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Old 10-25-2014, 11:50 AM   #1
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Help with sub panels


Hello all, I'm a new member, hoping to learn how to do things correctly and safely. My home has a 200A main disconnect outside that feeds a main circuit breaker panel inside. This panel has a 200A main circuit breaker as well as a number of branch circuits (HVAC, dryer, general use). For simplicity I'll refer to it as sub 1. Sub 1 also feeds another sub panel (sub 2) in the attic. The feeds from sub 1 to sub 2 are #2 THHN. The feeds are protected in sub 1 by a 100A breaker. Sub 2 (attic) contains branch circuits for second story bedrooms and bath. I have recently begun enclosing an attached porch (12' x 6') for purposes of making it a laundry room. I have mounted a new sub panel (sub 3) next to sub 1 that will contain all the branch circuits for the laundry. Subs 1 and 2 were installed before I bought the home and my best guess is they date to mid to late 1990's. They are GE brand. When I opened up subs 1 & 2 to inspect the wiring I found issues that I believe need to be corrected.

Issue 1. In sub 1, the white # 6 ground wire coming from the main disconnect is attached to the right side neutral lug along with the neutrals from the main disconnect and to sub 2. There is no separate ground bar. Moreover, the bare copper grounds from branch circuits are connected to the left and right neutral bars along with the white neutrals.

Issue 2. Since there is no separate ground bar in sub 1, there are only three wires going from sub 1 to sub 2 in the attic. All 3 are # 2 THHN. Within sub 2 the two hots which are connected to the 100A circuit breaker and one connected to the right hand neutral lug. There is no ground wire between these two sub panels.

Issue 3. In sub 2 (attic) there is no ground wire or ground bar. White neutrals and bare copper ground wires are connected to the neutral bus bars.

My plan: In sub 1 install a separate ground bar, made for the panel, and move the white insulated ground from the neutral lug and attach to the ground bar. Move all bare copper grounds from the neutral bus bars to the separate ground bar. Attach a green insulated # 8 THHN wire to the ground bar and run it to sub 2. In sub 2 (attic) install a separate ground bar. Affix the new green insulated # 8 THHN wire from sub 1 to it. Move all bare copper grounds from the neutral bus bars to the ground bar. Back in sub 1 install a new 60A circuit breaker and attach the two hots from 6-3 NM cable to it, the white neutral to the neutral bus bar and the bare copper to the ground bar. the 6-3 NM will then run to sub 3 and connect to a 100A circuit breaker (the panel came with it pre-installed). The neutral to the neutral lug and the copper to a separate ground bar.

I had considered using a 100A breaker in sub 1 and 2-2-2-8 THHN to feed sub 2, but it would have to be in conduit and it will be very difficult to get to a new KO in sub 1 (would have to tear out and replace sheetrock). By using 6-3 NM I can route through an existing KO (where the feeds to sub 2 run) through the top and on to sub 3. Additionally, I shouldn't need more than 50 amps for a 6 x 12 laundry room (electric washer and dryer, general use outlet circuit, lighting circuit, and dedicated circuit for a heated floor).

Not sure of the following: (1) right now in sub 1 there are three wires connected to the right side neutral bus bar under one lug: a # 2 THHN feed from the main disconnect; a # 2 THHN that goes to sub 2; a # 6 white insulated ground from the main disconnect. I plan to move the white ground to a separate ground bar. Is it OK to leave the two # 2 THHN wires under the same lug?

I would welcome any thoughts or suggestions. Anything that seems irregular or anything I haven't thought of. Thanks!
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Old 10-25-2014, 12:11 PM   #2
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Old 10-25-2014, 12:13 PM   #3
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Old 10-25-2014, 01:54 PM   #4
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Are your panels connected to each other with metallic pipe?
Photos would help.

Last edited by brric; 10-25-2014 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:17 PM   #5
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BRRIC:

The feeders from the main disconnect outside are in flex conduit to sub 1 (what I call the main circuit breaker panel). The feeders from sub 1 to sub 2 (the attic panel) are not in conduit. Since they are THHN wires I think they should be but they aren't. They run through an accessible attic space but would be extremely difficult (for me anyway) to retrofit in flex conduit. As for my proposed sub 3, I planned to use 6-3 NM sheathed cable from sub 1 (with a 60A breaker) without conduit.

I've read instructions on posting images and "attached" an image but I must have done it wrong. I'll try again. If it worked, the attached photo is of sub 1. I'll try and attach some better ones. Thanks for your reply.Help with sub panels-10-1-14-207-2.jpg
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:28 PM   #6
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If you have individual conductors not in conduit feeding the attic panel you have greater issues than just separating neutrals and equipment grounds.
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Old 10-25-2014, 03:49 PM   #7
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BRRIC:

I understand that the NEC requires it in conduit. Is the issue one of potential damage to the these individual wires?

Presuming I retroactively ran them in flex aluminum conduit, and did the other work I proposed, would the setup then be suitable?

I appreciate your responses.
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Old 10-26-2014, 03:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasblount View Post
BRRIC:

The feeders from the main disconnect outside are in flex conduit to sub 1 (what I call the main circuit breaker panel). The feeders from sub 1 to sub 2 (the attic panel) are not in conduit. Since they are THHN wires I think they should be but they aren't. They run through an accessible attic space but would be extremely difficult (for me anyway) to retrofit in flex conduit. As for my proposed sub 3, I planned to use 6-3 NM sheathed cable from sub 1 (with a 60A breaker) without conduit.

I've read instructions on posting images and "attached" an image but I must have done it wrong. I'll try again. If it worked, the attached photo is of sub 1. I'll try and attach some better ones. Thanks for your reply.Attachment 90870

Just to point out I see multiple conductors under the same lug and the 2 double pole breakers to the right are not for that panel. Something I would fix during this project.
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Old 10-26-2014, 11:20 AM   #9
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Jump-Start:
Thank you! I noticed the two conductors under one lug and figured that needed correction, but hadn't noticed that the 50A and 30A double pole breakers were some brand other than GE. Will add that to my to-do list.
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