Finding the Main Switch on a Breaker Panel

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  #1  
Old 11-13-02, 12:36 PM
shorton
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Question Finding the Main Switch on a Breaker Panel

Hello all.

I have a question regarding how to find the main shut off switch for a circuit breaker box that is about 22 years old.

I'm trying to help my mother by adding a 220 line for converting her from a gas clothes dryer to an electric one. There is room in the box for two more breakers...they are right next to each other fortunately...so I assume I can use these to add the line.

My problem is I didn't see an obvious main switch to shut the power to the panel off. I have a new panel in my house and it has a large breaker like switch above the panel for shutting of the power to the box...no such switch on my mother's panel.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Sue
 
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Old 11-13-02, 12:44 PM
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Are you sure this is the main panel for the house and not a sub-panel?
Normally the electric meter is mounted close to the main panel.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 12:59 PM
shorton
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Finding Main Switch on breaker panel

Thanks for the reply.

Yes I'm sure it's the one and only panel in the house. The meter is just on the other side of the wall on the exterior of the house.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 01:51 PM
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Okay, it was just a thought. I would think the top breaker is probally the main breaker. However, the only way I can think of to be sure... would be to remove the front cover of the panel and see how it is wired.
Shut off the top breaker and see if it removes power to the power strips inside.
What is the rating of the breakers inside the panel?
 
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Old 11-13-02, 04:08 PM
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take the cover off the panel and look. Look for the biggest wires coming into the can. There has been on occasion where it was a main lug panel,, not legal for that app unless there is an outside main disconnect, which could be the case also, but that doesnt mean someone didnt do it. The big wires coming in would be hooked to the buss on a lug. This is rather dangerous to work on since you cannot shut the whole panel off. If this is the case you might consider getting some help.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 04:36 PM
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If you can not shut off the power, contact the electric company and see if they will come pull the meter. This will be your disconnect and remove power while you do what you have to. Than they will come back and reinstall the meter. I have had them come out and remove the meter, leave everything there so I could apply power when I completed the job. Later they would come back and install the ring and safety wire. However, it is better to have a main breaker, so if you have to go this route maybe it would be a good time to install a main breaker also.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 05:25 PM
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Or have someone that has done it before install the breaker and hook the wires to it.. Turn off the one you are going to install and plug it in.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 05:51 PM
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Look at the values of the breakers. It will be a double breaker (2 bonded together). It will be marked on each breaker. Any thing higher than 40 is probably the one 60(not likely), 100,125,150,200). It has to be between the meter and the panel or in the panel.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 08:39 PM
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Is your panel a Federal Pacific brand?? If so ther's no "Main" breaker on it just 2 or 3 double pole breakers that will disconnect the whole house but unfortunatly for you leave pleanty of live parts inside the panel. The only safe way would be to pull the meter which is easy if you've done it before but is not something a first timer should attempt.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 08:53 PM
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Its obvious that the user cant find the main,,, but Federal does make main breaker panels and the rest of the manufacturers make main lug panels also. But,, I do see several Federal 100A panels with a double pole backfed as a main. I was cuious though how you figure there could be 2 or 3 doubles as mains? Only 1 can be used. I am kind of sure you just mis word that.
 
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Old 11-13-02, 10:05 PM
Jorren
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Sberry27, I beleive what Mike134 was trying to say is that there are panel out there called a split bus panel. You have 6 spaces to use as mains. 2 of the spaces control the lighting and plugs (The bottom approx. 10-12 spaces and the other 4 single (or 2 2 pole) are meant for electric ranges, dryers etc. As long as there are no more than six breakers that need to be shut off to kill all the power it is still legal. Although the spilt bus design has been gone for quite awhile.
 
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Old 11-14-02, 07:01 AM
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I figured he knew,, just wasnt sure I knew what he was talking about. I havnt done that much res,, have never seen one.
 
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