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Old 07-11-2008, 10:37 AM   #1
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sub-panel questions


Sorry if a lot of this has been asked before. I have a 200 amp Square D main panel feeding two sub-panels (one in the basement one in the garage). I need to replace the one in the basement, as a home inspector and furnace inspector both said its gotta go. I'm going to do the work myself (yes, I'm going to get a permit and have it inspected). Sorry for the dumb questions.

1. This sub-panel is being fed by a 50 amp breaker in the main panel, yet the current sub-panel has a 100 amp main breaker. Is that against code? I'm not sure the size wire feeding the sub-panel, but I'll check it out. In this case, does the wire have to be rated to handle 100 or 50 amps? Any reason to do this? It seems logical to just put a 50 amp breaker in the sub-panel, so it matches the one in the main.

2. This is probably a stupid question but... The sub-panel will be surface-mounted to ply-wood, which is then mounted to the basement cement wall. I can use any indoor panel right, even if the front of it extends out past the box (e.g. what I mean is that the panel looks like it gets flushmounted and has wings extending out past the opening to make it look nicer and cover an opening in the sheetrock, but I'm going to be surface mounting it to plywood).

3. Any recommendations for a good panel that can be converted to a sub-panel? I saw the Square D Homeline panels in home depot. Any thoughts on those? It would be easier for me to get one at a big box store, but I'll certainly go somewhere else if some of the electritions on here say the ones sold there suck. I was going to use something like a 100 amp 20/20 panel, as in the future, I may need to increase this panel from 50 to 100 amps.

4. Again, stupid question but... I can install a 100 amp panel, yet have it fed by a 50 amp circuit, right (with 50 amp breakers at the main and sub-panel)?

Thanks all.


Last edited by mslide; 07-11-2008 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by mslide View Post
Sorry if a lot of this has been asked before. I have a 200 amp Square D main panel feeding two sub-panels (one in the basement one in the garage). I need to replace the one in the basement, as a home inspector and furnace inspector both said its gotta go. I'm going to do the work myself (yes, I'm going to get a permit and have it inspected). Sorry for the dumb questions.

1. This sub-panel is being fed by a 50 amp breaker in the main panel, yet the current sub-panel has a 100 amp main breaker. Is that against code? I'm not sure the size wire feeding the sub-panel, but I'll check it out. In this case, does the wire have to be rated to handle 100 or 50 amps? Any reason to do this? It seems logical to just put a 50 amp breaker in the sub-panel, so it matches the one in the main.

2. This is probably a stupid question but... The sub-panel will be surface-mounted to ply-wood, which is then mounted to the basement cement wall. I can use any indoor panel right, even if the front of it extends out past the box (e.g. what I mean is that the panel looks like it gets flushmounted and has wings extending out past the opening to make it look nicer and cover an opening in the sheetrock, but I'm going to be surface mounting it to plywood).

3. Any recommendations for a good panel that can be converted to a sub-panel? I saw the Square D Homeline panels in home depot. Any thoughts on those? It would be easier for me to get one at a big box store, but I'll certainly go somewhere else if some of the electritions on here say the ones sold there suck. I was going to use something like a 100 amp 20/20 panel, as in the future, I may need to increase this panel from 50 to 100 amps.

4. Again, stupid question but... I can install a 100 amp panel, yet have it fed by a 50 amp circuit, right (with 50 amp breakers at the main and sub-panel)?

Thanks all.
Why does it have to go? Is something wrong with it?
The 100 amp breaker in the sub panel is fine. You are protected at 50 amp via the main in the service panel. So your 100 amp breaker is just a switch. In fact you don't even need a main in a sub panel that is in the same structure (Attached). Make sure the wire/cable feeding the sub is rated for 50 amp. # 6 if in romex cable and # 8 if in conduit THHN or THHW.

You can use an indoor flush mount panel in the basement. It is not considered a wet location (or is it) lol. Mounting it to a piece of plywood is an excellent way to install it.

Please tell us WHY that panel "must go"

Ps....Stay away from the Homeline series by Square D. Use "QO" if you must have Square D.


Last edited by J. V.; 07-11-2008 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 07-11-2008, 11:55 AM   #3
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Ps....Stay away from the Homeline series by Square D. Use "QO" if you must have Square D.
I've got to ask why you say that??? I've used the Homelines myself a few times, and have inspected thousands of them. I've never heard of a quality/safety issue specific to them. Please enlighten me!
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:05 PM   #4
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Ps....Stay away from the Homeline series by Square D. Use "QO" if you must have Square D.
I also have to ask why on this statement.
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:40 PM   #5
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Mounting it to a piece of plywood is an excellent way to install it.
No kidding. Saves so much time trying to find the studs in the foundation wall
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:01 PM   #6
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Please tell us WHY that panel "must go"
Okay, well maybe the panel doesn't HAVE to go. When the inspectors made the comments, it was more of a "Hey, I really think you should replace this" instead of a "Hey, I'm gonna violate you unless you replace this". FYI, house was built in 1958. Electrical completely redone 10 years ago. I just bought the house a few months ago. Here are the issues with the sub-panel.

1. The neutral and grounds are not isolated. I know I could add another bus bar, but the panel is kinda cramped and very messy.

2. About 10 years ago, the previous owner had the service updated from 70-100'ish amps to 200 amps. The old main panel, which I think is the original for the house (or at least very old), was put in the basement as the sub-panel in question. What I'm saying is, it's old, small, ugly and a pain to work in.

