Replacing My Main Panel - Routing wiring

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Old 09-10-09, 02:33 PM
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Replacing My Main Panel - Routing wiring

Here is my current setup. The panel has 6 breakers and no main shut-off. I can't put a new panel where the old one was because the heat pump was put in the wrong spot. It will cost somewhere north of 450 bucks to move the heat pump.



I picked up the new panel today and will put it to the left of the meter box and extend the existing circuits into it. I will also move the cables from the meter box to the new pane. I am familiar with most everything else but the new panel is taller than the old. There is a knockout on top, several on the bottom and 1 each on the side at the bottom. The circuit extensions will come through the top. The question is on the wiring coming from the meter. If I line the top of the new panel up with the top of the old, then there is no knockout in line with the one in the meter base. I either have to punch a new one or use some combination of LB connectors. Am I allowed to punch a new one at the correct height or do I have to go with the LBs?
 
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Old 09-10-09, 02:59 PM
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Can you show a picture including the condensing unit(heat pump)?


Just an added note, I personally prefer not come in the top of any box that's outside unless there's no other way.
 

Last edited by wirenut1110; 09-10-09 at 03:04 PM. Reason: added note
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Old 09-10-09, 04:28 PM
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Here's the whole setup.



I'd rather not come in the top either but I don't see a way over the 2" conduit that is the SE up to the meter box. The heat pump is actually not the only reason to extend the circuits. The inspector said it would pass if I moved the existing main panel to the left, but then the wires wouldn't be long enough - they come through the back below the breaker bus. If I did move the heat pump, the new panel the main breaker would be up too high to pass inspection by about 2".
 

Last edited by crokett; 09-10-09 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 09-10-09, 05:21 PM
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Since you have to go to the left, wouldn't some liquid tight or just some SE cable suffice?

Install the new one so you'll have a straight shot from old panel to new, just across the top of the meter base, to extend circuits. Sounds like you'll need to pull a new hole for this.

Then come out of the bottom of the meter with new SE cable or liquid tight and make like a "U" . You should be able to strap it right at the meter base and the new panel.

Then get a weatherproof knock out seal and put it in the side of the meter where your old SE cable was.

Hope this helps a little.

P.S. The nipple from the old panel to new, try to keep it under 24" long to eliminate derating but I did one in western NC in the mountains and the inspector was pretty easy to get along with.
 

Last edited by wirenut1110; 09-10-09 at 05:24 PM. Reason: added ps
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Old 09-10-09, 05:36 PM
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I thought about going straight across and actually would prefer that. The question was whether I am allowed to punch the new knockouts. So I guess I am. That will certainly keep me under the 24" - I knew about the derating. I did want to come out the bottom of the meter base except I have to cross the 2" conduit that is the SE from the poco. Am I allowed to do that? I am being slightly paranoid since I don't want to have the power to the house off for any longer than necessary. I don't think whoever installed this originally could have made it any harder to upgrade it.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 05:47 PM
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I've crossed over there stuff many times with no issues. Someone else here may be able to cite something but our POCO "bluebook" doesn't say anything about it. As long as they can see how much to charge you...lol

It's not like it can't be removed if needed. Hell if your POCO is anything like ours, well......nevermind.

If you wanted to use a double fitting like I think you were talking about, maybe use an LL out of the meter and an LR in the top of your new panel, that way both fittings will be open to the outside.

Either way it will look a little awkward so whatever is easier for you. As you said, people usually don't look at the future. You can tell that by whoever installed that condenser there in the first place.
PS. Some others on the forum may have some ideas too, you can see if they chime in
 

Last edited by wirenut1110; 09-10-09 at 05:50 PM. Reason: added ps
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Old 09-10-09, 06:01 PM
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I don't care what it looks like, I just need it to pass inspection. Ok so I can punch the new knockouts without a problem. Good. That makes things easier to extend the circuits. For running from the meter to the new panel across that 2" line I will gin something up. How hard is it to bend 1 1/2" PVC conduit?
 
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Old 09-10-09, 06:09 PM
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If you're are going to go over the pipe, you'll need to use something flexible, there's no way you'll be able to make that bend with rigid pipe. That's why I was saying liquid tight flexible conduit.

If you use metallic LT, you'll need a bonding bushing.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
If you're are going to go over the pipe, you'll need to use something flexible, there's no way you'll be able to make that bend with rigid pipe. That's why I was saying liquid tight flexible conduit.

If you use metallic LT, you'll need a bonding bushing.
Flexible is good. I forgot about flexible. I missed the part about liquid tight. I know about the bonding bushing but will try to keep this all PVC so I don't need to worry about it. Now what I am thinking is come out the right side of the meter box with an LB that comes down, then liquid tight across to the new panel then LB again up into it. either that or come out the left side then come down and back up into the new panel. That bend radius might be too tight for #2 copper though. Thanks for the suggestions, it gives me something to think about.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 07:33 PM
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Have you thought about replacing the meter can with a meter/main panel?



