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Old 03-03-2013, 02:25 PM   #1
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


I have a 200 Amp main house service, and the panel has about 6 open spaces for more circuit breakers. HOWEVER, my house started out in life as an old convenience store in the 50's, and there is a large diameter (1.25") armored cable running form the main panel to another junction box downstairs, where it splits off into various circuits. The armored cable contains LOTS of wires, and probably a good many of them are no longer needed or are part of any circuit. But they are still plugged into the bar that you thread the white wires into for each circuit. I want to add circuits, but there are no free spaces on the bar. Some wires are even doubled up in one hole (Is that OK?). Is there a way to tell which white wire is still part of a circuit, and which might be plugged into the bus, but not used any longer? My panel is just crammed full of wire, and it needs a "clean up" badly. Can this be done efficiently? Or is the solution to install a longer bus bar with more holes for the white wires? The ground bar has a few spaces left, but there are white wires in some of those as well. It's just a mess. Suggestions?

Thanks.

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Old 03-03-2013, 02:34 PM   #2
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Why would you want a bigger panel when all your needs is to be cleaned up.
Hire a real electriction on this one.
Depends on the style of breaker if there can be two wires on not, is there a screw with a flat plate under it, or just a screw?

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Old 03-03-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Many of the neutral bars have more connections than one might readily see. Can you post a pic?

Only one neutral is to land in each hole for the neutral bar. I'm not sure, but I think that two grounds can land together in the same hole. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong on that. Neutrals and grounds are not to be landed in the same holes (they can be on the same bar, but not the same hole).
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:07 PM   #4
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Here are a couple photos of this box. The large armored cable is visible in the overall shot. It is impossible for me to tell which of all those white wires still belong to actual circuits. How would an electrician determine this?
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Main panel clean-up?  Need more bus spaces!-electrical-box.jpg   Main panel clean-up?  Need more bus spaces!-electrical-box-2.jpg  
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:13 PM   #5
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


An electrician would do a Fox and hound trace. Basically for outlets, they would plug in a transmitter, and then use a receiver to find the breaker that it goes to. Panel to panel, they would do the same thing, same as lights. All of that wiring actually looks brand new, not something that has been around for 50 years.

Post the model# & manufacturer of the panel.
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:18 PM   #6
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


The 200 amp service is 5 yrs old. That armored cable stuff leads to a sub-panel where the older wires are connected. That sub panel is located on the floor below the panel, and about 20' over, on the same exterior wall. I just wanted to show the "spaghetti" of the main panel. I am trying to post a pic of "full" the neutral bar. If an electrician can clean it up, I am all for that idea. Does this look like a day's worth or week's worth of work or what, do you think? My main goal is to clear up the bus space for the remaining circuit breaker spaces that remain empty right now. I have a hot tub that needs a new circuit as well as a new bathroom coming online this Spring (I hope). Thanks for your replies.
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:24 PM   #7
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Do you know what the old store layout was? Are there junction boxes that don't seem to go any where? were there coolers, freezer soda fountains cash registers etc/ Are there any floor receptacles that you never use? If you find any of these things trace them back to the panel and shut off the breaker and see if anything is missing.
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:33 PM   #8
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mech_gui. I wish I did have the old layout. But I don't, and the guy 2 owners before me is the one who did the conversion, so I don't have a clue about what they changed, replaced or left alone. I should probably leave this mess to a professional and have the peace of mind that it was done right (theoretically)
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:42 PM   #9
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I think that is wise. If you can find a dedicated circuit to remove for say a piece of equipment that is no longer there you would be ok to remove the circuit. BUT if you start removing neutrals that could be shared on another circuit you could dome some damage. Could become very risky.

Good luck
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:08 AM   #10
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Quote:
Originally Posted by tpagel View Post
Here are a couple photos of this box. The large armored cable is visible in the overall shot. It is impossible for me to tell which of all those white wires still belong to actual circuits. How would an electrician determine this?
I'm not really seeing any double taps on the neutral bar, and there does seem to be at least 2 open terminals for the neutrals.

What I don't know is why there appears to be a black and a green wire tapped together on the neutral bar.
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Old 03-10-2013, 12:16 AM   #11
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsparksalot View Post
I'm not really seeing any double taps on the neutral bar, and there does seem to be at least 2 open terminals for the neutrals.

What I don't know is why there appears to be a black and a green wire tapped together on the neutral bar.
GEC connection and water pipe ground?
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:11 AM   #12
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Quote:
Originally Posted by mech_gui View Post
GEC connection and water pipe ground?
Actually one is probably for the sub-panel, the other for a pipe bonding. My panel is bonded to the water pipe, but the meter pan is bonded to earth, which is how my municipality does it.

I am curious why the OP dose not still have 3-phase service, if it was a convenience store, unless there is another panel outside.
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:21 AM   #13
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Not all commercial building require 3 phase.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:22 AM   #14
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


Quote:
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GEC connection and water pipe ground?
Well okay, but for a water pipe bond, I'd just run a #8 bare, definitely not a colored (the black) wire.
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:51 AM   #15
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Main panel clean-up? Need more bus spaces!


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Well okay, but for a water pipe bond, I'd just run a #8 bare, definitely not a colored (the black) wire.
Then you'd fail inspection.

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