upgrading and adding

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  #1  
Old 04-03-11, 10:14 AM
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upgrading and adding

We've received three quotes to upgrade our old FP breakers, to either GE or Cutler Hammer, and to add four outlets.


One person quoted 14 awg wire on 20amp circuits, the other two never answered the question. Two guys quoted 150 amp service upgrade, one guy a 200 amp. Seemed odd.

None of them addressed the grounding. Is the ground a "given"?

Here's what we have now.











 
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  #2  
Old 04-03-11, 10:40 AM
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From a non-Pro perspective...I'd either clarify with the guy about the 14ga on a 20A circuit or dismiss him completely. 14ga is for 15A...he may have just typed or written it wrong. If not, he doesn't know what he's doing.

As to the 150 vs 200...if the supply feeders can handle 200..why not? The cost difference between a 150 and a 200 panel is nil.

The grounding doesn't look good to me, but I dunno why... I can't say it's WRONG.
 
  #3  
Old 04-03-11, 10:40 AM
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Stay away from the guy who quoted 14 gauge wire on 20 amp circuits. This is a direct code violation!! 20 amp circuits are required to have #12 wire.

Not knowing what size service you have now I would suggest going with a 200 amp service. You can never go wrong with more capacity and the difference in cost between 150 to 200 is very small.

Both GE and Cuttler Hammer are good companies I would tend to go for the Cuttler Hammer and stay away from the GE. GE panels , especially the skinny breakers, just do not seam like a very good connection with the buss similar to FPE.

Not sure what your concern with your ground but from the pictures it seams OK. At least from where I'm sitting.
 
  #4  
Old 04-03-11, 11:06 AM
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20 amp circuits on 14 ga. wire aren't per code. Don't hire that guy.

I assume the pictures are of the main service panel on your house. Because you want to modify it by adding circuits, the inspector should require an upgrade to a panel with a Mains breaker. The difference in price between a 150 amp and a 200 amp service will be mostly in the cost of the wire. I would go for the max if it were my project.

The only other possible problem is that your home isn't wired for 3-pin grounding outlets. Depending on the mood of the inspector, he could require 3 wire GFCI circuits be added to the kitchen and bathroom(s) and AFCI circuits in the bedrooms. I would do the GFCI stuff regardless.

Hopefully, neither you nor your electrical contractor have had cross words with the inspector. I've also heard a plate of brownies works with auto mechanics. Something to think about.
 
  #5  
Old 04-03-11, 11:18 AM
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It is the main service. From what I've read, Federal Pacific is pretty poor quality. When I flip a breaker, it feels cheesy and ready to break (fall apart). There is no main breaker, either.

Wasn't sure about the ground and if cleaning it was standard practice. Adding service has to do with a few 1000 watt computers we play on, laser printers, and outdoor lighting.

Definitely staying away from the 14 guage guy. The $32 he would have saved us isn't worth an insurance claim.
 
  #6  
Old 04-03-11, 11:47 AM
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There is more to grounding than just a ground rod. If you have a metallic water line in contact with soild for ten feet or more it must be used. Older codes used to allow a connection anywhere on an accessible piece of pipe. It now must be within 5' of where it enters the house.

Your rod is also not compliant as shown. The requirement is for 8' of contact with the earth. the rod as shown is a few inches short of that unless you have a ten foot rod.
 
  #7  
Old 04-05-11, 05:40 PM
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Two contractors say we have 150 amp service, two say 200 amp. Any thoughts?
 
  #8  
Old 04-05-11, 05:54 PM
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You have what's called a split-buss panel. THe maximum those 3/0 aluminum wires can handle is 150A. It doesn't matter what Is stamped on those breaker handles, they're useless
 
  #9  
Old 04-05-11, 06:11 PM
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THe maximum those 3/0 aluminum wires can handle is 150A.
I didn't see the wire size anywhere, did I miss something?
 
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Old 04-05-11, 07:09 PM
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I didn't see the wire size anywhere, did I miss something?
Look very closely at the left feeder in the bottom picture.
 
