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Old 12-27-2018, 08:08 PM   #1
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Replacing old panel and SE


I'm looking into replacing my breaker panel and SE feeders because they are a mess. The SE feeders coming into the box have a giant ball of electrical tape (inside the box) as if they were cut and extended at some point. The panel is a QO but doesn't have separate ground terminals- the house was mostly 2 wire receptacles when I moved in. I'm assuming it's original from 1958? So the terminals in the panel are overloaded with neutrals and grounds all mixed in together.

So let me start with the basics:

Can I stick with 100A service or should I or will I have to upgrade? Does the power company charge you to upgrade? Surely they would have to upgrade lines, etc. It seems like with more efficient appliances, LED lights and everything, that 100 is fine for a 1400sqft house.

My SE feeders are in above grade conduit straight from the meter to the panel. Are my feeders THHN? It looks like copper is maybe $1/ft more than aluminum. For the 8 feet I'd need would copper be easier to work with being a smaller gauge?
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Old 12-27-2018, 08:18 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


Do you realize that SE is a cable assembly with 2 insulated conductors and a concentric neutral. THHN is a single insulated conductor.

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Old 12-27-2018, 08:23 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


What you are proposing isn't very logical. Replacing the panel isn't going to impact the the SE feeding it. If you want new feeder, install new feeder. No reason to replace the panel.

This is a main load center. The grounds and neutrals do not need to be on separate buses. But if you're running out of lugs on the ground/neutral bus, you can add an extra bus and set it up for only grounds.

If you can get the deadfront off the panel (oh, you obviously did if you knew the interior), take a picture of what you have to work with.
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Old 12-27-2018, 08:36 PM   #4
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I intend to replace the feeders and panel. For one I'm sure all the breakers could use to be replaced. Secondly, the design is poor with the top row of neutral wires blocking the screws for the other rows. Thirdly I could use more spaces, this is 16space/20 circuit, I see the big box stores have 24 spaces for 100a panels. Attaching a photo of the panel.
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Last edited by pick1e; 12-27-2018 at 08:46 PM. Reason: added photo
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Old 12-27-2018, 08:58 PM   #5
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


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Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
Do you realize that SE is a cable assembly with 2 insulated conductors and a concentric neutral. THHN is a single insulated conductor.

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Sorry I wasn't being clear with my words. When I said SE I meant the feeder wires from the meter to the panel. But I also wanted to be clear that I need THHN cable, right? There's no such thing as SEU type cable assembly inside the conduit?
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Old 12-27-2018, 10:38 PM   #6
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


So let me start with the basics:

1 - Can I stick with 100A service or should I or will I have to upgrade?

2 - Does the power company charge you to upgrade?

3 - Surely they would have to upgrade lines, etc.

4 - It seems like with more efficient appliances, LED lights and everything, that 100 is fine for a 1400sqft house.

5 - My SE feeders are in above grade conduit straight from the meter to the panel. Are my feeders THHN? It looks like copper is maybe $1/ft more than aluminum. For the 8 feet I'd need would copper be easier to work with being a smaller gauge?


1 = Can I stick with 100A service or should I or will I have to upgrade?
If you have had no problems to date such as blowing breakers ?
Then there is no reason that you "have to " upgrade.
Many people get by on 100A services..


2 - Does the power company charge you to upgrade?
Good chance they will charge you.


3 - Surely they would have to upgrade lines, etc.
Not always, depends on the capacity of the local grid.
50/50 chance.


4 - 4 - It seems like with more efficient appliances, LED lights and everything, that 100 is fine for a 1400sqft house.
See answer 1.


5 - My SE feeders are in above grade conduit straight from the meter to the panel. Are my feeders THHN? It looks like copper is maybe $1/ft more than aluminum. For the 8 feet I'd need would copper be easier to work with being a smaller gauge?


This is an important part of your electrical service, don't scrimp here,
Get the very best quality even if it's a few dollars more,
That way you win in the long run.
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Old 12-27-2018, 11:17 PM   #7
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Re: Replacing old panel and feeders


Quote:
Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
So let me start with the basics:

1 - Can I stick with 100A service or should I or will I have to upgrade?

2 - Does the power company charge you to upgrade?

3 - Surely they would have to upgrade lines, etc.

4 - It seems like with more efficient appliances, LED lights and everything, that 100 is fine for a 1400sqft house.

5 - My SE feeders are in above grade conduit straight from the meter to the panel. Are my feeders THHN? It looks like copper is maybe $1/ft more than aluminum. For the 8 feet I'd need would copper be easier to work with being a smaller gauge?


1 = Can I stick with 100A service or should I or will I have to upgrade?
If you have had no problems to date such as blowing breakers ?
Then there is no reason that you "have to " upgrade.
Many people get by on 100A services..


2 - Does the power company charge you to upgrade?
Good chance they will charge you.


3 - Surely they would have to upgrade lines, etc.
Not always, depends on the capacity of the local grid.
50/50 chance.


4 - 4 - It seems like with more efficient appliances, LED lights and everything, that 100 is fine for a 1400sqft house.
See answer 1.


5 - My SE feeders are in above grade conduit straight from the meter to the panel. Are my feeders THHN? It looks like copper is maybe $1/ft more than aluminum. For the 8 feet I'd need would copper be easier to work with being a smaller gauge?


