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Old 12-20-2009, 12:31 PM   #1
 
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lights dim and panel buzz..HELP


I have a sub panel in my home that buzzes and the lights dim when I run my christmas lights.. I figure I am drawaing about 40 amps across 4 different circuits..
I am planning another dedicated breaker box for this effort, but for now I think I have a problem...
I have a breaker box that has a bus for ground wires and 2 busses for common wires.
The feeder white wire comes in and is connected to the right side common bus. But I don't see any connection to the left side common bus except for the white wires from the loads....?
If these are bonded together, I can't see it and the top of the bus bar has a place for a connecting wire with a set screw but it is empty.
Can this be normal?????????
I suppose I am wrong here because these circuits would not work.
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:35 PM   #2
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there is often a strap that runs from one side to the other behind what you can see. What is the panel manufacturer and model, if possible.

what is buzzing? Have you tried turning off each breaker, 1 at a time to attempt to distinguish which breaker it might be?
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:36 PM   #3
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A sub usually has 4 wires
The neutrals & grounds are on a seperate buss
Neutral buss not connected to the case to the gropund buss

You are pulling 40a 120v ?
How many amps is the sub ?
How many amps is the main panel ?
Any other big electric draws in the house ?



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Old 12-20-2009, 03:56 PM   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
A sub usually has 4 wires
The neutrals & grounds are on a seperate buss
Neutral buss not connected to the case to the gropund buss

You are pulling 40a 120v ?
How many amps is the sub ?
How many amps is the main panel ?
Any other big electric draws in the house ?
I think NAp is right , it lloks like there is strapping behind some plastic from right to left
It is A Cutler Hammer 200 AMP box and the main box is also 200amp
There is HVAC and Range also in main box .
no big draws at this time WINTER...
Thanks in advance
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:26 PM   #5
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The sub panel should not have the bar connecting the ground bus & neutral bus in a sub panel
OR you use the connected buss' for neutral - remove any green grounding screw
The neutral must also be isolated from the case (green screw removed))
Then install a grounding bus
Are there 4 wires feeding the sub ?
Are you sure its a sub & you don't have a 400a service ?

Who installed the sub...how long ago
Possible you have a loose neutral ?



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Old 12-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #6
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"Buzzing" can occur when the amperage you are drawing is very close to the rating of the breaker. It is "almost" about to trip.

With that said, newer homes would have dedicated 20 amp circuits to some locations and would have 15 amp outlets everywhere else.

So you may be able to use the following outlets for the lights and have the full amperage capacity of the circuits...

Like...
Washing machine outlet.
Dishwasher/garbage disposal outlet.
Bathroom outlet.
Kitchen counter top outlets, but you would probably use these at night.

Might want to look in your breaker panel for 20 amp circuits with a single lever (120 volt circuits). Then hopefully your panel is labeled as to what they go to.

And if it is something you don't use at night (like maybe washing machine), then use that circuit.

And maybe use the dishwasher during the day - lights at night.
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:39 PM   #7
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Do they dim just when you turn the Christmas lights on ?
Or the entire time ?
Are the lights on the same circuit ?



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Old 12-20-2009, 05:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
The sub panel should not have the bar connecting the ground bus & neutral bus in a sub panel
OR you use the connected buss' for neutral - remove any green grounding screw
The neutral must also be isolated from the case (green screw removed))
Then install a grounding bus
Are there 4 wires feeding the sub ?
Are you sure its a sub & you don't have a 400a service ?

Who installed the sub...how long ago
Possible you have a loose neutral ?
from his description, there are 2 neutral bus and there is a strap that connects them. It just isn't real visible as is behind everything else and there is black insulation on it usually.

he said he has a separate ground bus independent of the 2 neutral bus

like this panel:



dadams; have you tried to flip the breakers to see which, if any of them, are buzzing. You also need to exercise the breakers (supposed to do this annually). That can help sometimes.

Last edited by nap; 12-20-2009 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:13 PM   #9
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Is it a buzzing, like a transformer sound, or more like a ZZZap type sound? If the 2nd, it almost seems like it may be a loose wire somewhere, or maybe a breaker is defective and making poor contact.
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