Load Center Brand Preferences

Reply

  #1  
Old 05-20-10, 04:35 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA,USA
Posts: 25
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Load Center Brand Preferences

I'm going to be replacing my 32 yo Federal Pacific 200A main and 100 sub panel without any upgrade to capacity. I keep hearing about problems with FP but none that are ever substantiated. I will be adding circuits for split mini systems this summer so decided to upgrade the panels now.

Are there are preferences on brands or does price decide? I've always been partial to SQ D and was considering QO. Some of the big boxes have value packs on the Homeline and Siemens. Is it advisable to install GFI and surge or lightning protection at the main and or anything else recmnd? I am rural with well pump.

My current 100A sub panel is fed partially under slab using 3 wire aluminum. Must I change this to 4 wire to pass inspection and code. It is also located in a wall utility closet. If I remove the door there is 36" clear in front.

I'm buying material and I will be having a licensed electrician do the work time and material.

To be honest in my older age I'm getting lazier and had a licensed electrician put some some ceiling fans in only to find out later that he failed to install strain relief on the boxes and also ran romex over my flex ducts (compressing them) rather under them.

It takes me a long time to do something but I usually try and do them right and don't cut corners. T&M sometimes helps.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 05-20-10, 05:06 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,645
Received 85 Votes on 75 Posts
There are plenty of substantiated reasons to change out that FPE panel, but that really isn't what you asked about. I, for one, like a good copper bus loadcenter. Both the Square D QO series and Cutler-Hammer CH series come standard with copper bus, either would be a good choice. There are other copper bus loadcenters out there as well. Siemens makes a good copper bus loadcenter, but you have to watch the catalog number for a "C" or "CU" suffix in the catalog number to avoid getting the standard aluminum bus. GE and Cutler-Hammer BR loadcenters are also available in either aluminum or copper bus (watch for suffix in catalog numbers). The Square D Homeline is aluminum only. By the way, the Cutler-Hammer Classic CH series breakers carry a lifetime warranty.
 
  #3  
Old 05-20-10, 05:10 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,495
Received 35 Votes on 27 Posts
Check this link for more than you ever wanted to know about the FPE panel problems. Federal Pacific Electric FPE Stab-Lok Panel Circuit Breaker Hazard, Repairs, Electrical Panel Replacement Electricians Directory for Stab-Lok Repairs

Square D "QO" is premium equipment. I have one Siemens panel and will soon be installing a second. I don't like Square D "Homeline" but it is probably equal to the Siemens equipment.

I have a "whole house" surge suppressor installed at my service (main) panel and I also use supplemental surge protection for my computers and television/video/audio equipment. The "small appliance branch circuits" in the kitchen/dining area and pantry should have GFCI protection.

Since you are replacing the service and sub panels you will need to replace the three-wire feeder to the sub panel with a four-wire feeder. Whether or not you will need to install AFCI would be a matter addressed by your local code.
 
  #4  
Old 05-21-10, 06:32 AM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA,USA
Posts: 25
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the replies and info on FPE. The oddest thing about the FPE boxes is that my home owners insurance co. has no position/info on them or a recommendation to replace. You would think that they would be on top of this and if they were a hazard that they would be notifying owners.

I had thought my sub was fed by a straight 3 cond but it has 3 conductors plus a separate bare ground under sheath so I guess I'm OK. The service cable would have been a real expensive chore to replace.
 
  #5  
Old 05-21-10, 06:39 AM
A
Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Milwaukee WI
Posts: 1,339
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Cutler Hammer makes a CH load center that has a neutral bus near the top of the enclosure, and there might be a similar QO. This can make it easier to connect existing neutrals without pigtailing extensions to reach the new buses.

I always tell people to get the 42-circuit panel if you have the space. That way you should never again have to think about replacement.
 
  #6  
Old 05-21-10, 07:18 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 13,611
Received 205 Votes on 182 Posts
Square D QO is a good choice. Homeline, Cuttler Hammer CH and Siemens are also good panels. Cuttler Hammer BR is ok but not my favorite. The only one I tend to avoid is GE.
 
  #7  
Old 05-21-10, 05:20 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,645
Received 85 Votes on 75 Posts
I had thought my sub was fed by a straight 3 cond but it has 3 conductors plus a separate bare ground under sheath so I guess I'm OK. The service cable would have been a real expensive chore to replace.
That sounds like aluminum SER cable which is a good choice in residential work for a subpanel, but earlier you said it ran under a slab.

My current 100A sub panel is fed partially under slab using 3 wire aluminum. Must I change this to 4 wire to pass inspection and code.
I suspect from the description you have SER cable run in conduit to the subpanel which is a code violation. Cable assemblies are not allowed to be run in conduit except for short lengths where the conduit is used as a protective sleeve.
 
  #8  
Old 05-21-10, 05:26 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 10,645
Received 85 Votes on 75 Posts
The oddest thing about the FPE boxes is that my home owners insurance co. has no position/info on them or a recommendation to replace. You would think that they would be on top of this and if they were a hazard that they would be notifying owners.
Many insurance companies and some municiplaities DO require the FPE panels be replaced. Usually this isn't an issue till the home is sold. My position would be to recommend replacement as soon as you can afford to do so as long as the FPE panel is not exhibiting problems.
 
  #9  
Old 05-24-10, 09:03 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA,USA
Posts: 25
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
That sounds like aluminum SER cable which is a good choice in residential work for a subpanel, but earlier you said it ran under a slab.
Yes it is aluminum SER.

I misstated. It was not run under slab and does not appear to be in conduit. It is run from the main load center in basement and then up and above a finished basement ceiling and then routes up to the attic, across ceiling joists, and down to the 1st floor sub panel in utility room area which is on slab.

I suspect from the description you have SER cable run in conduit to the subpanel which is a code violation. Cable assemblies are not allowed to be run in conduit except for short lengths where the conduit is used as a protective sleeve.
My home is ca 1978 and I thought that they may have used 3 wire service cable without the separate ground. Fortunately I was wrong there too. It is a long cable run and would have been difficult to re-run. Thanks for your comment.
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-10, 09:10 PM
T
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PA,USA
Posts: 25
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
Many insurance companies and some municiplaities DO require the FPE panels be replaced. Usually this isn't an issue till the home is sold. My position would be to recommend replacement as soon as you can afford to do so as long as the FPE panel is not exhibiting problems.
I will be replacing both FPE panels with Square D QO 200A 40-40 and 100A 32-32 They are more expensive but they were the only 100A panel with 32 positions at Lowes. I don't plan on selling in the near future but I agree that most realtors and home inspectors might flag the FPE. I'm adding some AC/HP equipment that will need additional breaker positions so it seemed like the time to do it. Thanks for the comment.
 
  #11  
Old 05-25-10, 03:36 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 13,611
Received 205 Votes on 182 Posts
Both sound like solid choices to me. Good luck!
 
Reply
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: