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Old 11-27-2015, 02:34 PM   #1
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Exterior Main Panel with No Internal Access


I have a new main panel mounted on exterior concrete wall with no interior access. The new panel replaces existing interior panel in non-compliant location. The basic question is how to connect the existing (and any future)circuits to the new panel. The options I see are:

1) Install continuous 2" conduit system from the new panel up the exterior wall through attic to the existing main panel where the circuits are now (about 20 feet away) and pull individual wires;or

2) install about 4 feet of conduit as a protection device (not a conduit system) into attic and terminate with a bushing and run new romex through the conduit.

Option 2 is much easier and would allow easier installation of future circuits but I realize there are issues with romex in exterior conduit, but I also have been reading that this installation may be considered a protection device and not a conduit system.

Anything helps, thanks!
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:00 PM   #2
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Don't recall ever seeing such a panel. Better post photos.
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:03 PM   #3
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When you say main panel, do you mean the distribution panel with all the various circuit breakers in it? I ask because my "main panel" is outside, but it only contains the main shutoff breaker for the house. That makes my distribution panel inside the house a subpanel. I think it would be quite unusual to have the distribution panel outside; I've never seen one rated for outdoor use (but then, I'm not a pro either). Can you clarify?
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Old 11-27-2015, 06:27 PM   #4
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Its a Siemens 200 AMP exterior surface mount rated meter/distribution panel combo. It has the meter on top and breakers below with a rain proof door. Very common here in CA. I think I attached the picture here:
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Old 11-27-2015, 08:37 PM   #5
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Looks like interior access to me.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:42 PM   #6
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Do you have overhead or underground service?
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:57 PM   #7
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In what way is the old panel against code
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Old 11-28-2015, 07:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jnaas2 View Post
In what way is the old panel against code
Most likely was placed in a Bath or closet.



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Old 11-28-2015, 07:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diynuke View Post
Its a Siemens 200 AMP exterior surface mount rated meter/distribution panel combo. It has the meter on top and breakers below with a rain proof door. Very common here in CA. I think I attached the picture here:
Well, I guess such a thing does exist. But I struggle to understand why. It's much more convenient having the distribution panel somewhere inside. Especially when adding a new circuit. Perhaps some pro can explain the rationale for this arrangement?
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Old 11-28-2015, 08:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
Well, I guess such a thing does exist. But I struggle to understand why. It's much more convenient having the distribution panel somewhere inside. Especially when adding a new circuit. Perhaps some pro can explain the rationale for this arrangement?

It has existed for some time here, at least from the days of 110 service and fuses. The combined meter set and panel are a newer version.

Cheap or lack of a suitable inside location are the only reasons I can guess.
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Old 11-28-2015, 01:21 PM   #11
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Have you checked the power company on the riser/weather head location ?
Or did you just pick it, assuming it would be OK ?
I am assuming that you are overhead service, as that appears to be an overhead service only panel.

If your plan is to go up with your branch circuits, why didn't you select a panel with the meter located to one side ? With that panel, you will have to exit from either the side or the bottom of it. You can not run the branch circuits up thru the meter area.

You say there is no interior access to that concrete wall. Does that mean it is somehow covered/blocked so you can't get to it, or are you saying the are currently no openings ? Is it reinforced concrete or concrete block ?
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Old 11-28-2015, 02:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Well, I guess such a thing does exist. But I struggle to understand why. It's much more convenient having the distribution panel somewhere inside
It depends on where you live, and the climate.
In the warmer dryer climates, we don't have to worry about rain, snow and freezing weather. And in locations where basements are uncommon, where would you put a panel, in the interior living space, or the exterior wall?

A lot of them ( either flush or surface mount) end up on the exterior wall of an attached garage. These walls were historically neither insulated or sheet rocked. Branch circuits ran out the back of the panel and up the open stud bay and across the garage, before entering the house. In more recent years, you have more garages that are totally sheet rocked, but cutting the sheet rock and the finish of any patching is less of an issue as compared to a living space interior panel.

Here, the historical use of interior panels were generally used to replace fuse boxes in existing houses. The majority of the homes built post war were done with the exterior panels. More recently, as subdivisions started to use underground service, you are seeing more interior panels used, but they are still often located on the inside of the garage side wall.

Exterior surface mounts (whether UG or OH) are actually coming making a slight comeback. They are often the preferred panel to use in conjunction with solar installs. It makes the interconnections with the solar easier.
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Old 11-29-2015, 02:45 PM   #13
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Exterior Conduit and Common Ground Wire


Wow thanks for al the replies. Yes the panel is exterior mounted and it will have overhead service and eventual connection with solar as the one poster mentioned. The overhead service will go straight up through the roof to a location approved by the power company. The meter on top and breakers on bottom configuration allows for up to 2" knockout on either side of the breaker section to attach conduit, in this case one for solar and one for a conduit to feed the circuits up through the attic to a junction box in the house where the old panel is. The existing panel is in a closet and will be used as a junction box to tie into the existing wires in the house.

I have decided to pull individual THHN wires through the conduit (not romex), which leads to these questions:

1. What kind of conduit to use. Can I use Schedule 80 PVC electrical conduit on the exterior wall or do I need to use metal?

2. I have read elsewhere that I can use a common ground wire for all the new circuits so I don't have to pull individual ground wires for each circuit?
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Old 11-29-2015, 04:26 PM   #14
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Since the conduit is outside, you need THWN wire. Most is now dual rated THHN/THWN so its probably not an issue.
Schedule 40 PVC is fine.
If you pull all your circuits though a single conduit you will have some serious derating issues.
A single ground is fine. It must be sized for the largest circuit you are using.
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