Perhaps if you drop the meter down a foot or two and cut the conduit, you will have enough cable from the power company to reach the new can. Replace the old panel with a big LB or a junction box right into the side of the new panel. Perhaps you wouldn't even need to lengthen all of the circuits. You also may be able to dig down to the bottom of the conduit and slide it over to the left a bit to make sure the new panel clears the vertical plane of the heat pump. The conduit is usually just open to direct burial cable at the bottom.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 07:40 PM
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My last post got me thinking a little more, and maybe you could just kick the poco conduit and meter 18" left and put the new panel where the meter is now. Leave the current main panel where it is, rip the guts out, and use it as a big junction box for extending circuits into the new panel. It shouldn't be a problem unless your power company has a tight restriction on meter height.
 
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Old 09-10-09, 08:31 PM
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I thought about replacing the meter with a combo but I want to keep this as simple as I can and disturb the existing as little as possible. For a couple reasons.

1. I've done enough DIY that I know the more I change increases the possibility of a disaster.

2. I know it will take a fair bit of work to dig down and uncover that conduit to remove it if I wanted to cut it. A combo would be taller than the existing meter so I would have to lower it and cut the conduit shorter to accomodate that. I would not dare try to cut it with the cables inside - see reason 1. If I moved it left with an added an offset, again I would be changing conduit length which means the meter would have to be lowered.
 
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Old 09-11-09, 05:53 AM
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If you were to just move the meter over the the left and bring the underground conduit into the right KO and shorten the cable between the socket and panel it looks like it might just clear.
 
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Old 09-11-09, 06:18 AM
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Hmm... I will measure that. There isn't a right knockout in the meter base, but that doesn't mean I can't cut one. That is a great idea. Thanks for the suggestion. It will simplify things immensly.
 
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Old 09-11-09, 06:35 AM
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Is there any reason why you can't go to the right. Come out of the bottom of the meter ( Right Side ) drop down and go right so the new panel is on the right side of the heat pump. Then from that new panel with a main in it run conduit from it to your old panel.

PS What size of main are you putting in?

Jim
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Old 09-11-09, 06:45 AM
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Same size panel as the old. 200A. For # of breakers my choices were really only either 8/16 or 20/40. I went with the more breaker slots because I will be moving 6 circuits to start and the enclosures are the same size anyway. I'd rather not go right, but I could because if I do that, b I think the conduit run from old to new panel is longer than 24" and then I get into derating wires. If it is not, it is close. However I will check that anyway. The heat pump was put where it was because the deck used to be bigger. When we bought the house it had the original deck that was falling down. I took it down and built a smaller one.

I will look at either putting the new panel to the other side of the heat pump or putting a new knockout in the meter base. Those are both good ideas and would simplify things considerably. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
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Old 09-11-09, 08:17 AM
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Not the greatest looking but you could mount a weatherproof trough to get to the new panel instead of a conduit.

FWIW most of the meter sockets I have seen had at least 2 bottom and 1 KO on the side.
 
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Old 09-11-09, 08:47 AM
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As to passing inspection, take all the pictures you have above to your local electrical inspectors office. Ask to see an inspector. Then show them what you want to do and ask what will be OK. Best to find out before doing any work. (Some offices have certain hours for asking questions.)

Also determine how your existing panel is grounded. You may need to upgrade that? Ask. If you need to install ground rods, ask which size and what size ground wire to run. Ask if the wire needs to be in conduit on the outside wall. If metal conduit, ask about bonding the ends of the conduit to the metal box and first ground rod. (They can be very picky about grounding.) Ask if you can place the ground rods below ground and cover with dirt. This makes it a whole lot easier to mow a lawn in that area!

Also be aware that main connections to a panel/meter need to be torqued with a torque wrench per the panel manufacturers label/instructions. This may be in inch pounds. 12 inch pounds equals 1 foot pound. If aluminum wire, you need to apply anti-oxidant "goop" to the wires.

(With higher amperage connections, "tight" is not good enough! Just tight and there may be a poor connection which can get warm/hot and eventually come loose. Then some guys are "king kong" types and will tighten things too tight, strip the bolts or break something! So best to tighten to the correct tightness per the label. Auto parts stores have hex sockets and torque wrenches.)

Also check with your electric company for residential service requirements. They may have this on their web site. This will give you all the measurements of how far away from certain things the boxes need to be. Were you can place them and where you can't. (The rules of the game!)
 
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Old 09-11-09, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by rukkus11 View Post
Is there any reason why you can't go to the right. Come out of the bottom of the meter ( Right Side ) drop down and go right so the new panel is on the right side of the heat pump.
Jim
Beer 4U2
I was gonna ask that too but, I thought he said somewhere that with the slope of the ground, it would be too high. At least I thought I did
 
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Old 09-11-09, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
I was gonna ask that too but, I thought he said somewhere that with the slope of the ground, it would be too high. At least I thought I did
I believe he did say that but you can lower it enoght so the height would be OK due to the slope.

Jim
 
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Old 09-12-09, 05:14 AM
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Putting it on the right would definitely make this install a lot easier and neater, that's for sure.
 
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Old 09-12-09, 05:30 AM
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What I said about the height was that I thought using the factory knockout on the side on the bottom and putting the new panel to the left of the meter would put the put the main breaker too high. I did some more measuring and I think I can get away with doing that. So what I will do is put the new panel to the left, put 2" field knockouts in the new and old panel and run the circuit extensions straight across above the meter. Then I will use the factory knockouts for the cables from the meter. Nice and neat and relatively simple.
 
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