Replacing a Split Bus Panel

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Old 04-05-09, 09:28 PM
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Replacing a Split Bus Panel

I have a Square D split bus panel that is dated and I'd like to replace myself. As a furnace repairman with an advanced class amateur radio license, I have a certain amount of understanding and experience with home electrical wiring, but I've never replaced a main panel.

1) I don't need more capacity, since I've converted the range and water heater from electricity to gas. Is it reasonable to keep the existing conductors going up to the roof, or should those be replaced as a matter of good practice when replacing the main panel?

There is no apparent wear or damage visible on the existing conductors outdoors.

I'm guessing that replacing the conductors is the right thing to do when renewing a service like this, but I'd be glad to be told that my guess is wrong.

2) My preference is to replace the panel on one electrical permit and then go on to renew other old wiring on an additional permit. As a do-it-yourselfer on this project, my presumption is that the smart thing is to complete this one task rather than tearing everything apart.

Are the electrical inspectors likely to accept that approach, or are they likely to want everything updated at once?

I'd likely go down and chat with them before I do this, but perhaps you Xperts can tell me if this is an approach that might be acceptable or is unlikely to be acceptable.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 09:39 PM
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Service Replacement

As a General Journeyman in Oregon, I would say your approach is a good one. I've found that inspectors like to be consulted, sometimes I've even had them out and look over what I had planned before I did it. The service entrance conductors to the weather head should be fine and since these come from the meter base, I'd generally leave them if all you are replacing is the panel. But then again, all situations are a little different so it is hard to say. Often times the inspectors will give you some free pointers if you give them a little respect. Good luck and be careful.
 
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Old 04-06-09, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SeattlePioneer View Post
Is it reasonable to keep the existing conductors going up to the roof, or should those be replaced as a matter of good practice when replacing the main panel?
What is the size of the existing service and conductors? What is the material and insulation type? If your existing service is less than 100A, you will need to replace the conductors to meet the new 100A minimum.

Another consideration will be if your power company will allow you to reuse the meter can. You can probably reuse it as long as the service size doesn't change, but power companies have all sorts of rules. If the meter can needs to be replaced, then it basically will require replacement of the conductors.

I'm guessing that replacing the conductors is the right thing to do when renewing a service like this, but I'd be glad to be told that my guess is wrong.
It's hard to say without seeing them for certain. Could you upload a photo to a sharing site so we could see them?

Are the electrical inspectors likely to accept that approach, or are they likely to want everything updated at once?
Usually they are accommodating when you consult them with your plan first. Some jurisdictions do require minor upgrades in concert with the service upgrade like hardwired smoke detectors, GFCI receptacles in the kitchen and bath, etc. You may need to do those upgrades on the same permit.
 
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Old 04-06-09, 10:41 AM
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Thanks for the comments.

I was examining the conductors from the roof yesterday, hoping that the size would be printed on them, but I didn't see anything. I thought that was the norm for power wiring.

I don't think this is visible at the breaker box, and I can't really measure the conductor size unless the power is off. No doubt you Xperts can eyeball this accurately, but not me.
 
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Old 04-06-09, 01:15 PM
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What is the rating of your old main breaker or fuse? It's usually printed on or near the handle.
 
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Old 04-06-09, 01:22 PM
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Also remember that while replacing a panel isn't all that difficult as long as you're methodical with labeling your wires and such... you'll need some way to shut off the power.

Pulling the meter is not a DIY job, so you'll probably have to involve the power company to help disconnect the feeders or pull the meter temporarily. Some may do this without a problem. In my area, they would do it, but for a minimum of $250 per site visit - a disconnect/reconnect requiring two site visits.

In my case, I worked with a local electrician who had the knowledge, training, and equipment to disconnect and reconnect the service entry wires - and I did the main panel upgrade with all power disconnected.
 
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Old 04-06-09, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
What is the rating of your old main breaker or fuse? It's usually printed on or near the handle.

Ben.,

Typically most split buss do not have a single main breaker however if get the model number from the cover or side of the tub { breaker panel } that useally give a quick clue and most split buss typically are 100 amp size and yeah few case they are larger as well.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 04-06-09, 10:37 PM
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Thanks for pointing that out Marc. I missed the fact that the OP was replacing a split bus panel.
 
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Old 04-07-09, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Ben.,

Typically most split buss do not have a single main breaker however if get the model number from the cover or side of the tub { breaker panel } that useally give a quick clue and most split buss typically are 100 amp size and yeah few case they are larger as well.

Merci,Marc

Good idea. It's a Square D QO Load Center rated at 125 amps.

I suppose I can check the conductor size accurately after I have the meter pulled or the power otherwise shut off.
 
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