Main Breaker Panel / Narrow stud spacing

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  #1  
Old 05-23-05, 12:04 PM
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Main Breaker Panel / Narrow stud spacing

Hi everyone,

I'm planning out a project for later this summer which will involve turning an enclosed porch into an open-air porch (removing two walls, replacing with columns). Unfortunately this porch is also the location of the main breaker and fuses (yes, breakers and fuses in the same box). Removing the walls will make the area more prone to mositure, and I'd rather not let the whole neighborhood have access to my circuits, so I plan to move the box to the inside wall, and in doing so convert to all-circuits. I will be doing the wiring myself, state law allows this as long as I'm the owner and I have it inspected.

The problem is it's a very old house, and the studs are spaced at about 12.5" on-center, leaving only 10" between for an electrical box. Has anyone ever seen a narrow main-breaker panel available anywhere? I can't seem to locate one for stud spacing less than 16" o.c..

My other option is to use two separate smaller boxes, one for the main breaker and one for the individual circuits (essentially all circuits on a main lug panel adjacent to the main breaker). This seems easier, but I'm not yet sure it's allowed. Has anyone ever seen this done or have any thoughts on it?

Joe
 
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  #2  
Old 05-23-05, 12:06 PM
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Why would you even think of two separate panels? This is much more work

The solution is to build a header, allowing you to remove a section of one of the studs, allowing a full panel to be installed.
 
  #3  
Old 05-23-05, 12:16 PM
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The way I see it, they'd act as one panel. The feed from the meter would come into one panel, three wires in, three wires out to the main lug, where it would feed all the circuits. Seems like a lot less work than tearing out studs, unless there's some aspect I'm not seeing.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 04:00 PM
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MtnDewJoe,

You stated

"The way I see it, they'd act as one panel. The feed from the meter would come into one panel, three wires in, three wires out to the main lug, where it would feed all the circuits. Seems like a lot less work than tearing out studs, unless there's some aspect I'm not seeing."

Now as you stated...you will have to have it inspected and the way you are describing it I do not think that is going to happen. You can't use the one panel as a chase for the second panel and you can't feed the second panel with 3 wires as you may have done the first....also....since you make no reference to the meter can on the other side of the wall from the existing panel I will assume it is remote.....

Now...if you are moving the panels you are not going to be in direct contact with the meter can thus bringing it into the house farthur away from the meter can itself thus requiring most likely a service disconnect at the meter can and then 4 wire feeding the new panel ( with a seperate ground bar ).

You need to elaborate more so we can understand more of the install but based on my 17 years in this business...I do not think the 2 panel is a choice...it is much easier to open up the wall....put in another STUD with the proper spacing and simply remove the one in the way...since spacing is not an issue since most are 16 on center now days anyway..all you are doing is putting in another STUD and removing the one to open up the spacing to give you enough room.

I dont even see a need for a header here.....but I digress....the main issue is CAN you use the two panels...not in the nature you are describing and pass a inspection....can you tell us a bit more about your CURRENT setup and I am sure RAC and Speedy and John and myself can together come to a common ground on it to assist you.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 04:27 PM
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A main disconnect might be smaller but I can't think of one load center that would be less than 14.25" wide. I think the point is moot.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 04:44 PM
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Speedy,

My comment on the disconnect is in reference to where I actually think the meter cab is....not enough information but I did not say it was to go into the wall space....I am still trying to figure out where the meter cab is in this wall he plans to rip down....that would still allow him to move it and run a 3 wire....


he refered to 3 wire to the panel...which means the meter cab is either back to back where it is now....but did not mention that in the future ripping down of the wall......so the idea of 2 panels and 3 wire to one panel...and then to the other was not an option code wise.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 05:29 PM
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I knew what you meant, my comment was to the OP.
The fact that no breaker panel is made less than 14" wide will spear his plans for two panels.
Have you in recent times seen a load center less than 14.25" wide? I can't recall one.
 
