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Old 04-04-2013, 07:02 PM   #1
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


I currently have four lines of #4 stranded copper available between the main breaker panel and a backyard subpanel. The subpanel was originally designed to provide 220 for future hot tub but will only need 110 for now (a 20amp secondary breaker slot in the sub panel accommodates that). Now the trick is actually connecting the #4 wires to a breaker in the main. There is only room for a 20amp breaker due to limited breaker selection for a Federal Pacific load center.

Can I get a second subpanel and connect a 20amp circuit between it and the main? This would be the proposed connection flow from main to 110 GFCI receptacle in back yard:
1). 110 from 20amp breaker on main to 20amp breaker on subpanel
2). 220 from subpanel I's 50amp breaker to subpanel II's (backyard) bus
3). 110 from subpanel II's 20amp breaker to a GFCI receptacle

Alternative suggestions?

*I understand i could replace the main load center or do that plus a service change but hoping to avoid those scenarios

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Old 04-04-2013, 07:08 PM   #2
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


No way you can come from the main with 120v and get 240 at another panel

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Old 04-04-2013, 08:48 PM   #3
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Can you post a photo of the Federal Pacific load center?

They are known to be a problem in and of themselves. Just do a Google search.
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:08 PM   #4
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


Install a new subpanel next to the main panel.

Move some other circuits to this subpanel so as to free up a pair of breaker positions in the main panel.

In the main panel put in a new double wide double breaker with tied handles for the new subpanel next to the main panel. This one also needs four wires: two for hot, one for neutral, and one for ground.

Run the backyard wires into the new subpanel where you put in a new double wide double breaker with tied handles for them,
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:24 PM   #5
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


http://www.ismypanelsafe.com/fpe.aspx
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:39 AM   #6
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


Good points, thanks. Indeed I do have a stab-lok Fed Pac load center which apparently has had a history of problems (Thanks TTW) in the San Francisco bay area where I am located. Sounds like it is time to replace the load center....

Can anybody speak from experience on what a good replacement would be....currently have a 125a Fed Pac / 24 pole. Would like some room for expansion - so, maybe 200a / 40 pole? Still a bit confused by price when shopping as breakers can range from $8 to $100 for same spec and same differential on panels. I don't think it's get what you pay for as UBIF's for Fed Pac panels are among the most expensive....
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:58 PM   #7
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


ANY name brand panel is FINE. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

To go to 200A you are looking at a complete service upgrade, not just a panel change.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:03 PM   #8
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


Chances are that you might be able to upgrade to a 150 amp panel without changing your service. You need to consult with a licensed electrician. As far as panels go, all commercially available panels meet or exceed the current panel requirements. However, some breakers are more expensive than others as are the panels. Again, a licensed electrician should be able to guide you toward a reasonable solution for a new panel with more breaker space. With FPE panels it's not a matter of "if they fail" it is a question of
"when". You want to change the panel before you call the Fire Department.
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:45 PM   #9
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Thanks. What determines whether the 150amp panel is possible now? I currently have a 100amp service with 125a main breaker panel (original from home build 35 years ago). I don't intend to load it up now but would prefer have space available and not have to replace the main panel again when I do a service change to 200 down the road...
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Old 04-05-2013, 05:32 PM   #10
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A licensed electrician should be able to look at your service conductors and your meter enclosure and determine if they are suitable for 150 A. Around here POCO generally installs the same size service drop. If your current service conductors are suitable for 150A you may be able to install a 150A panel.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:20 AM   #11
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Subpanel with 110 to 220 conversion


Quote:
Originally Posted by dfelb8 View Post
What determines whether the 150amp panel is possible now? I currently have a 100amp service with 125a main breaker panel (original from home build 35 years ago). I don't intend to load it up now but would prefer have space available and not have to replace the main panel again when I do a service change to 200 down the road...
Forget 150A. There is about a .01% chance you can safely and legally put in a 150A not without changing anything else. And 150A is like a bastard size, there is no reason to go with that because 200A is only a few dollars more.
Just get quotes to upgrade to 200A.

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