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freeclimbmtb 08-04-2012 09:19 AM

Panel Relocation and Partial rewire
Hey all, first post so bear with me and sorry for the longwinded post.

I am a fairly young and new homeowner (I'm 27 and bought about 18 months ago) There were two main areas of concern when I went though my home inspection, the first being the boiler, Incidentally I had that replaced a month after moving in.

The second problem and reason for the post, is the wiring in the house. The main portion of the house was built in ~1964, with a 2 car garage and finished "bonus room" above it added on about 5 years later (according to the neighbors) The original panel (100A service) was on the south wall of the house, the addition was added to this wall, instead of relocating the panel, the service moved to the new south wall with a large conductor cable snaked through the wall to the original panel. Problem 1. Problem 2 is that not a thing in the house is grounded. Finally, problem 3, there arent enough circuits in the house. For instance, the entire addition is on one circuit, meaning every time my table saw blade gets a hair dull and the saw draws more current, the south wing of the house trips off.

My plan is as follows:

The easy part: install a new master panel with a 200A service on the south wall of the garage...where it should be. I will then run 3 circuits in the garage: lights, recepticals, and 220v welder outlet. Leaving the "bonus room" on the existing circuit.

The hard part: PVC conduit from the original panel to the new panel using the old box as simply a terminal box, and extending every run into the new panel. (Modifying/adding circuits as necessary)

As for the grounding, It looks like the ground conductor was simply clipped in each box :furious: but I think I can grab enough to extend with a nut to the recepticals.

First and foremost is this the right approach to the problem?

I my education background is in mechanical engineering, and I have a good understanding of electrical theory and am fairly handy. I think I can handle everything up to the actual service connection which I would have to leave to the power company anyway (the drop into the house is a little banged up from winters)

Thanks all!

Jim Port 08-04-2012 10:37 AM

It would be less work to make the current panel a subpanel fed from the new 200 instead of moving all the circuits to the new panel.

You will run into derating issues trying to extend the old circuits into the new panel.

For the grounds look at using something like a Wago or Ideal push-in connector.

freeclimbmtb 08-04-2012 11:01 AM

Great point! Would I still need to run a new feed from the new to the old panel? I am not super confident on the quality of the existing feed from the drop to the panel. Also, is there any sort of panel (200) built with this in mind? I feel like a 40 space load center would be a tad overkill for feeding the orignal plus another 3 or 4 circuits. As for the push connectors, great suggestion, I will pick up a pack on the way home and get to work. More on the grounding issue. When the new panel goes in, it will get a ground spike right at the drop (at least thats what makes sense to me) and the new feed to the old panel should take care of my grounds UP TO the panel right?(obviously the recepticles are a seperate issue) The reason I ask is I am 99% sure that even if I ground each box, I will still have an issue as my box is grounded to the plubming of the house...which is connected to my basement located well pump...plumbed to the well via plastic pipe. If you catch my drift.

MisterZ 08-04-2012 01:20 PM

Agree with Jim.
if the meter is near the breaker panels, as it should be, personally i would run new 4 ought service wire to the new panel.
Then 90amp 2 pole breaker with 2/2/2/4 to old panel.

as for grounding goes, disconnect the old water pipe ground, install two rods outside 6' apart and "loop" new ground wire
from new panel ground bar to each rod and back to the panel.

the old panel, which is now the sub-panel, gets its ground from the New main panel.
just remember to install separate groud bus bars in the old panel and remove the bonding screw or strap.

I always say youre better off with more spaces than fewer. Get the 40 space 200.
this way your options are not limited. you may decide to re-wire each circuit over time.
as you do, you will free up a space in the old panel and add it to the new one.
one day you might decide to remove the old panel all together.

just a few of my thoughts anyway;)

freeclimbmtb 08-04-2012 01:43 PM

Thanks MrZ. Right now the drop is on the south east corner, and the panel is about 25 feet down that east facing wall. I'm with you on the 40 spot panel...for all the reasons you listed.

Can you expand a little more on how you would feed the old from the new? I didnt quite follow...(as the mechanical guys at work would say "im just a dumb plumber" :thumbsup:)

MisterZ 08-04-2012 02:13 PM


im sure you understand how to connect the new panel, yes??
on a few homes i did the meters were rather close, and to run 15' of new service entry wire was not very expensive.
chances are the old cable wont be long enough to reach the new panel anyway. depends on panel location in relation to entry wire route.

to elaborate on connecting your two panels together:
the old panel is 100amps if i read correctly.

you would get a 90amp 220 double pole breaker for the new panel.
#2/2/2/4 service wire to connect the 90amp breaker to the old panels main lugs.
Red and Black go from eack lug on the new breaker to each main lug on the old panel.
White Stripe wire Neutral goes from Neutral bus bar on new panel to Neutral lug on old panel
(you'll need adapters for the bus bars to accomodate the larger wire guage)

Here's whrere it gets tricky. the bare ground wire from 2/2/2/4 cable goes from the Neutral bus bar on the main panel to a Separate grounding bar on the old panel.
you must install one or two grounding bars inside the old panel tub. they are "bolt on"
i would install two. if the old panel has a lot of circuits, you could run out of grounding space.
Also depending on the make of your old panel, there is a Green screw or a strap that "Bonds" the neutral bars to the tub.
you must remove this screw or strap on the old panel. however it must be installed on the new panel.

to clarify "bonding" a bit. Netral bus bars are insulated away from the panel tub (no metal contact)
the supplied screw or strap "bonds" these bus bars to the tub (or cabinet) thus creating metal contact between the two (tub and bus bars)

the first disconnect (breaker panel) has the Neutrals and metal cabinet bonded together.
anything after the first disconnect must have neutrals and metal cabinet isolated from each other. (some exceptions apply)

hope this clears up a few things;)

ddawg16 08-04-2012 03:08 PM

Having redone the main panel on my house twice (1st time, upgrading from 60a to 200a...2nd time, having to relocate because of construction).....I agree that using the existing panel as a sub will be easier. In my case, there was no way I could use my existing panel as a sub....but because everything was opened was easy to just run new wire to the existing ckts.

