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Old 09-24-2012, 02:20 PM   #1
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Main load center grounding question.


I just recently purchased a home and have been doing some minor repair/upgrade projects have run into a dilemma.

As part of the purchase agreement for this house, the seller had an electricial contractor replace and move the main load center.

After moving in, I notice that most of the wires from the new load center to the old one, which is now a large junction box, are MWBC and I plan on putting each circuit on its own cable.

The problem I've run into is that the electrician made the inlet for the load center from the meter pan on the side of the panel and the cables are blocking several neutral and ground connections on the bus.

My question is, does the NEC allow the grounds to be run to an isolated ground bus and only neutrals be run to the neutral bus?

The neutral will remain bonded of course.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:35 PM   #2
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Main load center grounding question.


Why are you replacing the cables. There is no reason the to replace them just because they are MWBCs.

If this is the main panel then the neutral and ground bars are bonded together and you can use either bar for neutrals and grounds.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:51 PM   #3
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Main load center grounding question.


I'm eliminating the MWBC because, I just don't like them.

They are only MWBC for a span of about 12 feet from the new load center to the old. Several of the connections are also messy.

For example, the heat pump is outside of the wall where the new panel is, but instead of coming out of the new panel straight to the disconnect, the feed goes to the old panel and then to the disconnect. Plus, many of the lines are just old.

As far as the bus bars go, there is one on each side of the box but one is completely full and the other has half of it blocked by the main power cables from the meter.

Can I remove all of the grounds from the two neutral bus bars and put them on a separate ground bus?
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Old 09-24-2012, 05:29 PM   #4
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Main load center grounding question.


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My question is, does the NEC allow the grounds to be run to an isolated ground bus and only neutrals be run to the neutral bus?

The neutral will remain bonded of course.
You can isolate the ground bus if you like just remember to bond the panel enclosure. You can only run neutrals to the neutral bus.

I would highly suggest not doing this to be honest. There is nothing wrong with a MWBC, and if you had a professional come in and do the work, I would leave it as is.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:15 PM   #5
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Main load center grounding question.


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You can isolate the ground bus if you like just remember to bond the panel enclosure. You can only run neutrals to the neutral bus.

I would highly suggest not doing this to be honest. There is nothing wrong with a MWBC, and if you had a professional come in and do the work, I would leave it as is.
Thank you for your input.

This was a very messy job. The "professional" had to redo the new load center due to the wrong model being installed.

The "New" panel had used and cracked breakers installed and I don't trust much of the work that was done.

My goal is to wire all circuits directly to the new load center and eliminate the need for the old one which is now a junction box. The circuits are only MWBC from the new load center to the old one. They are all separate after that. I will post some photos tomorrow.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:52 PM   #6
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Main load center grounding question.


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Thank you for your input.

This was a very messy job. The "professional" had to redo the new load center due to the wrong model being installed.

The "New" panel had used and cracked breakers installed and I don't trust much of the work that was done.

My goal is to wire all circuits directly to the new load center and eliminate the need for the old one which is now a junction box. The circuits are only MWBC from the new load center to the old one. They are all separate after that. I will post some photos tomorrow.
If I were you I would contact the electrical contractor especially if you have cracked breakers. Used breakers are pretty questionable too. I know in a pinch we might use a breaker that might look old because its been in the van too long if we need it. I think pictures would be needed before judgement.

I still see no need for basically wasting copper. MWBC uses less wires and you have less neutral current.
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Old 10-01-2012, 12:52 PM   #7
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Main load center grounding question.






The electrician installed an additional ground bar in the panel that can be seen in the lower right in the first photo.

In the second photo, you can see where the line comes in from the meter the cables are blocking half of the neutral bus bar.

My question was, can I move some of the ground wires to the standalone ground bar to free up space on the neutral bus?
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:13 PM   #8
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Main load center grounding question.


Electrically and code-wise that would be fine, but they don't look long enough to reach. You could use wire nuts and green or bare wire to extend them, but that's really annoying. Are you sure you can't access those open spaces on the neutral bar? The service conductors are annoying, but they don't appear to completely block access.
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:27 PM   #9
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Main load center grounding question.


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Electrically and code-wise that would be fine, but they don't look long enough to reach. You could use wire nuts and green or bare wire to extend them, but that's really annoying. Are you sure you can't access those open spaces on the neutral bar? The service conductors are annoying, but they don't appear to completely block access.
It's hard to tell in the photo, but the service wires enter on the side right next to the neutral bus. That is why those locations are blocked.

90% of the wiring in this new panel is going to the old panel which is now a large junction box.

My plan is to move as many circuits as possible out of that junction box and wire them directly to the new load center.
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Old 10-01-2012, 05:53 PM   #10
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Main load center grounding question.


Quote:
The electrician installed an additional ground bar in the panel that can be seen in the lower right in the first photo.

In the second photo, you can see where the line comes in from the meter the cables are blocking half of the neutral bus bar.

My question was, can I move some of the ground wires to the standalone ground bar to free up space on the neutral bus?
Why not just use the right side of the panel? Some places wont allow you to use marettes in a panel. You can move the grounds to where ever you like as long as they remain bonded. You could also move your ground bar on the bottom if you like as well.

I still stand by what I said earlier. Assuming that service passed inspection (might not here), I dont see much wrong with the panel. I like square D panels the best.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:21 PM   #11
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Main load center grounding question.


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Originally Posted by AltaSparky View Post
Why not just use the right side of the panel? Some places wont allow you to use marettes in a panel. You can move the grounds to where ever you like as long as they remain bonded. You could also move your ground bar on the bottom if you like as well.

I still stand by what I said earlier. Assuming that service passed inspection (might not here), I dont see much wrong with the panel. I like square D panels the best.
Thank you for the response. Yeah, there's not much wrong with the panel other than some used and broken breakers that were installed by the electrician.

I do plan on using the right side, but there aren't enough open spaces for the number of wires I need to attach. This is why I was asking about using a separate ground bar.
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Old 10-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #12
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Main load center grounding question.


How many wires are you going to use?
I see 20 open screws on the right side!
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Old 10-02-2012, 03:43 PM   #13
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Main load center grounding question.


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How many wires are you going to use?
I see 20 open screws on the right side!
And only 11 open breaker spaces.
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:53 PM   #14
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Main load center grounding question.


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And only 11 open breaker spaces.
Is that a problem in NEC?
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Old 10-02-2012, 08:57 PM   #15
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Main load center grounding question.


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Originally Posted by AltaSparky View Post
Is that a problem in NEC?
No, it just means he has plenty of room even if he filled the panel up.
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