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Old 06-23-2012, 12:50 PM   #1
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Subpanel Grounding


I went into my basement today to shut off a breaker on my subpanel and noticed something that I wanted to check on. The current main panel has 3 wires running into it (2 hots and a ground). The main has a shared neutral and ground bar (which I believe is ok, based on the little I know about electrical). My question, though, is about the subpanel. It is currently fed by a 50 amp breaker connected to the main. Coming into the subpanel are 3 wiresÖ two hots that connect to the main portion of the panel and a neutral that connects to the neutral bar. There is no ground bar in the subpanel, and all of the ground and neutral wires coming into the subpanel connect to the neutral bar. Iím not sure how long ago the subpanel was put in, but I believe it may have been put in by a homeowner, hence some of my concern. Anyway, my questions are:
  • Does this mean my subpanel isnít grounded?
  • Is this dangerous?
  • Should I fix this, and if so how?

Thanks so much!

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Old 06-23-2012, 01:17 PM   #2
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Subpanel Grounding


the rules on subpanels changed awhile back. nowadays you can't have the neutral and grounds bonded in a subpanel. if the subpanel is in another building i believe you also have to have a seprate ground rod system, plate etc. in place as well.

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Old 06-23-2012, 01:29 PM   #3
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Subpanel Grounding


Quote:
Originally Posted by buchman View Post
....
Does this mean my subpanel isnít grounded?
No. It is grounded through the neutral.
Quote:
Is this dangerous?
Possibly so. Keep in mind that your neutral is a current carrying conductor, while the ground wires are not.

It IS a violation of the Code ....

Quote:
Should I fix this, and if so how?
Yes, fix it.

You will have to use a 4-wire feeder to the sub-panel. If it's fed with individual wires in a conduit nipple, then simply add another conductor. If it's fed with a cable assembly, then you will have to replace it with a conduit/nipple or a proper 4-wire cable.

Then install an equipment grounding bar kit in the sub-panel, and relocate all the grounding conductors from the neutral to the new ground bar. Remove any bonding jumper or screw in the panel to isolate the neutral from the grounds.
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Old 06-23-2012, 01:36 PM   #4
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Subpanel Grounding


Awesome... Thanks so much for your help!
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Old 06-24-2012, 12:04 PM   #5
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Subpanel Grounding


Actually this was only made illegal on the 2008 code cycle. It was perfectly legal before then. You do not have to do anything. But have at it if you want to.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:07 PM   #6
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Subpanel Grounding


Quote:
Originally Posted by J. V.
Actually this was only made illegal on the 2008 code cycle. It was perfectly legal before then. You do not have to do anything. But have at it if you want to.
As long as I've been an electrician (14 years) the grounds and neutral have needed to be separate. Is there metal conduit between the main and sun panels? If so, you will not need to mess with running a new ground between panels.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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Subpanel Grounding


Quote:
Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
Actually this was only made illegal on the 2008 code cycle. It was perfectly legal before then. You do not have to do anything. But have at it if you want to.
I thought that was changed in like 1996. Definitely older than 2008.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:44 PM   #8
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Subpanel Grounding


Quote:
Originally Posted by J. V. View Post
Actually this was only made illegal on the 2008 code cycle. It was perfectly legal before then. You do not have to do anything. But have at it if you want to.
No way, where did you read that? You must be referring to "detached" structures.

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