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Old 10-29-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


In '98 we purchased a house (built in '73) and have been renovating ever since. The homes in my neighborhood were originally built in an unincorporated are of the county and must not have been subject to any inspections at all based on the (lack of) quality of workmanship and materials used.


A few summers back my main breaker (100A) failed on a Friday afternoon leaving us without power. Since the box was a Federal Pacific the electrician told me it would be cheaper to go to HD and buy a GE box to replace it than trying to find a replacement main. I asked him about upgrading my service and he told me the existing cables to the meter were large enough to install a 125 amp box. So he removed the meter to cut power and I replaced the 100A outdoor box with a 125A indoor box over the weekend while the family swam and watched movies at a local motel. I put the new box inside because the original box was on a south wall and had problems overheating during the summer and would trip the AC breaker. The electrician came back on Monday and hooked the power back up and I also had him look over my work to make sure everything was safe.


Now I want to revamp the service entrance to bring it up to code and make it neat and easy to maintain. The existing indoor box does not have adequate (required) working space clearance and was hastily (kinda sloppy) installed. The circuits are not up to code in regards to GFCI/AFCI protection, required dedicated circuits, and quality of workmanship. The grounding needs to be expanded with several more rods. The U/G feed to the garage subpanel need to be replaced with the proper cable for wet environment. An so on and so forth, blah, blah, blah.

Here is the existing service entrance:
Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-service-entrance.jpg

Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-se-close-up.jpg

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Old 10-29-2010, 01:10 PM   #2
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


The existing panel is in the laundry room directly opposite the service entrance but as you can see lacks working space.
Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-laundry-room.jpg
Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-old-panel.jpg
Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-old-panel2.jpg
Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-panel-cable-entry.jpg

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Old 10-29-2010, 01:28 PM   #3
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


The new panels will have to go on the opposite wall from the existing. It is the nearest to the service entry point I can get and have the required clearance. I have already placed the first new panel. It is a 125A Cutler-Hammer main lug box. I intend to connect it to the existing box temporarily with a 50A feeder (6/3 NM) and install the circuits that have already been upgraded during the course of the house renovation. Then I will install a 125A outdoor main service disconnect and new 125A MB panel with a appropriate subpanel feed to the already installed subpanel.

Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp-new-subpanel.jpg


The new MB panel will go to the right one stud space over to allow clearance for the covers. Why two panels instead of one? It was cheaper than ordering a convertable panel and HD didn't sell a larger panel with 125A MB.

I intend to connect the service entrance>main disconnect>main breaker panel with #2 SER (copper). I think I only need to protect the SER from physical damage with conduit until it is inside the wall - not all the way to the MB panel from the main disconnect.

Any thoughts, questions, comments, suggestions so far?

Last edited by sandersdon; 10-31-2010 at 12:21 AM. Reason: corrected SER cable size
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Old 10-30-2010, 03:47 PM   #4
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Comments from electricians are welcome...
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Old 10-30-2010, 07:15 PM   #5
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Here are the panel layouts:

Main Panel Layout.pdf

Sub Panel Layout.pdf

That leaves one spare space for any future needs. I may need to order a bigger main panel...
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Old 10-30-2010, 09:42 PM   #6
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
Originally Posted by sandersdon View Post
Comments from electricians are welcome...
2/0 copper is large enough for a 200 Amp service. You only need a #2 copper for a 125 Amp service.

Your (existing) neutral wire lacks proper marking with white tape (or paint).

The 10/3 that goes outside into the conduit LB is an indoor cable. Is it spliced to a different wiring method inside of the LB?
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Last edited by kbsparky; 10-30-2010 at 09:45 PM. Reason: Added add'l question
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:09 PM   #7
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
That leaves one spare space for any future needs. I may need to order a bigger main panel..
I wouldn't even hesitate. Put it in now while you are doing all of this.



the old panel is going away, right? how are you getting from that spot to the new panels? if you are putting a junction box in place of the old panel, be mindful of box fill. How will you get all of the circuit conductors over to the new panels?



how much room do you have between the wall (the panels are going in) and anything such as the washer and dryer, shelf up above that would be in the 30" width space for the panels? Looks a bit shy but hard to tell in a picture.
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:08 AM   #8
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
Originally Posted by kbsparky View Post
2/0 copper is large enough for a 200 Amp service. You only need a #2 copper for a 125 Amp service.
Your right - #2 is what I meant.

Quote:
Your (existing) neutral wire lacks proper marking with white tape (or paint).
The new wire will be SER and properly marked.

Quote:
The 10/3 that goes outside into the conduit LB is an indoor cable. Is it spliced to a different wiring method inside of the LB?
Yes, it's the wrong type - it will be replaced with #6 SER (or #4 - whatever the calcs require to allow for voltage drop) for 60 amp garage subpanel. The existing conduit is 3/4". I may need to run a larger conduit.

