Recessing the service panel...


Old 09-21-04, 11:17 AM
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Recessing the service panel...

Hi folks,

I used to work in the electrical trade (commercial/maintenance) but carpentry isn't my stroing suit. I'm relocating a service panel (combined loadcenter) and I want to recess it inside a wall in the basement. I have no problem with the actual electrical work, (I could wire up a 3 phase/4 wire panel with one hand tied behind my back) but I'm trying to figure out what the best way would be to mount the panel and stud the wall so I can recess it nicely.

Here are the details...

I need to relocate the panel, not by much, but about 4 feet from where it is now. I plan on running a 90degree pipe from an LB on the outside wall, and then have a straight run to the loadcenter about 4 feet down the wall. (I can't run the mains outside and then in since the gas meter happens to be on the other side of the wall at that point, and code requires 3' of clearance between the vent on the meter and any electrical installation.) I would have liked to put an LB on the inside, but since it needs to stay accessible I'll do some extra chiseling to get the 90 degree bend to fit instead. The panel is being mounted on the wall with a window to the immediate right, and all the branch circuts come in from above/right in the ceiling through the joists above the window.

Now I can mount the panel on some 3/4" pressure treated plywood that I can secure to the concrete blocks, but what I'm trying to decide is how I can stud this wall and still allow for the pipe run AND allow for the branch circuts to run down past the disconnect part of the loadcenter and into the enclosure. (since code doesn't allow transiting through the disconnect to reach the loadcenter)

In other words, as you may know, I need to run my branch feeds to a point below the mains divider in the loadcenter. However, if I stud the wall to 16" centers I end up with no space on either side of the panel, which means I have to run ALL the branch circuts between the next set of studs, and there are just too many to secure them to the stud itself. So I'm thinking I'd have to mount some plywood on the wall in the next stud opening and then secure the branch circuts to the plywood and then drill through the stud below the bottom of the panel to come back through. (It would be a roundabout trip, and I'm not sure if I would have enough wire left after pulling the feeds back.)

However, if I do it this way, then I'll have to run all the branch circuts across the pipe feed for the mains. I can't move the panel any more to the left (which would leave space on the right) since this would cause it to be obstructed. (which is why I am moving the panel to the right to begin with - I literally have 2 inches of play where I can mount the panel and not breach code by obstructing the working space in front of the panel)

There is also the issue with the pipe for the mains. What would be the best way to build the wall so I can run the 1 1/4" pipe without doing anything fancy to stud around it? Should I run the pipe and then make the wall as 'normal'? (then chisel out space on the studs for the pipe to pass behind and place nail-guards on the studs above the pipe) Or should I make the wall in some 'custom' manner...? (ideas?)

I feel a little silly even asking since I should really know this stuff, but when I worked in the trade I never had to build any walls with this kind of electrical consideration.


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Old 09-23-04, 02:37 PM
scott e.'s Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Anderson, IN
Posts: 412
I have never heard of not being able to run the branch circuit conductors past the main breaker in the panel before. When we did service changes, we did that all of the time. Guys, did I miss some section of the code?
Old 09-24-04, 05:42 PM
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I don't know about the code where you are, but in Ontario Canada, you can't transit feeds from one side of the box to another. So branch circuts have to stay on their side and mains have to stay on the other side. No lines can pass through one side to get to the other or vice versa.

Part of the reason is since there may be a flat rate hot water feed in the mains side, and if that was open to branch circuts you could easily steal electricity for free. So the disconnect (that have a flat rate hot water feed) has a seal put on it, and if you break the seal you can be fined.

This may vary depending on your local code.



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