My breaker panel is weird

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  #1  
Old 06-17-05, 02:09 PM
Ed_McGilk
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My breaker panel is weird

The panel in my house is arranged like this...

M M
M M
M M
B B
B B
B B
B B

Where M = main and B = regular breaker. All the B's are fed by the top left M.

What do i have here? An obsolete and dangerous POS? or an incredibly rare and desireable breaker box? I havent seen one like this at the home depot, and the "electricians" that work there are baffled.

BTW i just picked up a book called "Wiring Simplified" that I saw recommended on these forums, but I couldnt find any mention of such a panel.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 06-17-05, 02:14 PM
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Why do you say that you have 6 main breakers? I think you are mistaken, and that you have one main breaker and 13 regular breakers, some of which are 240 volt and some of which are 120 volt.
 
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Old 06-17-05, 02:15 PM
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This is a split buss panel. Very popular many years ago. The 4 "M"'s as you call them are your mains.
It is not unsafe or illegal to have one in good working order. Only thing is they are all so old that it is probably time to consider a service change anyway.
With a panel of that vintage, if the service equipment is original it is probably quite degraded by now.
 
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Old 06-17-05, 02:17 PM
Ed_McGilk
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"Service equipment" refers to the panel and breakers? or the electric company owned equipment?

House was built in 1978
 

Last edited by Ed_McGilk; 06-17-05 at 02:33 PM.
  #5  
Old 06-17-05, 02:46 PM
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The spilt bus panels are somewhat more dangerous because it only takes a single breaker failure before unchecked power could flow into your appliances.

The cloths dryer and electric range for example are probably attached to two of the mains. During an appliance malfunction if either of those breakers fail, your dryer or range could draw uninterrupted power, melt wires and catch fire. Moreover, there is then no way of shutting the power off without pulling the meter.

As long as the breakers are in good shape, (i.e. you can easily switch them on and off) I wouldn't be too worried about it. Like Speedy said, however it could be time for a service update.
 
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Old 06-20-05, 08:40 AM
Ed_McGilk
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Thanks for the information.

That's a good point about being unable to cut off the power if a breaker fails; I see why they dont make them anymore. In a modern panel there are two breakers on each wire coming out of the panel (the main breaker and the circuit breaker), so that sounds a lot safer because two would have to fail.

I looked at my panel yesterday and saw that it is rated for 150 amps. If I get a new 200 amp panel (assuming my electrical service can supply it) are there rules in the electric code that say I will have to upgrade or update other aspects of my home wiring?
 
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Old 06-20-05, 01:36 PM
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If you upgrade the service, you will probably only have to bring the main panel grounding up to code. The existing circuits are considered unmodified just by switching panels.

This may involve driving a new grounding rod (or two), bonding the water pipes and gas lines across the meter and water heater, and connecting a properly sized (#4) bare copper wire to the main copper water pipe entering your building. It's fairly simple stuff, but easy to get the details wrong. If you do decide to do this, post back and get informed on the exact details, because bad grounding is worse than no grounding.
 
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