MisterZ pretty much summed it up.

Just to clarify.....your neut and earth ground will be bonded together at the new main panel (200A), but any sub panels after that, you do NOT bond neut to earth ground...that is why he is telling you to add the ground bars.

In other words...your neut and earth ground are tied together at only one point....your main panel.

This is a very commonly misunderstood point.

Get the point? (pun intended)

freeclimbmtb 08-06-2012 11:12 AM

Milling around in the electrical secton here on the forum I just thought of another important question I have yet to address. Code. Does the new load center need to be all AFCI breakers? Are there any other major electrical codes I need to keep in mind with this project? (For instance I saw something regarding putting garage door openers on independant GFCI it is they are both together on outlets powerd off a lighting circut, and i I would have never thought twice about it.) Granted I know that if I do the work I could cut corners left and right and probably not burn the house down (probably). But as I do plan to sell the house in 10-15 years, I dont want to put it on the market with as bad of a mess as when I picked it up.

In addition, would it be worth it to run new wire to the dryer and range as they are the biggest loads on the existing panel? I also am a little concerned that I MUST be somewhat close to the 100A limit with everything in the house right now, so by feeding from a 90A breaker, I feel like I am running the risk of exceeding that 90A...legitimate concern?

Jim Port 08-06-2012 01:43 PM

A panel change does not require an upgrade to AFCIs under the NEC. Your local area may have an amendment to this. The NEC only requires the AFCI protection for new installs or circuit modifications.

The NEC is not retroactive so the garage door openers should be fine.

If you are concerned about the load you would need to perform a demand load calculation to determine the panel loading.

freeclimbmtb 08-06-2012 09:27 PM

I did some more research tonight and its not so much being over loaded that I'm worried about, but that I have so much of the house on so few circuits. Also, I have 3 breakers that apparently do NOTHING?!

Further more, I have 3 lights in the house that are controlled by 2, 2, and 3 switches respectively...but they work much like a combination lock. Certain switches MUST be in a certain position for the light to come on, regardless of the other switches in the circuit. Tomorrow I will kill the feeds and start pulling switches to see how they are wired and see if I can make any sense of it all.

Jim Port 08-06-2012 09:33 PM

Three way switches that only operate correctly if other switches are in a certain postion are a sign of mis-wired switches where a traveler has been crossed with a common.

Missouri Bound 08-06-2012 09:38 PM


Originally Posted by Jim Port (Post 983154)
Three way switches that onlt operate correctly if other switches are in a certain postion are a sign of mis-wired switches where a traveler has been crossed with a common.

...or when one of the switches has failed.:yes:

MisterZ 08-06-2012 10:44 PM

The breakers that dont control anything are probably "blanks", or space takers. Not hooked up.
Having too many lights and receps on a single circuit is common in old homes.
Thru the years people think "lets add an outlet here. Or lets put a dozen lights there"
tapping into existing power wherever they can.
One lady wanted to change a light, and half the house went dead....on two floors.

Im still trying to make out your statement about the switches.
Exactly how many switches control one group of lights?
To me it almost sounds like you have a 4-way set up.
Whatever it is, you have a swapped wire somewhere.

MisterZ 08-06-2012 10:49 PM

Oh, and i just wanted to add. When running new branch circuits try to keep the amps balanced between both legs.
Really its mainly common sense, but some may not consider it.

freeclimbmtb 08-07-2012 06:02 AM


Originally Posted by MisterZ (Post 983202)
Im still trying to make out your statement about the switches.
Exactly how many switches control one group of lights?
To me it almost sounds like you have a 4-way set up.
Whatever it is, you have a swapped wire somewhere.

I took some pictures (see below) to try and figure out the switch combination lock (haha)
I was just talking to a co worker and I think I reasoned through the 2-switch circuits. I think they used hot and neutral (coded as hot) to link the switches (as you should) but I think on one end they dropped the coded hot and spliced it into the neutral...meaning when the switch puts power to that drops back to the panel instead of going to the light...then again, I would think this would trip the breaker.

MrZ, Hope this clarifies a little. The red dots control 1 light, the yellows another, and the greens a third light. So as you can see reds should be 3-ways, greens should be 3-ways, and yellows should be (2) 3-ways and a 4-way. (I need to kill and pull the switches to figure out exactly what I HAVE) Where I drew the arrow with "only" indicates the switch with the bad behavior. Also not shown here, there is another switch that is linked with the (bottom right corner, 3rd switch in) to control 2 recepticles in the living room. Same problem...I just neglected 1 switch when I took photos.

My plan of attack is going to be this: replace every switch. (yes this might be overkill, but I would rather have guarenteed working switchs in, with POSSIBLE spairs in a box, then guess at every single, some of them are the wrong color.)

When I dig into the circuit (after I kill it) Ill pull a switch, cross conductors, and then do continuity checks one at a time until I can trace every cable, then Ill put in the new switches. Good plan?

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