There are so many things wrong with the electrical system as far as cables not properly secured, live cables lying in the attic unconnected to anything, multiple junction boxes uncovered with taps going everywhere, splices made with tape, etc. I'm cleaning up the entire system before I reinsulate the attic (it has about 3" of blown in glass in most places, none in others).

What you've pointed out is already on my punchlist, but thanks for taking the time to read and post a reply. I can never have too much help from qualified people.

Last edited by sandersdon; 10-31-2010 at 12:24 AM. Reason: clarify response
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:20 AM   #9
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
I wouldn't even hesitate. Put it in now while you are doing all of this.
I agree. I'm only doing this once.

Quote:
the old panel is going away, right? how are you getting from that spot to the new panels? if you are putting a junction box in place of the old panel, be mindful of box fill. How will you get all of the circuit conductors over to the new panels?
Yes, the existing box is going bye bye. I'm pulling all new cable in the attic to the subpanel first and then to the new (larger) main panel. The new service disconnect will go outside where the original box was (opposite the existing panel).

Quote:
how much room do you have between the wall (the panels are going in) and anything such as the washer and dryer, shelf up above that would be in the 30" width space for the panels? Looks a bit shy but hard to tell in a picture.
36" to the washer/dryer. The shelf above will be deleted.

I appreciate your comments. I'll take a few pics of the attic space tomorrow to post and show the existing wiring.
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Old 10-31-2010, 07:00 AM   #10
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
The 10/3 that goes outside into the conduit LB is an indoor cable. Is it spliced to a different wiring method inside of the LB? .....
Yes, it's the wrong type - it will be replaced with #6 SER (or #4 - whatever the calcs require to allow for voltage drop) for 60 amp garage subpanel. The existing conduit is 3/4". I may need to run a larger conduit.
FYI, you can not install SER cable into an underground conduit. All you need to do here is make the conduit continuous from one enclosure to the other, and then install three #6 THWN conductors, with a #10 ground. The conduit is large enough for those wires.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:37 AM   #11
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


Quote:
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FYI, you can not install SER cable into an underground conduit. All you need to do here is make the conduit continuous from one enclosure to the other, and then install three #6 THWN conductors, with a #10 ground. The conduit is large enough for those wires.
Thanks for catching that! It does seem odd it would not be allowed since it is rated for wet locations. (code ref 310.10.C.3 listed for use in wet locations, 310.15.B.7 type SE cable allowed for feeders, VERY STRANGE - table 310.104(A) construction specs, doesn't even list type SE)

Found it! 338.12.2 SE not allowed ug with or without a raceway.

As far as making the conduit continuous, where is that in the code? I'd like to know for future reference. I searched and searched but could not find any requirements to make it continuous, only to protect it where subject to physical damage. (code ref 300.12 exc #1 short run used for support or protection only)

I'm not doubting you, it's just I like to know where the requirements are in case I need to access then again. Thanks.

Last edited by sandersdon; 10-31-2010 at 11:54 AM. Reason: added code refs
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Old 10-31-2010, 11:29 AM   #12
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Service Entrance Main Breaker Revamp


he is saying to use a different type of wire that requires conduit. If conduit is used merely for localized protection, it does not need to be continuous. Obviously, if it is used as a conduit system, it would have to reach from here to there.

I got a bit lost with kbsparky and the underground conduit. Did I miss something?


the allowances and disallowances will be found in art 338.10 and 338.12
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
he is saying to use a different type of wire that requires conduit. If conduit is used merely for localized protection, it does not need to be continuous. Obviously, if it is used as a conduit system, it would have to reach from here to there.
Would this apply and how does this fit in with previous comments?

300.5.D.2 Wiring Methods -Underground installations - Conductors entering buulding - ...shall be protected to the point of entrance
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Old 10-31-2010, 12:28 PM   #14
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As far as the panel is concerned, you can install a 200 amp rated main lug panel as long as you install the 125 amp breaker outside.
This will give you all the spaces you need now and the furture.
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:14 PM   #15
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As far as the panel is concerned, you can install a 200 amp rated main lug panel as long as you install the 125 amp breaker outside.
This will give you all the spaces you need now and the furture.
I'm glad you mentioned that (see below). I wanted to avoid having the main breaker outside so I intended to install a main disconnect switch and keep the breaker inside on the main panel. But I could use the 125A main lug panel as my main panel with the breaker backwired and add the 200A lug panel as a subpanel. How does that sound?

My duh moment: I've spent the last week researching panels and just realized a 200A panel is rated up to 200 amps, not 200 amps only. Oh well, that why it says "knothead" in my avatar...

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