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Old 02-21-2010, 12:32 PM   #61
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Unintended kitchen remodel


I finally meet again with the Power Company (PoCo) folks to review my meter setup situation. The good news is that, except for the double-lugging of the sub-panel supply line to the meter box (inherited, not my handiwork!), everything else is okay on their side.

So hereís the situation: I need to replace my main load center (circuit breaker box), plus fix the improper wiring to the sub-panel in the workshop. Details are in previous posts in this thread, and documented in a separate thread in the Electrical section at Neutral & grounds on separate bus bars?. Iíve finally decided on the following:

Keep the same location of the main LC, despite it being in a half-bath over the toilet. Due to layout of the upper floor and lack of a basement, itís just too difficult to relocate the box to a better-suited location (alas).
Sub the panel in the workshop to the main LC in a traditional manner (instead of other options discussed in the Electrical thread). The subís currently supplied directly from the meter box with wires double-lugged to the meter (see photo).
Route the sub-panel supply wires from the main LC into the attic, then through the siding outside to connect to the existing conduit run (see photo). Will recycle as may conduit pieces as possible (to save a few measly bucks).
Will try to use existing sub-panel supply lines, just adding a ground wire. Will try to fish the ground through the conduit without removing/reloading the existing wire. If the existing wire is too short to reach the main LC, Iíll have to buy new lengths for all four wires (yuck).

Because this will be a lot of work for me (and my wife/assistant), Iím planning this in two phases: 1) Replace main LC; 2) re-wire sub-panel. Itíd be great if both could be accomplished in a day, but main goal is to restore power to the main house in the same day (before the PoCo folks quit for the day). I can stand to finish the sub-panel the next day, if necessary.
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Old 02-21-2010, 12:34 PM   #62
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Unintended kitchen remodel


My ďcurrentĒ setup (no pun intended ) is a 200A meter service, a 200A main panel (in the Electrical thread, I erroneously stated it was a 100A panel; Iíve learned a lot since thenÖ), and a 100A second panel wired directly to the meter box via double-lugging.

Iíve used an electrical load calculator spreadsheet (obtained online thru a posting made by Scuba_Dave Ė thanks!) to evaluate my service needs, and Iím still okay with 200A service. Thus, I donít have to upgrade the meter box or anything Ė a relief!

For this immediate project, Iím not focused on adding or changing circuits. Iíll have my hands full with just replacing the box with no additional changes (except the sub-panel wiring, of course).

Iíve currently got nine 240V circuits, taking two full slots in the panel. The feed to the sub will take up two more full slots. A 200A panel can only have 40 circuits, but with the 240V breakers taking up 20 slots, that only leaves 20 remaining circuits available. I currently have 16 120V circuits, leaving me with only 4 additional circuits left for future use. I expect Iíll use most of them before the kitchen remodel and other work is finished. Meanwhile, Iím shopping for a 200A load center that has at least 30 full slots and 40 total circuits. I expect to use half-slot breakers for all the 120V circuits. I could go with 40 full slots, but at over 39Ē in height, theyíre just too big to fit! A 30-slot box will already be 12Ē higher than my existing box.

Anyway, Iím down to the final price comparisons between Square-D, GE, Siemens, or Homelite (by Square-D). Iím leaning toward the Homelite, just for cost savings.

Also, Iím looking to replace most of the 120V breakers with AFCIís (not for kitchen, utility room, garage or bathrooms). Adds to the cost, but brings me up more-current NEC standards Ė and the extra protection from arc faults is a good thing to have!
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Old 02-21-2010, 12:38 PM   #63
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Iíve been working on a detailed to-do list, to figure out everything Iíll need to accomplish, and help assure Iíve covered all my bases. While the powerís out, I donít want to waste time trying to figure out next steps, or be making twelve trips to stores to get supplies or tools I didnít think about ahead of time.

Hereís the latest draft. Any feedback would be appreciated:

Prior to Load Center Replacement Day:
Contact PoCo and schedule shut-off/meter removal
Obtain all parts required (load center, breakers, separate ground bar for sub, protector rings and clamps for punch-outs, part to seal conduit hole in side of meter box, etc.)
Verify that all required specialty tools (for opening/closing lugs, stripping large wire, etc.) are on hand
Cut out drywall above and below old box, to access wires
Drill holes in wall sill above main box (for routing the sub-panel supply wires through to the attic)
Scope out height to install new box, based on lengths of existing wires
Determine whether longer service feed wires will be required; obtain if needed
Determine whether all existing circuit wires will reach new connections; adjust planned box and breaker slot positions as needed
Punch out holes in new box for all incoming wires, and confirm that all edge protectors and wire clamps are on hand
Lay out all tools and supplies in work area the night before installation

