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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm installing a new subpanel. For the most part, I've started at the bottom of the panel box and worked my way up, keeping approximately the same amount of breakers on each side and putting them in directly adjacent slots.

I do make a few exceptions though:
1) There is one single pole circuit that happens to be fed with a three wire cable. The red cable has been re-assigned as ground for now (and properly marked as green.) In the future, I might turn this into a two pole 240 V circuit so I left a blank spot above the current single pole breaker to make it easy to convert that to a two pole circuit in the future.

2) I have a submeter in the panel and I want to feed it from the very top two spaces (two poles) for convenience of routing those wires so there are many blank spaces between this breaker and the others.

I was thinking about whether or not it matters for all the breakers to be installed next to eachother.
Two thoughts:
A) If someone had a lot of single pole breakers and tried to space them out, they might end up accidently putting all the loads on a single phase. By placing them next to eachother, you guarantee that you will be alternating phases. That won't be an issue in my case. The load is well balanced.
B) The breakers sit more solidly when they are sandwiched in with other breakers. That said, I have to assume that they are manufactured so they can also stand alone.

I'm pretty sure this will be fine but I discover new unintuitive rules each day so figured I would ask. I'm in Canada but would also be interested in knowing if this is a violation in the US.
 

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It would not be an issue under the NEC.

The issue is the use of the red as a ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It would not be an issue under the NEC.

The issue is the use of the red as a ground.
Yeah so that is an interesting one. Basically the last guy ran a 14/3 cable to a box that has two duplex receptacles (that is the only thing on the circuit). He put green electrical tape on the red wire on both sides (panel and box) and included it in the ground pigtail in the box and connected it to the ground bar in the panel. He also did the same with the grounding conductor.

So I think my options are:
1) Keep that configuration in the new panel. (Use the grounding conductor and the extra red/green wire as ground as well)
2) Reconfigure it as a mutliwire branch circuit. I'd put one of the receptacles on the red wire and the other on the black. I could do this (I have space in my panel) but then I'd need to buy a two pole AFCI breaker and those are expensive and hard to find for my panel and I really don't need the extra power in that location.
3) Cut off the green wire on both sides. I'd like to avoid that because in the future, I do anticipate removing the receptacles and repurposing this circuit as a two pole circuit for a small hardwired minisplit HVAC unit.
 

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Where is the green or bare in that cable?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Where is the green or bare in that cable?
So it's a 14/3 with a red, black, white, and a bare ground conductor.
The bare ground conductor is treated normally (connected to the grounding pigtail in the box which is then properly grounded to the box and receptacle and connected to the ground bar in the panel.)
The red wire has been wrapped in green electrical tape on both sides (box and panel) and is also connected into the grounding pigtail in the box and to the ground bar in the panel.
 

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Code requires ground to be green or bare. Since you have a bare there is no reason to mark the red wire as green. Leave capped at both ends for future use.
 

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I would also say best practice is to not cut off spare or unused wires. If the previous guy had done that your option to repurpose the circuit would be a moot point.

There is no code against wires not being in use.
 

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Have you guys never used cable to install and isolated ground receptacle? Where do you find a cable with both a bare and an insulated green wire?
 

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250.119 Identification of Equipment Grounding Conductors. Unless required elsewhere in this Code, equipment grounding conductors shall be permitted to be bare, covered, or insulated. Individually covered or insulated equipment grounding conductors shall have a continuous outer finish that is either green or green with one or more yellow stripes except as permitted in this section. Conductors with insulation or individual covering that is green, green with one or more yellow stripes, or otherwise identified as permitted by this section shall not be used for hot or neutral.
 

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I'm with joe-nwt on this. More than likely it is an isolated ground setup. Probably a medical equip plugged in there at some time.

This is the receptacle that should be on the other end of the circuit.
The triangle is the indicator.
Product Red Electronic device Font Auto part
 

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Isolated receptacles are not only used in the medical industry. They are commonly used for a lot of sensitive electronics where noise on a common ground might affect the performance of the equipment. Telco applications for instance. If you are feeding these receptacles with cable, which is also common in telco, and you want both a bare wire as your bond for the box and an insulated wire for your isolated ground, taping the red wire green in a 3 conductor cable is standard practice. At least it is where I live.
 

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There's no reason to "balance" breakers from side to side. Nothing is accomplished by doing that. The phases are distributed every other slot, so your chances are overloading are inhanced by going every other slot which could end up putting everything (or a disproportionate amount) on one pole.

We used Isolated Ground in the computer biz back in the 80s. This kept the equipment ground (frames of the computers) isolated from the conduits that were feeding it. Given the size of computer rooms back in the day, it was quite possible to have some current flowing on the metal conduit system.
 

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When I do a panel I install all the 2 pole breakers (heavier amperage) down the right side and use a single poles on the left. That way I am assured I will not overload the buss stabs. In a main panel I leave the top 2 right positions for a generator interlock breaker. I reserve the top 2 left positions for a surge protect device. Of course this assumes you have plenty of breaker positions:rolleyes:
 
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Yeah, the #1 thing you want with panel placement is to respect the locations that MUST be in certain locations: solar at the bottom, generator interlock at the top where the interlock dictates it must be, some people think location of surge suppressors matters but whatever.

The #2 thing is don't overload the bus stabs. Once I saw a panel with "cram all the big loads at the bottom" philosophy, and the guy wanted to replace a 20A with a 40/40 quadplex for a tankless heater (so 80A on the stab). However, one of the stabs was directly across from a 30/50 quadplex for the dryer/range (also 80A on the stab). So that one stab would be 160 amps. WHOOPS!

And the #3 thing is do not let Captain Snippy cut all the wires short to only reach where the wires go now. Then, you won't be able to move breakers around. Every hot and neutral should be long enough to reach any position in the panel. There are "neat" ways to deal with the excess wire length.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Have you guys never used cable to install and isolated ground receptacle? Where do you find a cable with both a bare and an insulated green wire?
Wow - thank you! I had not considered this possibility. This set of plugs was specifically installed for a set of computers about 20-25 years ago. It was labelled "Computer plugs" and so I could imagine that someone was thinking of that. Now here is the weird part. I have pulled the cover plate and these plugs are wired up as-if they were isolated ground receptacles. The red (now green) wire is run to the ground on each receptacle and the box is grounded using the bare ground wire. However, I don't see any markings to indicate that they actually are isolated ground receptacles. It's as-if someone did 95% of the work and then used the wrong type of receptacle at the end of the day. This explains the situation though. I will leave them as-is and make a note to myself that I could swap in IGR if I wanted to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yeah, the #1 thing you want with panel placement is to respect the locations that MUST be in certain locations: solar at the bottom, generator interlock at the top where the interlock dictates it must be, some people think location of surge suppressors matters but whatever.

The #2 thing is don't overload the bus stabs. Once I saw a panel with "cram all the big loads at the bottom" philosophy, and the guy wanted to replace a 20A with a 40/40 quadplex for a tankless heater (so 80A on the stab). However, one of the stabs was directly across from a 30/50 quadplex for the dryer/range (also 80A on the stab). So that one stab would be 160 amps. WHOOPS!

And the #3 thing is do not let Captain Snippy cut all the wires short to only reach where the wires go now. Then, you won't be able to move breakers around. Every hot and neutral should be long enough to reach any position in the panel. There are "neat" ways to deal with the excess wire length.
Re #3: I've tried my best. I do wish I had waited to get all plug-on breakers shipped. The extended length of the AFCI, DF and GFI breakers and all the pigtails makes it hard to also bring in a bunch of extra wire.
 
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