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Old 08-04-2010, 02:43 PM   #1
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Zinsco panel


Hi all

My 1919 home has a Zinsco 100A panel. I am adding a new circuit and upon searching for a new breaker, found out that Zinsco panels are bad news and the breakers are liable to fail to trip and melt themselves to the buss bar

Quoted panel replacement is about $2000

Do you guys feel the replacement is worth it or is the fear overstated?
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:09 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
Hi all

My 1919 home has a Zinsco 100A panel. I am adding a new circuit and upon searching for a new breaker, found out that Zinsco panels are bad news and the breakers are liable to fail to trip and melt themselves to the buss bar

Quoted panel replacement is about $2000

Do you guys feel the replacement is worth it or is the fear overstated?
It's hard to say. Some panels might commonly be considered evil horrible fiery death traps, but hundreds of thousands are still in service.

If it was my house I'd change it.

$2,000 is a bit pricey for a panel change-out, unless you are upgrading your entire service, then it would be a good price.
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:43 PM   #3
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I'm pulling a 12 space and putting in a 20 space soon, myself, and it'll be about $250 or so for the 3 afci's and the ground bus (optional, of course, they get ya comin' and goin'). Luckily, I already have the rest of the necessary breakers and it DOES come with a few as well. No afci's, of course.... If you feel confident enough to add a circuit (permitted, I hope?) then you should be able to do the panel yourself. The inspector will tell you if anything is wrong BEFORE you fire it up! lol I use a sharpie and write (on the wires) what all of my incoming wires are, it makes it SO much easier not to get 'lost'. Po)

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Old 08-04-2010, 03:45 PM   #4
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If you feel confident enough to add a circuit (permitted, I hope?) then you should be able to do the panel yourself.
That completely depends on whether there is a disconnect before the panel or not.
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Old 08-04-2010, 03:54 PM   #5
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True, the POCO will come turn it off and back on, but they want $$$ for THAT! LOL
Remember, I'm one of the lucky ones with 'power off' outside on the pole. Po)
If he's lucky too, he should have little problems doing it with help, if needed, from all the great guys here.
I have few/no questions about wiring my new panel, most of my questions/concerns are fixtures and distances, etc.
Adding the sub-panel I was planning was harder than just getting the new one!

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Old 08-04-2010, 04:02 PM   #6
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No accessible disconnect unfortunately
The power company needs to shut it off, then the work is done, then city inspected and green tagged, then power goes back on

From what I've been told, the process can leave us without power for at a minimum of one day, possibly more


I'd like to do the work myself but I worry about, since I've never done this before, taking too long and prolonging the lack of power in the home. I have three boarders renting rooms in the house so it would be a huge inconvenience for everyone if the power was out for a prolonged period. I'm also a bit wary of the inspection
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
No accessible disconnect unfortunately
The power company needs to shut it off, then the work is done, then city inspected and green tagged, then power goes back on

From what I've been told, the process can leave us without power for at a minimum of one day, possibly more


I'd like to do the work myself but I worry about, since I've never done this before, taking too long and prolonging the lack of power in the home. I have three boarders renting rooms in the house so it would be a huge inconvenience for everyone if the power was out for a prolonged period. I'm also a bit wary of the inspection
Yeah, that inspection crap really gets in the way, huh?

When I do panel change-outs I pull the meter to kill the power and then get inspected when it's done, usually takes 2-3 hours.
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Old 08-04-2010, 04:52 PM   #8
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For a home that old, you might want the inspector to come take a look at what all would need to be updated.
Some will not charge you for that, others may? Worst case scenario is you leave it all the way it is.

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Old 08-04-2010, 04:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz View Post
the breakers are liable to fail to trip and melt themselves to the buss bar
And
"
Circuit breakers become damaged by arcing or overheating. Damaged circuit breakers are unlikely to
perform properly in response to an overcurrent condition.

Aluminum electrical panel components appear to be an important factor in failures in this equipment

Moisture exposure appears to be a factor in failures in this equipment.

Circuit breakers may fail to trip in response to an overcurrent condition. This is a fire and shock risk.

Circuit breakers may "blow out" the side casing of the device in an electrical "arc explosion"

Circuit breakers may fail to drop power even when they are switched off [remains to be verified--DF] -
that is, the breaker may appear to be switched to the "off" position but internally it may still be
conducting power to the circuit.
"


So if you had an outlet short and the breaker didn't trip, up to 11,000 amps could vaporize your Romex within ~3 milliseconds.
That has got to be spectacular.
It might not even start a fire; the copper in your Romex would simply disappear, probably with a loud noise.

Sounds more severe than the FPE panels but maybe the failure rates are lower.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-04-2010 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:05 PM   #10
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up to 11,000 amps could vaporize your Romex.
Oh jeeze...
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:19 PM   #11
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Oh jeeze...
My guess is you're from Hudson County or Essex County.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:51 PM   #12
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My guess is you're from Hudson County or Essex County.
Bergen county.
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:43 PM   #13
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I received another quote just today, this time for a much more reasonable $700. I think I will take it.
This electrician took a look at the power companys wiring and said I could go up to 125A but no higher
He also mentioned I may need bollards because of the panels location beside my driveway. Hopefully the city won't notice or care. And the hot and cold on the water heater apparently need to be bonded (local code I think). I figure I'll do that myself. Is #6 suitable?
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:18 PM   #14
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I received another quote just today, this time for a much more reasonable $700. I think I will take it.
That's a lot more like it, $2,000 was way too high. In this instance, I'd say go with the electrician. It will save you a lot of labor and possible problems and safety concerns.

There is also a good chance that your electrician would do it like I mentioned earlier and pull the meter himself or just tape up the feeders when changing the panel, this way you aren't at the mercy of the power company and their schedule.
Quote:
And the hot and cold on the water heater apparently need to be bonded (local code I think). I figure I'll do that myself. Is #6 suitable?
You have to check with the municipality.

I assume it will be ok, but we can't know for sure since it's a local code.
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:22 PM   #15
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Ask for a scope of work.

Could be the higher estimate included bollards.
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