Day of Load Center Replacement:
Open garage door
String extension cord from neighbor and route to workspace
Have PoCo shut off all power and remove meter
Disconnect double-lugged service feeds in meter box, and reconnect single main service feed wires
Remove sub-pane supply line and conduit connection from meter box (support conduit temporarily against wall; see Sub-Panel Re-Wiring section below)
Seal conduit hole on side of meter box with appropriate product
In old main load center, label service feed wires and disconnect from main shutoff
Label and disconnect main grounding wire
Label and disconnect all hot wires connected to breakers
Disconnect all wires from neutral/ground bars (no need to label)
Unclamp and remove all wires from box
Remove box
Install new box into wall
Clamp service feed wires into box
Connect Service feed wires to main breaker/bus lugs
Clamp main ground wire into box, and connect to ground bar
Clamp all remaining circuit wires into box
Connect hot wires to breakers, and connect breakers
Connect neutrals, grounds onto bars
Leave all breakers on ďoffĒ position
DOUBLE-CHECK ALL CONNECTIONS
Request PoCo re-install meter and re-initiate power
Flip on breakers one at a time
Document the new configuration of all circuits in the new load center

Sub-Panel Re-Wiring:
Remove section of drywall above panel box to facilitate wire access
Remove bonding screw
Install ground bus bar
Cut conduit:
oCut 1í above 90˚ coupling with access panel (currently connected to meter box)
oCut horizontal run just to right of 90˚ elbow on left (meter) side
Remove wire from unsecured conduit pieces
Fish through secured conduit (from open cut end of horizontal run to access panel on shop side)
Attach grounding wire to fish and pull through conduit
Cut hole in siding to receive conduit entrance into attic
Fish all four panel supply wires through loose 90˚ coupling with access panel
Insert wire and 90˚ coupling into attic; secure with clamping screw
Attach 90˚ coupling to horizontal conduit, using coupling ring
On sub-panel side, route grounding wire into sub-panel, and connect to ground bar
Attach all circuit ground wires to ground bar
Leave sub-panel shutoff switch off
DOUBLE-CHECK ALL CONNECTIONS
On main LC side, route four sub-panel supply lines from attic to main LC
Connect supply lines to 100A breaker
Turn on 100A breaker
Turn on sub-panel switch
Have a beer

Clean-up:
Attach panel covers for main LC and sub-panel
Attach temporary plywood covers to open spaces above/below panels
Eventually, replace plywood with drywall patches, and finish (mud, sand, prime, paint)
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Old 02-22-2010, 08:52 AM   #64
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Now, that's a list! Looks like you've got everything pretty much covered and then some. Not that I would know where to begin... Except, maybe, flip the breakers off!!!
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:14 AM   #65
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Looks like things are coming along. Good luck with everything, that is quite a list!
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:21 AM   #66
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lali View Post
Now, that's a list! Looks like you've got everything pretty much covered and then some. Not that I would know where to begin... Except, maybe, flip the breakers off!!!
Flipping off the breakers is ALWAYS a good start!

I apologize for being overly wordy in my previous posts. Part of me is trying to show that I know what I'm doing. Another part is worried I don't, and is looking for confirmation from the experts. Another part wants to share the thought process and details for those who may be treading the same path.

Perhaps I'm dealing with too many parts...
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:07 AM   #67
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Quote:
I apologize for being overly wordy in my previous posts.
No need to apologize. Details are alwayz good.

Quote:
Part of me is trying to show that I know what I'm doing.
Most of us like to think we do. (know what we're doing, that is)

Quote:
Another part is worried I don't,
Ahhh, there's that alter ego creeping in...

Quote:
and is looking for confirmation from the experts.
We all need encouragement & praise from time to time; it's what gives us that extra little 'push' or 'boost' to succeed at what we're doing.

Quote:
Another part wants to share the thought process and details for those who may be treading the same path.
And that's the best part; sharing your knowledge with followers.

Quote:
Perhaps I'm dealing with too many parts...
No, it just means you are a multi-tasked, multi-talented, detail-oriented kinda person!!!

Last edited by Lali; 02-23-2010 at 07:10 AM. Reason: missed a space!
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:56 PM   #68
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Unintended kitchen remodel


The weather's been warmer here, so I thought I'd go out today and buy the load center and other parts to change out my circuit breaker box next week. Yipee, ready to make some progress!

...however. Took a closer look at the service feed from the meter socket box. The meter box is attached to the outside brick wall, and a nipple (2" metal tube with threads on each end) connects the back of the meter box, through the wall, to the back of my inside load center -- through which the service wires travel (see photo on post #28; service wires enter in upper-left of back of panel). The old box is 24" tall. The new box will be 39" tall. There's NO WAY to connect the existing nipple to the new box through an available cutout in the new box without having a serious alignment problem -- either forcing me to install the box too high or too low. Because the load center mounts flush into the wall, there's no room behind it to route the service wires higher and keep the box flush with the wall.

ARGH!!!

The only way I can see to fix this: Use conduit within the wall cavity to move the service wires up to a higher level. Then fur out the studs a couple inches to frame a new opening for the load center to mount into. Then drywall around the opening to minimize the ugly mess! Not a lovely sight for a finished guest/half-bath!

Very frustrating, but I can't think of another solution. I wanted to accomplish the load center swap in one day (to avoid a night without electricity). However, adding the extra conduit work and framing needed to fur-out an accurate opening is yet more to do in a limited time! I might have to plan a 48-hour project after all.....
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:03 PM   #69
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Okay, figured out the way to get the electrical panel out of the bathroom!!

