Newbie to upgrade service panel

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Old 09-24-09, 11:18 AM
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Newbie to upgrade service panel

Hello Everyone,

As you can see this is my first post here so please be gentle with my terminology and knowledge. I have been lurking for a while to find my information but have not come up with much. Ok, here is the situation. My current service panel right now is an ITE EQ load center. That is all that is on there, no other numbers or marks. I found out today that it is a split bus panel so I have been researching on that. The top half of the panel has room for six double pole breakers. Three of those are being used for the electric stove, electric water heater, and dryer. One 100 amp double pole breaker feeds a sub panel in the basement, two single pole breakers feed the baseboard heating, and one double pole 60 amp feeds the bottom half of the split bus panel. The bottom half of the panel has room for twelve single pole breakers with it currently using only four of them four lights and outlets. The meter that connects to the panel is actually rated for 200 amps so I would not have to change that. However, the wire from the meter to the panel is 4/0 aluminum but the wire from the meter to the overhead mast is much smaller.

Now, I have received two different opinions from electricians who have come out to estimate. The first was actually just an estimator. She told me that we would have to replace the panel because it was only 60 amps and that Idaho power would have to run new wire overhead to our mast because it was not big enough. The second guy who came out told me it was actually a split bus panel and that it was already 200 amp. He said that all we would have to do is replace the wire from the mast to the meter, and place the meter on the outside of the house with a disconnect. Idaho power will not reconnect the power with the meter inside the garage.

Ok, here is my question, do I really have a 200 amp panel and all I need to do is replace the wire from the mast to the meter? Is there any upgrading needed or can I use what I have? I do not plan on doing this myself but would like some opinions. My reason for upgrading is that we are remodeling the kitchen and would like enough power. I thought we only had a 100 amp service but that does not seem to be the case. I also thought that it was bad to run smaller wire to the meter than what was called for. I thought that 200 amp required at least 4/0.

I'll attach a picture to help explain this. Any questions or responses would be greatly appreciated.



 
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Old 09-24-09, 12:50 PM
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Not a pro but while we are waiting for one why do you say it is a split buss? Looks more like a MLO (main lug only). Of course a MLO is only good for six throws and your panel exceeds that but you may be able to install a main breaker or back feed through a breaker.

Six throw rule says a panel must have a main breaker if it has more then six breakers. That is all power can't be turned off by throwing six breakers.

Back feed means to connect the hots to a 240v breaker that is in a regular breaker slot but locked in place by a hold down kit. instead of the main lugs.


If the baseboard heaters are 240v feeding them from two unconnected single pole breakers is not code compliant.
 
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Old 09-24-09, 01:33 PM
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To be honest, I had no idea what a split bus panel was until today when the electrician came over to give me a quote on an upgrade. After doing some research on the internet, it appears that this is a split bus panel. Although like you said, until an expert can come on here and confirm that. If you look at bottom double pole breaker on the left, you can see where the bus is split in half. If you follow the wires on that breaker, you will notice that they go down and connect to the bottom bus to feed it power.

The electrician told me today that he would have to install a disconnect by the meter. I was wondering why until I researched about split bus panels and found that the top bus did not have a main breaker. So now it makes a little more sense.

I may be completely wrong on all of this so anyone feel free to jump in here.

What would be needed to make baseboard heaters code compliant? Would I have to put a double pole 40 amp breaker on there?
 
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Old 09-24-09, 03:14 PM
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If you look at bottom double pole breaker on the left, you can see where the bus is split in half. If you follow the wires on that breaker, you will notice that they go down and connect to the bottom bus to feed it power.
Missed that. If that breaker turns off the 120v breakers then yes it is a split bus.
What would be needed to make baseboard heaters code compliant? Would I have to put a double pole 40 amp breaker on there?
If the heaters are 240v and the breakers are 40a yes but I can't see the breakers rating on the handle or the wire so i can't say for sure. If the breakers are 20a then you would go back with 20a.
 
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Old 09-24-09, 05:14 PM
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I will give you a quick fact here.,

Indeed you have splitbuss set up it petty common to see that in that era but per modern code no it no longer legal due too many peoples abuse it I have see how they done it.

Yeah you have 200 amp service from the meter to panel box. but from the meter to top of mast aka riser you should have same size conductor in there if not you allready run into some issue there.

Now you mention garage the meter must be at outdoor locatation but I am not famuair with your POCO regulations but in my state it required have outdoor disconnect switch if more than 8 Feet apart { it useally automatic requirement }

I will fill in more details once I find out about your POCO requirement.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-24-09, 06:02 PM
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Hi Marc,

Thanks for the response. So it sounds as though I already have a 200 amp panel with 200 amp service according to what you said. My only concern is the wire running from the meter to the masthead. I included some pictures although they are not that great. The wire from meter to panel is 4/0. I can see this from the marking on there. However, the wire going to the meter from masthead seems at least a size smaller. The pictures may look a little deceptive but I can tell that it is smaller wire. Do I have to upgrade this wire as well? From what I have read this is necessary. If I do this, then I have to put the meter outside with a disconnect.

Another question, if this is already a 200 amp panel, would it be necessary to get a new panel? I would be adding maybe some lighting circuits and one each for disposal and dishwasher. I would also maybe add another circuit for small appliances. Any advice is welcome. Thanks to everyone who has helped so far.



 
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Old 09-24-09, 06:25 PM
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Andrew .,

One thing you should not done in first place is remove the meter cover that is very dangerous to do that because it is a unfused part { it will stay alive all the time } until the POCO cut the riser off then it will be dead.

And many POCO freak out big time when they see the meter seal cutted off that area gernally done by either POCO or qualifed Electrician to deal with it { very few DIY's can tackle it but there are such alot of code realated issue it will snag ya pretty hard }

Now as I did see the photo I know it not very clear but IMO it look like TW conductor but the big question is the riser have alum conductor or copper due I can't really see the photo very well but just watch out some case it will have tinned coated copper conductor as well due some of old TW conductors are straght rubber.

Once you move the meter to outdoor location with disconnect switch you will have to install new riser with correct size conductor in there and also after the main breaker below the meter socket you will have no choice but run 4 conductor cable this is very circital part here.

With new 4 conductor cable or in conduit you can have a choice to keep the old load centre or go with new one for myself I will just spurge to get new load centre it cost not too bad and plus what more you have alot more room in there.

If you use the SER cable you will need to use the 250KCM if you stay with 200 amp { I know some area may get by with 4/0's } but the riser you can get by with 3/0 copper that is not a issue there unless you are force to use the alum conductor then you have to use 4/0 THWN or XHHW { I know for sure XHHW do come in with Alum conductors } in the conduit so you have little more leeway than useing the cable { the code got pretty picky with sizeing here }

I really suggest that you talk to the POCO and a Electrician if your code do required for that so you have to prepare for that and the cost I am not sure excat price but IMO it will be couple thousand dollars or more but excat number that part I can't control at all.

Can you tell me what POCO you have? maybe I can able look up some details what the requirement it will have.


Merci,Marc
 
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Old 09-24-09, 07:35 PM
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The meter was not locked up in any way. The last time I had an electrician out here he had removed it but did not lock it up. In fact, I do not think there has been a lock on there in a while. I will take your advice though and not open it again. I have an electrician coming out tomorrow morning for another estimate and I will ask him about the wire above the meter. Thanks for your reply and help. My power company is Idaho Power.
 
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