is you can buy another neutral/ground bus. However I'm not sure how to connect the new bus to the old bus, hopefully someone else here can advise on that.

Quote:
I found 1 neutral not even under a screw but just stuck through one of the holes on the grounding bar....

As is, does this pose any hazard?
Loose neutral? Definitely a hazard. You've just been lucky enough that that circuit hasn't been heavily used or else you'd see blackened evidence of arcing.

The other issue of cramming multiple wires into one hole is less of a hazard. Still should be fixed, but probably isn't going to catch your house on fire.
__________________
The above post is for entertainment purposes only. Its contents may, and probably will, lead to legal liability and damage or loss of property, life, or limb. Use at your own risk.
tylernt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:53 AM   #7
Remodel and New Build GC
 
MTN REMODEL LLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Colorado @ 7651'
Posts: 2,974
Rewards Points: 2,218
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by zephed666 View Post
I do have a little bit of OCD...

This is the only panel for the house.
So the neutrals should be on their own. As you can see in the pics, there are 8 places where the neutral and ground are under the same screw. I found 1 neutral not even under a screw but just stuck through one of the holes on the grounding bar....

As is, does this pose any hazard? It has been this way for at least 8 years....

Also, when putting the grounds together under one screw, can 12 and 14 gauge wire be mixed?

Zep... Yes your loose neutral actually does preent an electrical problem. Get it screwed down.

I defer to Jim.... and certainly 1 neutral per screw is a good and common practice... although I thought it was subject to manufactures instructions.
MTN REMODEL LLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 10:59 AM   #8
Licensed electrician
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 8,001
Rewards Points: 2,800
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Whether you can mix sizes of grounds depends on what the label says.

The add on bar that was mentioned would only be for grounds. It gets screwed to the metal enclosure.

Mixed neutrals and grounds are not the worst violation out there nor hazard. However, it was wrong and should be fixed with the power off.

The one neutral per hole was a listing requirement. Too many overlooked it so it was added to the electrical code.
__________________
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.

Last edited by Jim Port; 05-10-2013 at 11:02 AM.
Jim Port is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 11:01 AM   #9
Remodel and New Build GC
 
MTN REMODEL LLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Colorado @ 7651'
Posts: 2,974
Rewards Points: 2,218
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by tylernt View Post
I'm going to assume that you don't have enough holes to separate all these out, but the good news is you can buy another neutral/ground bus. However I'm not sure how to connect the new bus to the old bus, hopefully someone else here can advise on that.
Ty... To the best of my knowledge, you scrape away some paint on the panel (to make best contact) and you have to tap screw (I think its a 8/32) (not just a sheet metal screw) the bar to the panel.

I believe that is sufficient.... but I always run a jumper (bare #6) from the new bar to the original panel bar, just as extra bonding.

Best Peter
MTN REMODEL LLC is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to MTN REMODEL LLC For This Useful Post:
tylernt (05-10-2013)
Old 05-10-2013, 11:58 AM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 186
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


So according to the panel it looks like only 14 gauge or 12 gauge under any one screw. Cannot mix and match? Am I reading this right? I attached a close up picture of what it states...

Also, I highlighted the lower ground bar which only has to the 2 large ground wires for the house. I can use this bar to put some grounds on to free up room for the neutrals?

Thanks again!
Attached Thumbnails
Main Breaker Panel help...-wirepanel.jpg   Main Breaker Panel help...-groundbar.jpg  
zephed666 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 12:10 PM   #11
Licensed electrician
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 8,001
Rewards Points: 2,800
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


If the grounding conductors are in the same hole they need to be the same size.

I cannot see the lower bar clearly enough. i do suspect you can add new conductors to that bar. It will just be difficult to gain access to the screw heads.
__________________
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
Jim Port is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 12:34 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 186
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
If the grounding conductors are in the same hole they need to be the same size.

I cannot see the lower bar clearly enough. i do suspect you can add new conductors to that bar. It will just be difficult to gain access to the screw heads.

the screw heads are easy enought to get to. Just may have a problem getting my fingers back there.
I think it is easy enough for me to double up on grounds and get the neutrals in their own slots on the bars they are on now.

thanks for all the help.


I may as well ask my next question here...
Does this box allow for a tandem breaker so I can add an additional dedicated outlet for an AC?
Attached Thumbnails
Main Breaker Panel help...-tandem.jpg  
zephed666 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 12:38 PM   #13
Special User
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Idaho, US
Posts: 615
Rewards Points: 628
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by zephed666 View Post
Does this box allow for a tandem breaker so I can add an additional dedicated outlet for an AC?
The diagram in the top right of your picture shows that the bottommost 8 slots (4 per side) will accommodate tandems, then you have to have a pair of full size, then above that you can put one more pair of tandems (1 per side).
__________________
The above post is for entertainment purposes only. Its contents may, and probably will, lead to legal liability and damage or loss of property, life, or limb. Use at your own risk.
tylernt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 12:46 PM   #14
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 186
Rewards Points: 150
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


Quote:
Originally Posted by tylernt View Post
The diagram in the top right of your picture shows that the bottommost 8 slots (4 per side) will accommodate tandems, then you have to have a pair of full size, then above that you can put one more pair of tandems (1 per side).
Is that diagram for both 150 or 200 panel?
That diagram shows 20 and 40 at the bottom. In the first post I have a picture of my breakers. I have a 150Amp panel and mine has 1-15 on the left and 21-35 on the right. Mine do not go 1-20 and 21-40 does that change where the tandems are located?
zephed666 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-10-2013, 12:57 PM   #15
Special User
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Idaho, US
Posts: 615
Rewards Points: 628
Default

Main Breaker Panel help...


If you only count the main connections ignoring tandems, there are 15 "slots" in the diagram. So slot 10 is slot 10 when a full size is installed, but becomes slots 10 and 11 when a tandem is installed. Very confusing.

But, I believe you can still put tandems in the bottom-most 8 slots (4 per side).

Advertisement

__________________
The above post is for entertainment purposes only. Its contents may, and probably will, lead to legal liability and damage or loss of property, life, or limb. Use at your own risk.
tylernt is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Main Breaker in a Main Lug panel? fulmar2 Electrical 17 01-30-2013 12:16 PM
Back up generator for main panel in power outage. Greenie Electrical 38 11-07-2012 10:51 AM
distribution panel amperage rating tom31415926 Electrical 10 08-26-2012 05:09 PM
Fuse panel main breaker question cjm94 Electrical 5 11-16-2011 10:16 AM
main lug vs main breaker for sub panel diyll Electrical 1 01-17-2008 09:18 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts