Ground wire connections in subpanel

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  #1  
Old 05-25-04, 03:23 PM
Kray
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Ground wire connections in subpanel

After reading several threads concerning this subject, I decided to inspect my own subpanel and found an arrangement that I have not seen discussed:

Neutral wires are connected to a buss bar - I don't see any issues there. However, there is no buss bar for the ground wires. Instead, the individual circuit ground wires are all tied together in the subpanel with the main ground wire running to the grounding rod. All of these grounding wires are held together by a metal (gray-color) connector that is spiral-like, almost looking like a spring - I guess this connector creates spring-like tension to hold the wires together. This arrangement apparently was OK when the house was built in mid-1960's, but I'm wondering what issues (if any) it creates today and is this something I should be concerned about or taking action to alter?

I've wondered if this forty-year old panel should be upgraded just on general principles. However, it is located inside the house in a closet (not exposed to weather or dampness) and seems to be in mint condition. So I probably would not replace it unless there is something inherently unsafe about it.
Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 05-25-04, 04:10 PM
hotarc
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The grounding method you describe sounds somewhat suspect. I think a more sound solution could be created thru the use of a ground bar. Depending on the make and model of your panel, you may be able to purchase one.

Not 100% sure, but I think panels in closets are prohibited. However, it may have been code at the time in which case it would be grandfathered under the new codes.

Who is the manufacturer of the panel and what model is it?
 
  #3  
Old 05-27-04, 09:05 AM
Kray
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Thanks for the comments, hotarc. In response to your question about make and model of the panel, the brand is Federal Pacific Electric Company. The label does not state a model number, but there is a reference to "catalog number 1008." The panel was made sometime prior to 1963, which is when my house was constructed.

Just in the past few days, I have seen Federal Pacific panels trashed in at least two different threads. I didn't realize that Federal Pacific has this reputation and my panel might be a clunker. However, the criticisms seem to run to faulty breakers, whereas my panel has fuses not breakers. Would appreciate any additional comments on my original question, as well as any other input on the problems with Federal Pacific panels. Perhaps the rudimentary grounding method described in my question is another example, or would this be common in many panels of that vintage?
 
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Old 05-27-04, 10:30 AM
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This grounding is probably okay (but probably not up to modern code), but only if all those grounding wires are also somehow electrically connected to the neutral bar. It is useless to connect them only to the grounding rod. That doesn't help anything. It's likely that the grounding wires were added after the house was built. Perhaps the whole house was rewired at some point.

Panels in clothes closets (or other closets containing flamable materials) is prohibited by today's codes. This doesn't necessarily mean that panels are prohibited in all closets.

It's pretty hard to screw up a fuse, even for Federal Pacific. Just make sure that the fuse sizes have not been upped over the years to above what the wiring can handle.
 
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