  #11  
Old 04-05-11, 07:20 PM
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Just some other comments:
Make sure whomever you hire is licensed and insured. You have a much better chance of getting a quality and to-code installation if they are both.

Ensure the electrician pulls the permit. He should have some form of paperwork before he gets started. Ask to see it. Don't buy "it's in the mail", or "it's being processed". If worse comes to worse, call the building department and ask.

Many states have laws about withholding at least 10% of the total project cost until the completed project is inspected and approved. The electrician shouldn't have an issue with this - if it's done well, the inspection should take about 5 minutes and be completed within a week or two after completion. If he starts hemming and hawing about it, it's a red flag that he's worried about not passing inspection.

Be sure to discuss with each (or at least whomever you plan on going with) what the upgrade includes. Certainly a new panel and breakers, but what about the ground rod? (current code requires 2 rods unless you can measure less than 25 ohms resistance. Most of the time this means, install 2 rods because it's easier (which is fine)). What about the service entry wires/conduit? New meter pan? In your opinion, do these need to be replaced?

As pcboss mentioned, not only do you need a ground rod (or a pair), but you'll need a bond to the cold water pipe near where it enters the house. A jumper across the meter. A jumper across the hot/cold lines of your hot water heater. And in some locations, a bond to the gas line (though this seems to not be common in the US).

If you have questions - ask!
 
  #12  
Old 04-05-11, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Justin Smith View Post
Look very closely at the left feeder in the bottom picture.
I still don't see it. You must have very good eyes!
 
  #13  
Old 04-05-11, 11:27 PM
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First thing first .,

Make sure you hire a legit person do the electrical work this part have no excuse what someone say 20 amp on 14 AWG conductor that is plain nuts.

Second thing I did see that is 3/0 AWG I know it can support 150 amp service but the biggest question is riser conductor size that will affect it and majorty of the electrical contractors most will use 200 amp it far more common and the pricewise between the 150 and 200'er is not much diffrence may be just couple Euros differnt that all.

And for ground rod if you have 10 foot rod then it is not a issue to leave it alone but 8 footer then you have issue it must have full length buried in the ground and most local area will ask for two rods unless special tester to prove you can use single rod { IMO it cheaper just sink the second rod and be done with it }

Merci,
Marc
 
  #14  
Old 04-06-11, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by TexasGunOwner View Post
Two contractors say we have 150 amp service, two say 200 amp. Any thoughts?
The 3/0 AWG aluminum wire is an odd size for the service. It's actually a 175A service based on table 310.15(b)(6) or a 150A service based on older versions of table 310.16. It's also possible that your jurisdiction allowed rounding up from 175A to 200A because I don't think 175A breakers exist. So in short they both have good points.

Under 2008 code, I would probably call this a 150A service.

edit: here it is zoomed and sharpened


I'm actually more inclined to believe that it's the top half of "2/0 AWG" which is spot on for a 150A service. It just doesn't make sense for them to have used 3/0.
 
  #15  
Old 04-06-11, 07:27 PM
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I'm actually more inclined to believe that it's the top half of "2/0 AWG" which is spot on for a 150A service. It just doesn't make sense for them to have used 3/0.
When I look at how small the reduced neutral is, it makes more sense that these conductors are in fact 2/0.
 
  #16  
Old 04-07-11, 01:55 PM
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When I look at how small the reduced neutral is, it makes more sense that these conductors are in fact 2/0.
That seems to meke sense. They could have also been enlarged for a long run. 23 spaces currently needed, plus the four new ones, so you neeed at least a 30space panel.
 
  #17  
Old 04-07-11, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I still don't see it. You must have very good eyes!
That's because he meant the other left.
 
  #18  
Old 04-07-11, 02:57 PM
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Oh panel left, I thought that was house left.
 
  #19  
Old 05-08-11, 10:54 AM
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Here's how everything turned out. The interior has another panel cover over the breakers so... I was able to hardi-plank while the electrician was here.


 
  #20  
Old 05-08-11, 11:22 AM
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Looks good. Thanks for letting us see the completed project.
 
  #21  
Old 05-09-11, 09:43 AM
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Looks like a job well done.
 
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