This is an important part of your electrical service, don't scrimp here,
Get the very best quality even if it's a few dollars more,
That way you win in the long run.
Thanks for the responses!

1. No I've actually never tripped a breaker in this house. I just didn't know if there were any "125 is now minimum" kind of rules or anything like that. Good to know I can stick with 100A. I will find out from the power company the costs involved to upgrade anyway.

5. Indeed, I just thought copper was better than aluminum, only a little more expensive. So I thought I'd go with copper despite costing a little more, thinking it would be easier to work with #4cu vs #2al. But that begs another question:

6. Any issue with using copper conductors in terminals that previously had aluminum, as long as they're rated for either one? Thinking on the meter side.

7. Will my ground to the cold water pipe still be sufficient or will I need to add a ground rod or switch entirely to ground rods?
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Old 12-28-2018, 04:59 AM   #8
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


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Originally Posted by pick1e View Post
Sorry I wasn't being clear with my words. When I said SE I meant the feeder wires from the meter to the panel. But I also wanted to be clear that I need THHN cable, right? There's no such thing as SEU type cable assembly inside the conduit?
You can use SEU cable in conduit from the meter to the panel. If you use individual conductors, you need THWN not THHN.

You need 2 grounds rods and bonded to the metal water pipes.

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Old 12-28-2018, 10:23 AM   #9
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I actually had that same exact panel in my 1959 house. I'd replace it with another 100amp QO, but a 30 space. Use standard breakers in the new one, not those tandems. Those are actually over $40 new, so you might be able to sell them.

Some power companies dont charge you to switch to 200amp, some do. A lot of times the utility wires and overhead wires to the house are aluminum anyway, I'd probably just get 1 gauge SEU if you are just doing 100amps.

Last edited by 1984babybenz; 12-28-2018 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 12-28-2018, 03:52 PM   #10
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


Counting the tandems in your panel you have 23 circuits, I would go with a 30 space panel and not use any tandems.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D...00PC/204836371
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Old 12-28-2018, 07:32 PM   #11
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I'm actually using only 20 circuit spaces; some of those doubles are off. They are true cheaters too without the CTL feature. I'm on the fence about just grabbing the 24 space off the shelf or ordering a bigger one. No one around here has more than a 24 space on the shelf unless it's 200 Amp. Before long I will be replacing the electric cooktop and double wall oven with gas, freeing up another 4 spaces. Do local codes ever specify max number of circuits and spaces or does it always go by the manufacturer's rating?

I have an appointment with the power company to see if my service can be upgraded and what it would cost. I wonder if they already have sufficient wiring in place. Also waiting until next week for the electrical inspector to be back from vacation to run my plan by him. I feel more comfortable knowing what I will need now, thanks for your input everyone.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:15 PM   #12
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Re: Replacing old panel and SE


I spoke to a technician from the power company who said their lines and meter are good for 200A, but I may need to upgrade the wires from the weatherhead down to the meter. So I guess the way it works is they come pull the meter and cut the live wires, then I terminate the new wire at the meter box and rough it out through the weatherhead, then they reterminate the live wires?

So inside a conduit (except where protruding from the weatherhead) I'm guessing I'm going to use Aluminum XHHW? What about copper here? Again I'm just thinking of smaller gauge wire being easier to work with. Then the question will be is my current conduit size adequate. Of course I'll run all this by the inspector next week, just trying to learn what all the job will entail.

Maybe going to 200A won't really be worth it, but I guess the drop to the meter probably should be replaced anyway if it's original. Any reason the conduit should be replaced if it's not majorly bent/cracked/rusted?
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:05 PM   #13
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Power company has confirmed I have a 60 amp meter base, so my 100 amp panel is definitely a non-permitted hack job.

Met with the inspector who suggested just sticking with 100 amp service, replacing the panel with a 32 space, new copper feeders and meter base. He said they allow a single 10' 3/4" ground rod instead of the two 8' 5/8".

I have acquired the meter base (power company provided). Looks like the local home stores have thhn/thwn-2 sunlight resistant wire.

I am going to try to raise the service mast up since the new meter base is probably 6" taller and the mast could use some height. I believe the anchors are accessible in the attic.

Looking at weatherheads they don't seem particularly weathertight, but I guess there's no additional weather sealing to be done with the conduit or anything?
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:33 PM   #14
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Sounds good. Be sure to keep the ground to the water pipe as well as the new grounding rod. Also, the link I saw posted is for a square d HOMELINE panel. You currently have a square d qo panel. You cannot use any of your old breakers in a HOMELINE panel, but the HOMELINE breakers are cheaper.
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:22 PM   #15
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Update: Completed the job yesterday. Ended up replacing the mast too so pretty much the only thing I reused was a piece of bent rigid conduit below the meter.

Power company just cut the lines at the pole since they needed replacement anyway. I wasn't finished before the inspector appointment but he checked what was done and had me email some pics when it was complete, then gave me the thumbs up. The power company hung new lines and installed the meter and I was back in business.

No charge from the power company including the new meter socket, and they were very friendly and had no problem coming back later when I was ready.

Overall I learned a lot and it was a rewarding project! Thanks for the tips everybody.
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