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Sub Panel in Detached Garage- Should I Bring It Up To Code?

Sub Panel in Detached Garage- Should I Bring It Up To Code?

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Old 10-18-09, 09:39 PM
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Sub Panel in Detached Garage- Should I Bring It Up To Code?

I was looking at the subpanel wiring diagrams in the "stickies". I was curious to see how the subpanel in my detached garage is wired, so I pulled the cover. As you can see in the photo below, the grounds and neutrals are connected. There is also a large stranded ground wire exiting the panel. I am assuming this leads to a buried ground rod.


It has been like this for proably 40 years. Just wondering if I should bring it up to code? It wouldn't be difficult. I am also wondering if I should check and see what my local codes say about this as I live in British Columbia, Canada, so I'm sure the U.S. NEC codes won't apply here.



 
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Old 10-19-09, 05:45 AM
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Not familiar with Canadian codes, so wait on someone who has experience with them. The grounds are attached directly to the casing as well as the green grounding wire, so they are not attached with the neutrals. Not sure what the large braid is, but it is attached to the neutral, rather than to the grounding lugs, and is dangerously close to the line on that side.
Others will give better advice, so hold on.
 
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Old 10-19-09, 07:21 PM
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The blue arrow is pointing to a strap that connects the neutral to the panel, so I believe the grounds and neutrals are connected.

The green arrow is pointing to the bare stranded wire. Would that not be the connection to the buried ground rod? Also, it is an "optical illusion" regardeing the close proximity of this wire to the hot. It is elevated about 1.5" above the hot.



 
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Old 10-20-09, 07:38 PM
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The blue arrow strap needs to be removed and the green arrow wire needs to be attached to the steel can of the panel.

Also, I'm guessing the wires that are coming from the conduit on the back are the LINE wires? They should be terminated into the top of the main breaker. Then the bottom lugs of the main breaker should feed the busses of the branch circuits at the bottom of the panel.

Lats thing I'll mention is it looks like you have an FPE panel. IF that is the case, you may want to so a search on google about FPE. Their panels/breakers have been linked to many fires.
 
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Old 10-20-09, 08:01 PM
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However Canadian FPE doesn't have the same reputation.
 
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Old 10-21-09, 03:57 AM
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Didn't see the strap, and Scott is right that it should be removed and the braided wire attached to the panel itself. That will separate your neutrals and grounding wires.
 
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Old 10-22-09, 09:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post

Lats thing I'll mention is it looks like you have an FPE panel. IF that is the case, you may want to so a search on google about FPE. Their panels/breakers have been linked to many fires.
Yes, it is indeed an FPE panel, in this case a Federal Pioneer a.k.a. Stab-lok. So is the panel in the house. My electrician has been in both of these panels and has been working in this area for 35 years. He took over the business from his father, who may have installed these panels way back when. Anyways, he has never mentioned to me that they should be changed, so I am guessing that there were not any problems in this area.


I did quite a bit of reading on the FPE panels, and ended up confused. Seemed to be a lot of contradictory evidence. If anyone is interested, here is a rather long article about them:


Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs
 
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Old 10-23-09, 07:11 AM
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Just a few observations to add. As Toyln mentioned the strap needs to be removed that is bonding the neutral to the can. However when you do that be sure that screw that secures the strap to the neutral bus does not penetrate the metal of the can. If it does it needs to be removed also and not reinstalled.

I'm also thinking that the main breaker is not actually the main intended for that enclosure. Hopefully that screw is not also being used to secure the main to the can....

That said you have neutral current using both the feeder ground wire and the feeder neutral the way it is now. The large stranded bare is almost certainly your egc to a ground rod or some type of electrode. There may be some current on it but it will be minimal most likely.

In the USA the NEC requires neutrals and grounded legs to occupy only one termination each in a neutral bus. Some of the terminations at the bottom of the enclosure have two grounded legs (white wires) under one termination. Small technicality but just so you can change if necessary.

What size main breaker is that anyway?? Looks like a 30 but hard to tell.


Personally... that panel is just goofy IMO. I'd spend the 50 bucks to upgrade it.
 
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Old 10-23-09, 07:40 AM
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I'm also thinking that the main breaker is not actually the main intended for that enclosure. Hopefully that screw is not also being used to secure the main to the can.
I wonder if this panel started out life as a main lug only panel and was jerry rigged to have a main breaker. How safe can it be to have unsecured wires connecting the main breaker to the individual circuit breaker bus. What if one of the wires came loose at the main lug? you'd have a "suicide" wire floating unrestrained in the panel. Is that really an approved method? Final thought, guess it is just my eyes but I don't see where the left hand wire to the main lug connects. Is it just hidden?
 
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Old 10-23-09, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
I wonder if this panel started out life as a main lug only panel and was jerry rigged to have a main breaker. How safe can it be to have unsecured wires connecting the main breaker to the individual circuit breaker bus. What if one of the wires came loose at the main lug? you'd have a "suicide" wire floating unrestrained in the panel. Is that really an approved method? Final thought, guess it is just my eyes but I don't see where the left hand wire to the main lug connects. Is it just hidden?
It's connected to the lug just to the right of the branch breaker blocks neutral bus.
 
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Old 10-27-09, 09:56 PM
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It appears to be a legimate panel. The cover is two pieces with a divider between them. I don't know what that is supposed to accomplish. This is a pic of the back of the top cover.





There is a wiring diagram on the back of the bottom cover. I'm wondering what " Flat Rate Service Wire" means. Never heard that before. I am going to " colorize" this diagram, as it is hard to follow when all the lines are black.


 
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