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Old 05-23-05, 05:48 PM
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Thanks for all the info and the thought you put into it. As I looked deeper into the situation, it turns out that my question has become moot, for reasons I will explain in a moment. For the benefit of anyone else reading this, my meter is nearby, around the corner from the wall in question and about 4 feet away. My plan, in theory, was to have the utility remove the meter, after which I would disconnect the service line in my existing box and reroute the same wire through the wall. I would then run it into a 100A breaker (available in a small box), and from there use feed-through lugs on that breaker to feed it (via three or four new wires) into an adjacent main lug box, where I would have all my circuit breakers. I'm still not sure if this is totally legal, but it seemed promising in that it would have all equipment of a main breaker panel in one location, spread between two smaller boxes. I'm still curious as to if this would be a code violation, but like I said, it's moot now.

The reason it became moot was that about an hour ago I was looking at the area in question from the attic and realized that the "studs" I had located (using a strong magnet to pinpoint the drywall screws) are actually not studs at all, but rather furring strips. Lath is attached to these strips, and the drywall is attached to the lath. So, in the end, it's definitely not load-bearing as I had figured it might be, and cutting it out will be messy but not detrimental to the structure of the house. I just have to figure out how to support the main breaker panel now that there's no studs to attach it to. And, in all my searching, there wasn't a narrower box available. So to anyone else who's looking, sorry, you're probably out of luck.

I also found out there's no insulation in there which might explain why my kitchen gets so cold...
 
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Old 05-24-05, 03:37 PM
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I think you are right speedy...I do not ever recall one smaller than the 14.25 and certainly not in a 200A thats for sure...
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-05, 07:53 PM
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My service is 100A (it's a small, old house). I was able to find a narrow box containing a 100A breaker which I was hoping to use as the main breaker, and then use a main lug box (also available narrow) right next to it to feed all 13 individual circuits. Just not sure if that plan was up to code or not. But no, there were not any boxes being sold that contained both main breakers and slots for additional circuits which were less than 14 inches, and I looked at a lot of spec sheets for a lot of product lines.
 
  #11  
Old 05-25-05, 05:13 AM
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MtnDewJoe,

Since you seem to be set on doing the "2" panel thing I will tell you of a few issues you need to be aware of.

1.) You simply can't run the same 3 wire from the meter to the panel if you are planning on moving the Meter Cab and it is not at the point the SE enters the house and has to actually travel within the house ( some areas are more lax on this....2 feet, 3 feet and so on but in VA it has to be back to back directly)

2.) Also if you do have (2) panels you can't service one with the 3 wire ( provided it is allowed because of the distance to the meter cab.) You will need to feed the first panel as the MAIN and then feed the second panel from a breaker and make it a SUB panel......thus a 4 wire...You can use the second panel using a main lug only...BUT when pricing we find that in many cases the panels are just as cheap for the Main Breakers panels as the Main Lug Only panel so check on that.

If you are planning on relocating the panel all together you need to make sure when that Meter Cab is relocated that your issues may change in that being remote might require you to place a Service Disconnect at the meter cab and then you would only need main lug panels inside but again check the cost as you may be surprised....
 
  #12  
Old 05-25-05, 08:44 PM
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I was never planning on moving the meter, just flipping the circuit panel from one side of the wall to the same spot on the other side of the wall. In other words, the service from the meter would feed directly into the panel as it passes through the exterior wall (in conduit). It would be back-to-back with the old panel location, but there's a few feet of cable to the meter around the corner, and it runs in metal conduit attached to the outside of the house.

But, like I said in an earlier post, I'm not doing the two-panel because I discovered there aren't *any* studs in that wall (just plaster furring strips, not load bearing), and I can therefore put in as large of a panel as I'd like, and wherever on the wall I'd like, even back to back with the meter cabinet if I desire.
 
  #13  
Old 05-26-05, 04:36 AM
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MtnDewJoe,

Great news for you ..let us know how it goes..
 
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