I'm putting it on the stairwell landing, which has enough space to meet NEC requirements (see New location for main panel for the related discussion on the Electrical thread).
Good stud location for panel placement, great access from the attic, and closer to where the current circuit wires go into the old panel -- letting me re-wire most circuits to the new panel without having to splice the wires (except for 5 circuits that enter the old panel from below, instead of from the attic).

So I'll be buying the panel and supplies early this week, and doing the actual job either late this week or early next week.

I'm just glad to be moving on this project again!

I wanted to save the bookcase, if possible. Removing it was fairly straight-forward. I removed the bottom doors, and pried off the trim pieces framing the case. I thought I could just pull the case out from the wall, but it was nailed to the side walls from the inside of the case with a couple trim nails. I couldn't pull them out or cut them, so I just got a nail set, and hammered them all the way through the wood -- problem solved.
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:46 PM   #70
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Well, the guys on the electrical thread (and my wife) convinced me to change the panel location to the wall where the eagle picture is hanging (see post #69). It will be more work routing wires and conduit through studs and insulation to the panel, but will allow me to put the built-in shelf back in its original location.

After researching pricing at both big-box stores and local electrical supply shops, I determined that my best price for breakers and PVC conduit was the blue box (Iím getting Square-D, which the orange box doesnít carry); however, I get a better price for wires and EMT conduit at a local electrical supply shop. So today I went to the blue box and made the first big purchase: panel, bunch of breakers, PVC conduit parts (for sub-panel wires), grounding rod and other parts (see photo). About $650 of supplies right there -- and more to come.

I also purchased a small 125A main lug panel. Iíll strip out the insides, and use this as a junction box in the attic. I need to splice attic-originating circuit wires in order to reach the new panel location, and I canít splice them in the old panel box (no room to route the new romex back up through the top plate to the attic). I might return it if I can get a cheaper junction box at the elec supply store.

Tonight Iíll start tearing out drywall in the new panel location, so I can determine how many studs Iíll have to drill through. Iíll also make final measurements for wire, which Iíll hopefully be purchasing tomorrow. I plan to set up as much wiring in the new box as possible, running wires and conduit installation through the walls to the attic above the old panel. Then, the day I actually have the POCO shut the power, Iíll focus on completing conduit runs and splicing a bunch of wires. If I do a good job of pre-wiring, I might actually finish both the main and sub-panel setups (but probably notÖ. ).
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:40 PM   #71
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Unintended kitchen remodel


I've been working a lot with the great guys on the Electrical thread (New location for main panel). Lots of interesting discussions with pictures/diagrams there, if you're interested in those details. It's really been a challenge figuring out how to get the power lines from the meter to the new panel location, while remaining code-compliant. But I do want to do this right, so I'll keep working at it until there's a clear path forward.
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Old 03-31-2010, 08:14 AM   #72
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Unintended kitchen remodel


Man, this thread was worth the read and time! I mean, it has everything! Drama, blood, humor, and patience! Was there any domestic violence?

What a great job Dan! I'm impressed!
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Old 03-31-2010, 09:07 AM   #73
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Man, this thread was worth the read and time! I mean, it has everything! Drama, blood, humor, and patience! Was there any domestic violence?

What a great job Dan! I'm impressed!
Thanks! No domestic violence... - yet.

(There might be, if I don't eventually get back to working on the kitchen. My wife can swing a mean golf club. )
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:32 PM   #74
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Since finalizing my approach to the pesky details of the new panel setup (with tremendous help from the great guys in the Electrical forum), I've been busy with final purchases of supplies. I've now got all the breakers, wire, connectors, etc., that I think I'll need. I'm now working on doing as much setup as possible, prior to THE DAY when the electricity turned off to make the final panel switch.

Because I have five MWBC's (multiple wire branch circuits) in my house (where one "3-wire" cable (two hots, one neutral, and one ground) from the breaker panel, with the two hots connected to separate breakers, is routed to a section of the house, then split into two separate circuits -- one for each hot wire, sharing the common neutral), I only have to deal with 20 cables for my 25 circuits!

I worked on the junction box I'm putting in the attic, which will handle 13 cable splices. The box didn't have enough punch-outs in it, so I had to buy a knockout punch set to make more. It worked very well: Drill a 3/8" pilot hole, then insert the punch set into the hole and screw on the cutter. After hand-tightening, tighten with 8 turns of the wrench. Viola, perfect holes! Even with the extra holes, I'll still have to clamp two cables through some of the holes, but that should work fine.
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Old 04-05-2010, 11:43 PM   #75
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Also today, I pounded in the 8 foot copper grounding rod into the earth. Photos below show with 2 feet in, and all the way in. I started with a hand sledge, and ended with a full sledge hammer. Not something I'd want to do every day!!

I also finished drilling holes through the studs that will carry the circuit wires to the new panel location (see bottom of studs in photo).

Tomorrow I hope to mount the new panel and the junction box. Before I can start wiring between the two, I'll need to set up the conduit for the main service feed (1.5" EMT) and the sub-panel feed (1.25" PVC). Should be fun....
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