3. There is about a 2" hole in the side of the panel, almost as if there was a conduit going in there or something. The hole is now covered with a metal snap-in cover. The inspector didn't like that. I heard this second hand from my friend who was there at the time, as I was working. So I'm not sure if it really is out of code or he just didn't like the looks of it (it's ugly).

4. It's an outdoor panel. The door swings up. The door itself is not hinged to the panel as it appears some screws or a hinge is missing. Thus, if I open the door, and don't hold onto it, it will fall off. The inspector said it needs to be secure and I don't want to start duct-taping my panel.

5. I think I'm going to run out of space in the future.

So, I guess it could be more me just wanting a shiny new panel, that's bigger and easier to work in, but I did hear valid concerns from both the inspector that was in when I replaced the furnace and the home inspector before I bought the house.

Another question. If I install a panel that's rated for 100 amps, but feed it with a 50 amp circuit, can I still fill it up to the max? This, of course, assumes that I do a load calculation and can convince myself that I'm not going to really ever use more than 50 amps.

Thanks for the responses all! If anyone has anymore feedback, I'm all ears.

Last edited by mslide; 07-11-2008 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 07-11-2008, 05:38 PM   #7
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As far as replacing it, the cost of a small subpanel is not too great these days as I see them all the time at HomeD and Lowes. Since it is a subpanel fed from an existing panel, just shutting down (or disconnecting) the breaker for that panel would allow it to be replaced without much trouble.

Regarding filling it up, no matter how much load you place on it you will still be governed by the "weak link" or the 50 amp breaker so any load >50 amp ( 2 circuits or 20) would trip the breaker that feeds this panel.
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:50 AM   #8
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I've got to ask why you say that??? I've used the Homelines myself a few times, and have inspected thousands of them. I've never heard of a quality/safety issue specific to them. Please enlighten me!
I am strictly going by what others in the trade have told me. As a matter of fact I just emailed a member of this forum regarding these panels.
I have never used a Homeline panel. I saw they used their own special breakers though and with the comments from others, QO would be their choice. Thats it.
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Old 07-12-2008, 02:03 PM   #9
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I am strictly going by what others in the trade have told me. As a matter of fact I just emailed a member of this forum regarding these panels.
I have never used a Homeline panel. I saw they used their own special breakers though and with the comments from others, QO would be their choice. Thats it.
I'll say that I personally think pretty highly of the homeline panels, especially given their price. Is there better gear out there? Of course. But I've never seen a failure, fire, or problem caused by a Homeline panel or breaker.

Hopefully someone will chime in and provide actual justification for your recommendation against the Homeline stuff.
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:50 PM   #10
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I'll say that I personally think pretty highly of the homeline panels, especially given their price. Is there better gear out there? Of course. But I've never seen a failure, fire, or problem caused by a Homeline panel or breaker.


I use Square D (homeline, QO, NQOD, I-Line, QMB, NF panelboards and load centers, starters, transformers, disconnects) pretty much exclusively. Never had nor ever heard of any issues with them. Bryant/cutler hammer, crouse-hinds, plenty of issues, especially with their main breakers.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:24 AM   #11
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I have never questioned the safety or integrity of Homeline panels. It was my impression that most electricians prefer the QO panels. Now I see that sentiment was not accurate. I may even try one on the next job. I also found out Homeline will except other breakers.
I am a big fan of Square D. I used them exclusively in industrial and commercial. I rarely use them in residential due to the cost. But I always have given the HO or GC that option.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback.
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Old 07-14-2008, 04:06 AM   #12
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J.V.,

I don't have much issue with the HOMELINE series at all and yes I am aware that it do have alum bussbar in there but as long it used properly no side effects at all.

I do used alot of SqD products and CutterHammer products and both are good to me so far but only one brand it kinda give me quirks is GE it kinda mixed bag to me.

Merci,Marc
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:50 AM   #13
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I have a bad taste in my mouth about the Siemens panels lately. Nothing wrong with the guts but the cover stinks. They have those handy little ears for hanging the cover on the jacket without having to support its weight while removing or replacing the cover's screws. Well, I trusted those ears just a little too much while removing the screws while doing a rough-in electric inspection, and the panel cover fell to the floor. When it hit, its bottom edge hit the floor first. The hinged door on the panel cover sheared right off! The "hinges" are little plastic loops, all of which sheared lengthwise, much to my embarrasment.

I recognize that this gear isn't designed to withstand a drop to the floor, but am unimpressed of the low quality of the materials and design.

Since I broke it, the City offered to buy sparky a new cover (or panel if separate covers weren't available).
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Old 07-14-2008, 07:55 AM   #14
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Another thing I don't care for is the panel cover screws on the Cutler Hammer panels. They're a sheet metal thread, with threads deep enough to bite through the insulation on a #12 or #14 wire. The wires often get bunched up right where the screws stick through, and the screw is about 1/8" or so from the edge of the jacket.

I've seen those screws become energized twice in my career, and both times almost make me pee down my leg. The first time I had the screwdriver in my hand and fortunately didn't get nailed, but it made a heck of a pop. The 2nd time it happened to a builder (Pulte Homes), because I now have the builder pull CH panel covers if they're with me on an inspection...Fortunately he didn't get shocked, but he was wide-eyed.

I prefer the machine thread screws that most brands use.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:31 AM   #15
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Correction. " I also found out Homeline will except other breakers". I should have said Homeline breakers will fit other panels. Homeline panels only accept Homeline breakers.

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